Pivotal People

The Boone Family


Old Salem Church, home to Trinity Reformed and Trinity Lutheran congregations in the 1800s. Boone gravesite located behind.

George and William Boone, brothers, came to this region in the late 1700s.  George was a land speculator and the two quickly realized the beauty of the area and the possibilities for their own families.

George and William were cousins of Daniel Boone, the famous frontiersman who discovered a trail to the far west though the Cumberland Gap.  The brothers and Daniel had the same grandfather, George Boone III.    George and William founded Boonsboro in 1792, owned farms and a store downtown.  Learn more...   William was buried on his farm land, which became the site of the Salem Church.  Today, the site occupies Trinity Reformed Church. His grave may be visited in the church graveyard and is marked with a plaque.


The Shafer Family

Jonathan Shafer ran a tannery on the land that is today’s Shafer Park.  The land was swampy and the perfect place for Shafer to run his successful business.  Shafer was a member of the Maryland state legislature in 1829 and served as Boonsboro’s first burgess (mayor) from 1831 to 1835.

According to A History of Washington County, Maryland, Volume 2, Part 1: “Jonathan Shafer was a public-spirited man and for more than 25 years he served as a magistrate in his district… During his administration, he took a deep interest in securing a system of pavements in Boonsboro, as well as other improvements… In 1832, he was one of the first county commissioners chosen directly by the people.  He was a soldier in the War of 1812…”


Shafer Park during the Boonsboro Rescue Company carnival.

His descendant, Mary, inherited the land and donated it to the town.  Today, Shafer Park is the center of community for the town, the location of festivals, family gatherings, playgrounds, picnics, the town carnival, sports practices, holiday celebrations and so much more.  Indeed, the park increases the quality of life for town residents in many ways and is a long-lasting asset with more ways to enjoy this gift being planned into the future.


The Bast Family

The Bast family has been an integral part of the Boonsboro community for nearly 200 years.  In 1837, Captain John Christian Brining (born 1810 in Germany) opened a cabinet shop in Boonsboro which also sold coffins.

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

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

Brining served as Mayor of Boonsboro from 1851-1852, 1854-1855, and from 1885-1886. He was serving as a member of the Maryland Legislature when the Civil War broke out.

He operated his cabinet shop along with his son, John Calhoun Brining.  The shop prospered and in 1888 they advertised for an apprentice. William F. Bast, who was apprenticing in Frederick at the time, was given the position.

During the Civil War, embalming became popular because families wanted to ship soldiers’ bodies home to bury.   When Confederate Brig. Gen. Samuel Garland Jr. was killed during the Battle of South Mountain in 1862, cabinetmaker Brining went to the battlefield, made the general a coffin, embalmed his body, and arranged to ship him home.

Around the turn of the century, William Bast bought out the business and it became William F. Bast & Son. William’s eldest son, John Harlan Bast, helped his father with the business. As other children came along, they also helped with the business.   After William Bast passed away, the business passed down to John Harlan and his brother Gerald.

John H. Bast Jr, "Bud"

John H. Bast Jr, “Bud”

As business prospered, eventually the business was divided into a furniture store, Bast Furniture, and a funeral home, Bast Funeral Home.  John H. Bast bought the funeral home portion, and Gerald Bast bought the furniture store.   In 1964, John Bast passed the funeral home on to his only son, John Harlan Bast, Jr, known to friends as “Bud”.   In 1972 John Jr. built a new funeral home on the edge of town and was a generous and successful businessman until his death in 2007.  His bequests to the Boonsboro Cemetery and to his church, Trinity Lutheran in Boonsboro, were indicative of his philanthropy.

Mark Bikle (nephew of John Bast Jr) and Doug Bast in the Boonsborough Museum of History.

Mark Bikle (nephew of John Bast Jr) and Doug Bast in the Boonsborough Museum of History surrounded by the tools of their ancestor’s cabinet making business.

Bast Furniture operated on Main Street for a total of 174 years before closing in 2011.  Doug Bast, cousin to John, owned the furniture store and has always had a passion for history.  His immense collection of historical artifacts is on display next door at the Boonsborough Museum of History.