The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 18, July 1914 - April, 1915 Page: 400
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The Southwestern Historical Quarterly
required to attend said county court, or pay a fine, to be assessed
by the chief justice, not exceeding one hundred dollars. The law
required that there should be elected by qualified voters, from each
militia captain's district, two justices of the peace for their respec-
tive districts, "who shall be commissioned by the president and
hold office for two years."2
The name "Harrisburg County" remained in use until it was
changed to "Harris" by a joint resolution of Congress, approved
by Mirabeau B. Lamar, December 28, 1839.
The creation of the County of Galveston on May 15, 1838, re-
lieved the chief justice of Harrisburg County of one responsibility
previously attaching to his office, which had required that a jus-
tice of the peace and a constable should be maintained on the
island and elections be held there.
Andrew Briscoe, the first chief justice of Harris County, was
a Mississippian, who had studied law in the office of General
John A. Quitman at Jackson, Mississippi. He was admitted to
practice in the courts of that state. He, did not follow the pro-
fession of law for any length of time, however,, but lived on his
plantation. He was registered as a citizen of the State of Coa-
huila and Texas, district of Ayish in 1833, and made several trips
back and forth between Mississippi and Texas on horseback before
engaging in any business. He was about twenty-five years old
when finally, early in 1835, he landed a stock of goods and opened
a store at Anahuac. The details of his experience with the Mexi-
can authorities at this place are given in letters, which have been
made a part of this history, and in copies of publications made at
the time in a newspaper at Columbia.
The irregularity, unavoidably attendant upon the organization
of the government of the Republic of Texas, also pervaded that
of Harris County, thus casting great responsibility upon the first
chief justice. He was obliged to assume authority not yet clearly
defined by law. Three letters addressed by him to Hon. Thomas J.
Rusk, which show his position in the premises, are on file at Austin.
The previous course of Andrew Briscoe in doing his part as a
soldier toward gaining independence, as a member of the Con-
vention at Washington, toward forming a government, all gave
assurance of his faithful discharge of any duty intrusted to him.
2Gammel, Laws of Texas, I, 216-224.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 18, July 1914 - April, 1915, periodical, 1915; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101064/m1/406/: accessed September 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.