Spangler’s Stone

I’m currently driving around Charles County after standing in line at the Maryland DMV for a hour to learn I was just one ID short if getting my license transferred over. I’m posting from my phone so this will be short.

Below is a picture of Edman Spangler’s grave stone. Spangler is buried in the Original (Old) St. Peter’s Cemetery. Of all the conspirators, Spangler is agreed upon as being the most innocent. He had known the Booth family from his time helping to create Junius Brutus Booth’s Tudor Hall in Bel Air, Maryland. He built and attended to the stables behind Ford’s Theatre where Booth kept his horses. And on the night of the assassination Booth called for Spangler to hold his horse. Due to these facts and the mistaken testimony that Spangler had told another theater worker to keep quiet after the assassination, Spangler was tried as an accomplice. Even the military commission’s sentencing of six years in prison shows their relative belief of his innocence in the assassination plot. It seems that Spangler was just made and example of due to his acquaintance with John Wilkes Booth.



Spangler’s grave is located in the back corner of this small cemetery opposite the sign.


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6 thoughts on “Spangler’s Stone

  1. Richard Sloan

    I believe it was employee Jake Ritterspaugh who said that Spangler said “That was Booth!,” prompting Spangler to say (accord. to Jake) “Shut up! What do you know about it?!” Either Jake or someone else added that “Ned” had also slammed shut the stage door after Booth exited, to impede pursuit. The only “hard evidence” to make him complicit was a coil of rope. It was not extraordinary for him to have such a thing, given his profession. But the Military COmmission used it agst. him, theorizing that it had been intended for use in tripping up anyone on horseback who might pursue the carriage that a captured Lincoln was in. I’m not sure, but if that’s what they were thinking, tyhat would be evidence agst. the commission was admitting the existence of a kidnap plot! They conveniently ignored the existence of such an earlir plot. AM I right? Anyone have any thoughts on this? I should have looked in my books before rattling off this post, and ask for forgiveness for not having done so to make sure I have my facts right. Please feel free o correct me or add some comments. As Booth used to write, “In haste.”
    I believe Mike Kauffman was involved — if not largely responsible –for the installation of the Spangler grave marker. The only time I visited the spot was years before the stone was placed there. It was in the course of a trip along the escape route that was conducted by Hall. With me was Mike, John Brennan, Harold Goettner, and Bert Sheldon. What a day that was! I’m so glad Mike took a picure of us all posing in front of the Garrett farm marker. Mike was just a youngster, starting college, I believe, but already showing signs of his brilliance.. He had a camera with a built-in timer, He set up the shot , clicked the shutter, and then ran over to pose with us!. .

    • Richard Sloan

      I didn’t mean to insinuate that the Surratt and Mudd societies had little to do with the erection of the Spangler marker. I just have it in my brain that Mike had a very high profile on the project, which , of course could not have been accomplished without the help of those twoorganizations.

    • Richard,

      Your recollections seem mostly correct to me. The only thing I would add is that the testimony against Spangler which claimed he said, “Don’t tell them where he [Booth] went” and hit Ritterspaugh proved later to have been said/done by Harry Hawk instead. Hawk was scared and confused about what had happened. Mike Kauffman discovered this fact in an interview Hawk gave years later.

    • Laurie Verge

      Just a note on the coil of rope found in Spangler’s room. Some have asserted that it was something he used in his love of crabbing. There was also a coil of rope deliberately stored at Surratt’s Tavern at the same time that the carbines and other supplies were left on March 18, 1865, after the aborted kidnap plot. That rope was to be used to string across the road from tree to tree to cause a traffic jam when the first line of cavalry came sweeping through. Trust me, it would have been very effective on the roads in Southern Maryland at that time. In fact, airplane cable could be strung from tree to tree on some of those roads today to slow down cars and motorcycles.

      • Laurie,

        I believe you, but couldn’t soldiers quickly just cut it down? I feel like it would take awhile to set up and only cause a short delay for the soldiers.

  2. Laurie Verge

    It was Mike’s idea to try and locate Spangler’s grave while some of the old-timers were still around. Dr. Richard Mudd and Louise Mudd Arehart claimed that they remembered a simple wooden cross marking the spot when they were children. Wood, of course, deteriorates, but we also learned that sometime in the 1950s, a man was hired to clear away the overgrowth that had overtaken the old cemetery. His bush hog evidently stopped for nothing – he just shoved weeds, briars, and tombstones over into the adjacent woods.

    Further work was done to identify the closest probable location of Spangler’s grave, and the Surratt Society and the Dr. Mudd Society raised the necessary funds to put a simple marker there. We held a short dedication service and then had a reception at the nearby home of Dr. Mudd. That seems to have started the Surratt Society on a tombstone mission. We have since raised $6000 to mark the grave of Elizabeth Keckly, modiste to Mary Lincoln, and $3000 to mark the grave of Mary Surratt’s lawyer. I am now concerned that John Lloyd’s gravestone has been allowed to fall over at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in D.C. and is deteriorating from acid rain falling directly on it.

    One would assume that Mt. Olivet is a perpetual care cemetery under the purview of the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington. However, no attempt has been made to remount the stone. I guess I’m going to have to jiggle a few bones at the office there. In the 1970s, the Surratt Society learned that the original 1878 gravestone of Mary Surratt in the same cemetery had fallen over and that mowing equipment and freezing and thawing had caused it to be broken in about six pieces. It was thrown into a shed.

    John Brennan found out that it would be thrown away, and it was sent to Surratt House where it resides in storage. That time, the cemetery replaced the marker with a new granite one.

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