MG 198 - Harris, John Family Collection

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Scope and Content

Papers include copies of both the original land patent and the original ferry license; original manuscripts include the Harris Lot Book, 1775, and John Harris's Last Will and Testament, 1791. There are several references to the story of John Harris's encounter with a band of Indians who bound him to a tree when their demands for more rum were denied. He was saved by his black servant Hercules who summoned the friendly Shawanese tribe to help him. Several depictions and anecdotes of this incident are preserved in the collection. Folders for other members of the family are included in the John Harris papers - Julia Harris, Robert Harris, David Harris, George W. Harris, John Harris, Sr., John Harris, Jr., John Harris III, Sallie Harris, Elizabeth Harris, Mary Harris Hanna. Robert Harris, son of John Harris the founder of the City of Harrisburg, served as a member of Congress from 1823-1827. His papers include, among other items, an undated map of the Harris Tract, an inventory and appraisal of the Harris estate (no date), an 1836 bill of lading, and 1806 receipt for hardware, a Congressional Directory, 1823, and a daybook with business accounts from October, 1836 to August, 1843. John Harris, Jr.'s folder includes, among other items, original correspondence signed by John Harris in 1789, as well as his original proposal in 1784 for a town on the Susquehanna. Collection also includes numerous family deeds.


John Harris was the first white settler and English trader to live in Dauphin County. He located in Paxtang along the banks of the Susquehanna River at what is now the City of Harrisburg. In January, 1705, John Harris received a license to erect the necessary buildings needed for trade with the Indians. In 1733 he was issued a license to operate a ferry across the river along with a land patent from John Penn. The John Harris Mansion is located at the site of Harris's original cabin and ferry landing.

Date(s): 1733-1982

Extent: 2 boxes, 14 folders, 127 items, 1 large binder