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John Harris Sr.

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John Harris Sr. (1673 – December 1748) emigrated from Britain to America late in the 17th century. Harris would later settle and establish Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA, which bears his name today.



Harris was born in Yorkshire, England, of Welsh parents. When Harris landed in Philadelphia, his total wealth was 16 guineas (about $ 25,692.27 in 2017 dollars.[2] but he began to improve his fortune through contracts to clear land and open streets in the city. He formed a firm and lifelong friendship with Edward Shippen, second Mayor of Philadelphia, justice of the State Supreme Court, the later president of the Provincial Council, and married Shippen's niece Esther Sey (Say), also a native of Yorkshire, England. He developed cordial relations with the Penn family as well.

In 1705 the first John Harris received his trader's license to "seat himself on the Sasquahannah" (Susquehanna River) and "to erect such buildings as are necessary for his trade, and to enclose and improve such quantities of land he shall see fit." At first a roving trader, he eventually established a trading post along the river. Soon after, he became known for his fair dealings with the local Indians and later, wise counsel to the settlers, reputations which became traditional with him and his sons.

In 1733 he was granted the right to operate a ferry across the Susquehanna and for more than half a century "Harris's Ferry" was the funnel through which much of the Scottish, Irish and German migration trickled west. In the same year Harris acquired, through grants, two tracts of land adjacent to his ferry, totaling 800 acres (3.2 km2). Today, the area has been developed into downtown Harrisburg. John Harris Sr. Had 7 sons and 2 daughters who spread out and whose descendants are spread through the US.

Harris died in December 1748 and left to his son John Harris Jr. the management of the estate and control of an important strong point on the frontier.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Egle, William Henry (1883). M.D., M.A. (1st ed.). Philadelphia: Everts & Peck. p. 19. 
  2. ^ Williamson, Samuel H. "President". Measuring Worth. Retrieved 14 May 2017. 

External linksEdit