Sacking of Home

By Carrie Blough, Curator, Historical Society of Frederick County | Photography by Turner Photography Studio | Posted on 08.05.13 – History, Timepiece

Carroll Street was an agricultural haven in the early 20th century. The Farmer’s Exchange Elevator was located on the street, along with Mountain City Mill, G.L. Baking Company, A.J. Delashmutt Fertilizer and the Dietrich and Gambrill Feedmill, among other businesses. The feedmill, at 115 S. Carroll Street, was owned by D. Wellington Dietrich, from Philadelphia, and James H. Gambrill Jr. of Frederick. Gambrill, the son of a miller, was particularly devoted to the conservation of natural resources, and, along with other conservationists, purchased more than 1,000 acres in the High Knob area and turned it over to the City of Frederick for a park. The city donated the land to the state of Maryland in 1936, and it is now Gambrill State Park.

Dietrich and Gambrill also operated the Frederick County Farmer’s Exchange, the Maryland Milling and Supply Company, and were stockholders of other companies. Their interest in providing agricultural supplies to Frederick’s vast number of farmers extended well into the century.

The Dietrich and Gambrill Feedmill provided “a practical feed for every need” in cotton cloth sacks. Mills and feed stores began using cloth cotton sacks or bags between 1840 and 1890, replacing the much heavier coopered wooden barrels. Sacks could hold a barrel’s worth of grain or smaller amounts for a farmer’s use. lnitially the sacks were returned to the mill to be refilled. However, innovative housewives began turning sacks into clothing, towels, pillowcases, quilt pieces and more. By the 1920s the sacks came in more colors and often with patterns printed on them. The reuse of these cotton sacks was very common during the Great Depression and World War II, when domestic necessities were scarce. Dietrich and Gambrill Feedmill printed reuse instructions on the sacks and even called them “Wear-O-Sax.”