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MOSCHELL, JOHANN ADAM (until around 1820 he signed Moschel), German Reformed minister; b. 3 Nov. 1795 in Mannheim (Federal Republic of Germany), natural son of Johann Friedrich Moschel and Maria Elisabetha Windenheimer; m. 20 April 1820 Mary Ann James in Lunenburg, N.S., and they adopted at least one child, a girl; d. 26 Jan. 1849 in Hohensachsen near Heidelberg, Grand Duchy of Baden (Federal Republic of Germany).

Johann Adam Moschell originated from the capital of the Palatinate, where a strong Calvinist tradition had prevailed since the Reformation. The secondary education he acquired in his home town indicates a middle-class background. His stepfather was a quartermaster in the Bavarian army when Moschell began to study philosophy and theology at Rupert Charles University of Heidelberg in 1813. After graduation two years later, he served for about a year as an auxiliary preacher of the Reformed Church in nearby Laufen and Gallenweiler. It is not known when or where he was ordained. Upon his return to Mannheim a suggestion that he go to Nova Scotia reached him. The German Reformed Church at Lunenburg, St Andrew’s, needed an assistant for the Reverend Bruin Romkes Comingo*, and the Lutheran pastor in that community, the Reverend Ferdinand Conrad Temme, agreed to help a sister congregation by issuing a call to the university at Heidelberg.

Moschell set out on 17 Oct. 1817 and arrived in Nova Scotia on 21 February. When Comingo died in January 1820, Moschell was on his own. During the initial years he was apparently quite eager to fulfil his duties. The German language was used in preaching, and the Heidelberg Catechism, introduced before Moschell’s arrival, figured in religious instruction. Serving the extensive parish required much dedication. It comprised some 2,000 souls scattered over 750 square miles, forcing Moschell to travel 1,500 miles each year. One telling example of his activity was the building and dedication in 1828 of a new church which cost £1,200 and could seat between 800 and 900 people. His marriage to Mary Ann James of his parish tied him further to his congregation.

Problems arose during the later years of his ministry in Lunenburg. One observer, the Reverend George Patterson*, remarked in the 1880s that Moschell’s “conduct unfortunately exhibited scenes over which charity must throw a vail.” According to this source the congregation’s well-being began to suffer from some lack of guidance, but no details are provided. Moschell, at any rate, considered a return to Germany, and when a new post was promised him in Baden he left Lunenburg in 1837. On his departure he recommended that the congregation join the Synod of Nova Scotia in connection with the Church of Scotland, in order to ensure development in the future. His advice was followed, although it meant the abandonment of services and instruction conducted in German. The merger does not appear to have caused undue hardships to the parish. He was succeeded by the Reverend Donald Allan Fraser.

Moschell arrived in Mannheim on 31 Aug. 1837. After a short stay in Wieblingen, near Heidelberg, he served as minister in the nearby communities of Plankstadt and Edingen from April 1838 to April 1840, and then at Hohensachsen until his death in 1849. His wife returned to Nova Scotia the same year.

Moschell left a distinct mark in Nova Scotia. The first duly educated and ordained minister of his church in the province, he was responsible for the acceptance of his congregation into a church with a similar confession. This development guaranteed the religious integrity of an ethnically distinguished community while facilitating its integration into Nova Scotian society.

U. Sautter

Evangelische Kirchengemeindeamt (Mannheim, Federal Republic of Germany), Taufbuch, 1764–94. Evangelische Pfarramt (Hohensachsen, Federal Republic of Germany), Beerdigungsbuch, 1811–69; Kirchenbuch, 1840–49. PANS, MG 1, 742, no.6. St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church (Lunenburg, N.S.), Dutch Reformed Church records, J. A. Moschell, Curriculum vitae; photographic portrait. Synod of Nova Scotia in connection with the Church of Scotland, Minutes (Halifax), 1837: 48–57. N.S. vital statistics, 1813-22 (Punch), no.1945. M. B. DesBrisay, History of the county of Lunenburg (2nd ed., Toronto, 1895; repr. Belleville, Ont., 1980), 91–92. J. A. Flett, The story of StAndrews Presbyterian Church, Lunenburg, N.S. (n.p., 1970), 13–14, 134–35. Gregg, Hist. of Presbyterian Church (1885). Udo Sautter, “Ein Deutscher Geistlicher in Neuschottland: Johann Adam Moschell (1795–1849),” German-Canadian Yearbook (Toronto), 1 (1973): 153–59.

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

U. Sautter, “MOSCHELL, JOHANN ADAM,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 7, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed July 28, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/moschell_johann_adam_7E.html.

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Permalink: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/moschell_johann_adam_7E.html
Author of Article: U. Sautter
Title of Article: MOSCHELL, JOHANN ADAM
Publication Name: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 7
Publisher: University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication: 1988
Year of revision: 1988
Access Date: July 28, 2014