K. Westhues homepage



Wilhelm and Theresia Westhues, who immigrated from Münsterland to Missouri in 1892, had seven sons and three daughters. For one reason or another, all the boys were exempted from service in World War I. In 1919, however, their daughter Mary married army veteran Joseph Flaspohler (photo at right). The family's military history in America thus begins with him.











    PDFs by Henry Evans

           by Ken Westhues

     2020, updated 2021

Index of resources on Westhues family history

Family photo in the winter of 1895-96


The eight children living in 1932


The seven children living in 1956


Maps of Westhues farms northeast of Glasgow MO


In some families, military service is a generations-old tradition, an ongoing patriotic duty, a matter of civic pride. Boys join the armed forces voluntarily. Some make it a career. It is part of family culture.

Wilhelm and Theresia brought no such tradition along when they arrived with six children in America in 1892. This family’s culture revolved around kinship, Catholic faith and farmwork, not the army. Its traditions were close to home: "Kinder, Küche, Kirche" (children, cooking and church) for women, and for men about the same, except fewer chores in the kitchen and more outside.

Born in 1848, Wilhelm had reached adulthood just as Otto von Bismarck was unifying Germany, creating an empire, and toward these ends, making war on France. Accordingly, the farmboy from Werne-an-der-Lippe was conscripted into the German army for the Franco-Prussian War of 1868-1871. Military service left Wilhelm with few fond memories beyond some knowledge of French. Assigned to care for an officer’s horse, he covered himself at night with the horse’s blanket to keep warm.

Wilhelm and Theresia were allowed to leave Germany with all their five sons only because none was yet old enough to be drafted into the German army. Theodore, the eldest, was just twelve. Even so, Wilhelm recalled decades later that a border official had scolded him as the family boarded their ship at Bremerhaven, for taking these boys away from the Kaiser.

Wilhelm was not sorry. He and Theresia hoped for a freer life in America, where military conscription had ended with the Civil War in 1865. Boys nearing adulthood no longer even had to register with the military authorities.

The family’s first twenty-five years on the farm near Glasgow were free of worry about the intrusions and disruptions of war. On the whole, it was a time of peace and rising prosperity in rural Missouri.

This changed on April 2, 1917, when the Westhues family’s adopted homeland declared war on the family’s former homeland. All men between 21 and 30 years of age, then all between 18 and 45, were required to register for the military draft.



It goes without saying that none of Wilhelm and Theresia’s sons volunteered. This would have been contrary to family tradition. They would do as their father had done in Germany half a century earlier: go into the army if ordered to do so, but not otherwise. The sons had all automatically acquired American citizenship in 1896, when Wilhelm swore the oath of citizenship in Keytesville. They were now proud sons of America, but that did not imply eagerness to joined its armed forces, certainly not to go to war overseas against the country of their ancestors and of their own ethnicity.

The four oldest were safe from the draft. Theodore, 37 years old when the US entered the war, was a farmer, married with two children. William G., 35 years old, also a farmer, had four children. Joseph, 33 years old, was a priest. Henry, 29 years old, was a public official, City Attorney of Jefferson City, and besides that, married with one child.

The seventh son, Fritz, born in 1901, was also safe, too young for the army.

The fifth and sixth sons were the ones at high risk of being drafted. Their draft registration cards are show below, both dated June 5, 1917, two months after war had been declared. Both Ben and John are shown as single, with no dependents, working on the family farm, making no claim for exemption. Ben is 26. Born two years before the voyage to America, he is a naturalized citizen. John is 21. Born three years after arrival, he is a natural-born citizen.

Wilhelm argued to the draft board that he was already 69 years old and that both boys were needed on the farm. Ben and John were nonetheless ordered to take the physical examination. Ben was disqualified on account of poor eyesight (a condition that persisted all his life), and John on account of decayed teeth (he would have them all pulled when he was 30 years old). Thus none of the boys in the second generation served in the armed forces. The war ended on November 11, 1918, and with it the military draft. Young men would not be required to register again until 22 years later, in the fall of 1940, as America prepared to go to war again with Germany.


Henry Evans's website,
Robots for Humanity



Although none of Wilhelm and Theresia’s ten children served in the military, the eight who married all had sons who did so. Most of these grandsons were the right age to be called for service in World War II. That war ended in 1945, but the military draft remained in force until 1973. Meanwhile, some descendants of Wilhelm and Theresia married into families with multi-generation traditions of military service. The upshot is that their descendants now include veterans not only of World War II but of American occupation and engagement in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, as well as some whose tours of duty were stateside.

In the summer of 2020, two descendants, Henry Evans (< Robert and Marilyn Westhues Evans < Henry and Helen) and his son Stephen Evans, both living in the Bay Area south of San Francisco, undertook to compile a list of all the veterans, and to compose a PDF for each one with his photo and military record. They publicized their project on the Westhues Family Discussion Forum maintainedl by J. Y. Miller (< J. Y. and Mary Teresa Miller < Joseph and Mary Westhues Flaspohler), an invaluable medium for facilitating exchange of genealogical and historical material. Henry then composed the PDFs and sent them to me for posting here. He and I have made a few corrections in December 2021.

The following sections are arranged by generation, with veterans listed in alphabetical order within each section. Click on the name to call up the PDF for each one.
For now at least, this project is limited to direct descendants. It may be expanded in the future to include veterans, beginning with Joseph Flaspohler, who have married a direct descendant of Wilhelm and Theresia. To avoid repetition in the lists below, no surname is given for people with the Westhues surname.

Some names may be missing from the lists and the information on some veterans is incomplete. To correct any mistakes or to contribute additional information, email Henry Evans, who has kindly agreed to update the PDFs annually.



Flaspohler, James Edward > Joseph and Mary Westhues Flaspohler

Oidtman, Jerome Henry > Jule and Anna Westhues Oidtman

Westhues, Bernard Frank > Ben and Viola

Westhues, David > Fritz and Eulalia

Westhues, Edwin Henry > William G. and Emma

Westhues, Eugene Joseph > John and Olive

Westhues, Harold W. > Fritz and Eulalia

Westhues, James Francis > John and Olive

Westhues, John Henry (Father Jack) > Henry and Helen

Westhues, John Herman, Jr. > John and Olive

Westhues, Joseph Martin > William G. and Emma

Westhues, Norbert Bernard > Theodore and Lena

Westhues, Theodore William, Jr. (Teddy) > Theodore and Lena

Westhues, Walter William > Ben and Viola



Miller, J. Y. II > J. Y. and Mary Teresa Flaspohler Miller > Joseph and Mary Westhues Flaspohler

Westhues, James Michael > James Francis and Vada Stagner > John and Olive

Westhues, Terrance Edwin > Edwin and Mary Kay Massie > William G. and Emma



Evans, Nicholas Alexander > Henry and Jane Evans > Robert and Marilyn Westhues Evans > Henry and Helen

Evans, Stephen Wenceslao > Henry and Jane Evans > Robert and Marilyn Westhues Evans > Henry and Helen

Miller, J. Y. III > J. Y. II and Mary Miller > J. Y. and Mary Teresa Flaspohler Miller > Joseph and Mary Westhues Flaspohler

Winton, Aaron Damien > Cynthia and James Winton > Joseph and Marie > William G. and Emma



Hodges, Scott Thomas > Mike and Kim Hodges > Tom and Jeanne Westhues Hodges > Henry (Hank) and Mae Emma > William G. and Emma

Winton, Jacob Raul > Aaron Winton and Valerie Machado > Cynthia and James Winton > Joseph and Marie > William G. and Emma