Brief History of Concordia Missouri

Concordia Main Street around 1900.

Immigrants from the southern Hanover region of Germany platted Concordia in 1868.

Located 60 miles east of Kansas City and 20 miles north of Knob Noster, immigrants from the southern Hanover region of Germany platted Concordia in 1868. Prior to 1868, a Lutheran community began to gather in the German community of Freedom Township, near the present town site of Concordia in 1840. The immigrants built and dedicated a log church and named it St. Paul's. Henry Christian Liever, a school teacher, led the church and community until Rev. Franz Julius Blitz arrived in 1860.

About the same time, around 1840, the Georgetown-Lexington stagecoach line became operational and ran along the edge of the German settlements. The stage coach line provided access to goods and services that took at least three days of travel for them to arrive. In 1850 Mordecai Cook opened a store on the line two and half miles west of St. Paul's church. In 1851, a U.S. Post office branch opened in Cook's store.

In 1859, Henry and Augus Brockhoff, brothers, opened a store on what eventually came to be known as St. Louis street in Concordia. By 1862, a hotel, blacksmith's shop, and bank had been built on St. Louis street less than a half mile from St. Paul's. Early in 1865 Revered Biltz petitioned the Postmaster General in Washington D. C. for a post office. On May 17th of the same year, the petition was granted and the new post office was established near the church.

Biltz gave the name Concordia to the "new town growing up around Brockoff's store in the hope that concord would reign between the Germans and their neighbors." The name is believed to be inspired by the German poem: "Das Lied von der Glocke." The English translation of the text is as follows: "Now let us gather round the frame! The ring let ev'ry workman swell. That we may consecrate the Bell! Concordia be henceforth its name, assembling all the loving throng in harmony and union strong."

Though the settlers hoped for peace and harmony they were ideologically at odds with their slave holding neighbors, due to their anti-slavery views. When the Civil War erupted in Missouri, the German settlers were well known for their pro-Union and anti-slavery attitudes and many joined a Home Guard stationed in Lexington, Missouri. With many of the men gone, southern partisans and bushwhackers raided Concordia. Initially, the raids resulted in the confiscation of the settler's goods and horses, but over time, residents experienced kidnapping, executions, and a massacre.

On the night of October 9, 1864, one hundred bushwhackers began riding and attacking the settlements around Concordia. A group of 25 Germans rode to the aid of settlers who had set an ambush at Davis Creek. A company of bushwhackers intercepted them near the town of Emma. The bushwhachers executed all but one of the Germans smashing their skulls with clubs and rifle stocks. It is speculated that Jesse James and his brother, Frank, who were known to frequent the area around Concordia, were among the company of bushwhackers that carried out the massacre. On the sesquicentennial of the massacre in 2014, area residents erected a granite memorial in the town of Emma to honor and remember the German settlers who died that day.

Now, Concordia is a peaceful rural town that celebrates its strong German roots. It is home to St. Paul's College and to the state's only Lutheran boarding school, which has been in operation for over 130 years. The town is also home to the Concordia Area Museum and Historical Society which showcases vintage photographs and artifacts that tell the story of Concordia and the adjacent communities.