Sunday, March 2, 2008

Harris' Ferry, Pennsylvania

From the Dauphin County, Pennsylvania website:

    John Harris (1673-1748), a native of Yorkshire, England, arrived in Philadelphia as one of the first emigrants to accompany William Penn. In approximately 1719, Harris moved with his wife Esther from Chester County to Lancaster County. They then eventually built a log cabin on the banks of the Susquehanna, near the present juncture of Paxton and Front streets.

    In about 1727, John Harris, Jr. was born. Harris, Jr. became the founder of Harrisburg and the leader in the movement to establish Dauphin County. Other settlers soon followed in the footsteps of John Harris, Sr., and on December 17, 1733, the proprietaries of Pennsylvania granted to him by patent, 300 acres of land, within which was included the present site of the Dauphin County Court House. He developed a large trade with the Indians in fur and skins and established numerous trading posts. He also began farming on a small scale and introduced the first plow to the vicinity. Harris, Sr. established the first ferry across the Susquehanna, which in time became so popular that that place was no longer called by its Indian name of Peixtan, but Harris' Ferry.

    John Harris, Sr. died in 1748, and was buried, at his request, beneath the shade of a mulberry tree in River Park below Harrisburg Hospital. He had once been tied to this tree by hostile Indians who were prepared to burn him, but fortuitously, his Indian friends rescued him in the nick of time. John Harris, Jr. operated the ferry established by his father, over which were taken many boatloads of supplies for the Continental army west of the Susquehanna River.