Paul, the wife of Thomas Paul, headed west with her family from Fremont,
Iowa in 1862. Pregnant, Mrs. Paul had a difficult journey and died in this
beautiful mountain setting on July 27 while giving birth to a daughter.
She was 32 at the time of her death. The little girl, also named Elizabeth,
lived for only a week.
A traveling companion, Hamilton Scott, recorded her death: "We remained in camp all day. Thomas Paul’s wife died about 9 o’clock this morning … She has been poorly for some time. We buried her this evening under a large pine tree and put a post and paling fence around her grave."
The beautiful old lodge pole pine continues to mark her grave. An Oregon-California Trails Association marker has also been placed on the site. Several of Mrs. Paul’s descendants, including her great-granddaughter, attended the dedication.
Located in a remote area of the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Visitors are advised to obtain directions and a map from one of the Forest Service offices located in Afton, Kemmerer or Big Piney. The best route to the grave is from Big Piney, 30 miles west from the edge of town, following the Lander Trail. Several other graves can be visited en route.
H. M. Judson, 29 Jul 1862: "We pass this afternoon a beautiful grave made in an opening in the forest and directly beneath a fine fir tree – Twas made on the 27st inst (only 2 days ago) and was enclosed in a picket yard of hewn timber – a board set into a notch sawed into the tree informed us that the grave contained the remains of Mrs. Elizabeth Paul – aged 32 years – beneath some kind friend had pinned a paper on which were written 3 beautiful & appropriate verses & which I regret very much I had not time to copy."
The verses were apparently
written by James S. McClung, a member of the Paul party who records them
Julius Merrill, 15 Aug 1864: "Passed a grave enclosed by a picket fence, painted white. A lovelier spot I never saw. There was an opening of perhaps, half an acre, with one large shady pine near the center. Under this lone tree was the grave. The beauty of the place and the care bestowed upon the remains of the woman caused us all to look at it."