— "Germantown Historic District 1873-1930" —
"Feed the Liberty Way" was the slogan of Liberty Milling Company, mainstay of the little farming community of Germantown for many years. In its heyday, Liberty Mill put out 24,000 lbs. of flour each day and 9,000 lbs. of cornmeal each week, plus animal feed which was made as a byproduct.
The original mill was steam-powered and began operation in 1888. It was founded by the Bowman brothers - Charles, Eldridge and Upton - sons of Francis Asbury Bowman of Cedar Grove. Lumber to build the mill was sawed at the Black Rock Mill, one of the oldest water-powered mills in Germantown. The Bowman Brothers did a brisk business milling wheat and corn and selling it in the area as well as shipping it to the Washington, D.C. markets by way of the railroad. In about 1914 fire engulfed the old wood structure and the entire mill was lost. The Bowman brothers rebuilt almost at once. The new mill was sold by the Bowman brothers to the Liberty Milling Company.
The Liberty Milling Company was incorporated on November 30, 1918 by Stanley P.F. Kline of Boonesboro, William C. Greeting of Keedysville, Herbert King of Mt. Airy, and Augustus R. Selby of Sheperdstown, W. Va. They purchased the Mill from the Bowman Brothers on December 7, 1918 for $25,000. Augustus Selby was appointed as the resident agent for the Mill.
Augustus Selby became a prominent figure in Germantown, and in 1948 he was elected to the first Montgomery County Council when the County adopted the charter form of government.
The new owners went right to work to modernize and improve the Mill. A new grain elevator was erected in 1919 and the first modern grain drier was installed in 1920. The concrete tanks were built in 1930 to improve grain storage. Originally run by steam power, the Mill's source of energy was changed to diesel power, which also supplied electricity for neighboring houses in the little town.
During World War II the Liberty Milling Company landed a contract with the armed forces and a whole new market opened up, bringing a new era of prosperity for the Mill. In the 1950s it was the second largest mill in Maryland with $1 million per year sales. The six grain silos had a capacity of 6,300 bushels, and three "stars" (storage spaces between the silos) gave an additional capacity of 3,000 bushels each. The Mill owned a nearby warehouse, which could store 40,000 bushels of bagged wheat. The Mill was operated by electricity supplied by a 125-horsepower generator. A store on the Mill property sold all of the flours, mixes and animal feeds to local residents.
Augustus R. Selby died in February, 1963. His son-in-law, Samuel P. "Pete" Hersperger, then took over management of the Mill. In 1967 the Liberty Mill was sold to P. V. Gross, who ran it for a few years; but he went bankrupt in the late 1960s. The Mill remained vacant until it burned to the ground in June, 1972.