There’s money in those rafters in Spry!
York County, Pennsylvania, still retains in places vestiges of its once thriving agricultural heritage, particularly with the huge, bank barns (often painted red) which once dominated the roadsides leading into York borough from all directions. One of those roads, now Rt. 74, leads through York Township to a bustling settlement with the interesting name of Spry.
Back in the 19th century, Spry was known as Innersville for the large number of families with the surname of Inners (still a popular name in the county).
In late 1896, a farmer hired two men to put a new roof on his barn.
One of the laborers found a stash of cash which may relate to the Confederate invasion of York 33 years before the unusual discovery.
Here is the story, as recorded in the pages of the New Oxford Item on November 20, 1896.
“No one has claimed the bag of money found by E. S. Spangler, of York township, while tearing off the roof of the barn of J. B. Horne, at Innersville, near York, and it has been turned over to Wm. C. Solomon and Mr. Spangler, who found the bag. The bag contained over $4,000. Those in the neighborhood believe it has been its hiding place ever since the war.
“About the time the Confederate troops, under General John B. Gordon, invaded the borough of York, many persons fled with their valuables out the Baltimore and Chanceford pikes, and the supposition is that they hid this bag of money in the rafters of the barn where they had slept, to keep the Confederates from getting it.”
York Countians are recorded as hiding their valuables in wells, cisterns, under floor boards, in attics, corn cribs, and numerous other places. According to 19th century historian George Reeser Prowell, some merchants in downtown York resorted to burying their expensive merchandise in coffins in the graveyard of Christ Lutheran Church on S. George Street.
With thousands of refugees from Franklin and Adams counties, and even some from Maryland, traversing York County’s roads, the supposition that this money belonged to a party which slept in the barn is plausible, although it is hard to believe they would not have come back looking for such a large sum.
For Spangler and Solomon, this provided an unexpected huge windfall, one they scarcely could have dreamed as they toiled to remove the old roofing.