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URBANTKE, CARL A.

URBANTKE, CARL A. (1831–1912). Carl A. Urbantke, pioneer Methodist minister to German immigrants in Texas and founder of Blinn Memorial College, one of eight sons and two daughters of Friederich and Auguste Urbantke, was born on December 3, 1831, in Bielitz, Silesia, Austria, now a part of Bielsko, Katowice, Poland. He attended the Lutheran parochial school of Bielitz between the age of six and fourteen. He sailed to Texas on the Friedrich der Grosse on August 15, 1853. Eventually Urbantke acquired acreage and built a log home near Millheim, on Mill Creek near its confluence with the Brazos River in eastern Austin County. By 1860 he was able to bring his father, stepmother, and a younger brother to Texas. In 1865 he married Carolina Hartmann, a widow with three children. Subsequently they had three children of their own. Before his marriage, Urbantke had become a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, at Industry, under the pastorate of Karl Biel. Urbantke was made leader among the members and given opportunities to preach. The German-speaking Methodists of Texas could publish in German only through the facilities of the Methodist Episcopal Church, North, so Reverend Biel recommended that his congregation secede from its southern governing body and join the Northern church. It cost them their church property, but the congregation voted to secede in 1866. The following year the first session of the Texas Mission Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church formed a German district, which named Urbantke pastor at Round Top, Texas. In 1873 Bishop Isaac W. Wiley divided the conference into four smaller conferences, which included a Southern German Conference for the German-Americans.

Urbantke played an important role in the growth of the conference. His career included ministerial appointments at Rabb's Creek (1868), Industry (1869–71), Brenham (1872–73, 1883–85, 1892–96), San Antonio District (1874–77), Waco District (1878), Austin District (1879–80), and Houston District (1881–82). The 1882 session of the Southern Conference selected Urbantke to teach ministerial students at Brenham. In March 1883 he began with a class of three students at the Mission Institute. Rev. Christian Blinn, of New York, promised to pay the salary of another teacher and supervise the building of a two-story frame structure, if the citizens of Brenham raised between $3,000 and $4,000 for the endowment fund. They raised $3,800. Blinn contributed $10,000, and after his death his widow contributed another $3,000. The school was named Blinn Memorial College for its benefactor. Urbantke served the college for sixteen years. When he retired in 1899 the enrollment exceeded 100 students, and campus facilities included six buildings valued at $16,000. The college board made Urbantke president emeritus for the remainder of his life. He served again as pastor in Brenham from 1902 to 1908 and died on July 12, 1912.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Charles F. Schmidt, History of Blinn College (San Antonio, 1935?; 2d ed., Fort Worth, 1958). Carl Urbantke, Aus meinen Lebensführungen (Cincinnati, 1902; trans., as Texas Is the Place for Me, by Ella Urbantke Fischer, Austin: Pemberton Press, 1970).

B. C. Schmidt

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

B. C. Schmidt, "URBANTKE, CARL A.," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fur01), accessed April 18, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.