Harrisburg, Texas, brought many firsts to the region: The first colonists, the first schooner exporting Texas cotton, the first steam sawmill, the first steamships and the first railroad. In 1823, Stephen F. Austin persuaded the Mexican government to name him impresario to promote development of maritime trade in Texas through colonization and the development of ports along the northern coast of Mexico.
Captain John Richardson Harris, great grandson of the founder of Harrisburg, Pa., aligned with Austin to found the town of Harrisburg at the junction of Buffalo and Bray's Bayous in 1825. Harris opened one of the first general stores in Texas and began a packet service between New Orleans and the Galveston Bay region to provide colonists in Texas the tools and provisions necessary for survival. The development of the town's maritime trade continued, and the town was annexed by the City of Houston in 1926.
John Richardson Harris continues to be remembered today as the namesake of Harris County, and the successful maritime ventures of Harrisburg proved essential to the development of the Houston Ship Channel which officially opened in November 1914.
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