Snow Hill Cloister

Photo courtesy of "Antietam Ancestors" and the Waynesboro Historical Society

Snow Hill Cloister

Quincy Township, Franklin County, Pennsylvania


In 1762, George Adam Martin left the Seventh Day Baptist settlement at Ephrata on a mission project to expand the teachings of Conrad Beissel along the southern border of Pennsylvania where there were numerous Dunker settlements.  His talented efforts garnered several family members of Swiss immigrant Hans Schneeberger (Ger. “Snow Mountain”) to the teachings of Sabbatarianism. Andreas (son of Hans) married Barbara Karper and these two Dunkers (both of Dunker families) offered their home as a gathering place for a newly formed group. Barbara was the first to accept the new teachings and with her child, left a reticent husband for Ephrata. He succeeded in finding her and was later baptized into the new faith. Beissel visited them in July of 1763. These events were the beginning of the Snow Hill "Nunnery"  located along Route 997, about two miles north of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, along one of the northern branches of the Antietam Creek.

This page is dedicated to the individuals and families of Snow Hill who turned their faith in God and fellow humankind into a "utopian experiment" in a quiet, sparsely settled farming community in 18th century southcentral Pennsylvania.   Their vision did not die with the passing of the last "solitary" brother at Snow Hill, Obed Snowberger, in 1895.  It lives on in the hearts and imaginations of their descendants and we establish this site as a testament of our love, honor, and great respect for those who came before us.

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The Congregation

As at their mother cloister, Ephrata, the Snow Hill community included both celibates, the sisterhood and brotherhood and married couples and families.  The celibates lived separately; and the married members lived in the surrounding area.  At Snow Hill the celibate members, called Solitaries, were members of the Society.  Married members, called Householders, belonged to the Snow Hill congregation and worshipped at the Cloister but were not members of the Society.  The Society and the running of the Cloister fell under the administration of a 5-member Board of Trustees, elected from members of both the Society and the Congregation.  All Snow Hill worshippers were entitled to vote in the election which was held every four years on the first Sunday of the year.  To learn more about the individuals and families of Snow Hill, visit our Congregation page.:

The Solitaries           The Householders        The Vorstehers

The History

In 1763, when the original Kloster (Cloister) was flourishing, two devout young men came to Ephrata --- John Horn from the German Baptists from Germantown  and George Adam Martin.  Following a warm reception there, they were given letters of introduction of the Seventh Day Baptists congregation in York County.  The following year, George Adam Martin preached at a revival on the southern border of Pennsylvania.  His efforts resulted in the organization of a congregation near where the Antietam Creek crosses the Mason-Dixon line.  It was called the Antietam Congregation.  Reports of the fervor of this new congregation reached Ephrata and inspired Conrad Beissel and a group of the Brothers and Sisters to visit their new brethren.  Three things of historical significance happened during this visit.  Schoolmaster Enoch Brown and his seven pupils were massacred by Indians near Greencastle, George Adam Martin was installed as Vorsteher (teacher and leader) and Beissel baptized Barbara Karper Schneeberger (Snowberger).  To learn more of the history of Snow Hill, click here

The Community

In the 1760's, Quincy township, Franklin County, Pennsylvania was still a part of Antrim township, Cumberland County.  The tax census of 1751 shows 98 homeowners and 16 freemen living in what is today, Antrim, Washington, and Quincy townships.  Like most of what would become Franklin County, these early settlers came for the most part from two distinct groups --- the Scotch Irish and the Germans.  In what was to become Quincy and Washington townships, however, the "Germans" which included Swiss and Dutch immigrants, predominated as early settlers.  For the most part, they poured over South Mountain from what is today Adams, York, Lancaster and Chester counties.  With them they brought the strong spiritual faith that had driven them to leave their homelands to come to this wilderness of religious freedom.  They came before the land was freed from conflict with native Americans and they came to stay.  To learn more about the community in which Snow Hill thrived, click above.

The Music

The congregation at Snow Hill continued the choral music originated at Ephrata.  Introduced by a musician named Ludwig Blum, the style was then built up by Conrad Beissel.  It was a most unusual and inspiring form of harmony, using the tones of the Aeolian harp as the primary inspiration and standard. This music was written in four, six and seven parts. The lead part was sung by the strongest female voice.