Bryan and Julie are the proud owners of Westphalia Trading Co., LLC. They have known each other most of their lives and were married in 1991. Bryan was a full-time Jefferson City Fireman (Driver) for nearly 20 years until his retirement in 2021 and Julie worked for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for nearly 30 years until her retirement in 2020.
Bryan has been coming up with ideas and implementing most all of them since WTC was started in about 2010.
Bryan and Julie's son Zachary is currently serving in the US Army and based in North Carolina with his wife Madeline. Zachary was a big part of WTC in it's early years, where he was shaped into the man he is today by working for his parents and helping in the greenhouse, farmer's market, and whatever sort of manual labor was needed.
We're hoping someday they'll come back and settle next door...fingers crossed! (No pressure, guys.)
Erin is a familiar face around WTC because Bryan and Julie make her work here every chance she can! Erin is a graduate of UCM in Warrensburg and is an Autism Specialist. Her part of WTC has been helping us since she was a child as well - working in our fields cutting flowers to now running the store and whatever else we need. She currently lives in Westphalia and we love having her nearby!
When Bryan and Julie bought the property that is now the current location of WTC, the home that is now Herman's House needed work. It was filled with green shag carpeting, a tiny bathroom and an unfinished upstairs. Bryan and Julie fixed it up (with lots of help) and they lived in the house for a year while they renovated the farm house behind the zoo, Marie's house, which is their current residence.
After its renovation, Herman's House was originally our antique store and gift shop, but Bryan and Julie decided that the space would be better utilized as a vacation rental home and Herman's House was born. Visitors from all over come for many different reasons to our little town of Westphalia and they all love staying in the house that has a petting zoo in its backyard.
The original settlers of the farm that WTC now calls home were Joe and Gertrude (Mertensmeyer) Koester. Joe and Gertrude were married on September 27, 1921, and originally lived in the log cabin that is still standing at the bottom of the hill. The cabin can be seen from the Storybook Trail and it's Bryan and Julie's hope that they will be able to restore it. Joe and Gertrude lived in the cabin where they had their two daughters, Marie, in 1922, and Bernadette, in 1924.
In 1927, Joe and Gertrude built the house where Bryan and Julie currently live. Gertrude passed away at age 51 on October 17, 1945.
In 1962, Bernadette married Herman Brendel and Herman built the house (now called Herman's House) at the top of the hill for his new bride. Joe continued to live with his oldest daughter Marie, until his death on January 17, 1966, at age 80.
Marie was born on the farm in 1922 and lived here her entire life until she moved to the Westphalia Hills nursing home prior to her death in 2008. Marie babysat for numerous children from the Westphalia area. She never had indoor plumbing in the house and the kids who stayed with her used the outhouse (which still stands) behind her house. The kids tell stories about staying with Marie and helping with things like gathering eggs, milking cows, gathering firewood and even helping to butcher chickens for their own lunch. Many excellent and fun stories are told by the numerous kids that Marie sat for throughout the years. She never married, but it is said that she had a fiancé who never came home from WWII. Bryan and Julie are proud to have saved her home and the many memories that reside there.
In 2015, Bryan and Julie renovated and remodeled the house that the Koester's had built in 1927. They kept the original layout and the trim in the four rooms downstairs, finished the upstairs - keeping as much of the original features of the home as possible - and added on two bathrooms, a bedroom and utility room to the end of the house. The original porch posts are still there, and the tin that was on the roof outside is now the ceiling of the upstairs family room. The outhouse still sits out back - just for historical purposes only!
Bernadette, born in 1924, was Marie's only sister. She was married in 1962 to Herman Brendel, but she didn't move far. Herman and Bernadette bought some of the property from Bernadette's father and Herman built their house by Hwy 63.(Now called Herman's House.) Bernadette loved flowers and many native plants and bushes that she planted still surround Herman's House. She and Herman never had any children, but Bernadette kept goats and treated them royally. She and Herman gardened and Bernadette was a housekeeper. Bernadette passed away on December 29, 2012, leaving Herman a widower.
Herman Brendel was born on September 4, 1918. Herman worked as a truck driver for Capital City Oil Company for over 21 years. He also had been employed with J. Dawson Inc. But Herman was a farmer and a worker. He built the house and most of the outbuildings around Herman's House often using parts he found and recycled. He farmed the entire farm, threshing wheat (as shown in the picture above) and put in a large garden. Herman engineered his house so that rain water collected in the large cistern under the porch provided all the water in the home except the drinking water in the kitchen, which came from the city water line.
One of the stories told about Herman was that he could not decide which of the Koester sisters he wanted to marry and went to the priest to ask if he could marry both of them. After being told no, that he had to choose, he married Bernadette.
Herman passed away on July 21, 2013, just six months after Bernadette.
After Herman's death, the property was put into probate and given to Herman's 39 nieces and nephews. Bryan and Julie originally purchased 16 acres of the farm, including the two houses, in 2015. After renovating Herman's House, they moved in and started work on the petting zoo, building the main barn right away. In 2016, they began renovating Marie's house and moved there in July of 2016. The farm and zoo keeps growing every year. In 2019, they added the corn maze and sunflower field, and in 2021 they purchased more of the original farm where the pumpkin patch is now, bringing the farm size up to 40 acres.