follow us on twitter   follow us on facebook  

Email Page Print Page

Research: Sawmill Database

Alpha-Numeric Key: HR-74
Corporate Name: Harrisburg Steam Mills Company
Local Name: Harrisburg
Owner Name: John R. Harris, William P. Harris, David Harris, and Robert Wilson.
Location: At juncture of Buffalo and Bray's Bayous; in Department of Brazoria.
County: Harris
Years in Operation: 38 years
Start Year: 1830
End Year: 1867
Decades: 1830-1839,1840-1849,1850-1859,1860-1869
Period of Operation: May 1830 to 1867
Town: Harrisburg, Municipality of Houston
Company Town: 0
Peak Town Size: 100 (jurisdiction), 1834
Mill Pond:
Type of Mill: Lumber, cornmeal, and flour
Sawmill Pine Sawmill Hardwood Sawmill Cypress Sawmill
Planer Planer Only Shingle Paper
Plywood Cotton Grist Unknown
Power Source: Steam
Horse Mule Oxen Water
Water Overshot Water Turbine Diesel Unknown
Pit Steam Steam Circular Steam Band
Gas Electricity Other
Maximum Capacity: 10000: 1860
Capacity Comments: Estimated 10,000 feet daily in 1860
Rough Lumber Planed Lumber Crossties Timbers
Lathe Ceiling Unknown Beading
Flooring Paper Plywood Particle Board
Treated Other
Equipment: Circular sawmill, grist mill, and dry kiln
Company Tram:
Associated Railroads: None
Historicial Development: The Harrisburg Steam Mills Company boasted one of the first steam-powered mills in Texas. The sawmill equipment was purchased in New Orleans in 1829 by John R. Harris, a land grantee of 4,000 acres located in what is now Harris County. Unfortunately, before complete shipment to Texas could be arranged, Harris died. His brothers William P. Harris and David Harris and Robert Wilson, however, proceeded to fulfill the dream of tapping Texas forests for need and profit. The remaining machinery arrived at Harrisburg in March 1830 on the “Ann Elizabeth,” and it is believed the mill was operating by May the same year. By today's standards the Harris-Wilson mill was certainly small, but demand for the mill's products was great. Wagons came from as far away as San Antonio to receive loads of lumber. The most lucrative market, however, was Mexico proper. The Mexican tariff schedule highly favored the entry of Texas lumber, and the Harrisburg mill could consequently compete with its American counterparts. The mill was busy, but hard times shut it down at times. The company may have undergone restructuring in 1834, because M. W. Smith was reported as president of the company in 1835. The mill was burned by the Mexican army in April 1836. Lewis Harris, son of John R., returned to Harrisburg after the Revolution and rebuilt the mill which operated at different times until 1867.
Research Date: JKG 10-13-93, MCJ 05-09-96
Prepared By: M. Johnson, J. Gerland