Welcome to the Historical Society of the Cocalico Valley


What's new

for 2016




Meetings are held at 7:00 P.M. at the Ephrata Public Library, 550 S. Reading Road, Ephrata unless otherwise stated. Open free to the public.

(In case of inclement weather, Society programs will follow the Ephrata School District closing schedule.)




July 27, Field Trip

This year's field trip will be a visit to the Conestoga Area Historical Society, located at 51 Kendig Road in Conestoga. Seven major buildings make up the museum grounds, including a 1733 log cabin, a blacksmith shop, and a bank barn. The main building contains a rotating exhibit area.


August 24, Historic Schaefferstown

Diane Wenger and Jan Taylor will discuss Schaefferstown, founded in 1754. The town was once a bustling market center with hotels, mansions, cigar factories, and a whiskey distillery. Today the historic architectures remains, with tales of former days. There will be a book signing for the Schafferstown book by these two authors.





Monday, Wednesday, Thursday

9:30 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.

Saturday 8:30 A.M. - 4:00

The Theodore R. Sprecher Museum Hours

Saturday, 10:00 A. M. to 4:00 P.M.

Other times by appointment with a 24 hour notice

Free to the public.

Educational and civic group tours can be arranged.

(717) 733-1616 or EMAIL  HSCV@cocalicovalleyhs.org


Come on in and pull up a chair. Whether you are a newcomer or an old timer you can get to know us and experience our rich heritage. The Society was founded in 1957. There is so much to see and learn about the Cocalico Valley. Visit the Theodore R. Sprecher Museum housed in the Connell Mansion in it's Victorian elegance. You will find thirteen rooms of exhibits with collections from the early 1800's to present and period room settings. Be sure to see the current feature exhibit. Quite possibly you may want to do some research in the library with its wealth of local history and genealogy. Resource materials range widely from the standard body of legal and church records to the specific and unique resources focused on the Cocalico Valley. To get a glimpse of the collections you can view an online card catalog which includes files through the year 2000. Current files can be perused in the library. You have heard our story, maybe you have one too. We would love to hear from you.


Home About Us Museum & Library Library Card Catalog Programs & Events HSCV Business Partners Publications Cocalico Acqusitions Memberships Support Us Plan a Visit HSCV Services


Programs and events

237- 249 West Main Street (Rt. 322),

Ephrata, corner of Oak St.



Join a Committee

Call 733.1616


Financial Support

Click for details

How You May Help


Historical Society Exhibit Commemorates 125 Years of Ephrata Borough

  The Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of “125 Years of Ephrata Borough, 1891-2016,” a new exhibit commemorating the 125th anniversary of the incorporation of the Borough of Ephrata.  The exhibit, which will open on Saturday March 19, 2016, was curated by former Ephrata Mayor Clarence E. Spohn, and is cosponsored by Ephrata Borough and the Ephrata National Bank.  The exhibit will continue through Dec. 31, 2016. The Historical Society’s museum, 237 West Main St., is open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., or by appointment.  Group visits are welcomed and encouraged, for arrangements call 717-733-1616.  Admission is free to all. 

  Probably the most memorable event to occur in Ephrata during the past 125 years was the crowning of Ephrata native Evelyn Margaret (Ay) Sempier,  “Miss America 1954.”  On Sept. 29th, 1953, following Miss Ay’s coronation in Atlantic City, tens of thousands of area residents gathered on Ephrata’s Main St. to welcome home the new Miss America.  The Sempier family has graciously loaned the Society artifacts and memorabilia from that event for the exhibit.  Included in the display are the gown Evelyn wore for her homecoming, the diamond ring the town presented her, and her “Miss Pennsylvania” and “Miss America” trophies.  Also part of the exhibit are the tobacco leaf crown she wore in 1950 when she was crowned “Miss Lancaster County Tobacco Queen - Miss Ephrata Fair” and the trophy she received.

  The exhibit will feature over 120 photographs relating to the Borough’s history, among which are aerial views of the borough, dating from 1910 through the 1950's.

  Ephrata’s history dates back to the founding of the Ephrata Cloister in 1732. The town’s earlier history is represented in the exhibit by an original copy of the “Chronicon Ephratense,” the history of the Cloister printed there in 1786, along with an original ca. 1766 hand carved printer’s woodcut of the seal of the Ephrata Cloister, and two pieces of the its wooden communion service.

  Among the documents on display are the original 1891 oaths of office for the borough’s first council and burgess.  Other documents on display are  early borough ordinances, the first minute book of the Pioneer Fire Co., the first minute book of the Ephrata Board of Health.  There is even a letter from the Ettla Fire Co. expressing the need for a new horse-drawn hook and ladder fire engine for the town, it is accompanied by the original canceled check used to pay for the hook and ladder.  Also on display is the borough’s original cast iron hand seal with its original invoice.

  Another important artifact featured in the exhibit is the newly restored Old Mill Road covered bridge sign.  The bridge, demolished in the 1924, was the only covered bridge located within the modern day boundaries of the borough.  The sign, donated to the Society by the late June Haller over thirty years ago,  remained in storage until it was carefully restored in 2015 by Hartmann Fine Art Conservation Service, Carlisle, Pa.

  Other exhibits call attention to a sampling of residents who served the community in various leadership capacities during the last century.  Items included are Mayor Lloyd Gerhart’s top hat and J. Harry Hibshman’s shaving mug.

  Many of the Borough’s older residents can recall the “twelve o’clock whistle,” the steam whistle which was mounted on the Church Avenue light plant.  For decades the whistle, which is part of the display, announced the noon lunch hour to the town’s residents.

  Also included are period clothing worn by past generations of Ephrata residents which are displayed in the museum’s parlor and bedroom.  Among the clothing  is the wedding gown worn by Rachel (Myers) Keller in 1913, a circa 1915 wool bathing suite worn by Sallie (Baker) Carter, “Dutch” Greenly’s police uniform, a dress from the Diamond Jubilee in 1966, and a circa 1952 wool Ephrata baseball uniform.