Albert and Ethel Herzstein Library, San Jacinto Museum of History

Adele Briscoe Looscan Collection

Lewis Birdsall Harris Papers, Manuscript Collection: MC066

Collection Summary

Creator: Harris, Lewis Birdsall, 1816-1893
Title: Lewis Birdsall Harris papers
Dates: 1838-1871
Dates: (Bulk: 1838-1849)
Abstract: Financial documents, correspondence, and legal papers briefly record the life of Lewis Birdsall Harris.
Identification: MC066
OCLC Record No.: 50105480
Quantity: 19 items
Language: Materials are in English.
Repository: Albert and Ethel Herzstein Library, San Jacinto Museum of History, La Porte, Texas

Creator Sketch

Lewis Birdsall Harris was born in Waterloo, New York, on July 1, 1816, the third child of John R. Harris and Jane Birdsall. When his mother left New York for Texas in 1833, he remained at the home of his grandparents until the spring of 1836. Although he arrived in Texas on April 21st, he quickly joined the Texian Army. Harris later held government positions as a clerk for both Andrew Briscoe and DeWitt Clinton Harris and served in the military including participating in the Somervell Expedition. In 1849 Harris joined the rush for California. He eventually settled in Sacramento, where he served as county clerk.

Lewis B. Harris was a prolific correspondent and wrote frequently to his relations in New York and Texas. He maintained a journal from 1836 to 1842 describing his journey from New York to Texas and his life in Texas. Harris married Jane E. Wilcox in 1846. In 1854, he married Amanda C. Dell, and had two children: Lewis B. Harris, Jr. and Gordon B. Harris. Lewis B. Harris died in San Diego, California, on June 12, 1893.

Scope and Content Note

Financial documents, correspondence, and legal papers briefly record the life of Lewis Birdsall Harris. Statements of account (4) and tax receipts (2) document Harris' financial transactions. Of interest are 3 records concerning the rental and eventual purchase of Mary, a 24 year old black woman, by Henry F. Fisher in 1849, the year Harris left Texas for California. Correspondence includes 2 letters received by Harris, one from his nephew J. S. Birdsall in Oregon in 1871 asking for financial assistance. Three letters written by Harris from California in 1851 are addressed to "friends" - probably his Texas relatives. Legal documents include 2 records signed by Harris as county clerk in Harrisburg County and a deed to lots in Harrisburg sold to Harris by Johnson Hunter.


Organized into three series: Correspondence, Financial and Legal; arrangement is alphabetical 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

Birdsall, J. S.
Fisher, Henry F., 1805-1867
Harris, Lewis Birdsall, 1816-1893--Archives
Land tenure--Texas
Slave records
California--Description and travel
California--Gold discoveries

Archivist's Note

Other related papers from the Adele Briscoe Looscan Collection include the John R. and Jane Harris Papers, the Harris Family Papers, the Mary Jane Harris Briscoe Papers, the DeWitt Clinton Harris Papers, the William Plunkett Harris Papers, the Abram and Eliza Van Tuyl Papers, the Andrew Briscoe Papers, the Parmenas Briscoe Papers, and the Adele Briscoe Looscan Papers. All photographs are located in the Adele Briscoe Looscan Papers. There is an excellent daguerreotype of Lewis Birdsall Harris and Mary Jane Harris Briscoe.

Administrative Information


[Identification of Item], Lewis Birdsall Harris Papers, MC066, 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, Lewis Birdsall. "The Handbook of Texas Online.

"Journal of Lewis Birdsall Harris, 1836-1842," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 25 (July, October 1921, January 1922).


Lewis Birdsall Harris Papers

box folder
68.4 1 Correspondence 1839-1871
2 Financial: Statements of Account, Receipts 1839-1849
3 Financial: Bill of Sale, Rental of Slave 1849
4 Legal 1838-1844