Concordia Historical Institute has a site called Today in History at which you can find significant events that happened on a certain date throughout church history. That site can be found here:
Here is what that site looks like.
I have put a box around today’s date, March 12. If you were to click on that date, you would find a list of events….many of them birthdays….that took place on that day. Since our Synod has a way to get this list delivered to your e-mail account each day, I do not have to go to this site all the time. I just peruse it in my e-mail each morning to see if there is a possible story for our blog. It is not often that this is the source for my stories, but today it was. That is because in the list of events for March 12th, I found 3 different people in the list who had roots in very early Perry County Lutheran history. Those 3 were Georg Schieferdecker, Heinrich Wunder, and Franz Julius Biltz. All three of them became Lutheran pastors.
All three of these men also achieved such notoriety that they are listed in the publication called the Lutheran Cyclopedia. It just so happens that Rev. Schieferdecker and Rev. Wunder have March 12th birthdays. For Rev. Biltz, March 12th was the day of his ordination. Pastors Schieferdecker and Biltz were part of the Gesellschaft that arrived in Perry County in 1839. Pastors Biltz and Wunder were two of the first five graduates of Concordia Seminary. They graduated when the seminary was located in Altenburg before that institution was moved to St. Louis.
I will start with the oldest of the three, Rev. Georg Schieferdecker. He came to America aboard the Copernicus and was listed as a Candidate of Theology. It was not long before he was ordained as a pastor and began serving in a few congregations in Monroe and St. Clair Counties in Illinois, not far from St. Louis. He would later become the second pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg and then became embroiled in the chiliasm controversy which resulted in him starting the new Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg. That congregation was not a member of the Missouri Synod during most of its history. Rev. Schieferdecker would later change his position and would rejoin the Missouri Synod. Here is the description of his service as it is recorded in the Lutheran Cyclopedia.
This photo is one that we have of Rev. Schieferdecker.
Rev. Heinrich Wunder was born exactly 15 years after Rev. Schieferdecker. Rev. Schieferdecker was born in 1815, and Rev. Wunder was born in 1830. After coming to America and spending a short time in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, he attended Concordia Seminary in Altenburg. He graduated from that school in 1849, right before that institution moved to St. Louis. His first call was to Millstadt, Illinois. However, in 1851, he became pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Chicago where he spent the rest of his career. We have this biography for him in a booklet that tells the tale of the first 5 graduates of Concordia Seminary, Altenburg.
The statistics shown in this article are quite astounding. Not long after his death, the cemetery in which he was buried was renamed in his honor to be called Wunder’s Cemetery. It is found in the Chicago area.
Here is another photo we have of Rev. Wunder.
Here is the bio that is included in the Lutheran Cyclopedia.
The last of this trio of pastors is Rev. Franz Julius Biltz. He came to America aboard the Olbers as an orphan. He was in the first class of students to attend the Log Cabin College in Altenburg. He also graduated from that school after it became a seminary later in the 1840’s. It was in 1848 that he was ordained at Trinity Lutheran Church in what was then called Dissen, Missouri. That city would later become Friedheim. Rev. Biltz was their first called pastor. Since Dissen is fairly close by, both Rev. Gotthold Loeber from Altenburg and Rev. Carl Gruber from Uniontown traveled there to participate in that ordination which took place on March 12th.
Here is Rev. Biltz’s biography from that same booklet in which we find the stories of the first five graduates of Concordia Seminary.
Here is a photograph of a young Rev. Biltz which was taken during his time in Dissen.
Here is the bio that is contained in the Lutheran Cyclopedia.
As you can see, these three had pretty impressive resumes and were right in the middle of the establishment and growth of the Lutheran church in America. All three of them were at one time or another presidents of districts which were part of what became the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
One more thing. While looking for previous blog posts which may have referred to any of these three men, I ran across one that mentioned all three. I was caught by surprise by that one. The post was titled, Another Initial Pastor, and it told the story of Rev. C.W.R. Frederking. I think you would find it interesting how all three of these men are tied into the story of yet another pioneer pastor of the Lutheran church.