Some notes on Sang Run, MD

Posted by | May 23, 2014

Our community derived its name from a medicinal plant known as Gin Seng. At one time it grew here in abundance. There is still some scattered plants to be found, and a few old timers still hunt for them. The roots bring a high price; they are exported to China.

aerial of friendsville, md

Aerial view of Friendsville, MD. Photo not dated, but probably early 20th century.

John Friend was the first to settle here. He was followed by the Hoyes, Dewitts, Brownings and others. In this section was founded one of the first schools in Garrett County. It was taught by a Mr. Warren, an Englishman, who was sent here by John Hoye of Cumberland, who also paid his salary. John’s brother William Waller, had twenty-two children. And the other families were large.

It was here that my great grandfather Meshack Browning built his Log Cabin home and Grist Mill. These sites can still be seen below our house; also the old millrace. After Capt. Charles E. Hoye retired as teacher in the Philippines, when not with his family in California, he spent a great deal of time here in Sang Run, the location of his ancestral home. Miss Ruth Hoye who still lives here assisted him in many of his historical undertakings.

Smith McClellan Friend in the 1890’s operated a Teaberry Leaf Still. It was situated on the spring drain of the old Meshack Browning spring. Here was distilled teaberry oil, which was used as a base in perfumes, and also used in certain medicines. The leaves were boiled; the steam was condensed through a coil, and the oil was the result. The leaves on being collected were placed in burlap bags.

Often a rock was concealed so as to increase the weight, as the pickers were paid one cent a pound. There were at sundry times moonshine stills operated between Sang Run and McHenry, most likely in the far recesses of Marsh Hill. All through the years the John Friend Salt Peter Cave has been visited by the curious. Names are recorded on its walls dating back before the Civil War.

There is a cave along the Youghiogheny River somewhere in the vicinity of White Rock Creek. There is a tradition that counterfeiters made coins in this cave. Many have hunted for this cave but never found it. It had a small opening; it was close to the river on the west side.

Buffalo Marsh at McHenry got its name from a buffalo being mired there, and died. The Friend brothers killed two buffalo at the mouth of Sang Run in the latter part of the 18th century. Meshack Browning never mentioned having seen a buffalo.

Friend's Store, in Friend's Delight, Sang Run, MD

Friend’s Store has been a central point of contact for members of the Friend family and the Sang Run community for well over a century. The Friend family proprietor sold food staples in the tiny store and also bought, sold and traded ginseng for the local folk. Friend’s Store sits within an 81 acre tract of land known as Friend’s Delight, originally settled by John Friend in 1769 after bartering with the Shawnee tribe. The tract was acquired by the Maryland Park Service in October of 2008.

When I was a child an old log house stood on Aunt Betty Hoye’s place. No one had lived in it for a long time. What I am going to say is true as God lets me live. I with my oldest sister Margaret went to look for our brother. There was an old cemetery by the old log house. When we came to the rail fence surrounding the house there was an old man and woman standing in the doorway. The old man wore a slim beard reaching down to his waist, and the old woman was throwing out dish water.

I asked them if they had seen my brother Will. They did not answer after many attempts to question them. This scared us and we ran home. No one believed us as the house had been unoccupied for many years, and no one answered the description of these two old people. In later years I learned that before this experience of seeing the two old people in the doorway of the abandoned log-house a tragedy of some sort had occurred there.

“Some Notes on Sang Run,” by J. Frank Browning, ‘Tableland Trails Magazine,’ 1956

‘Tableland Trails,’ a Quarterly Magazine Devoted to the History, Folklore and Cultural Interests of the Tri State Area, was produced by the Tableland Trails Foundation, between 1953 and 1963. Felix G. Robinson was the founder, editor, and a major contributor. The publication included information on Garrett and Allegany Counties in Maryland, and several counties in neighboring Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

5 Responses

  • Karen Diercks says:

    I’m descended from Meshack Browning through his daughter Sally who married Adam Nethkin. I’m looking for stories or notes that may not have been published. I’m also looking for information on the Nethkins. Any help would be appreciated.

  • Julie Baker says:

    I am too descended from Meshack Browning through his daughter Sally. Her son Thomas Nethkin was my great-great grandfather. I have information of that line.

  • Dennis Bobo says:

    I am also a descendent of Meshack Browning and it is great to hear of others in his family.

  • dona blackmore says:

    I’m a descendent of the Hoyes/Marbury/Smallwood line. Enjoyed this story of Appalachian history.

  • M says:

    Thanks for sharing your memories. We stumbled upon the Friends Store yesterday – it has been restored. We had a nice visit with the grandson of the gentleman who built the store in the 1880s. Lots of charming history about the local area. The place was trackable via GPS – 3735 Sang Run Road.

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