Purpose of Project The Ephrata Cloister or Ephrata Community was a religious community, established in 1732 by Johann Conrad Beissel at Ephrata, in what is now Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Ephrata Cloister was a protestant monastic community of celibate Brothers and Sisters supported by a married congregation who lived near the settlement. Members, mostly German immigrants, sought spiritual goals rather than earthly rewards and chose Saturday as their main day of worship.
At its zenith in the 1750s, the congregation numbered nearly 300 people. Housed in impressive Germanic-style buildings, the lifestyle of the celibate members was characterized by strict discipline and self-denial. They became known for their self-composed music, Germanic calligraphy called Frakturschriften, and printing. Following the death of the last celibate member in 1813, the remaining married congregation formed the German Seventh Day Baptist Church. Members continued to live and worship at the Cloister until 1934.
In 1941 the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania acquired the surviving elements of the historic site and began a program of restoration and interpretation. Today, nine original buildings are part of a 28-acre complex open for visitors. The grounds of the community are now owned by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and are administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Marie Kachel Bucher, the last surviving resident of the Ephrata Cloister, died on July 27, 2008, at the age of 98.
This project will find all Geni profiles for the Solitary and the Householders of Ephrata Cloister. By using the resources below, we will have a better understanding of life at Ephrata.
Time Line for Ephrata Cloister
- 1691 Conrad Beissel, founder of Ephrata Cloister is born in Eberbach, Germany.
- 1720 Beissel comes to America and eventually settles in Lancaster County.
- 1732 Beissel leaves his friends near Lancaster to pursue a life of solitude. This is the start of the Ephrata Cloister.
- 1741 Ephrata Cloister begins to develop industries of milling and printing
- 1740s-1750s Ephrata Cloister is at its peak with about 80 celibate members and an additional 200 married members. The community becomes a center for the creation of art, music and printing. Significant buildings, including the surviving dormitory and meetinghouse are built.
- 1768 Conrad Beissel dies and the community begins to decline
- 1777 A military hospital is established at Ephrata by the American Army in the Revolutionary War
- 1813 Last celibate member dies; the remaining married members for the German Seventh Day Baptist Church
- 1934 The congregation of the German Seventh Day Baptist Church at Ephrata is dissolved
- 1941 The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania acquires the historic site and begins restoration.
Important Profiles for Ephrata
- Conrad Beissel (1691-1768)
- Jacob Stuntz
- Anna Eicher
- Maria Eicher
- Peter Miller
- Ludwig Höcker
- Ludwig Blum
- Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf
- Israel Eckerling
- William M. Fahnestock
- George Adam Martin
In addition, we want to find all the residents of the Cloister and include their profiles in the project. _________________________________________________
- Alderfer, E.G. - The Ephrata Commune: An Early American Counterculture, University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1985.
- Best, Jane Evans - Turmoil in Conestoga, Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage, January 1963, pp. 2-27.
- Gass and Miller - Chronicon Ephratense: A History of the Community of Seventh Day Baptists at Ephrata, Translated by J. Max Hark, Lancaster: S.H. Zahn & Co., 1889.
- Longenecker, Stephen - The Christopher Sauers, Elgin: Brethren Press, 1981, pp. 28-49.
- Sachse, Julius Friedrich - The German Sectarians of Pennsylvania, 1708-1800: A Critical and Legendary History of the Ephrata Cloister and the Dunkers, Philadelphia, 1899-1900; reprinted by AMS Press, New York, 1971.
- Seachrist, Denise A. - Snow Hill and the German Seventh-Day Baptists: heirs to the musical traditions of Conrad Beissel's Ephrata Cloister, Ph.D. Dissertation, Kent State University, 1993.
- Viehmeyer, L. Allen - The Bruderlied and the Schwesterlied of the Ephrata Cloister, Yearbook of German-American Studies. 31 (1996): 121-136.
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