Backwoodsman Meshach Browning (1781-1859) was born at Damascus, Maryland, but spent most of his life on the Youghiogheny River watershed near Friendsville, Maryland. As a 16-year-old, he traveled to Wheeling and spent time in the bustling Ohio River frontier town before returning to western Maryland.
Browning’s fame as a hunter is described in his autobiographical book, Forty-four Years of the Life of a Hunter, covering the period 1790–1835. His descriptions of the virgin forests, glades, and wildlife provide invaluable natural history information for western Maryland and neighboring (West) Virginia. He married Mary McMullen or McMilan in 1799 and together they raised 11 children. His book tells of personal trials and triumphs and the social and community events of the post-Revolutionary War era. Stories of living off the land and growing a garden and crops in the wilderness provide important historical perspectives.
Browning, a champion hunter, claimed he killed 2,000 deer, 400 bear, 50 panthers, several wolves, and many other animals to supply meat for his family and to sell for money. He occasionally hunted on Backbone Mountain and in the glades of Virginia, now Preston and Tucker counties, West Virginia.
Meshach Browning is buried in a small cemetery near Hoyes, Maryland, beside Maryland Route 42.
This Article was written by William N. Grafton
Last Revised on September 27, 2012