K Westhues Homepage

Index of materials on the history of the family of Wilhelm and Theresia Westhues

Theresia Westhues's Prayerbook —

the Thirteen Key Dates in her Life

Formatting and commentary by Ken Westhues, 2023, using scans of the pages by J. Y. Miller, with thanks to Lois Westhues Brucks, the prayerbook's current custodian.


The single most precious heirloom from Wilhelm and Theresia's first years in America is Theresia's German-language prayerbook, a compilation of devotions for all occasions and pious reflections by a German Capuchin friar named Martin von Cochem (1630-1712). Its title translates into English as The Golden Key of Heaven. First published in 1695, the book became a staple of German spirituality, especially for women. The edition Theresia used bore the imprimatur of the bishop of Chur, Switzerland, in 1864, and was published in the 1890s by Benziger's in the United States. For Theresia, the prayerbook was a lifeline to the centuries of German Catholicism at the core of her identity. She must have read from it regularly. Its pages are well-worn.

What makes the prayerbook even more special is that Theresia wrote in her own hand on three successive blank pages what she considered the thirteen most important dates in her life, the dates she least wanted to forget. Those three pages are reproduced below. For anyone unable to decipher the faded German script, a translation is provided in the sidebars at left. This webpage concludes with the prayerbook's title page.

First three
of thirteen dates

Wilhelm Westhues,
born at Horst,
near Werne,
12 April, 1848

Married on
15 July 1879

On 30 July 1892,
for America




Next six
of thirteen dates

[children born in

Theodor Wilhelm
born 1 March 1880

Georg Wilhelm
born 28 October 1881

Georg Joseph
born 14 January 1884

Anna Maria Theresia
born 7 April 1886

Johan Heinrich
born 5 June 1888

born 20 November

Last four
of thirteen dates

[children born in

Anna Maria
born 30 July 1893

Johan Hermann
born 2 October 1895

Anna Christina
born 5 June 1898

Friedrich Johan
born 15 April 1901



Title page of
Theresia's prayerbook,
The Golden Key
of Heaven,
Martin von Cochem,
for pious souls
for salvation.
New edition.