Boonsboro Reflections: John Christian Brining

Posted on Sep 26, 2017


Two prominent Boonsboro businesses can be traced back to John Christian Brining, Sr., who was born in Wurttemberg, Germany, on August 10, 1810.  During the Brining families’ journey to America in 1817, their vessel was shipwrecked off the coast of Norway and while waiting for an opportunity to continue their voyage, John’s mother died. Two of his sisters also died during the trip and were buried at sea.  His father and the surviving members of the family settled at Baltimore in 1818, and subsequently moved to Hagerstown.  John Jr. married Catharine Spielman in 1835 and by 1837 they had moved to Boonsboro and opened a cabinet shop.

Brining served several terms as Burgess of Boonsboro and was serving as a member of the Maryland Legislature when the Civil War broke out.  On September 14, 1862, Brig. General Samuel Garland, Jr., a Confederate officer, was killed in action during the Maryland Campaign while defending Fox’s Gap at the Battle of South Mountain.  Brining was called on to make the coffin and prepare the General’s body for return home to his family in Lynchburg, Virginia.  Thus began the funeral directing side of Brining’s business in Boonsboro.

The cabinet-making/undertaker shop prospered and in 1888 William F. Bast was brought into the business as an apprentice.  Around the turn of the century, William bought the business. After his death William’s sons, John and Gerald, continued the combined operation, offering both furniture and funeral services. During the 1960’s, the two businesses were separated. Gerald and his son Douglas took over the furniture store while John and his son John Jr. continued operating the funeral home.  Bast Furniture operated on Main Street for 174 years before closing in 2011, likely the longest operating furniture store in Maryland.  In the 1970’s, Boonsboro resident Doug Stauffer apprenticed at John Bast’s funeral home, just as the Brinings had mentored apprentice William F. Bast nearly a century earlier. After John’s death in 2007, the Stauffers have continued to operate the Bast-Stauffer Funeral home as the longest continuously operating business in Boonsboro.

Original house of J.C. Brining, photo circa 1920’s. Photo courtesy Boonsborough Museum of History.

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