Jonathan Mifflin (1753-1840) painted by John Houston Mifflin. Courtesy of Duncan Ely.
As stories fly about the possible planned destruction of Hybla, the Mifflin-Wright house near Wrightsville, more concern has surfaced about this important York County historical site. Hybla has just been named one of the 11 most endangered properties in Pennsylvania by Preservation Pennsylvania.
Click these links for media coverage of a recent demonstration showing support for preservation of the site from the York Daily Record and WGAL-TV.
Other historians, such as Scott Mingus and Randy Harris, are doing a fine job stressing that it was an essential link on the Underground Railroad, one of the few that has been documented in the area, and how crucial the Mifflins of Hybla: Jonathan and his wife Susannah Wright Mifflin, and their son Samuel Mifflin, were in safely passing along many freedom seekers. I also want to remind everyone of Jonathan Mifflin’s service and patriotism during the Revolutionary War, another very good reason to preserve this sturdy stone home built well over two centuries ago. Even though of a Quaker background, as well as a very successful merchant and importer in the Far Eastern trade, when war seemed imminent in 1775 Jonathan Mifflin offered his services.
Mifflin seemed to be one of the few who realized the soldiers needed some training. According to his Revolutionary War pension papers from the National Archives, before reporting for duty he hired a British deserter to teach him “military exercise.” After entering the service, he trained other officers, as well as enlisted men, with the help of that British sergeant. This was well over two years before most soldiers finally began formal training under Baron von Steuben at Valley Forge in February 1778.
In 1776 Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Mifflin became Deputy Quartermaster General of the American Army, serving directly under General Thomas Mifflin, his relative and father of his second wife. Jonathan Mifflin often reported directly to Commander in Chief George Washington, as evidenced by much existing correspondence. Below is a transcription of just one of those many letters to. (Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.) It shows the scope of his responsibility in supply necessities for the army: food, housing, tools, ammunition and anything else needed. He also includes important military news for the General.
To George Washington from Jonathan Mifflin, Jr., 3 October 1777
From Jonathan Mifflin, Jr.
Trenton [N.J.] 3rd Octor 1777
I am happy to inform you that the Removal of the Stores is now in a very good Train—There are remaining about 80 Loads of Arms unfit for Service, belonging to the States, 20 Loads the Property of the State of Pennsylvania, 30 Loads fixed Amunition, 80 Loads of Rum, Rice & Salted Provision; the Comm’y has besides 3000 Barrells Herrings, Flour & Indian Meal—The Stores in the Qr. Mr. Gen’l Department are removed except some Tent Poles, Hand & wheel Barrows, the Artificiers Tools & other lumbering Articles will amount to 150 Loads—The Cloathier Gen’l has sent all his Stores to Lancaster—On my Arrival at this Place I was greatly distressed for Want of Men to impress Teams there being no Troops here either Continental or Militia to procure that Assistance from the Country which the relaxed State of the Civil Authority especially in Pennsylvania could not afford. I was therefore obliged to detain Col. Flowers Artificers & a Company of Masons whom I have employed in impressing Teams, & loading them.
This Day Major Vancleve with 100 of the Jersey Militia came here by Order of Gov’r Livingston—The Waggons from Easton are now Returning & with those coming in from the Country I expect to have every thing removed by Sunday Night.1
The Naval Comittee at Borden town have taken Charge of the Stores belonging to the Marine Department.
Capt. Charles Biddle with 3 small armed Vessells lies off Borden Town, the Frigates commanded by Caps. Barry & Reed are at White Hill 2 Miles lower down the River at which Place I am informed they propose mounting some Cannon—A heavy firing has been heard this Morning supposed to be at Fort Mifflin. I am Your Excellencys most obdt hbl. Servt
Jonathan Mifflin ⟨Jr.⟩ D. Q. M. G.
This site and its occupants are far too important to our national history to fall by the wayside.
Nineteenth century view of Hybla
Click this link for my recent York Sunday News column on Hybla and the Mifflins and Wrights.
Another former post indicates that Jonathan Mifflin was so respected in York County that he was even elected to a position for which he didn’t run.
Samuel Wright Mifflin (1805-1885) painted by James Reid Lamdin. (Courtesy of Duncan Ely)