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|Size||About 600 items (2.5 linear feet)|
|Abstract||William Dygnum Moss (1866-1932) was born in Ontario, Canada. His career as a clergyman in the Presbyterian Church included posts in his native country and at two churches in the United States. He served as pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Chapel Hill, N.C., for more than 20 years, during which time he also ministered to students at the University of North Carolina. The collection contains correspondence, sermons, prayers, articles, clippings, and photographs documenting the life and work of William Dygnum Moss, mostly as pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Chapel Hill, N.C. Among the photographs are some of Chapel Hill; the University of North Carolina campus; and school children, some of them barefooted, at school in the 1920s. There are also materials of Chapel Hill resident Madge Kennette, a member of the family with whom Moss resided at the time of his death in 1932. These include letters; clippings; and diaries, 1911-1969, that closely document her daily life.|
|Creator||Moss, William Dygnum, 1866-1932.|
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The Reverend William Dygnum Moss (1866-1932), known to many as "Parson Moss," was the son of William and Anne Coulter Moss. He was a native of Canada, but acquired his naturalization papers shortly after arriving in the United States.
Prior to coming to the United States, Moss lived in various parts of Canada, where he attended school and held pastorates. The November 1921 issue of The Carolina Magazine reports that his family settled in the central province of Manitoba during his childhood. According to this source, Moss was greatly influenced by the scenic views of the region and decided early in life to pursue a career in the ministry.
Moss was a graduate of McGill University in Montreal. In keeping with his leanings towards the clergy, he also earned a degree from the Presbyterian College of Montreal. Later, he served as pastor to congregations in the eastern and southeastern provinces of Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, respectively.
Health concerns led Moss on his southward journey from Nova Scotia to the United States. He arrived in North Carolina in 1903 and accepted a pastorate at the Presbyterian Church of Chapel Hill. Moss held this post for more than 20 years, though not consecutively. After only a few years, he accepted a call from the Washington Heights Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. He remained there for six years.
By the time Moss left for Washington, he had garnered tremendous respect and admiration within Chapel Hill's Presbyterian Church community. He was so highly regarded that members of the congregation responded to his departure by refusing to accept a substitute pastor in his stead. Moss returned to North Carolina in 1912 and resumed his role with the former flock. He continued his services there for the next two decades and spent the remainder of his life in Chapel Hill.
Through his leadership and work as a clergyman, Moss formed many close ties with the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. He enjoyed long-lasting personal friendships with the institution's presidents, faculty members, and thousands of students. He earned a reputation for seeking out and visiting with students in their dormitories and fraternity houses. The collection includes letters from a number of parents who pledged or gave financial support to his ministry in exchange for the kindness extended to their sons attending the University.
Moss was a popular speaker at annual commencement exercises. He devoted many years of service as chair of the campus Y.M.C.A. and gained recognition as the unofficial University chaplain. From 1914 to 1915, he pursued graduate studies at UNC. In 1918, UNC conferred upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity.
During his career, he authored a number of articles and published several sermons, including "A Christmas Message " and "A Tragedy of Speed: Sermon on the Wreck of the Titanic."
After Moss returned to Chapel Hill from Washington, D.C., in 1912, the parsonage served as a home to the family of Joseph Kennette, formerly of Washington, N.C. Members of the Kennette family kept house for Moss. Joseph Kennette eventually purchased a home for his family on Chapel Hill's East Franklin Street. Years later, the parson took up residency in the Kennettes' home, where he died of a heart attack on 7 October 1932.
Moss's papers include numerous love letters from a Washington, D.C., woman named "Marnie", who referred to herself as his wife. There is no evidence, however, that they were married. At the time of Moss's death, a local newspaper stated that he was survived only by two sisters: Eliza Moss of Portage, La Prairie, Manitoba, Canada, and Mrs. John W. Ross of Pictou, Nova Scotia.Back to Top
The collection contains correspondence, sermons, prayers, articles, clippings, and photographs documenting the life and work of William Dygnum Moss, mostly as pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Chapel Hill, N.C. Among the photographs are some of Chapel Hill; the University of North Carolina campus; and school children, some of them barefooted, at school in the 1920s. There are also materials of Chapel Hill resident Madge Kennette, a member of the Joseph E. Kennette family with whom Moss resided at the time of his death in 1932. These include correspondence; clippings; and diaries, 1911-1969, that closely document her daily life.Back to Top
Correspondence, 1899-1933, of William Dygnum Moss. Included are letters from friends and associates in Canada, France, Persia, and throughout the United States. These materials, some of which predate Moss's arrival in North Carolina, provide extensive documentation of his work as a clergyman. A letter dated 22 December 1899 expresses the gratitude and affection of the St. Andrews Church congregation in Pictou, Nova Scotia, which gave Moss a gold watch in exchange for his services as pastor. There are similar letters from residents of the United States, thanking him for his attention to, and involvement in, a variety of spiritual-, financial-, and education-related matters. Included are a significant number of letters from parents requesting Moss's guidance and influence in the lives of their sons attending the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. In addition, there are numerous undated love letters signed by "Marnie," a woman in Washington, D.C., who referred to herself as Moss's wife, and wrote to Moss as "Guilliamme." In some of these letters Marnie urged Guilliamme to consider starting a ginseng business.
Sermons and prayers delivered during worship services and on special occasions. There are three published sermons, including "A Christmas Message," "A Tragedy of Speed: Sermon on the Wreck of the Titanic," and Moss's first sermon at the Washington Heights Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. Note that many sermons are handwritten drafts on carbon paper and are quite fragile. This series also includes a small number of humorous writings of a folkloric nature.
Articles, originals and photocopies, concerning Moss's work as a clergyman. Included are articles from The Carolina Magazine, the Raleigh News and Observer, the Durham Morning Herald, the Raleigh Times, and from newspapers outside North Carolina and the United States. These articles address spiritual matters and examine the significance of the church as an institution. Notable among the materials is a copy of Moss's farewell sermon, delivered at St. Andrew's Church in Pictou, Nova Scotia, on 29 November 1903 and published in The Pictou Advocate. There are about a dozen clippings concerning Moss's death in 1932.
Arrangement: by subject.
Individual and group photographs of Moss and others. There is also a group photograph of Madge Kennette, as well as scenes of English castles; Chapel Hill; the University of North Carolina campus; and school children, some of them barefooted, at school in the 1920s.
Arrangement: by type of material, then chronological.
Materials concerning the life and activities of Chapel Hill resident Madge Kennette, a member of the family with whom Moss resided at the time of his death. Included are letters and Christmas cards sent to Kennette from family members and friends; Kennette's diaries, 1911 and 1959-1969, which closely document her daily life; and a few clippings, some photocopies, documenting her long career as a secretary in the Chemistry Department at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
Items separated include photographs (P-4916).Back to Top