Biography of Rev. Ernest Moehl
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Rev. Ernest Moehl. The wealth of Champaign County does not consist alone in broad lands and money and other material things, but in its people of sterling worth and integrity of character. Among those who have devoted themselves to the molding of character and the improvement of spiritual conditions is Rev. Ernest Moehl, pastor of the German Evangelical Church of Flatville.
Rev. Mr. Moehl was born in Hersfeld, near Cassel, Germany, a son of John and Dorothy (Auding) Moehl. His father was a teacher in the old country. The family consisted of ten children, seven sons and three daughters, Ernest being the oldest son.
He received his education in German schools, including collegiate training, and graduated in the spring of 1881. In the fall of that year he came to the United States, for the purpose of fitting himself for ministerial labors in America. He pursued his course in Wartburg Seminary at Mendota, Illinois, from 1881 to 1884, and in the latter year went to Nebraska, where he was ordained in the German Evangelical Church. His first charge was at Waterloo, Iowa, where he remained more than ten years.
While there he went to Mendota, Illinois, and married Miss Charlotte Fritschel. She was born in Iowa, a daughter of Sigmund and Margaret (Brottengeier) Fritschel, both natives of Germany. Mrs. Moehl was reared and educated in Mendota, Illinois, and they were married in the German church there. After their marriage they went to Iowa, and four children were born to them: Hedwig, Emma, Hilda and Erna. The two younger daughters are now attending the grade schools at Flatville. Hedwig and Emma received their education at Dubuque and Ottumwa, Iowa. Emma graduated from a seminary at Waverly, Iowa, and fitted herself for work as a teacher, which she has followed very successfully for a number of years. She is now teaching in the German school at Flatville, being instructor in German and English. She is a young lady of many accomplishments and assists her father as organist in the church. Hedwig is devoting her time to the home interests.
In October, 1895, Rev. Mr. Moehl removed from Iowa to Champaign County, entering a new field of work as pastor of the German Evangelical Church at Flatville. For twenty-one years he has gone in and out among these good people as a preacher and an instructor on the important things of life, preparing them for a truer and better citizenship not only in this life but in that which is to come.
His congregation has grown and prospered and with prosperity there came a recognition of the need for a larger and better edifice in which to worship. Mr. Moehl laid this cause before his people, a committee was appointed, plans were carefully studied, and with the enthusiastic cooperation of his parishioners the work was begun and has resulted in a beautiful and imposing Gothic church building, which is one of the finest in Champaign County. It is built of Hytex brick and sandstone, cost $50,000 and was dedicated January 26, 1915. The broad steps in front lead to the main entrance, arid the auditorium is reached through three glass folding doors. Over these doors on the stained glass is the inscription in German, “Beware your feet, if you come to the House of the Lord and come that you may hear.” The auditorium is a wonderful work of art, containing many stained glass windows with life size pictures of biblical scenes and characters. One of the figures is Luther, another is Paul, and on a large south window is Christ represented in the home of Mary and Martha. There) are mural paintings representing the shepherds at Bethlehem, Christ blessing the children, Christ walking on the water, while back of the altar are six paintings representing Easter scenes and the Apostles Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The pulpit is in the Gothic style to correspond with the architectural harmony of the building, and there is a fine pipe organ. A complete individual plant supplies electric light.
The first church of this congregation was erected in 1874 and stood until 1887. The second church was used from 1887 until 1914, and then a temporary structure during 1914-15 until the completion of the new building. Below the cornerstone of the present church is the cornerstone of the old one, containing the inscription of date of erections. The church has a membership of 135 families. It is the center of a lively picture on Sundays when automobiles bring the worshipers from near and far. There is a large Sunday school of interested children.
Rev. Mr. Moehl has conducted a German school during the years he has spent at Flatville for the benefit of the children of the church. There the Bible is taught daily, in addition to literary studies.
Rev. Mr. Moehl is a man of broad and liberal views and in politics is a Republican. He is a fine type of the American citizen and has always been proud of his American home and has made his work a factor in the building up of loyalty to country as well as in the education of his people for the other conditions of life here and later. Rev. Mr. Moehl’s experiences since coming to America have been both pleasant and congenial, and here he has found his work and has never had cause to regret the influences that led him away from the land of his birth.