Lincoln Conspiracy and York–More on John Wilkes Booth and the Sherwood School
Probably Site of Sherwood School on 1888 Fowler Map of York
My previous two posts were on the Sherwood School, also called Bland’s academy, a boarding school allegedly attended by John Wilkes Booth in the 1850s. Now, for the location:
There have been two or three different places on Prospect Street identified as the site of the school, but the correct one seems to be, coming from the east into town, on the left side of Prospect Street right before College Avenue splits off. Row houses are situated on the site today.
There are several pieces of evidence that point to that location, including the photo below. It is from York County Heritage Trust Library/Archives, and is a copy of one in the collections of the New-York Historical Society in New York City. NYHS cites it as 420 Plank Rd., York, Pa. (Plank Rd. is now Prospect St.)
A photo of the same building, from a different angle, accompanies a Feb. 12, 1916 York Daily article titled “Lincoln’s Slayer a York Student.” It says: “Booth attended school in a two-story brick building on Prospect street, opposite the first toll gate, a short distance from Pine Street, in 1853.” The writer was probably James Shettel, who did extensive research on the Lincoln Assassination. Much of the information for the piece came from an interview with Col. Clarence F. Cobb, a fellow student of Booth’s at the school.
In addition, a 1854 York newspaper lists “SHERWOOD BOARDING SCHOOL, Conducted by C. H. Bland and assistants–Location situate within sight of York.” The town was fairly small at that time, but would have been close enough to see from this house.
Prowell’s 1907 History of York County, Pennsylvania puts Bland’s academy on the Plank Road “in the historic building erected by Baltzer Spangler… .” As I mentioned before, Baltzer Spangler was an ancestor of “Ned” Spangler, who was convicted as a Lincoln conspirator. In addition, the present day ADC atlas still shows Spangler Ln. in the vicinity.
When you put the clues together, the south side of the 400 block of Prospect Street seems to be the best candidate for the site of the Sherwood School, attended by one of the most infamous criminals in U.S. history.