The great fire
of the village in 1868
Westkirchen, July 19th 1868
For weeks and weeks the sun had burnt down from the sky. Fields
and meadows, grain potatoes and beets were longing for rain, the
wells in the villages and the streams started to dry out, and in
the moats there was no water.
Already around midday the people
of Westkirchen walked to Ostenfelde in order to visit the great
Saint-Margaret's-fair; particularly the younger generation did so,
the older people weren't too keen on walking in the blazing sunshine,
they preferred to stay at home. At about 1 p.m. smoke and flames
were noticed on the roof truss of the house Winkelmann. The fire
bell was rung, and provided with buckets, all the men and women,
who were left in the village, hurried to the place of the fire.
But soon the wells were exhausted, the little fire engine of the
village couldn't be used for lack of water. After a few minutes
the fire had spread out over the neighbouring houses.
people who were staying in Ostenfelde were informed of the fire
by a messenger. In the meantime, the fire had spread out along the
row of houses, getting rich food by the old half-timbered houses.
Even the church was in danger. A rising wind favoured the flying
sparks, and soon the whole church was in flames. The villagers stood
helplessly in the face of this fire.
Favoured by the direction
of the wind, the Reverend's house, the school, the vicarage (today
the nursery Ringhoff) and the inn Fleuter escaped the fire. Many
people lost their home as well as all their possessions, only few
things could be rescued. A temporary church was put up for a while
in a shed at Haus Diek.
In the course of the reconstruction
the shape of the village changed essentially. For example the houses
in the Domhofstraße were moved back and the street was made
broader. The narrow lanes, which still can be found in many old
villages of the Münsterland, disappeared and that's why the
streets of Westkirchen are broad today. The people's willingness
to make sacrifices and to help made it soon possible to rebuild
the church .
From 1872 to 1873 Reverend Klostermann, who
had arranged the building of the church of Vorhelm some years before,
had the new church (the church of today) built. The bricks which
were needed for the new church were made by brickworkers from the
Lipperland. They baked the bricks in a little kiln near the station
on an plot of land which belonged to the church. The lime came from
the farmer Linnemann's property at the Finkenberg and was burnt
there, too. It is said by the older people of Westkirchen that Reverend
Klostermann was very much involved in the rebuilding of the church.
Dressed in a blue overall, holding a hammer and a trowel in his
hands, he stood on the scaffolding together with the bricklayers
and the carpenters.
Unfortunately the administrator of house
Keuschenburg, Rentmeister Trömpert, Vornholz, reported later:
"The archive of House Keuschenburg, which contained a lot of parchment
documents with many seals, too became the victim of a tragic fate
in the fateful year of 1868 (demolition of the house). Unfortunately
the archive had neither been used nor researched.
in a chest of Gutspächter Raude it was brought to Westkirchen
in the course of the move. Here it was destroyed in the great fire
of the village.
der Historischen Kommission der Provinz Westfalen. Inventare der
nichtstaatlichen Archive der Provinz Westfalen. Band II: Regierungsbezirk
Münster. Heft 2: Kreis Warendorf (Haus Keuschenburg). Further:
(A.Brüning, Warendorfer Blätter II  34.)