The Deeds of Mahlon York

by Benjamin H. Shaw
Unadilla Meeting


Mahlon D. York of Unadilla is the designer of what is known as a York stone rake and drag combine. The machine was (and is) a scraper, stone rake, and drag in one machine. The machines were originally built in Earlville, N.Y. Eventually the company moved to Unadilla, N.Y. The York Rake business became very successful and is still in operation to this day. The original York rake is displayed alongside the company’s Unadilla manufacturing plant.


York was a Birthright Quaker and dedicated to his faith and community minded. With all he accomplished, he must have been a “high energy” person. It was his foresight that recognized the need for a church in Rogers Hollow and Rockdale. Thus, through his leadership both churches were established.


According to an article written by Grace Nichols, the business of the church was started off as a Preparation Meeting on September 23, 1896. Butternuts Quarterly Meeting was held for the first time in Unadilla in August 1897. The Unadilla Monthly Meeting was established on January 27, 1904, through the efforts of Mahlon York.


Mahlon York headed the list for the founding of a church. York was clerk of the meeting from the founding of the church except for one or two short intervals until his death. He was a very substantial giver.


There is no way of knowing how many people and organizations have benefitted from Friend York’s success and generosity. One continuing benefit is the Mahlon York Fund managed by New York Yearly Meeting. The Mahlon York Fund was written into his will in 1933. “All the rest, residue and remainder of my property….I give, devise and bequeath to the New York Yearly Meeting in trust…. to invest and keep to be used for education…. in particular of The Butternuts Quarter.”


The Mahlon York Fund has been well managed and done very well over the years and the scholarships are still available. Dozens of students have enjoyed the benefits of the York scholarship funds including some from the Rogers Hollow Friends Church.


Mahlon York was an astute businessman, a man of deep faith, and dedicated to the church and community. It is always interesting to find a word that describes a person.  There are numerous words that could be used to describe Mahlon York; however, it seems that the word “deeds” most aptly applies. A concordance to the New International Bible references Colossians, Chapter 3:17 under Deeds. Colossians Chapter three gives rules for Holy Living and verse 16 and 17 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”


Finally, Revelation 14:13 & 14 says “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.”  


These scriptural verses most certainly describe Mr. York.  His deeds have followed him through his time, talents and resources, and through business and church leadership his legacy lives on.