Concordia Missouri Franz J. Biltz

Franz J. Biltz

It is difficult to discuss the history of Concordia without first discussing Franz Julius Biltz. Born in Mittelfrohna, then part of the Kingdom of Saxony now Germany in 1825, Biltz became an orphan at age twelve. His half-sister, Ms. Louise Volker, brought him to the United States in 1838. Two men also on the voyage - a Rev. Martin Stephan and Otto Herman Walther- opened a school shortly after arriving in Perry County in southeastern Missouri. Biltz would become one of the school's first students.

In 1848, Biltz graduated from the Lutheran Seminary in Altenburg. He served at congregations in Cape Girardeau and in Cumberland Maryland before accepting a call to be the pastor at St. Paul's Congregation in Lafayette County Missouri in 1860. His agreed-upon salary for this undertaking would be $300 a year, along with free dwelling and free firewood.

Pastor Biltz would be a key figure in the area of Freedom Township during the Civil War. This included being captured and briefly taken prisoner in a Bushwhacker raid where six men were shot, three of whom died. Ultimately, it would be Pastor Biltz - who would also briefly sure as postmaster- who gave the "German Settlement in Freedom Township" the name Concordia and officially founded the town in 1865. The name was chosen in gratitude for the peace which had finally come to the area following the Civil War as "concord" means harmony between groups of people. Today the town motto is "Hearts in Harmony."

He served the Concordia community for 41 years total and during this time would be instrumental in founding the Lutheran churches in Emma, Alma, Norborne, and even Independence, Missouri. He would also be instrumental in the opening of St. Paul's College in Concordia, still open today as St. Paul Lutheran High School. He would retire from the ministry in 1901 at age of 76 and died in 1908 at the age of 83. In 1925, St. Paul's College dedicated its first dormitory in his honor naming it "Biltz Hall." Biltz Hall still stands today and serves as a hotel on the campus at St. Paul Lutheran High School.