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Hunter John Myers

Outdoorsman John ‘‘Hunter John’’ Myers, born about 1765, became a legendary figure in Western Virginia in the early 19th century. In 1798, John Myers married Catherine Everhart, the daughter of Revolutionary War Gen. George Everhart. In the early 1800s, he began accumulating land and built a comfortable log home in the Meadow Branch valley between Martinsburg and Berkeley Springs.

Myers earned his nickname by making his living as a hunter and trapper on Sleepy Creek Mountain. The countryside around him grew more settled and filled with people, but Myers continued to typify the frontier mountaineer. His clinging to the old ways inspired author John Esten Cooke’s first novel, Leather Stocking and Silk; or, Hunter John Myers and His Times, published in 1854. Cooke’s novel is an average adventure romance in the James Fenimore Cooper mold, but the vivid portrait of Myers, his home, and family give the book what zest and appeal it has.

Myers also loomed large in the imagination of writer-artist David Hunter Strother (Porte Crayon). Strother was taken by Hunter John’s life in the wild and, in 1837, painted a portrait of him from memory; the whereabouts of the portrait is now unknown, if in fact it still exists. Myers is believed to have died in 1835, but his descendants remained in the Meadow Branch area until about 1915. Some still live in the Eastern Panhandle. The Myers property is now part of Sleepy Creek Public Hunting and Fishing Area in Morgan County.

Written by John Douglas