Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Jacob B. Mull, Whiskey Merchant of Manilla

Jacob B. Mull (1803-1861), taken, c. 1860
From In Old Kentucky: The Story Of My
Forbears by William DePrez Inlow
My 5th great-grandfather, Jacob Mull, was born on July 12, 1803 in Loudoun County, Virginia.  Jacob was the fourth of seven children of George Washington Mull, a veteran of the War of 1812, and his wife Mary Katherine Long. Well before the Revolutionary War, Jacob's German grandfather, David Muhle, came to America as an indentured servant at the age of nine.  David Mull (he later adopted the Scottish spelling of his surname despite being German) married a woman named Eva Margaret Boothe.  Margaret outlived her husband by seven years, and possibly ran a distillery. Interestingly, this association with liquor sale was a source of income in her grandson Jacob's life as well. Margaret died in 1801, two years before Jacob was born.

At the age of ten Jacob moved with his parents to Warren County, Ohio.  There Jacob married Margaret Richinson, a New Jersey native of Scotch descent, around 1823.  Their first daughter, Catherine (my 4th great grandmother), was born in Ohio the following year.  But Jacob Mull moved yet again, coming to Rush County, Indiana in the spring of 1826. (Centennial History of Rush County by Abraham Lincoln Gary, 1888). Two of Jacob's brothers, twins Frederick Mull and George Mull Jr., also immigrated to Rush County around the same time.  Sometime during 1835, Jacob sold his stock of goods with the intent of farming, but gave it up the following year and returned to being a merchant.

After arriving in Rush County, the Mulls had three more children: George (in 1827), Cyrus (1829), and Mary Ann (1831).  Catherine and Mary Ann both grew up to marry doctors, and their homes, two of the most prominent brick houses in Manilla, were next door to each other. Sadly, their brother George died of an unknown cause before reaching the age of eight.  In 1847, a school for higher learning was established in Farmington, near Rushville; Jacob Mull's youngest son Cyrus was notably one of the first two students enrolled.  (Sketches of Rush County, pg. 25)  The school took place in a rented tavern.  Cyrus Mull later assumed full management of a farm that adjoined his father's in Rush County.

The Rushville Jacksonian, 5 Oct 1859
The town of Manilla, originally named Wilmington, was organized on January 4, 1836. Jacob Mull was one of the four settlers who founded the town, the others being Elias Murphy, Jonathan Murphy, and J. Edward.  He was the first merchant in the town, and kept his store in a small house.

During this time, whiskey was heavily marketed as a beverage for medicinal benefit, rather than as a hard liquor.  Jacob branded himself as a whiskey merchant, specializing in such medicinal concotions as "Ayer's Cherry Pectoral." Essentially, this cherry pectoral was a cough medicine that merely treated symptoms, but was not effective in curing advanced diseases like consumption, as advertised.  Ayer's recipe for his patent medicine, incidentally, included 3 grams of morphine, along with other herbal ingredients.

Jacob Mull, along with his son Cyrus and son-in-law James W. Trees, operated a mercantile venture in Manilla called J. & C. Mull and Trees.  As a prominent businessman in the small community, Jacob was elected to several municipal positions and was an early philanthropist to the town.  He donated $18,000 for the first railroad to pass through Rushville, Indiana, finally emerging in 1857 as the Sandusky, Indiana, and Louisville Railroad.  Jacob died in 1861 at the age of 57, leaving a wife, three children, and seven grandchildren.  The Centennial History of Rush County refers to Jacob Mull as a Manilla pioneer "to whose enterprise and public spirit does that town owe much."


  1. Hi Brenna! Just thought I'd tell you I thought of you and your blog when I passed through Rushville, Indiana recently. We didn't stop anywhere, but I snapped a shot of the courthouse (I'm pretty sure it was the courthouse) when we were stopped in front of it at a red light. LOL!

    1. Hi Laura, I'm glad you got to see Rushville! I really like the courthouse there. Thanks for thinking of me; if I ever get to Nebraska I'll think of you!

  2. Hi Brenna! I just recently started doing genealogy work. I found your blog very helpful. I discovered that George Washington Mull is my 4th great grandfather. I am a descendent of his son George Washington Mull Jr (born April 20, 1799). I was curious if you have any additional information on David Muhle (my 5th great grandfather) who came from Germany to America as an indentured servant? Do you know who his parents were or the circumstances behind him coming to America as an indentured servant? Thank you! Kay