According to my reckoning, a budding romance between two schoolkids began behind my barn back in the early days of settlement in East Perry County. That may sound a little risqué, but these two youngsters had plenty of chaperones. You see, this romance had its beginnings in the Log Cabin College. The two characters were members of the inaugural class of that school which consisted of 11 students…7 boys and 4 girls. Those 11 students had at least 3 teachers who were also pastoral candidates during that first school year. Add to that the fact that there were likely two other cabins located on this property, one of which housed the girl’s mother. One other fact: the boy was 14 years old, and the girl was 9 years old when that school started in December of 1839. The two schoolkids were Franz Julius Biltz and Marie von Wurmb, and these two were married on September 23, 1849, making today their 170th anniversary.
Let’s start by taking a look at the beginnings of the future groom. Julius was born on July 24, 1825 in Mittelfrohna, Germany. There is a Niederfrohna (Lower Frohna), Mittelfrohna (Middle Frohna), and Oberfrohna (Upper Frohna) in Germany, and quite a few of the original immigrants were from there. The village that was established here in America where many of those immigrants settled was called Frohna.
Julius was the son of Christian Friedrich and Johanne Sophie (Ebertin) Biltz. His father died when Julius was just 2 years old. According to family histories found on Ancestry.com, Julius’s mother had previously been married to a Voelker and had 2 children, only one who was still alive at the time of the immigration. It is also reported that Johanne Sophie married again after Julius’s father died. He was a Lindner, and that couple is said to have had 2 children who came to America later to settle in East Perry County. This was new to me. I am going to have to research this a little more, especially since one of those Lindner children married a Weinhold who was part of what we refer to as the “Dirt Weinholds”. That Lindner husband died in 1834, and Johanne Sophie died in 1837.
When the immigration took place in 1838-1839, Julius was an orphan. So was his step-sister, Louise Voelker, who at that time was 22 years old. We find these two traveling together aboard the Olbers. Below is an image that shows these two on the passenger list for that ship. Julius’s last name is spelled Pilz on this list.
In a document we have in our research library, it states that 11 of Julius’s siblings had died in Germany and that neighboring pastors had talked him into joining the Gesellschaft.
It wasn’t long after arriving in America that Louise Voelker married Christian Bergt. Her story was part of a previous post titled, Memorial Cabin. Julius Biltz would become a student at the Log Cabin College, but it is somewhat unclear as to where he lived. I have read somewhere that he may have lived with Teacher J.F. Winter, who was the teacher at Trinity, Altenburg’s school and is reported to have taught music and art at the Log Cabin College. Teacher Winter never married. However, the 1840 census shows Teacher Winter as the only member of his household. Some have speculated that Julius may have lived with Pastor Loeber, but again, the 1840 census does not support that claim.
We do have documentation that demonstrates that Julius was part of the first class to be confirmed in Perry County on October 13, 1839. Here is an image showing that confirmation class. Julius is #1 on the list.
The Log Cabin College transitioned to become a school to train men for the Lutheran ministry, and there were 5 graduates of Concordia Seminary when it was in Altenburg. Julius was one of them. He was ordained as a Lutheran pastor on March 12, 1848 at a new church which was established in what was then Dissen, Missouri. That congregation was later called Trinity Lutheran Church in Friedheim, Missouri. Below is a photograph of that congregation’s present-day sanctuary.
Now let’s turn our attention to the future bride, Marie von Wurmb. Marie and her siblings might have had the most exotic birthplace of all the members of the Gesellschaft. They were born in South Africa where their father, Rev. Theobald von Wurmb was a missionary. Her mother was Johanna (Zahn) von Wurmb, the sister of Rev. Gotthold Loeber’s wife, Wilhelmine (Zahn) Loeber. Something happened to Rev. von Wurmb in South Africa. That story is rather a mystery, and I have heard several theories. Johanna and her 3 children arrived back in Germany not long before the departure of the Gesellschaft, and she and her family managed to join the immigrants in their journey to America. Below is the passenger list for the Republik that shows the von Wurmb family members.
If you look in front of Johanna’s name, it shows “Wdw” indicating she called herself a widow. Please note that even though they joined the immigration at a late date, they still managed to travel in the “cabin” area of their ship. There is another story that I have heard that says the von Wurmb’s possessions were placed aboard the Amalia which was later lost at sea. However, as far as I am concerned, that is only an interesting story (unless someone convinces me otherwise).
After arriving in Perry County, a cabin was built for the von Wurmb family near the Log Cabin College. It is said that Johanna was placed nearby the Log Cabin College to help care for the children at the school. She has often been called their school cook. So, on the property that I now own, there were likely three cabins….the Log Cabin College, the von Wurmb cabin, and the Buenger cabin. Since seeing the below drawing done by Gustav Pfau, who lived on an adjoining piece of property, I question whether his drawing is a depiction of the cabins on my property.
In a previous post about Gustav Pfau, I published this photo taken from my pasture in an attempt to show the possible location shown in the drawing above.
The three builders of the Log Cabin College and also the first teachers at that school were Theodore Brohm, Ottomar Fuerbringer, and Johann Friedrich Buenger. Since J.F. Buenger probably lived with his mother in her cabin, it is probable that Theodore and Ottomar lived in the loft above the Log Cabin College.
The budding romance between Julius and Marie was not the only romance that took place behind my barn. I like to think that Johanna got Theodore Brohm’s attention by providing him meals. As it turns out, Theodore Brohm married Johanna von Wurmb on April 18, 1843. I happen to think that it was the fact that Theodore had a call to become the pastor in New York City that precipitated this marriage. Shortly after their wedding Theodore, Johanna, and the von Wurmb children moved to New York City. I am always fascinated by the early lives of the von Wurmb children. They went from the the wilderness of South Africa to a short stay in Germany. Then a long voyage across the Atlantic Ocean where they ended up in the wilderness of Perry County, Missouri. It must have been a cultural shock when these children began living in the huge New York City. Below are photos of Theodore and Johanna.
When Marie von Wurmb left for New York, she was about 13 years old. As said earlier, she married Julius Biltz in 1849. There must have been some sort of correspondence that took place between these two characters between 1843 and 1849. It would be fascinating if those “love letters” would surface someday and be translated so we could read them. It is stated in several biographies of Julius Biltz that he was married in New York, although I was unable to find any record of that.
After their marriage, they returned to Friedheim where Rev. Biltz continued his ministry. Two children were born in Friedheim before Julius took a call to Cumberland, Maryland. We have photos of Julius holding Clara and Marie holding Bertha.
Clara would later marry Martin Luther Wyneken, the son of the second President of the Missouri Synod, F.J. Wyneken. Bertha would later marry Ferdinand Gerhard Walther, the son of C.F.W. Walther, the first President of the Missouri Synod.
Here are photos of Julius and Marie taken later in their lives.
I am going to bring this post to an end at this point in the life of Mr. & Mrs. Julius Biltz. There are so many fascinating stories in his life that a book could be written about him. In fact, I think a prominent Lutheran is getting close to publishing such a book. Maybe I will write a continuation of this story someday.
In closing, if there is a young Seminary student out there looking for a unique place to propose marriage to your girlfriend, contact me. There’s a great place behind my barn where you find a monument recognizing my pasture as being the first site of the Log Cabin College. And now you know that this location has previous experience at germinating great marriages.