In 1879, a handful of German-Texans moved from Frelsburg to western Falls County in search of land. The settlers, many of whom were Catholic, named their new town Westphalia – after the region in Germany. Their legacy remains in the Church of the Visitation, the Little School, and the cemetery. Visitors can also see several historic frame commercial buildings, a cotton gin complex, and historic farmsteads.
But if you’ve heard of Westphalia, chances are it’s for another reason. Fiddler Cotton Collins first heard the catchy waltz in Germany during World War II, bringing it back to play in the halls across Texas with his band, the Lone Star Playboys. It was after a show at Westphalia Hall in 1946 that hall manager B.J. Lignau suggested calling it the “Westphalia Waltz” – a tune that became a hit on Dallas’s Blue Bonnet Records in 1947.
On July 29, 2019, a spark from an undetermined source caused the beautiful, historical church to catch fire. The church was engulfed in under an hour. A rebuilding committee was immediately appointed, and on January 25, 2021, construction of the new church began. The new church will replicate the old structure as much as possible and with only minor changes.
Watch our Religious and Ethnic Diversity in German Texan Communities video to learn more about German Texan cultural heritage in Texas. This video was produced for inclusion in our German Texans mobile tour found in our Texas Time Travel Tours mobile app. Download the app for more videos and travel information: