BY JOHN HORNER / April 2016
There were at one time as many as nine one-room rural schools in Cumberland Township, of which Boyd’s School at 1275 Biglerville Road, Gettysburg, was one of the oldest.
The Public School Law of 1834 in Pennsylvania specified the state be divided into school districts and each jurisdiction be required to provide schooling for all its children, financed by taxes to be levied on real estate. Cumberland Township voted to adopt common schools at its first opportunity which was 1835. Best research indicates Boyd’s School was established on or about 1837 and was most likely a wooden structure as were most rural schools at that time, although how it received the name of Boyd’s School remains obscure.
An indication that the log building may have reached the end of its practical life was a notice which appeared in a local newspaper dated May 26, 1862, to wit: “The School Board of Cumberland District, intending to build a NEW SCHOOL-HOUSE at No.1 (formerly Boyd’s), the house to be of brick, 24 X 28, will receive proposals for the same from contractors, and will meet for that purpose at No. 1, on Saturday, the 31st of May inst., at 9:00 AM, at which time and place contractors are requested to attend. By order of J. A. Harper, Sec’y.”
After serving its constituents faithfully for many years, the school building was almost totally destroyed in a snow storm in 1910, and had to be completely rebuilt. An existing photo shows that in 1921, the school was comprised of 19 pupils and one teacher. In the 1950s, as rural schools were being merged into the Gettysburg Joint School District, Boyd’s School was sold at auction to Leo C. Riley, the land and building for $4,950 and the furnishings for $129.
Families served by the school would include those of Eiker, Hess, Keckler, Coleman, Arendt, Shanoltz, Ogburn, Golden, Miller, Knox, Bridendolph, Lee, Aughinbaugh, Gorman, Jacoby, Snyder, Bosak, Weikert, Richardson, and Foulk. Teachers (beginning in 1916) would include Margarette Tipton Spangler, John Calvin Lady, Florence Witherow, Mary Leas, Mrs. Elmer Shriver (substitute teacher), Maude Pensyl, Luella Minnich, Mrs. Elsie Swisher, and Mrs. Mary Trout. Mrs. Trout was the writers 6-8 grade teacher at Centennial Hall School in the 1930s.
Occupants of the property since the 1950s include: Dr. Joseph Riley, North Gas Sales and Service, the late James Getty for his Lincoln show, Ken Cole Restaurant and Tavern, Schoolhouse Restaurant (owned by the Leroy Bakers and later by Michael Redding).
Since January of 2002, the building has been home to Tully Dental and just recently sported a new state-of-the-art, three-dimensional sign as reported in the Gettysburg Times, calling attention to its services.
During its lifetime, the school has morphed from the ABCs of learning to that of a dentist, a truly remarkable journey.
The continued use of this historic building reflects well on the Cumberland Township Historical Society’s endeavors to call attention to and encourage the perpetuation of our significant older structures. Our gratitude to Tully Dental.
John B. Horner is a founding member and vice chair of Cumberland Township Historical Society, and a relative of the Foulk Family, whose children attended Boyd’s School in the 1920s.