While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Andrew Forest Muir
Harris's Home Site
Site of Jane Birdsall Harris's Home. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.
Jane's Headstone
Jane Birdsall Harris's Headstone. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

HARRIS, JANE BIRDSALL (1791–1869). Jane Birdsall Harris, innkeeper and hostess to the provisional government in Harrisburg, daughter of Lewis and Patience (Lee) Birdsall, was born on September 21, 1791, in Waterloo, Seneca Falls, New York. She was married to John Richardson Harris in New York on May 7, 1813, and they had one daughter and three sons. The Harrises moved to Missouri and remained there until 1824, when Harris, preparing to settle in Texas, returned his family to New York. Mrs. Harris removed to Texas in 1833, four years after her husband's death, and settled in Harrisburg. In March and April 1836 she was the hostess of the government. So crowded was her house that all of the cabinet, except the president, vice president, and secretary of state, were obliged to sleep on the floor. During the Runaway Scrape she went first to Anahuac and then to Galveston. Shortly after the battle of San Jacinto she returned to Harrisburg and with Mexican prisoner of war labor built a new dwelling to replace the one destroyed by the Mexican army. From 1839 to 1849 she was a stockholder in the Harrisburg Town Company. Until her death she operated an inn that, after the construction of the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado Railway, was well patronized by travelers who changed from railroad to steamship and from steamship to railroad at Harrisburg. Mrs. Harris was a devout Episcopalian and a communicant of Christ Church, Houston. She died in Harrisburg on August 15, 1869, and was buried in Glendale Cemetery, Houston.


Andrew Forest Muir, "The Municipality of Harrisburg, 1835–1836," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 56 (July 1952). Andrew Forest Muir, "Railroad Enterprise in Texas, 1836–1841," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 47 (April 1944).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Andrew Forest Muir, "HARRIS, JANE BIRDSALL," accessed July 07, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fha83.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on February 28, 2017. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...