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Hamilton College Library
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News From the Library

Snow Hill Cloister Manuscripts Acquired

By Christian Goodwillie

August 21, 2013

Special Collections has acquired five manuscripts from the Snow Hill Cloister in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Snow Hill was a "daughter" of the Ephrata Cloister, an eighteenth century Pietist community in Lancaster County. Members of the society, brothers and sisters, performed agricultural and mill work. The extreme asceticism of Ephrata was not imitated at Snow Hill. Instead, long, comfortable lives of moderation were the norm. The members lived and ate together in a brick common house that was originally built in 1814. Snow Hill Cloister Manuscripts AcquiredThe earliest account book dates from 1830-1838, and also has information from 1891-1896. The first name in these accounts is David Snowberger. His accounts show income (apparently for the whole society) from farming, and expenses such as bureaus, whiskey, oak, iron, and nails. The second name in these accounts is Catherine Snowberger, who appeared responsible for many of the sewing and food related expenses (cloth, yarn, sugar, coffee, and salt). The book was reused beginning in 1891 and includes extensive lists of names of Society members and others such as Emmanuel Mann, George Keag, Solly Knepper, Sam Fitz, Jacob Null, James Bumbaugh, and Joe Kauffman. Another account book records the years 1848-1891. Typical entries give name of the member and the goods purchased, usually foodstuffs including corn, flour, rye, and wheat. Emanuel M. Mann’s account book covers the years 1878-1896. Typical entries are for farm accounts and expenses for the grist mill, to mowing hay, flour, and bran sold. “Ledger B” covers the years 1875-1892. Names occurring frequently in this account ledger include Emmanuel, James A., Rebeckah and Joseph Mann. Other names include Charles Miller, Jacob Ritter, William Verdier, and Levi D. Hefner. The society accounts include farming expenses and income, foodstuffs, and expenses and labor at the mill. An interesting entry appears in April and May of 1899 for “Boarding at a Love Feast”. This feast was a special Communion meal held twice a year, in the spring and fall. A beautiful manuscript hymnal rounds out the collection. It is thought to have belonged to John Snowberger, one of the first trustees of the Snow Hill Cloister in Quincy Township, Franklin County, Pennsylvania. It is likely to be in the hand of Barbara Snowberger, who was the first and most distinctive illuminator of the original Snow Hill manuscript hymnals. Barbara Snowberger was especially well known for her use of green, gold, and black ink in decorating her books. She died in 1851 at the age of 83. This book, entirely in German, contains notation and lyrics for dozens of hymns.  For more information on these manuscripts, please contact Director of Special Collections, Christian Goodwillie at 315-859-4447.

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