Hearing Echoes of Spartan Life Travelers' Records Tell Tale of 18th-Century Pennsylvania Cloister

By Susanne Hopkins 1997, Los Angeles Daily News | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), March 30, 1997 | Go to article overview

Hearing Echoes of Spartan Life Travelers' Records Tell Tale of 18th-Century Pennsylvania Cloister


Susanne Hopkins 1997, Los Angeles Daily News, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


IT IS the tourists who tell the story of Ephrata Cloister.

Without the writings of visitors who stopped there for food and shelter on their 18th-century travels, we would know little about this religious community tucked amid the small villages and rolling farmlands of north central Pennsylvania near Lancaster.

At its height in 1750, this complex of oddly angled buildings spread over 25 acres of gentle hills housed 300 celibate brothers and sisters who adhered to a rigid code of behavior that forbade comfort, chatter and worldly pleasures. "Life here was about self-discipline, self-denial, self-sacrifice," says Angela Shuck, who, garbed in a white robe similar to that which the cloister members wore, is leading three of us around the grounds. It's a lifestyle that still holds some fascination for tourists, 60,000 of whom annually detour off Pennsylvania's Route 222 near Lancaster and visit the complex at the edge of the bustling, attractive village of Ephrata. The 13 restored and reconstructed buildings, including residences, a bakery, print shop, barn, carpentry shop and stable, rest in a remarkably serene setting. There is only a slight breeze when I arrive, but other than the whistling of the trees, it's silent - so still, in fact, that when a bird sings, I am startled. Situated on the banks of Cocalico Creek, the cloister, which was started in 1732, ranks as one of America's oldest communal societies. It was the brainchild of Conrad Beissel, a German Pietist who managed to woo away his followers from the Dunkards, a religious group that believed in triple baptism. The group originally bought 250 acres. The members built distinctive structures of logs and stone with steeply pitched roofs, tiered dormer windows, wooden chimneys and flared eaves. And they supported themselves by farming and publishing, producing numerous tracts, pamphlets and hand-illuminated books and inscriptions done in the Germanic tradition called fraktur. "There was a print shop here," says Shuck. "They were printing the largest book in the world (the 1,200-page `Martyrs Mirror,' a 1748 book for another religious order, the Mennonites)." They also took in travelers, and it's the records of those people that painted the picture of life at the cloister reflected today, Shuck says. She leads us into a large structure that once housed the sisters, and we get a glimpse - and a feel - of what life here must have been like. The three floors are identical, each with a central kitchen and workroom, as well as tiny sleeping cells. It is so cold in here, our teeth threaten to chatter - just about the way it was for cloister members, says Shuck. The houses were unheated except for the cooking ovens. Members wore homemade garments - habits of white linen in summer, white wool in winter. We pass by some of the cells with the 15-inch-wide boards on which members slept. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Hearing Echoes of Spartan Life Travelers' Records Tell Tale of 18th-Century Pennsylvania Cloister
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.