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.

The 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.

Stored 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.

Veröffentlichungen 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 [1903] 34.)




  Burnt houses are:

1 Alte Vikarie

22     Populoh

2 Pastorat

23     Wirtschaft Badde

3 Küsterei 

24     Suerkemper, später Hölkemann

4 Fie, später Claas

25     Kaspar Renne

5 Alte Schule

26     Fröhlich,(Schlotmann), Wirf, Winterkamp

6 Alte Pfarrkirche

27     Theodor Winkelmann

7 Hörstkamp, später Rottwinkel

28     Alte Winkelmann

8 Brennerei Hörstkamp

29     Janbernd Schoppmann

9 Thieme, später Arens

30     Mense

10 Armenhaus

31     Schmied Lohmann

11 Fölling

32     Schmiedewerkstatt Lohmann

12 Wirtschaft Robert

33     Arens

13 Tanzsaal Robert

34     Gerhard Lohmann, später Fleuter

14 Hölling 

35     Beermann, später Reinke

15 Jans Witte (bis 1843)

36     Beermanns Scheune

16 Klostermann

37     Finkelden

17 Uthmann, später Gösling

38     Erpenbeck

18 Thiemes Dehle

39     Spritzenhäuschen

19 Wirtschaft Raude, später Strotmann

40     Windmühle

20 Josef Frerich

41     Schulte Suthoff

21 Hörstkamps Dehle

Dorfarchiv Westkirchen e.V.