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Network of German-American heritage brings East Coast generosity to Five Mile House

Network of German-American heritage brings East Coast generosity to Five Mile House

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Nearly half a continent’s distance was made shorter by a network of German-American heritage that led to a quilt made in Maryland raising $1,200 for a project at the Five Mile House.

The quilt was made by Fran Knapp Kilty, of Frederick, Maryland, who, in 2011, became a friend of Sasha Backhaus, of Carroll.

Sasha, as well as other members of the Backhaus family, play prominent roles at the annual Hayes Township Schuetzen Verein, which took place on Sunday at the Five Mile House located south of Westside.

In 2011, when Sasha decided to pursue a Master of Fine Arts at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), her parents were concerned about having a daughter so far away from anyone she knew.

A friend, Allen Krabbenhoft with the German-American Society in Omaha, Nebraska, provided the connection. He knew Kilty, who was formerly from Nebraska, and put the Backhaus family in contact with her.

Sasha attended classes at MICA for six weeks each summer under a low-residency program and continued to study for her master’s degree at home during the remainder of the year. Sasha made a point to see Fran each summer when she was studying at MICA, and Kilty came to Sasha’s art show in Baltimore.

Sasha said knowing that Kilty lived not far away from where she was studying provided ease to her family.

“Where I lived was definitely in the inner city, obviously completely different than where I grew up,” she explained. “Being in Baltimore was 180% different, and obviously my mom was very upset every time she left me there because it’s scary, and you had to kind of go through a sketchy area to get to my school.

“It just made them (her parents) feel a little bit more at ease,” said Sasha.

It also made Sasha feel more comfortable.

“If I would have needed somebody, or even if I just felt uncomfortable, it helped just to have her phone number. She even said if I just wanted a home-cooked meal to come on over. It was just nice to have somebody there,” said Sasha.

Sasha stopped traveling to Baltimore in 2015 when she received her Master of Fine Arts, but the friendship with Kilty has remained strong.

The two reunited at last year’s Hayes Township Schuetzen Verein, which had been postponed from the traditional first Sunday in June to Labor Day weekend due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Allen (Krabbenhoft) brought her to our King Shoot for the first time,” Sasha explained. “She had been hearing about this place for years but never had a chance to come here for the actual event.”

The pandemic pushing the event back to Labor Day weekend actually worked well with Fran’s plans, Sasha added.

“When she came here she said, ‘Sasha, this place is so cool. I didn’t know you guys had an auction,’” Sasha recalled.

Fran is part of a group in Maryland that makes quilts for veterans and asked if she could make a quilt for this year’s auction.

“We’d be over the moon about that,” Sasha replied.

(A June 3, 2014, Baltimore Sun article about Kilty and the quilting group can be found online at

In a narrative Kilty wrote about the quilt for the Five Mile House auction, she described that she began thinking about a quilt pattern on her flight home two days after the 2020 Hayes Township Schuetzen Verein. Nothing came to mind until she saw a pattern for a quilt in a magazine. (See the sidebar article for the full narrative.)

The quilt was shipped all the way from Maryland for this year’s auction at the Schuetzen Verein, but in terms of relationships, it didn’t travel all that far. The quilt was auctioned for $1,200. Sasha’s father, Jerry, was the winning bidder, and now Sasha has a very special keepsake from her friend.

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