The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 19, July 1915 - April, 1916

Harris County, 1822-1845

HARRIS COUNTY, 1822-1845
ADELE B. LOOSCAN
IV. THE BEGINNINGS OF HOUSTON
The town site of Harrisburg at the junction of Buffalo and
Bray's Bayous offers so pleasing a view, its facilities for naviga-
tion and drainage are so superior, by comparison, that the ques-
tion is often asked, why the chief city of the county was not built
there instead of at Houston. The following statement tells briefly
the chief causes for the establishment of a city at a point which
offered no natural advantages, and whose successful upbuilding
was long regarded as extremely problematical.
Notwithstanding the litigation over the estate of John R. Har-
ris, still pending in the courts when the revolution broke out, the
town of Harrisburg was flourishing at that time. The additional
prominence given to it by the Provisional Government of the Re-
public of Texas in making it the seat of government, for a few
weeks before the battle of San Jacinto, contributed to its destruc-
tion. Santa Anna, foiled in his attempt to capture the Texas
cabinet, who had their headquarters at the home of Mrs. Jane
Harris, avenged himself upon the town by setting fire to every
house, whose owners had fled when the Government, thanks to a
timely warning retreated to New Washington.1
The destruction of Harrisburg was so complete and the prob-
ability of a final settlement of the lawsuit which involved the
title to its land so remote, that the idea of founding a new town
in its vicinity on Buffalo Bayou immediately took form in the
minds of two enterprising New Yorkers, Augustus C. and John
K. Allen, who had been living for several years at Nacogdoches.
They lost no time in taking steps toward the purchase of a tract
of land on the Bayou, five miles north of Harrisburg, where they
laid off a town and called it Houston, in honor of the victorious
'The only house spared by the Mexicans stood on the edge of the prairie
about one-eighth of a mile south of the present intersection of the Gal-
veston, Harrisburg & San Antonio Railroad track with that of the Gal-
veston, Houston & Henderson. It was known to the old settlers as the
"Farmer house," and to its friendly shelter Mrs. Jane Harris repaired,
when, returning after the battle of San Jacinto, she found here the only
vestige of the lately thriving town.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 19, July 1915 - April, 1916. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101067/. Accessed July 7, 2015.