Albert and Ethel Herzstein Library, San Jacinto Museum of History

Adele Briscoe Looscan Collection

DeWitt Clinton Harris Papers, Manuscript Collection: MC064

Collection Summary

Creator: Harris, DeWitt Clinton, 1814-1861
Title: DeWitt Clinton Harris papers
Dates: 1836-1861
Abstract: Correspondence, financial and legal documents and surveyor's field notes record the life of DeWitt Clinton Harris.
Identification: MC064
OCLC Record No.: 50131726
Quantity: 1 box (.2 linear ft.)
Language: Materials are in English.
Repository: Albert and Ethel Herzstein Library, San Jacinto Museum of History, La Porte, Texas

Creator Sketch

DeWitt Clinton Harris was born on July 17, 1814, the eldest child of John Richardson Harris and Jane Birdsall. In 1833, he and his mother traveled to Texas and settled in Harrisburg. Not long after arriving, Harris became involved in the growing hostilities between the Mexican government and American settlers. In 1835 he, along with merchant Andrew Briscoe, was imprisoned by Mexican customs officials at Anahuac. In the Republic of Texas, Harris served in the early Harris County and Harrisburg governments. In 1837, he became the first county clerk of Harris County and remained in office until 1841. He was elected alderman in the first Harrisburg municipal elections in 1842. He and Andrew Briscoe were not only united by marriage when Briscoe married Harris' sister, Mary Jane, in 1837, but they also conducted business ventures together. They were administrators of the estate of John Birdsall, cousin to Harris' mother. In 1839, they formed the Harrisburg Town Company to which Harris was a director and later the agent. In 1839 Harris formed a partnership with Charles W. Adams; Harris agreed to provide store space and Adams the merchandise. From 1850 until his death, Harris was involved in the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado Railway Company.

DeWitt Clinton Harris married Saville Fenwick on March 16, 1849. They had four daughters, Mary Columbia, Mary Cornelia, Annie Belle, and Mary Clinton. He died on January 2, 1861.

Scope and Content Note

Correspondence, financial and legal documents and surveyor's field notes record the life of DeWitt Clinton Harris. Correspondence from Lewis B. Harris concerns the early California government in Sacramento. An April 14, [1850] letter refers to a pending bill in the California Legislature concerning slaves brought to the state before it was admitted to the Union. Other correspondents are J. K. Brown and J. De Cordova. Tax receipts of family members and others for whom Harris served as agent comprise the bulk of the financial documents. Promissory notes, checks, and statements of account record Harris' financial affairs. Of particular interest are the documents concerning the sale of slaves including a receipt for $1000 for an 18 year-old slave girl and several bills of sale from 1840 between brothers DeWitt Clinton Harris and Lewis B. Harris. In addition to bills of sale, deeds, powers of attorney, and articles of agreement comprise the legal documents series. An article of agreement between Charles W. Adams and DeWitt Clinton Harris marks the formation of Adams & Harris on May 22, 1839. Two surveyor's notes (1839, 1856) describe the land in Harris County, with the 1856 document delineating lots near Bray's Bayou.


Organized into four series; arrangement is alphabetical, chronological, and by subject.


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

Brown, James K.
De Cordova, Jacob, 1808-1868
Harris, DeWitt Clinton, 1814-1861--Archives
Harris, Lewis Birdsall, 1816-1893
Adams & Harris (firm)
Land tenure--Texas
Slave records
California--Politics and government--1846-1850
Harris County (Tex.)

Administrative Information


[Identification of Item], DeWitt Clinton Harris Papers, MC064, 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, DeWitt Clinton." The Handbook of Texas Online.



box folder
74 1 Received: James K. Brown 1847-1848
2 Received: Lewis B. Harris 1849-1853, undated
3 Received: General 1847-1860
4 Third Party 1838, 1847
5 Memoranda, Notes 1839-1859, undated


box folder
74 6 Promissory Notes 1840-1860
7 Receipts 1836-1860
8 Tax Receipts: C. P. Babcock 1851-1860
9 Tax Receipts: Birdsall 1850-1860
10 Tax Receipts: J. Fenwick 1849-1857
11 Tax Receipts: DeWitt Clinton Harris 1849-1860
12 Tax Receipts: Jane Harris 1851-1860
13 Tax Receipts: John B. Harris, Lewis B. Harris 1850-1858
14 General 1839-1859


box folder
74 15 Bills of Sale 1840-1851
16 Deeds 1837-1854
17 Powers of Attorney 1840-1850
18 General 1839-1861

Surveyor's Notes

box folder
74 19 Field Notes 1838, 1856