Quilt raffle to benefit Ephrata Cloister’s educational programs

By on April 26, 2017

Ephrata Cloister Associate board member Linda Carvell has donated a lovely quilt made by her aunt, Erla Hoffman Showalter, to raise funds for Ephrata Cloister’s education programs.

The quilt measures 100 inches by 103 inches, ample size for king or queen bed use. Raffle tickets are $5 each, available at the Ephrata Cloister Museum Store, the Ephrata Chamber of Commerce and the Cocalico Valley Historical Society. The drawing will be held from 1:30-4:30 p.m. Aug. 6 during the Ice Cream Social

Linda Carvell told Ephrata’s Historic Site Administrator, Elizabeth Bertheaud that, “Going through the contents of Arlene Showalter Carvell’s (1922-2016) home, I found three quilts by Erla. One was for my deceased sister, another for her daughter, and yet another for me. The former two are in the possession of my niece and nephew. The one destined for me was a beautifully crafted, cross stitch quilt of red flowers adorning each block. They reminded me of the Roses of Sharon, the celibate order for women at the Ephrata Cloister. It seemed the proper thing to donate the quilt to the Ephrata Cloister Associates as a fund-raising opportunity.”

Erla Hoffman Showalter (1919-2006) was a dedicated craftswoman. Her sewing machine was ever ready and her crafting tools were always at hand. She grew up on farms in the Shoeneck area but eventually moved to Denver upon her marriage to William Gross Showalter (1918-2002). The family business was Showalter and Wenrich, a Pontiac dealership and repair garage. Erla had several jobs in the textile industry over the years. She and their son, Paul, had plenty of family support when “Billy” went off to war as a technical sergeant in the 15th Army Air Force, flying 21 combat missions.

After the war, the Victory garden and orchard, nestled below the garage, continued to be an abundant food source for the family. Billy’s sister, Arlene Showalter, married Richard Carvell. Eventually two daughters were borne of that marriage, Linda and Peggy. The pavilion amid the orchard was an active enclave for Showalter relatives and teenage parties for years.

Jacob Showalter, their direct ancestor, emigrated from Germany, though the family originated in Switzerland. They relocated due to religious persecution for their Anabaptist practice. In 1750, they arrived in Philadelphia aboard the Brotherhood. Jacob arrived with his wife, Maria, and his five eldest sons. Christian Showalter was the only son to settle in Lancaster County. In 1755, he married Barbara Shirk and inherited her father’s farm located on land which eventually became Denver.

The Showalters were not associated with the Ephrata Cloister. There is, however, a record of their reliance on the skill of a householder, Michael Miller. According to Miller’s “Debt Book,” he was paid three shillings and six pence in December 1764 for making five windows for Christian Showalter and 19 shillings for making two more in 1772. Whether Brother Heinrich Hoffman of the Ephrata Cloister was a progenitor of Erla’s is unknown.

Several generations ensued when William and Erla Showalter retired in 1975. They spent evenings in their inviting basement where William would read and “do” puzzles while Erla did cross stitch blocks that she eventually formed into quilts. Her goal was one such quilt per winter. Over the next 27 years, she made at least as many quilts. These were her loving legacy for her son, her three grandchildren, her six great-grandchildren, her nieces and nephews.

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