John Wilkes Booth gave color to Bland’s boarding school in York

John_Wilkes_Booth-portrait
John Wilkes Booth attended school in York years before he gained infamy for assassinating Abraham Lincoln. Background posts: James A. Garfield: ‘York was the capital of the United States when congress was on wheels’ and Piece of John Wilkes Booth’s body to be shown in Philly and Abraham Lincoln was here.

Those attending the recent Treasures of the Trust were treated to two photographs that served as a reminder of an infamous former resident here.
The photographs at this York County Heritage Trust-sponsored event captured John Wilkes Booth and the school he attended in York for a short spell in 1853.
An exhibit booklet said this of Booth and his school: …


“Located on Prospect Street, this private boys school was also known as Bland’s Boarding Academy. Some suggest this is where York County native Edmund also known as Edward or ‘Ned’ Spangler met Booth. Spangler was later convicted as one of Booth’s conspirators in the Lincoln Assassination.”

Yorker Ned Spangler was implicated – for caring for Booth’s horse while the assassin did he work – but he later gained a pardon after serving hard time in prison.
Years later, Clarence F. Cobb, a classmate of Booth’s, recalled: “Jack (Booth) was a bad boy and used to fag the smaller boys cruelly.”
His bullying inevitably led him to pick on the wrong guy – a short, stout boy from Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
“Jack had a yellow streak in him,” Cobb stated.
The archives table at the event also showed a photograph or daguerreotype by Glenalvin J. Goodridge. Morris Gardner had produced a machine and wanted to share it with cousin Israel Gardner, according to the booklet.
Goodridge captured it for posterity.
The most popular exhibit was the showing of a DVD of York in 1941. It captured City Hall, The Valencia Rainbow Grill, Reed Machinery and York Hospital and many other scenes from a year that was marked by a deadly polio outbreak and America’s entry into World War II.

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.

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