Historical Markers
Snow Hill Cloister Historical Marker
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Snow Hill Cloister

Hershey/Gettysburg/Dutch Country Region


Marker Location:
PA 997 just South of Quincy

Dedication Date:
December 21, 1966

Behind the Marker

Barbara Karper found herself enthralled by the visiting preacher at her local church. His vivid descriptions of the imminent Second Coming of Christ and of the rapture that would accompany it impressed her immensely. This visitor, Conrad Beissel, was the leader of the pious, celibate community of believers at the markerEphrata Cloister.

A few years later, in 1770, Karper married Andreas Schneeberger and prevailed on him to join her in her religious passion. In the 1780s Peter Lehman became minister to the Schneebergers' church and in the 1790s he urged his congregation to adopt the celibate lifestyle of the residents at Ephrata. In 1798, five members of the Schneeberger family formed its own communal society based on the Ephrata model, which soon became known as Snow Hill Cloister (Schneeberger is German for "snow mountain").

The Snow Hill Community never grew to be very large. It expanded from the original five members to fifteen by 1830, and perhaps twice that many by 1845, but by the early 1870s its numbers had dwindled to sixteen Brothers and Sisters. Despite its small numbers, the community prospered for decades as members engaged in the production and sale of grain, textiles, barrels, brooms, furniture, and pottery. They also practiced the artistic calligraphy called fraktur and sang in the style of the famous Ephrata choir.

Members of the Snow Hill Cloister lived a more comfortable life than their Brothers and Sisters at Ephrata. Though they lived and ate together in a large brick common house constructed in 1814, they believed in moderation rather than asceticism. The celibate group attracted few converts, however, and in the late 1800s its members were so withdrawn from their neighbors that many in the area assumed the Cloister to be a Catholic nunnery.

In 1889, the few remaining communitarians closed the common dining room, the heart of their communal life. The last Brother and Sister died within a year of each other in 1894 and 1895. In the twentieth century a congregation of German Seventh Day Baptists continued to worship at Snow Hill, to care for the old common house, which in 1998 underwent needed repairs.
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