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Full text of "The Ephrata community 120 years ago .."

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T.HE EPHRATA COMMDNITY 
120 YEARS AGO. 



INTRODUCTORY. 

No portion of Lancaster county sur- 
passes, and few equal, in interest the 
settlement of the Seventh Day Bap- 
tists on the Cocalico, at Ephrata. 
That religious community differed so 
greatly from all the others established 
within the borders of Lancaster 
county, and in various particulars rose 
so much above any of the rest, that it 
has always attracted more attention 
than the others. 

The wonderful story of the Cloister 
Brotherhood has been told and re-told 
so often, the field has been so thor- 
oughly explored, early and late, that 
there would seem nothing left to be 
said on the subject. From the earliest 
period of its history distinguished 
men made journeys to that monastic 
community to learn whether the re- 
ports that from time to time reached 
the outer world were correct, and, 
coming away, recorded what they saw 
and heard, and these long-ago narra- 
tives have added much to our knowl- 
edge concerning those people. Having 
been written at the time when these 
visits were made, and while all was 
still fresh in memory, they have come 
down to us with the impress of his- 
toric truth upon them, in which they 
differ from later accounts, in which 
fact and fiction are so intimately 
blended that it affords a genuine 
pleasure to go back to the eighteenth- 
century chroniclers to find out what 
manner of men and women they were, 



( 128 ) 

and for a more intimate knowledge of 
the lives they led in their secluded 
home on the Cocalico. 

Everything, therefore, coming down 
to us from the time when that Zion- 
itic Brotherhood was still flourishing 
and when some of its great men — I 
use the term advisedly — were still in 
the flesh, must have an absorbing in- 
terest to us of the twentieth century. 
Our Society has recognized this fact 
by giving a place in its records to sev- 
eral narratives left us by the early 
visitors to the Cloister, In Volume 
IV. of our Papers and Proceedings 
we gave place to the excellent letters 
written by the somewhat celebrated 
D, Jacob Duche, D. D., who made the 
prayer at the opening of the first Con- 
gress in 1774. In 1771 he paid a visit 
to the Ephrata Community and upon 
his return told what he had seen and 
heard. In our first volume there ap- 
peared an article on the Ephrata 
Paper Mill, and last year our Society 
made its first pilgrimage to the his- 
toric spot, an account of which ap- 
peared in Volume VIII. Perhaps 
the most valuable of all the early ac- 
counts that have come down to us of 
the life of those pious Brothers and 
Sisters is that of the Swedish preacher 
Israel Acrelius who, in company with 
George Ross, the Signer, visited the 
Cloister on September 7, 1753. His 
lengthy account of what he saw is, 
next to the Chronicon Ephratense it- 
self, perhaps the most valuable docu- 
ment that has come down to us of the 
life led by the Ephrata Community, 
and it is well worth publishing in 
these papers. 

The name of the writer of the ar- 
ticle now to be read is not known. He 
was an officer in the British army, 
and, in company with several brother 
officers, visited the Ephrata estab- 
lishment. His letter is dated April 



(129) 

27, 1786, but the visit was made «oon 
after the close of the Revolutionary 
war. It contains various inaccuracies, 
although it does not appear these 
were intentional, and, while it does 
not tell much that was unknown, the 
letter is, nevertheless, of much inter- 
est. The charge that Peter Miller 
was a litigious man is wholly untrue. 
The tenets of his faith forbade a re- 
sort to the courts of law and if he ap- 
peared in them at all it must have 
been because he was compelled to do 
so, and not of his own free will. 

The article first appeared in The 
Edinburg Magazine in 1786, from 
which it was copied into Matthew 
Carey's "American Museum or Repos- 
itory," Vol. VI., 1789. The note at 
the conclusion of the article is, no 
doubt, by the editor of the American 
magazine himself. 

As you will hear, the narrator re- 
lates that the three large buildings 
standing there at the time of his visit 
were erected in ti^e brief space of 
three weeks, and that, too, when the 
men connected with the Brotherhood 
did not number more than fifty! All 
the timbers for these large buildings 
had to be cut in the adjoining forest, 
squared and transported to the place 
needed. That alone was a task that 
collectively must have required 
months. It must be remembered that 
at that period they were not possess- 
ed of horses and oxen and the material 
required had to be collected by the 
actual manual labor of the Brethren 
themselves. Not five hundred men 
could have accomplished the work 
mentioned in three weeks nor in 
three months. 

This, of course is incorrect. It was, 
in fact, a physical inipossibility, and 
the writer must have wholly misun- 
derstood what was said to him. Our 
highest authority, the Chronicon Eph- 



(130) 

ratenae, tells us that "a meeting 
house to God's glory," named Kedar, 
was the first of the Community houses 
built, in 1735. It was begun in July 
and completed in the Fall. A prayer 
and school house was built in 1739. 
The mason work was done in six 
weeks. It was used as a hospital 
during the Revolution. The Broth« 
ers' House, "Bethania," was begun in 
March, 1746. In thirty^five days the 
framing of the heavy timbers was 
completed. Three days were required 
to place them in position and key 
them. But this heavy work was not 
done by the Brethren alone. The en- 
tire surrounding community assisted. 
By the end of September the large 
building was under roof. There was 
much timber left over and this was 
utilized m erecting a chapel adjoin- 
ing the Brother House; the timbers 
of this latter building were put in 
place in the space of five weeks. Be- 
tween 1735 and 1750 a. number of 
minor buildings were also put up. We 
see, therefore, that it was a matter 
of many years before all the Cloister 
buildings were erected. 

F. R. D. 



Account of the Society of Dunkards in 

Pennsylvania. Communicated by a 

Britisli Officer to the Editor of 

the Edinburgh Magazine. 

Sir, Edin. April 27, 1786. 

The whole road, from Lancaster to 
Ephrata, affords a variety of beautiful 
prospects; the ground is rich and 
well cultivated, the wood (excepting 
upon the road, where it serves as a 
shelter from the piercing beams of 
the sun) thoroughly cleared, and the 
meadow8 abundantly watered by nu- 
merous ref resiling springs. About 
twelve miles from Lancaster, we left 
the great road, and struck into the 



(131) 

woods, through which we were led 
by "wildly devious paths" to the de- 
lightful spot where Ephrata stands. 
The situation of the place is most ju- 
diciously chosen; it is equally shelter- 
ed from the piercing cold winds of 
winter, and the beams of the sun in 
summer; an extensive orchard sup- 
plies the inhabitants with peaches, 
apples, cherries, etc., their beautiful 
gardens with every vegetable they 
can desire. The rivulet which serves 
as a boundary to their possession 
upon one side is, though small, of in- 
finite advantage to the grounds; and, 
in ito course, drives a paper mill, 
from which they derive considerable 
profits. 

The Arrival. 

We arrived about the hour of 
breakfast, and were most hospitably 
entertained by the prior, Peter Mil- 
ler, a German. He is a judicious, 
sensible, intelligent man; he had none 
of that stiffness which might natu- 
rally have been expected from his re- 
tired manner of life; but seemed 
easy, cheerful and exceedingly desir- 
ous to render us every information in 
his power. While breakfast was pre- 
paring, he proposed to give us some 
account of their society; which, as it 
was the chief object of our journey, 
we very willingly acceded to. 

He told us, that their society was 
established about fifty years ago, by 
a very worthy old man, by birth a 
German, who had from repeated and 
numerous misfortunes, formed a root- 
ed disgust to society, and had retired 
from the world for some years. Sev- 
eral others, both male and female, 
from similar misfortunes, or other 
causes, had likewise retired; and, 
from their habitations being contigu- 
ous, they had sometimes opportuni- 
ties of seeing and conversing with 
each other. As their dislike to so- 



(132) 

ciety diminished, and their love of so- 
cial harmony increased, these meet- 
ings became more and more frequent; 
they began to feel the inconvenience 
of total solitude; familiarity of sen- 
timent and situation ' attached them 
to each other; and they ardently wish- 
ed for the suggestion of some scheme, 
which might tend to link them to- 
gether still more closely. The sa- 
gacious old German, whom they revered 
as a father, at length proposed the 
present society. He pointed out to 
them the many and great advantages, 
which would be derived from such a 
scheme; end, with very great pains, 
wrote out a code of laws for the regu- 
lation oi their future conduct. His 
rules, though rigid, were admirably 
contrived, to preserve order and regu- 
larity in such a numerous society; he 
held forth to them, how absolutely 
necessary it was, to submit with im- 
plicit obedience to the rules prescrib- 
ed; at length, by his eloquence, which 
seems to have been very great, he 
formed a perfect union; and, having 
obtained a grant of land, they began 
their work with ardour and activity. 
A spirit of enthusiasm seems to have 
inspired the whole; unassisted by any- 
thing but their own labor, thev in 
three weeks erected the three build- 
ings which yet remain, and which, 
from their present sound state, prove 
them to have been built of substan- 
tial materials. Their whole society, 
at this period, amounted to about fifty 
men and thirty women; they lived in 
harmony, innocence and peace, nor 
had any of them ever expressed the 
smallest disgust at the severe and 
rigid discipline they had sworn to ob- 
serve. The most remarkable vows, 
and upon which all others depended, 
were chastity, poverty and obedience; 
a desire to encroach upon the first of 
these, and an impatience of the last, 



(133) 

proved the first source cf contention, 
and occasioned a temporary revolu- 
tion, which at one time threatened to 
exterminate them forever. 

The Eckerlins. 

Among those who had last joined 
them, were two brothers, men of active, 
daring spirits; bold and enterprising, 
but headstrong and obstinate. These 
men had experienced a multiplicity of 
adventures; they had been alternative- 
ly rich and poor, happy and miserable; 
they had traversed the whole conti- 
nent of America; they had been en- 
gaged in innumerable pursuits, and 
been exposed to a variety of dangers; 
from some unlucky hits, however, or 
suspicious dealings, they found it neces- 
sary to abscond. They conceived a 
rooted disgust for the world, which 
would no longer be the dupe of their 
villainy; they became hermits, and 
professed to be the warmest enthusi- 
asts in religion; they had resided for a 
considerable time in the back parts of 
New England; in which retreat, they 
heard of the dunkards, and seemingly 
from motives of pure piety, were in- 
duced to join them.i 



1 The brothers here alluded to were 
the Eckerlln brothers, four of them 
and not two, as the narrative has it, 
namely, Samuel, Emanuel, Israel and 
Gabriel. They reached Pennsylvania 
about 1725. They reached Ephrata 
about 1734, and at once became promi- 
nent in the community. Israel became 
the first Prior of the Brotherhood. To 
them the commercial development of 
the Brotherhood is owing. But for 
them the different mills would 
never have been built. It was 
through their efforts that the Brother- 
hood began to grow rich. They were 
active and energetic and. perhaps, more 
given to caring for worldly concerns 
than for the life led by their fellow- 
members. That brought them into 
trouble and conflict with the spiritu- 
ally-inclined Beissel. The latter could, 
like the Turk, allow no brother near 
the throne, and he began laying plans 
for the overthrow of the four brothers. 
The charge of preaching too long ser- 
mons was first made against the Prior 



(134) 

For some time after their arrival, 
their behavior was most exemplary; 
they were active and industrious, and 
were constantly the first in their 
numerous religious exerdises; they 
were universally esteemed, and in 
very high estimation with the original 
founder, who had now attained the 
title of spiritual father. Thiis good 
man seems really to have been a most 
finished character; he saw the neces- 
sity there was for a president or ruler 
to this numerous body; but saw, like- 
wise, that a strict attendance upon 
this duty would too much interfere 
with the acts of devotion, in which he 
so much delighted; he, therefore, fixed 
upon an old German, a man of pro- 
found and exemplary piety, to perform 
this office. This man was invested 



brother, Onesimus. He was deposed 
from his high office, and in this game 
even Peter Miller took a hand. He had 
written a book against the Moravians 
of which the Brotherhood had once ap- 
proved, but now they burned the entire 
edition in a public bon-fire. Later, all 
his other books and hymns were pub- 
licly committed to the flames by the 
enraged and fanatical brothers. The 
four Eckerlins were then driven out. 
The one who had once been Prior and 
at the head of the Cloister Brotherhood 
begged to remain, offering to go out 
with the lay brethren and labor in the 
woods and fields as the humblest mem- 
ber of the community, but to that even 
the vindictive and perhaps jealous and 
fearful Beissel refused to give his co^i- 
sent. and in September, 1745. two of 
the brothers took their weary way to- 
wards the wilds of Virginia. Even the 
friends they had left behind them were 
visited with the ill will of Beissel. Even 
the convent laundry house, which had 
been erected under their direction, 
was dismantled and burned. Ac- 
cording to an article by Saur, 
the Germantown printer, the en- 
tire trouble was caused by the Prior 
Samuel, ordering a bell from England, 
at a cost of £80. without the consent or 
wish of the Brotherhood. The bell was 
afterwards sold to the congregation of 
Trinity Lutheran Church, and, after a 
number of vicissitudes, now rests, in a 
damaged condition, in Grace Lutheran 
Church, of this city. The bell episode 
was probably only an additional excuse 
of Beissel and his party to make more 
certain the overthrow of the Eckerlins 
and their adherents. F. R. D. 



(135) 

with unlimited authority; his voice 
was a law, but he did not abuse his 
power; his whole behaviour was truly 
noble. 

Brother Onesimus. 
One of the brothers mentioned had 
attained to the place of treasurer to 
the society; for, notwithstanding their 
vow of poverty, they always had a 
stock of cash by them, in case of par- 
ticular exigencies. Some faJilures here 
created suspicions of this man; he was 
aware of his danger, and had been 
tampering with some of the weaker 
brethren for some time; the prior in- 
terfered; an investigation took place, 
and they soon found that he had em- 
bezzled the cash to a very consider- 
able amount; they likewise discovered, 
that he had been guilty of some most 
infamous debaucheries in the adjacent 
country, and that he had formed a 
party in the society, to depose the 
present prior, and be elected in his 
room. An immediate confusion com- 
menced; parties were formed; and it 
seemed as if a final end was to be put 
to this innocent and industrious so- 
ciety. This scoundrel had pollutedi the 
minds of many of his brethren, with 
ideas of independence, and with re- 
bellious notions, perfectly inconsistent 
with their original constitution; he 
was an artful, cunning, designing man; 
he displayed, in the strongest colours, 
the servility they were held in, and 
argued the natural freedom of mankind 
in support of his opinion. He w^as 
listened to with attention, and he did 
not fail to make use of his good for- 
tune; that enthusiasm which at first 
inspired them, arose chiefly from 
novelty of situation, or respectful ador- 
ation of the good old German; these 
feelings, in many of them, were 
blunted, in some, totally subsided; 
which proved no small assistance to 
him in his endeavors. Things seemed 



(136) 

approaching to a crisis; business was 
at an end; even their religious duties 
were for a while suspended, and, an 
immediate revolution was expected. 
This little society was an epitome of 
the most celebrated revolutions; fears, 
jealousies, suspicions, invaded the 
heart of each members of the com- 
munity; the good brothers were in- 
timidated by the greatness of the 
danger; the bad were not yet prepared 
for a general revolt. 

Peter Miller Takes a Hand. 

Things had continued in this situa- 
tion for five days; upon the sixth, in 
the morning, Peter Miller, the present 
prior, who was that time printer, and 
ten more of the original institutors, 
went and boldly seized the brothers. 
Resistance was vain; they carried 
them into the great hall; the whole 
brotherhood was soon collected, and 
the spiritual father made his appear- 
ance. The venerable figure of this 
good man, his rigid devotion, his ex- 
emplary piety, his numerous virtues, 
struck at once upon their minds, and 
they listened to him with attention, 
whilst he made a very long and 
pathetic harangue. He lamented the 
melancholy occasion of this meeting; 
recounted the causes, which had first 
brought them together; gave them a 
clear view of their original institution, 
of the oath which they had made to 
obey implicitly the rules prescribed, 
the happiness they had experienced, 
previous to the admission of these 
wicked brothers, and the fatal conse- 
quences, which would inevitably arise 
from being left to themselves, or the 
still more dreadful alternative of sub- 
mitting to be governed by such a repro- 
bate; he then finished, by proposing 
to banish this vagabond from ^heir 
society; to permit any other discon- 
tented members to depart in peace; 



(137) 

and, finally, that the great power of 
the prior should be somewhat limited. 
This speech had the desired effect; 
the instigator of this rebellion was 
banished; and Peter told me, he re- 
tired to Canada; the other bi>other, 
with a few of the members who were 
discontented, left them, and all things 
remained upon the same footing as 
before. Thus was this dangerous 
revolution, which seemed to threaten 
their destruction, finally ended, and 
their former happiness re-established. 
What is most extraordinary, the wo- 
men were entirely passive in this af- 
fair, and received the acknowledge- 
ments of the society for their be- 
haviour. 

Death of the First Prior. 

For some time previous to this revo- 
lution, the good old spiritual father 
had retired to a hut about a mile from 
Ephrata, chiefiy with a view of in- 
dulging himself more freely in his de- 
votions. After this period, he be- 
came more and more attached to his 
solitude, and seldom made his appear- 
ance in public; a settled melancholy 
seemed to oppress him, and he died, 
poor man, in the course of the year, 
eleven years from their institution. He 
was buried at the door of his cabin; 
a flat stone is laid over his grave, but 
at his own desire there is no inscrip- 
tion. The hut yet remains; and Peter 
tells me, he often retires to it, and 
waters the good man's grave with his 
tears. 2 Some few years after this, the 



2 The person here alluded to waa 
Michael Wohlfarth, whose Monkish 
name was Brother Ag-onius. He was 
one of the first, as well as one of thft 
ablest, of the Brotherhood. He joined 
Conra.d Beissel in his hut on Mill creek, 
near Bird-in-Hand, in 1723. He was 
the man who first suggested the name 
of "Father Friedsam" for Con- 
rad Beissel. The Chronicon Eph- 
ratense says he was buried in the 
meadow which stretches from the 
Cloister building to the Cocalico. It is 
claimed that Beissel caused a tomb- 



( 138 ) 

prior died, and Peter Miller was 
unanimously elected in his room. They 
have lived in harmony and peace ever 
since; they never quarrel; indeed, 
Peter says, his office is merely nomi- 
nal, as he has never once had occa- 
sion to exert the authority vested in 
him. 

They are now reduced to seven men 
and five women. Their original grant 
of lands consisted of several thousand 
acres; part was wrested from them by 
force, part was disposed of to settlers, 
who chose to live near them, and who 
entertain the same religious opinions, 
and attend at the place of public wor- 
ship on Sundays and holidays, of 
which they have a great number. 

The number of these people may 
amount to five hundred; but they have 
no manner of connexion with the 
dunkards at Ephrata (though they 
bear the same name) farther than a 
familiarity of religious opinion. Many 
of them, from choice, wear the same 
dress, and allow their beards to grow; 
which may have given rise to the mis- 
take of several gentlemen, who have 
written upon this subject. It is like- 
wise to be observed, that the Menno- 
nists of Pennsylvania affect this mode 
of dress; and that many widowers in 
the back settlements assume no other 
mourning than a long beard; all which 
may have deceived cursory observers. 



stone to be placed over his remains, 
with this inscription, written by Beis- 
sel himself: 

ITier ruhet der gottselige Kampfer 
AGONIUS 
Starb Anno 1741. 
Seines Alters 54 Jahr. 4 Monat, 28 Tage. 

Der Sieg bringt die Kron, 
U. der Gloubens-den Kampf den Gnaden 

lohn, 
So Kronet der segenden seligen 

Kampfer, 
Der allheir ein SUnden und Belichs 

Diimpfer 
Im Frieden gefahren zu seiner Ruh- 

Kammer, 
Allwo er befreyet von Schmertzen und 
Jammer. 

F. R. D. 



( 139 ) 

and given rise to the opinion of these 
people being so very numerous. 

Their Lands. 

The ground they at present possess, 
and where their town is built is not 
above six acres. =* It is almost filled 
with fruit trees; the rivulet formerly 
mentioned, serves as a boundary on 
one side, and the rest is inclosed by a 
deep ditch and hornbeam hedge. The 
town consists of three wooden houses 
of three-story high each, and a few 
outer houses; the cells of the brethren 
are exceedingly small, and the win- 
dows and doors extremely ill-contrived 
for a hot cimate; the doors in par- 
ticular are narrow and very low. I en- 
quired, but could not discover, the 
cause of this awkward and inconven- 
ient mode of building. Each brother 
has a cell with a closet adjoining; he 
is supplied with a table, a chair, and 
a bench for sleeping on; the bench is 
covered with a woolen mat,and a billet 
of wood for a pillow; the smailness 
and darkness of the rooms are ex- 
tremely disagreeable, and they were 
by no means clean; their dress, like- 
wise, is most unfavorable to cleanli- 
ness; and, in fact, my friend Peter had 
a most unsavory smell; his winter 
dress was not laid aside, though it was 
the middle of May, and very warm 



8This is wholly misleading. The six 
acres of which the above writer speaks 
may have been those immediately sur- 
rounding the buildings of the Brother- 
hood, but as early as 1741 Israel Ecker- 
lin had a warrant issued to him under 
the direction of Governor John Penn 
for 23934 acres of land. The warrant 
was made to Eckerlin, but the land was 
intended for the Brotherhood, and with 
it the title ultimately remained. At the 
present day there is a farm of 110 
acres belonging to and cultivated by 
the Cloister Community. In 1772, by 
his will, a Mr. Shoemaker donated 200 
acres of land to the Brothers and Sis- 
ters of the Ephrata Society. The 
Brotherhood sold 150 acres of this 
tract. Part of this, 101 acres, was sold 
to Robert Coleman, for £1.136. This 



( 140 ) 

weather; and his gown of white flan- 
nel had attained a yellow hue from 
the perspiration, which really proved 
a most unseemly sight; the length 
and blackness of his beard, with the 
greatness of his cowl or hood, for 
they wear no hats, added not a little to 
the uncouthness of his figure. They 
are most unsociable; they do not eat 
together, but each in his own cell, 
which literally serves him for kitchen, 
for parlour, and hall; they are con- 
tinually engaged either in acts of de- 
votion, or business; indeed, they sel- 
dom meet, excepting at worship, which 
they have twice a-day, and twice dur- 
ing the night.' Their churches, for 
they have two, were clean and neat, but 
perfectly unadorned, excepting by some 
German texts of very elegant penman- 
ship by the females. They have no 
set form of service, but pray and teach 
extempore; and in this the females 
join them. Their church is supplied 
with a small but neat steeple and 
clock; this clock strikes the hours 
from one to twelve progressively, from 
the rising of the sun, and begins again 
at sunset 

Their Paper Seized. 

They have a paper-mill, formerly 
mentioned, a printing-house, and a li- 
brary; they derive a considerable 
profit from the mill; but they print 
little, and have but a trifling library. I 
expressed some surprise at this, and 
was informed by Peter, that, before 
the war, they had a very excellent 
one, and were possessed of many val- 
uable books in sheets for binding; but 
that the rebels being at this period at 
a loss for paper to make cartridges, 



was as late as 1809, so that the Society 
must have been the owners of very con- 
siderable tracts of land at the very 
time when this English writer declares 
they had only six acres. 

F. R. D. 



( 141 ) 

general Washington sent an officer to 
seize all the paper and books he could 
find at Ephrata: his orders were im- 
plicitly obeyed. In vain did poor 
Peter represent the inhumanity of this 
action; in vain did he offer to redeem 
them with a sum of money; in vain 
did he remonstrate; insult was added 
to inhumanity; and books were taken, 
which, l?r*om their smallness, were 
unfit for the use assigned. A similar 
arbitrary order was issued to seize 
their woolen cloth, of which they 
generally have a large store; but for- 
tunately a French frigate arrived in 
the Delaware before this second or- 
der could be put in operition. 

An Englishman Among Them. 

In the course of our walk we met 
with one or two of the brethren, one 
in particular an Englishman, indeed 
the only one in the society; he was 
employed in making shingles, a busi- 
ness that requires both strength and 
dexterity; his head uncovered, and 
his venerable countenance exposed to 
the piercing rays of a mid-day sun. 
He was eighty-five years of age, yet 
was hale and stout; he was affable 
and cheerful; he asked several ques- 
tions about England and about the 
war; and shewed no signs of age, ex- 
cept in being rather deaf. 

We then proceeded to the house oc- 
cupied by the nuns, to whom we were 
introduced by Peter, as British offi- 
cers. The prioress, who was, I think, 
near eighty, received us with the ut- 
most politeness, thanked us for the 
honour we did her in calling upon her, 
and conducted us through the house: 
it was uniformly clean, and the cells 
were in excellent order; they did not, 
however, stick up to the strict rules 
of their order, but indulged themselves 
upon good featherbeds, of which they 
had a great number. They shewed us 



(142) 

some volumes of most excellent pen- 
manship and needlework. They were 
employed in instructing some girls in 
sewing, others in reading and writing; 
they were the children of the neigh- 
boring dunkardis, who are by them 
initiated into the mystery of their re- 
ligion; the boys are, in like manner, 
educated by the men. 

Miller Fears For the Future. 

Peter expressed great fears that 
their society would become extinct; 
two members only, one a male, the 
other a female, had joined them in 
the course of forty years.^ He said 
he had some hopes, that they might 
be joined by some of the British offi- 
cers at the peace: we could not give 
him much encouragement in the opin- 
ion. He assured us that he was per- 
fectly happy: at first, indeed, their fre- 
quent and fatiguing religious duties, 
their abstinence, and, in particular, 
their vows of chastity, were hard to 
be observed; but these ideas had long 
since subsided. He employed his 
time, he said, when unoccupied with 
business, in reading and expounding 
the scriptures; he discovered many 
things, which sometime or another 
he meant to publish; he was still dis- 
covering, with regard to his present 
religious opinions, which were the 
sentiments of the whole. They retain 
both sacraments but admit only 
adults to baptism: they deny original 
sin, as to its effects upon Adam's pos- 
terity; they deny, likewise, the eter- 



*The Chronicon notes accessions of 
families and unmarried Brothers and 
Sisters in 1746, in 1747 and 1748. In 
1749 there was an increase of twenty 
members. There were also large ac- 
cessions in 1751. I have not examined 
the records further, but no doubt more 
or less testimony could be found if 
.searched for. The statement, as given 
in the above-named narrative, is 
absurd, 

F. R. D. 



(143) 

nity of torments; and suppose, that 
we only suffer a certain time, in pro- 
portion to the nature and number of 
the sins we have committed in this 
life; these being purged away by a 
thorough repentance, the souls are 
raised into heaven. All violence they 
esteem unlawful; even going to law, 
they look upon as contrary to the 
spirit of the gospel. Peter paid taxes; 
it was his principle to submit to the 
ruling power; but he confessed that 
had he been to choose, he would have 
given the preference to a British gov- 
ernment.5 He had been a clergyman 
of the Lutheran church «; he was an 
excellent scholar, and well qualified 
to teach Greek; he understood the 
Hebrew, Greek and Latin, spoke 
French tolerably, and had a very com- 
petent knowledge of the English; he 

5This I believe to be a wilful mis- 
statement. Peter Miller was not a 
Loyalist. There is no evidence what- 
ever to that effect. Neither was the 
Brotherhood, as a body, inclined to- 
wards the British crown. There is 
abundant evidence to the contrary. It 
is well known that Prior Miller was 
on close terms with the Colonial Gov- 
ernment. Whether the legend that he 
translated the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence into seven languages for Con- 
gress be fact or fiction, there has not 
so far as I know, been a suspicion 
thrown upon his loyalty to the cause 
of the Colonies. The fact that most of 
the wounded at the battle of Brandy- 
wine were taken to Ephrata and en- 
trusted to the gentle care of the pious 
nuns of the Convent tells the story of 
loyalty to the new order of things 
beyond all possible contradiction. 

F. R. D. 

6This is incorrect. Peter Miller was 
a regular clergyman of what was 
then called the German Reformed (now 
the Reformed) Church. As such, he 
served the German Reformed congrega- 
tions at Tulpehocken, Muddy Creek 
White Oak, Bethany and Lancaster city. 
He was the most learned of all the men 
who were connected with the Cloistei 
Brotherhood, and from all the recorded 
evidence a conscientious and pious man 
and one who served well both his com- 
munity and country. He quitted the 
ministry and retired to private life, and 
in 1735 united his destinies with the 
Ephrata Brotherhood. 

F. R. D, 



( 144 ) 

seemed in all respects a sensible, well- 
informed, intelligent man. At part- 
ing, he presented me witli a pamphlet, 
written originally in the German by 
the spiritual father, and translated by- 
Peter; it is, a Dissertation unon Man's 
Fall, and is, in truth, a curious piece. 
We rode about six miles further to a 
village called Reams Town, where we 
dined. The country was level and 
well cultivated; as we returned, we 
called upon Peter, who, to our great 
surprise, presented us with a glass of 
excellent Madeira: he told us, that, 
by the strict rules of their order, they 
were allowed only vegetables and 
water; but that, as old age advanced, 
he really found it impossible to sub- 
mit to such rigid discipline: we ad- 
mired his candour, and joined him in 
drinking a cheerful glass. 

Upon our return to Lancaster, we 
could not help giving Peter and his 
brethren very great credit for their 
peaceable dispositions, and praising 
them for their prudence in avoiding 
law-pleas: we had formed plans of 
transplanting some of them to this 
part of the world, if possible, to queu 
that spirit of litigation and love of 
law, so prevalent among us; but we 
were, I confess, not a little surprised, 
to find, that Peter himself was one of 
the most troublesome, litigious fel- 
lows in the whole county, and that he 
never failed to make his appearance 
at the quarterly sessions in Lancas- 
ter, with some frivolous, silly com- 
plaint: we were heartily ashamed of 
our too easy credulity, and determined 
to ask no more questions, lest they 
might tend to further discoveries. 

Note by the Editor of the American 

iVIuseum. 

The writer of this account of the 

Dunkards has shamefully misrep 

resented facts, and deviated from the 



(145) 

truth in many particulars. The rev- 
erend Peter Miller., the worthy presi- 
dent of the Dunkards. whose character 
is so indecently and unjustly aspersed 
by this illiberal writer, gives, in a 
letter to William Barton, Esq., of this 
city, dated in April last (1788), the 
following account of the transactions 
referred to, in opposition to the royal- 
ist's assertions. — "It is false," says he, 
"that we ever had any library — the 
books, taken from us, were of one 
impression, unbound. It is also false, 
that we offered money to release those 
books: much less is it true, that we 
had a woolen manufacture, except for 
our own exigency; and never was any 
wool cloth demanded of us, except 
our blankets, when the militia went 
out first, for which we were paid. The 
truth, is, that an embargo was laid on 
all our printed paper — also, that, for 
a time, we could not sell any book. 
At length, some one came. Captain 
Hendeirson, with two waggons, to 
fetch away ail our printed paper; he 
pretended to have an order from gen- 
eral Washington. As, at that time, 
the English army was in our vicinity, 
we remonstrated and told the cap- 
tain, that, as this would hurt our 
character, we would not consent, un- 
less he should take them by force, for 
which we should have a certificate; to 
which he consented. Accordingly, he 
ordered six men, with fixed bayonets, 
from the hospital, which was at that 
time at Ephrata: and they loaded two 
waggons full The captain afterwards 
settled with us, paying us honestly, 
and we parted in peace; though we 
never asked from him a certificate, 
but trusted to providence. Whether 
the said captain acted herein by an 
express or implied order of his Excel- 
lency, I can not say: I never saw any 
written one." "You are right," con- 
tinues Mr. Miller, "when you say the 




(146) 

account was written by a British offi- 
cer. They (the British officers) came 
here but once when peace was con- 
cluded; but, being strong loyalists, 
they found little satisfaction with us. 
I may have told them, that the paper 
was taken upon the General's order; 
for, all military orders were issued 
under that name and we always obey- 
ed such verbal orders, without seeing 
any written one. The gentleman is 
very liberal, in granting me new titles: 
I thank him for it; and wish 
that such greedy vultures, as he and 
his companions were, may never more 
come to America." 

Mr. Miller's statement of these facts 
may be relied upon. The character 
of this venerable man needs no de- 
fense, against the slander ca^t upon 
it by the man, who had been kindly 
and hosptitably reiceived under his 
roof. 



Minutes of January Meeting. 



Lancaster, Pa., Jan. 6, 1905. 

The regular monthly meeting of the 
Lancaster County Historical Society 
was held to-night (Friday) in the So- 
ciety's rooms, in the Young Men's 
Christian Association Building, Presi- 
dent Steinman in the chair. 

The roll of officers was called and 
absentees noted. The minutes of the 
December meeting were read, and, on 
motion, approved. The following ap- 
plications for membership were pre- 
sented: Mrs. James D. Landis, of Lan- 
caster; Mr. Charles O. Lynch, ot 
Bausman; Arthur K. Reist, of Lititz, 
and G. Howard Werntz, of Lancaster. 
The applications, under the rules, 
were laid over for action at the next 
meeting. 

The donations to the Society were 
large and valuable, consisting of 
about two hundred volumes of vari- 
ous kinds, donated by The New Era, 
and others received through ex- 
changes. The hearty thanks of the 
Society were extended to the donors 
for their valuable gifts. 

This being the annual meeting, the 
reports of the officers were presented, 
in compliance with the mandate of 
the constitution. That of the Secre- 
tary came first. It gave a resume of 
the year's work of the organization. 
It showed that during the year ten 
monthly meetings were held, the at- 
tendance at which was the largest in 
the Society's history. About a dozen 
original papers were read at these 
meetings, the whole making an an- 
nual volume of 275 pages, a record 
which, it is believed, has not been 
equalled by any County Historical So- 
ciety in the State. Incidentally, it 
was also mentioned that the Society 
has issued eight annual volumes of 
Papers and Proceedings, one for every 



(148) 

year of its existence, containing one 
hundred and twenty-four articles, 
nearly all of which have been written 
for the Society. The eight volumes 
comprise an aggregate of 1,864 pages, 
and are illustrated with sixty-three 
cuts, most of which were engraved for 
the Society. A number of recommen- 
dations were made in the report,upon 
which the Society acted favorably. 

The report of the Librarian was of 
unusual length,andwas very favorable 
in most particulars. The aggregate 
additions to the library for the year 
were 397, of which 273 were bound 
volumes and 66 pamphlets, besides 
pictures, curios, maps and other arti- 
cles. A new book-case was purchased 
to accommodate these donations. The 
Society library was more generally 
used by members and others than pre- 
viously. The Librarian urged the 
great need of the Society to be larger 
quarters, and more facilities for the 
display of its treasures — in short, a 
permanent home. Lacking this, many 
valuable things that should naturally 
gravitate to us are diverted to other 
societies and places. 

The report of the Treasurer was 
favorable. The amount received dur- 
ing the year from new members and 
dues was $210.66, and $200 from the 
county. The expenses incurred were 
$275, but there are still some printing 
and other bills unpaid, which will re- 
duce the balance in the treasury con- 
siderably. 

On the whole, the reports of the 
officers show the Society to be in a 
very prosperous condition, with 158 
members on its rolls, who receive its 
publications, besides twenty-five sent 
to sister societies and libraries. 

This being the annual meeting, the 
election of officers to serve for the cur- 
rent year was the next business called 
up. It resulted as follows: 

President, George Steinman. 



(149) 

Vice Presidents, Samuel Evans, Dr. 
Jos, H. Dubbs. 

Secretary, F.R. Diffenderffer. 

Corresponding Secretary, Martha B. 
Clark. 

Librarian, S. M. Sener, Esq. 

Treasurer, Dr. J, W. Houston. 

Executive Committee. Hon. W. U. 
Hensel, A. K. Hostetter, Dr. J. W. 
Hassler, G. P. K. Erisman, Monioe B. 
Hirsh, Simon P. Eby, Esq., B. C. At- 
lee, Esq., R. M, Reilly, Esq.; Mrs. Sara 
B. Carpenter and Dr. John S. Stahr. 

On motion it was resolved to place 
upon the minutes of the Society this 
record, the recent loss, by death, of 
its old and faithful member, Adam 
Geist. 

The paper of the evening was an 
article which appeared in the Edin- 
burg Magazine for 1786, giving an ac- 
count of the visit of a British officer 
to the Ephrata Monkish Brotherhood 
at the close of the Revolutionary War. 
The account was a most interesting 
one, and brought out some new things, 
but was also full of errors, and in 
some respects unjust. An introduction 
to the narrative prepared by the Sec- 
retary corrected some of these mis- 
statements. The paper was read by 
Mrs. A. K. Hostetter, and was re- 
ceived with much acceptation. It was 
afterwards discussed at length, which 
brought out various interesting de- 
tails. 

The usual donation of $25 to the Y. 
M. C. Association for the use of the 
room occupied was voted, and $5 to 
Mr. Thaddeus Henry, the attentive 
caretaker of the room. There being 
no further business the Society ad- 
journed. Owing to the very in- 
clement weather the attendance was 
not so large as usual, but yet a goodly 
number of members braved the ele- 
ment's to be present. 



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