Franz Julius Biltz (1825-1908)
Family Collection, 1840-1909.
- Collection Number: M-0026
- Collection Size: .21 linear feet
Franz Julius Biltz was born on 24 July 1825 in Mittelfrohna bei Limbach, Saxony, the son of Christian Friedrich Biltz (d. 1828/9) and Sophie Biltz, née Ebert (d.1838). The orphaned Franz Julius came to the United States with his half-sister Louise Voelker in the Saxon emigration under Martin Stephan in 1838. The protest of his legal guardian to the German authorities brought some disrepute to the Stephanite enterprise. Franz Julius attended the Altenburg school and then the seminary; he was present as a theological candidate at the 1847 organizing convention of the Missouri Synod and graduated in 1848.
His first call was to Trinity Church in Dissen (Friedheim), Cape Girardeau County, Missouri, where he was ordained on 12 March 1848. In 1854 he accepted the call of a congregation in Cumberland, Maryland, where he served for six years. In 1860 he was called to St. Paul Lutheran Church in Lafayette County, Missouri, located in a small community to which Biltz in his capacity as part-time postmaster gave the present name “Concordia.” Concordia’s location in southwestern Missouri placed Biltz and his congregation squarely amid armed conflict between secessionists and Union troops that took several lives from the congregation.
After the Civil War, the growth of Biltz’s congregation continued apace, and it established filial congregations at Emma, Alma, Norborne and Independence, Missouri. In 1883 under Biltz’s leadership St. Paul’s College in Concordia was founded. Beyond his congregation, Biltz served as president of the Western District of the Missouri Synod from 1875 to 1891, overseeing the rapid growth of the synod in the western states in those years.
In 1849 Biltz married Marie von Wurmb (d. 10 July 1891), a former classmate from Altenburg. He and his wife had thirteen children in all, of whom only seven survived to adulthood. Of these, three were daughters: Clara (b. 1851), who married M. L. Wyneken (son of F. D. C. Wyneken); Bertha (b. 1853), who married F. G. Walther (son of C. F. W. Walther); and Maria (b. 1864), who remained unmarried and cared for her father in his old age. The adult sons were Theodore Julius (1854–1880), who served as pastor in Ottawa and Morris, Illinois; Adolph Wilhelm (b. 1856); and Julius Friedrich (1860–1919), a layman who helped to found St. John’s College in Winfield, Kansas. One more son, Gustav Heinrich (1865–1890), also appears in the surviving correspondence.
In 1898, F. J. Biltz and his congregation celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of his ordination. His health soon began to fail, however, and he resigned as pastor in 1901. He died in Concordia on 19 November 1908.
Obituary in Der Lutheraner 65 (1909): 292.
Arndt, William. “Several Episodes from the Life of the Sainted Pastor F. J. Biltz.” Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly 6 (1933): 41–51.
Note: Biltz’s official correspondence as president of the Western District would presumably have been kept with the records of that body; however, the Western District material held by CHI seems to show little promise in that regard.
Scope and Content Note
The folders are arranged in alphabetical order by type of document. Present in the collection is correspondence, photographs, various printed items and writings and a genealogical materials collection on the Biltz family.
The first two folders contain correspondence. The first folder of correspondence holds that of F. J. Biltz from the years 1840 to 1890. The letters (in German) are arranged in chronological order within the folder. These letters are primarily of a personal nature, though there is one letter to Walther dealing with seminary business and containing a copy of one of Biltz’s sermons. Most include a transcription. The originals of several letters are contained in the scrapbook collected by Carl Eduard Kühnert (f. 6).
The second folder of correspondence holds that of Biltz’s children (in German and English). These are also arranged chronologically within the folder. Also present is a sketch of the life of Theodore Biltz that was read at his 1881 funeral.
The third folder contains information on the genealogy of the Biltz family, including a copy and transcription of German parish records on F.J. Biltz’s ancestors obtained by Carl Eduard Kühnert, as well as a list of Biltz’s children and grandchildren.
The fourth folder contains material related to F. J. Biltz’s fiftieth ordination anniversary celebration in 1898 in addition to material from his funeral in 1908.
The sixth folder contains a scrapbook of materials on F. J. Biltz assembled in 1909 by Carl Eduard Kühnert for Biltz’s daughter Bertha Walther. These materials include letters from Biltz to German relatives (copies and transcriptions are in f.1), newspaper clippings, and genealogical information from German records (see also f.7).
The seventh folder contains manuscripts of sermons and essays and one poem by F. J. Biltz (in German and Latin), as well as a musical manuscript presumably copied by him.
The eighth folder contains a manuscript, “Three Civil War Letters by Pastor J. F. Biltz and Mrs. Maria von Wurmb Biltz with historical notes by their great-grandson, Arthur C. Walther.”
The ninth and tenth folders contain diaries covering the Civil War period, 1861–1865, as well as 1869. They consist of issues for those years of Der Lutherischer Kalender, published in Allentown, Pennsylvania, with interleaved pages on which handwritten notations by month are found. The notations include extensive references to the turbulent Civil War activities in which the Biltz family found itself enmeshed, recounting troop movements, attacks on the German settlers in the area by pro-Southern forces and other events. The notes also include more general references to the events of the day, personal activities and financial information relating to the Biltz family and the congregation that Biltz served.
- f. 1 Correspondence — F.J. Biltz, 1840–1890
- f. 2 Correspondence — Biltz children, 1876–1881
- f. 3 Genealogical information
- f. 4 Occasional material: Biltz 50th ordination anniversary/funeral, 1898–1908
- f. 5 Photographs
- f. 6 Scrapbook
- f. 7 Sermons, essays, and miscellaneous pieces
- f. 8 “Three Civil War Letters”
- f. 9 Diaries, 1861–1863
- f.10 Diaries, 1864–1865, 1869