Albert and Ethel Herzstein Library, San Jacinto Museum of History

Adele Briscoe Looscan Collection

Harris Family Papers, Manuscript Collection: MC062

Collection Summary

Creator: Harris family
Title: Harris family papers
Dates: 1795-1875
Dates: (Bulk: 1836-1852)
Abstract: Correspondence, financial, and legal papers briefly document four generations of the Harris family of Texas.
Identification: MC062
OCLC Record No.: 50105482
Quantity: 29 items
Language: Materials are in English.
Repository: Albert and Ethel Herzstein Library, San Jacinto Museum of History, La Porte, Texas

Creator Sketch

When John Richardson Harris came to Texas in 1824, he continued his family's pioneer tradition. John Harris immigrated from England, settled in Pennsylvania, and founded the town of Harrisburg in the early 18th century. His son, Samuel Harris, eventually settled in the frontier region of New York. John Harris, the father of John R. Harris, was born in 1760, the eldest child of Samuel and Elizabeth Harris. He remained in New York, marrying Mary Richardson in 1789 and having ten children.

David Harris followed his brother, John Richardson Harris, to Texas as one of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred. He helped his brother establish the town of Harrisburg, Texas, at the junction of Buffalo and Bray's Bayous. Along with two other brothers, William Plunkett and Samuel, he took over business operations in Harrisburg after the sudden death of John R. Harris in 1829 and was the original executor of his brother's estate. He married Tabitha Kincade Iiams ca. 1828 and settled between Red Bluff and present day La Porte. The couple had three children.

The fourth child of John Richardson Harris and Jane Birdsall, John Birdsall Harris was born on January 14, 1821, in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. He joined his mother and siblings, DeWitt Clinton, Lewis Birdsall, and Mary Jane, in Texas sometime after the Revolution. In 1839, he established himself in Harrisburg as a shareholder in the Harrisburg Town Company. A year later he promoted the Harrisburg and Brazos Railroad. He was elected alderman in the first Harrisburg municipal election in 1842. In 1849, he married Virginia Goodrich and had four children - John Goodrich (1850), Maurice Birdsall (1852), Benjamin Goodrich (1856), and Mary Eliza (1859). He died of typhoid on July 21, 1867, in Houston, Texas.

Scope and Content Note

Correspondence, financial, and legal papers briefly document four generations of the Harris family. A 1795 letter from John Harris to Elizabeth Harris provides a glimpse of late-18th century farming in America. Eight letters to John B. Harris include correspondence from his grandfather, Lewis Birdsall, and his brother, DeWitt Clinton Harris. A letter from Leland J. Cox to "friend" records Cox's disillusionment with women. Twelve financial documents from 1836 to 1867 include receipts, merchandise orders, a Sabrina City Company stock certificate, and a bill of sale for a slave, illuminating the family's business dealings in Texas. Legal documents consist of an 1851 affidavit in which David Harris certifies his knowledge of the business operations of the A. Briscoe & Co. store during the Texas Revolution (1835-1836), and a 1875 lawsuit between Theodore Keller & Co. and John Goodrich Harris.


Organized into four series; arrangement is chronological.


Restrictions on Access


Terms Governing Use

Open for research by appointment.

Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to the San Jacinto Museum of History. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Library Director. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the San Jacinto Museum of History as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.

Index Terms

Birdsall, Lewis, 1770-1843
Cox, Leland J.
Harris, David, 1795?-1841?
Harris, DeWitt Clinton, 1814-1861
Harris, John, b. 1760
Harris, John Briscoe, 1821-1867
Harris, John Goodrich, b. 1850
Harris family
Sabrina City Company
Theodore Keller & Co.
Agriculture--United States--18th century
Slave bills of sale
Harris County (Tex.)
Railroad passes

Administrative Information


[Identification of Item], Harris Family Papers, MC062, San Jacinto Museum of History, Houston, Texas.


Mr. and Mrs. George A. Hill, Jr., Houston Public Library, Annie Hume, 1939-1940.

Processing Information

Processed by Sandra Eileen Yates, 2002.


"Harris, David." The Handbook of Texas Online.

"Harris, John Birdsall." The Handbook of Texas Online.


Harris Family Papers

box folder
62.2 1 Correspondence: John B. Harris 1838-1855
2 Correspondence: Sent 1795-1851
3 Correspondence: Third Party 1852 September 25
4 Financial: General 1836-1867, undated
5 Legal: General 1851-1875
6 Fragments undated