HARRIS, JACK (1834?–1882). Jack Harris, San Antonio businessman and political leader, was born in Connecticut. He went to sea at age twelve and ten years later was a member of the Nicaragua expedition of filibuster William Walker. He traveled to Texas, joined a scouting party for the army, then made his way to San Antonio about 1860 and joined the police force. When the Civil War started he enlisted in the Second Texas Cavalry.
After the war he returned to San Antonio and the police force. In 1872 he leased a saloon at the corner of Soledad and West Commerce on Main Plaza and named it Jack Harris Vaudeville Theater and Saloon. In 1882 he became the first subscriber to the new San Antonio Electric Company, and he was also becoming one of the most politically powerful men in the city. His saloon became the most popular gathering place in town-the bar; the stage, which presented plays in addition to the usual vaudeville acts; and the adjoining 101 Club, a gambling place. In 1880 Ben Thompson, noted gunslinger, gambler, and Austin saloonkeeper (and a former army buddy of Harris), spent an evening at the theater, gambling at a table with Joe Foster as dealer. Thompson lost heavily and left in a bad mood, voicing loud threats of revenge even after his return to Austin. Though Harris had not been present, Foster was his close friend and employee, and he let it be known that Thompson was no longer welcome at his saloon. On July 11, 1882, Thompson, now city marshal of Austin, returned to San Antonio, proclaiming that he was going to close down the Harris's theater. Harris had been warned, and he was waiting inside the slatted doors of the saloon. As Thompson paused on the sidewalk to let two ladies pass, he spied Harris in the lighted interior. Heated remarks were exchanged, and before Harris could raise his shotgun Thompson pulled his six-shooter and fired through the swinging door. The bullet cut along the wall and hit Harris near his heart. He lived only a few hours. Harris's obituaries in the local papers commended "his liberality, shrewdness, and tact," which "made him the real leader of the democratic party," and stated that "There is no city officer, and hardly a county officer, that does not owe his office to this man's influence and sagacity, from the mayor of the city down, and from county judge to the court bailiffs."
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, Alice Calkins Evett, "Harris, Jack," accessed June 01, 2016, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fhadm.
Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Get Texas history every day,
with day by day
Each day's email tells a little bit more of the story of Texas and links to our collection of more than 27,000 articles