Archives of Maryland
Richard Thomas's Grist
Montgomery County, Maryland
Owned by Richard Thomas
Jr., c. 1791-1821
constructed a grist mill adjacent to the town of Brookeville in
Montgomery County, Maryland between 1791 and 1794. He established the
mill on the same parcel of land on which he would eventually found the
town of Brookeville.1
"Country mill" was used "as [a place] where local farmers came to
grind, store, and sell their grain." The mill conducted mainly
"Merchant work," turning local families' wheat, rye, corn, and
buckwheat into flour and meal for personal consumption.2
1813, Thomas may have tried to expand his business. He placed a
newspaper advertisement for a fuller, a craftsman who cleaned and
finished homespun woolen cloth to prepare it for sewing, to work in his
mill in Brookeville.3
Because evidence of fulling is difficult to find, it is unknown if
Thomas ever began finishing woolen cloth at his mill. He likely would
not have purchased newspaper advertisements selling his products or
offering fulling services because the small mill served only families
in Brookeville and the immediate surrounding neighborhoods. An
inventory of the mill property after Thomas's death contains no fulling
machinery or equipment, suggesting that even if Thomas began fulling
around 1813, he did not continue doing so.4
By 1816, the town's residents probably took their homespun cloth
Newlin, who had recently started his own fulling
mill just outside of Brookeville.5
Thomas's grist business was protected from local competition. In 1800,
enjoined David Newlin's milling operations on the west-end of
Brookeville to prevent Newlin from producing the same goods as Richard
Thomas. Moore sold Newlin a parcel of land on the condition
that Newlin never found a grist mill in Brookeville as long as Richard
Thomas and his heirs continued to operate a mill in the town.6 Newlin's
mill in Brookeville instead consisted of a saw mill, a
plaster mill, and an oil
mill which produced high-quality linseed and castor oil.
Roger Brooke Thomas, one of Richard's sons, inherited the mill after
his father's death in 1821.7
Roger owned and operated the mill until 1842, when he sold the property
to Thomas Moore's nephew, Thomas
McCormick. McCormick was a trained carpenter, a
Methodist minister, and a grocer who may have been running a store in
Brookeville. He was raised in Brookeville and
lived in Longwood
at the time he
bought the mill.8
When McCormick put the mill up for sale again in 1847, the
property consisted of a "stone mill-house, with one run of French burrs
and one of country stones, cast-iron gearing, in good order; miller's
house and other outhouses, with about sixteen or seventeen acres of
Leonard Weer purchased the mill from McCormick that same year and his
family operated it through the nineteenth century.10
In 1913, the Weers sold the property and the mill site changed many
hands. In 1995 the tract containing the old mill was sold a last time
the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.11
The date at which the mill ceased its operations is unknown, but the
crumbled foundations of the original mill complex still rest today in
Kyle Bacon, DAR
Research Fellow, 2012; Megan O'Hern, 2013
COUNTY COURT (Land Records) 7 Nov. 1793, Deed, Heirs of Roger Brooke IV
receiving inherited lands in Montgomery County, including Deborah's
receipt of part of "Addition to Brooke Grove," Liber E, pp. 428-436
[MSA CE 148-5].
- "A Miller Wanted," Advertisement, Baltimore Federal Gazette,
17 Oct. 1811; see also Catherine
C. Lavoie, "Thomas-Bentley House (Madison House)," Historic American
Buildings Survey (HABS No. MD-1375) Washington, DC: U.S.
the Interior, National Park Service, 2011, pp. 16-17; See
HISTORICAL TRUST (Inventory of Historic Sites) Brookeville Historic
District, M: 23-65, Montgomery County [MSA SE5-17391].
- "A Fuller Wanted," Advertisement, Federal Republican and
Commercial Gazette, 3 Sep. 1813.
COUNTY REGISTER OF WILLS (Estate Record) 1821-1824, Liber N, p. 187,
Inventory Continued 1st Month 3rd 1822 [MSA C1138-15].
- "Brookeville Woolen Factory," Advertisement, The Georgetown Messenger,
15 June 1816.
COUNTY COURT (Land Records) January 7, 1801, Deed, Thomas Moore to
David Newlin, four acre parcel on "Addition to Brooke Grove" for use as
a mill property, Liber I, pp. 336-339 [MSA CE 148-10].
This deed included a covenant which prevented Newlin from constructing
a grist mill
on the property as long as Richard Thomas and his heirs operated a mill
in Brookeville. It also specifically outlined which types of grain
Newlin could not process in his mill, revealing which types of grain
Richard Thomas Jr. handled in his own mill.
- MONTGOMERY COUNTY COURT (Land Records) 3 Nov. 1823, Liber
X, p. 120, Deed of Partition [MSA CE 148-25].
COUNTY COURT (Land Records) 7 Feb. 1842, Liber BS 11, p. 43, Deed,
Roger Brooke Thomas to Thomas McCormick [MSA CE 148-37].
- "Valuable Mill Property for Sale or Rent," Advertisement, Daily National Intelligencer,
27 May 1847.
COUNTY COURT (Land Records) 8 Feb. 1851, Liber STS 5, p. 203, Deed,
Thomas M. McCormick to Leonard Weer [MSA CE 148-43].
- MONTGOMERY COUNTY COURT (Land Records) 30 June 1995, Liber
13481, p. 94, Deed, Abrams Brainin, et. al. to Powell
Farm Limited Partnership [MSA CE 63-13436].
Maryland State Archives