Westphalia Historical Society Museum
Westphalia Historical Society

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The Westphalia Historical Society was incorporated October 29, 1973 by a group of Westphalians who had just recently completed work necessary to win the nomination of St. Joseph's Church to the National Register of Historic Sites. 

With legal help volunteered by Attorney Ralph Voss, Joseph Holterman, Mrs. Frank (Pauline) Wegman and Mrs. V.J. (Hilda) Plassmeyer signed the letters of incorporation. First officers were Pres. Mrs. G.H. (Pat) Hilkemeyer, Jr., Vice President Joe Holterman, Secretary, Mrs. David (Vicky) Patterson and Treasurer, Mrs. LeRoy (Mary Ann) Klebba (who has kept our financial ship afloat for over 30 years.)  Our first monetary donation came from Dr. Ed. L. and Lois Bowles - "seed money" to cover costs of the Charter Membership drive, and soon 125 individuals couples and families responded, resulting in over $3,000 in our treasury.

The ultimate goal was a museum to house local historic artifacts, photos, records, etc.  We were blessed when Alice Fechtel chose to retire and agreed to sell her General Store property for $5000 - a small down payment and an interest-free installment plan!

After Alices' public auction of contents, the "real work began".  Working side-by-side, young and old, days, nights and weekends- cleaned from attic to cellar, painting walls and shelving. We collected donated and loaned artifacts - in readiness for our Grand Opening on March 23, 1974 (accompanied by one of the worst snow storms in recent memory!)

Thanks to grants from the A.J. Schwartze Foundation in recent years a complete renovation to the museum was accomplished - updating, plumbing wiring, lighting, windows, insulation, heat and air conditioning and painting.

Sadly over 100 of those early volunteer founders are no longer with us except in fond memories - but surely they are smiling down on us in our efforts to continue their labors of love.  Because we still hope to complete their dream of seeing Westphalia named a Historic District.

Accomplishments to date:

  •    Parade floats for the Helias Anniversary, Bicentennial and the parish sesquicentennial parades.

  •    A community revue in honor of the Bicentennial Celebration of America (the hit of the program at Linn)

  •    Important help with the definitive Westphalia History book for the St. Joseph Sesquicentennial
          (particularly members Mary Ann Klebba, Connie Reichart, Agnes   Crede, Tillie Sonnen and Pat Hilkemeyer.)

  •    Recognition of veterans of World War II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars with plaques on the outer museum walls and commemoration ceremonies in their honor.

  •    Sponsorship of school essay and sketch contests and tours of the museum for school, church and tourist groups.

  •    Help with the American Legion's marking the 200th birthday of the American Constitution (a red maple planted in the church yard)

  •    Home tours and brochures to publicize the area.