John Harris Project

John Harris Project

"Hiawatha" by Thomas Eakins

{ Harris Research I: Background }

So like earlier pioneers, such as New York's Peter Minuit and Philadelphia's William Penn, John Harris began to palaver and trade with the Indians. But in doing so, a particularly New World misery befell him—he was accosted by his customers. Their attempt to burn him is the first famous story of Greater Harrisburg's history. Many other white captives left written narratives of their adventure and internment, but Harris didn't, so his biographers and illustrators were able to retell and redraw the story, depending on the lessons they wanted to learn and then teach. Their search for a usable past is as interesting as what they thought they found. —Barton; Life by the Moving Road, pg. 26(American Historical Press ©1998)


The Iroquois, having absorbed many Native American tribes to constantly combat several different European forces and their own dwindling numbers; and different combinations of which, (depending on the season); had longstanding trade dependencies: first with the Dutch, who had arrived early to the New World, and then with France.

In that important season the growing Iroquois Nation allied publicly with England. This odd alliance was made easy by the English presence in Canada, as the Iroquois were from that northern and Great Lakes region. But as a result of trading with the Dutch for a hundred years, the Iroquois began supporting them -perhaps forced or provoked, in a subtle campaign against the British; probably in exchange for usage of formerly-owned lands in New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio; all the while fighting publicly alongside them.

Years earlier, major constituents of the Iroquois Nation, the Lenape, had been driven from there, and dissolved. New York was the Lenape's original homeland, which during this period was called New Amsterdam and controlled by the Dutch. Their lands stretched from Maine to Maryland.

The Dutch, of course, supported any reduction of British presence in the New World, as the British now sat in the middle of the trade routes from the south and west of the eastern seaboard, and some ways inland, of the North American continent. The British had positioned John Smith and his Jamestown firmly in the way. This placed the British in a middleman position, enabling them to control the trade through New York to Europe, and inevitably driving up the cost of the goods en route to European markets.

Upon the start of the French and Indian Wars, the Iroquois, or Five Nations, as they were also known, made this public alliance with the English. This was made easy by the English presence in Canada many years hence, but was essentially determined by Dutch influence. When the Dutch gained control of England; disguised as inner-family religious conflict by the British Monarchy in a war called the Glorious Revolution; they also gained control of the southern and western trade routes in America. As a result, the cost of American goods, especially furs, dropped in Europe. Even the Pope supported England in this.

This would, on the one hand, stimulate the European economy, but on the other, would cost the English their sovereign and independent rule of England. The English, in order to establish this alliance, had apparently convinced the Iroquois Nation that the threat from France was greater than the threat from the Dutch. Since the Indian looked naturally for an opportunity to take vengeance of any European, the British/Dutch forces then had the benefit of the apparently more effective bulk of the native armies to fight the French.

Though Spain was the overarching Indian concern due to the stories of absolute subjugation and slaughter which were passed along the old trade routes, the lucrative fur trade with the Dutch in New York harbor seemed to be the immediate incentive for the Indians to fight in Queen Anne's Wars -as the bulk of this conflict period is called. The Rum trade was extremely popular as well, and may have also been a major factor deciding involvement also, for all parties mentioned.

The Spanish were feared by the Indian, and Indian traders from the south, west, and north regularly interacted with vestiges in their former homeland in New York and Delaware, especially in poor growing seasons. They were well aware of the Spanish dominance on the American continent @ large. These stories, and this way of life, lasted longer than the United States of America has existed.

Fearing stories of brutality @ the hands of the Spanish, Catholic symbols and clothing styles also became an important element in coagulating the Iroquois Nation and mobilizing them against the French in the northeast region of North America. Catholic nations were easily recognized by native forces because of the severity of the effects of the ongoing Inquisition in Europe. Most troops, garrisons, and travelers, had @ least one Priest with them. Catholic individuals in common wore as many Catholic symbols as they could afford to show their loyalty to the Catholic Church. Even down to the length of the sleeve, or shape of an officer's cape, the Native could easily identify a Catholic from a considerable distance.

This public Iroquois alliance, however, did not deter the Iroquois from attacking the English and harassing them in general and regularly -especially as they most probably were continually encouraged by the Dutch to do so. This was done in secret for the most part; the Iroquois used modern-day (2012) guerrilla warfare -or night raids, as their standard military tactic. The Dutch, constantly threatened by all Europe; especially seen most evident in the Anglo-Dutch Wars consistently raging on the European continent; were, at this point of issue, about 1702 when Queen Anne's reign began, finally victorious against the British and had gained complete control of English ports and trade. This was accomplished by the Glorious Revolution, which removed the recently-late-convert-Catholic, King James II, and placed King William of the Netherlands, and Queen Mary (James II's daughter) on the throne of England.

The English were made aware of this strange subtle conflict with the Dutch in spite of the royal combination of William and Mary. The assumed, intended, and expected public cooperation between the two European powers did not disguise the truth from those loyal to England this regular guerrilla behavior, and viciously disloyal intent of the Iroquois. This knowledge helped Queen Anne quickly resolve the Dutch situation in England with her brother-in-law William, precisely because of that knowledge of the Iroquois conduct, passed on from the New World possibly through non-conformist religious circles in Yorkshire, England.

The English also defended themselves against the Iroquois peacefully without the destruction of their public alliance with the Indian nation, and maintained their relationship with the Dutch against the French and Spanish, precisely because of their good relations with vestige tribes like the small faction of the Shawanese living in Central Pennsylvania, in spite of great difficulty caused by the radical behavior of Englishmen Nathanial Bacon and Governor William Berkeley, in Jamestown, Virginia.

Bacon's Rebellion, like the John Harris event, also involved alcohol as the inciting influence -not the English Rum from Boston however; the French Brandy was used to lubricate Bacon's Rebellion.

The event which is @ this point of argument, took place along the Susquehanna River in what was to become Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. A city named in memorial of that bond, carefully cultivated with the friendly Shawanese Indian Tribe. "Shawanese" was the term referring to a Central Pennsylvanian native tribe, originally met by John Smith, and referred to as the Susquehannock Tribe, shortly after he had successfully re-founded the colony of Jamestown. The Susquehannock had first traded with the Dutch as the Iroquois had, and as a result, had been killed off almost entirely by smallpox. The French then began influencing the trade routes in that region and the surviving group became known as the Shawanese. They had most likely absorbed some Lenape and other wounded, fractionate tribes, as the Iroquois had, before they were pushed to Ohio. They began to be called the Shawnee in the Midwestern territories, before the new American government, much later, relocated most to reservations even further west in Oklahoma. The naming of Native groups is extremely confused. Shawanese is an attempt by early translators to identify Native groups in broad geographic terms. Shawanese simply is a reference to a southern direction or location.

The Shawanese had been long-time enemies of the Iroquois, even though they both spoke a similar Algonquin-dialect. Their homelands lie within that tract of land acquired by William Penn, from the previously mentioned Lenape native group, sometime after they had been driven from New York by the Dutch, and before they ceased to be referred to as a major influence in the North American continent.

This positive relationship with the small group of the Susquehanna Shawanese tribe was carefully maintained by Englishmen like John Harris. John Harris had moved from Philadelphia, where he laid roads in the young city, to what was to become Harrisburg, and ran a ferry-crossing and trading outpost on the opposite side of the Susquehanna River from these Shawanese. This exact location was slightly inland and directly in the path of the Indian trade route that ran north and south along the east coast of North America at the foot of the Appalachian Mountain system. The route was between the Dutch in the north, and the furs coming up from the south and west, and was in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois were also a hotly contested region by the Europeans, as it had been for centuries by the Indians. Even though all the native Indian tribes still favored this Ohio River Valley as hunting grounds, the beaver and other fur-animals had been vastly depleted from the region and the majority of any massive quantities of fur came from further away and inland. The Iroquois had claimed this region from the Shawanese with the Europeans' help by this time, even though most remaining Indians used it as a hunting ground as they always had.

It is easy therefore, to think of the Iroquois as the aggressors in the John Harris event. One might imagine then, after a miserable hunting party, these Iroquois, made more and more unsuccessful because of the voracious European appetite for furs; with memories of their conquered homeland, paid and goaded by those same Dutch neighbors to venture a little ways down the Susquehanna to the south on their way through the most convenient mountain pass, in hopes of driving the English out by harassment and provoking a fight with their long-time enemies, the Shawanese. The Indian were often used to induce conflict, willing participants or not, by the Europeans; such as in the Boston Tea Party, when white terrorists dressed as Indians to attack British trade goods.

So these Iroquois came willingly or not; what for them must have been a miserable bounty, and for what they would inevitably determine regardless of the fair-market-value or quality of payment in exchange, to be far less than their perceived worth; that fur they had brought to trade for Rum. It would be then only another short step to the think of the Indians becoming enraged after drinking Rum.

Tired, resentful, and looking for a fight, these bullying Iroquois, wanting to humiliate this British shop-keep, tied him to a tree, taunting his Indian protectors who were easily in sight across the river, they started a fire beneath him. John Harris greatly played up the story of his potential burning @ the hands of these Iroquois -even going as far as being buried beneath the very Mulberry tree, upon that very spot, so as to re-enforce both the longstanding relationship with the Shawanese, and also to downplay Bacon's Rebellion in favor of John Smith's original trade with the Susquehannok peoples. The event itself may have been staged by Harris himself, to highlight for history, the importance of the time-period itself, possibly to compliment the death of William Penn. The event may have been a show of loyalty, shared suffering and brotherhood.

This legend was an effective effort by the English to control the fur trade route and, "divide their forces" to the Indian perception. The English became both ally and enemy, a tactic used often by the Indian, especially the Iroquois from the north, forced by their dependency on the Dutch, and resentment of all Europeans. This strange guerrilla tactic was adopted almost immediately by the colonialists during the American Revolutionary Period. Without it, colonists could not have gained freedom from Britain.

It is worth mentioning again, the obvious relevance of both John Harris and Queen Anne, both being originally from Yorkshire, England. Queen Anne ruled England and held great influence in France, and Italy, as well as the Netherlands. Pope Clement XI, who had grown up near Tuscany as a wealthy landowner in Urbino, in northern Italy, had developed an unexpected alliance with Queen Anne against Spain and France in The War of Spanish Succession 1701-1714. This was merely four years before the Harris' event, which is estimated to have taken place in about 1718. This war in Europe was fought to prevent Philip V from obtaining the Spanish throne, and was an attempt by France of a union and absorption of Spain by France's Louis XIV by Royal appointment of Philip V, (Philip V was the son of the Dauphin and of the same family as Louis XIV).

Spain had become an increasing threat to Papal territory as a result of their ruthless behavior in the New World, and their absorption of wealth from there, and was well on their way to continuingly expanding eastward toward the British colonies. The nation was an immediate threat to Papal territory, all of Europe, as well as the Pope's own family in Albania; moreso if they had combined with France.

The Iroquois were obviously unaware of the role of the Catholic church as an ally against the French in European conflicts of the day, and neither they nor the British seemed to let their guard down against the 'papists' (the French and Spanish in the New World), as they were insultingly referred to in the colonial outposts and by the Quaker leadership in Philadelphia.

Britain had recently removed Catholic rule from its shoulders in the Glorious Revolution, (1688), and the resulting removal of James II, (who was both Queen Anne and Queen Mary's father). With the predictable death of all twenty or so of Anne's children (most in the womb, and others near a decade alive), her sister, the Queen Mary's death by smallpox infection in 1694, her husband William III's death on March 8, 1702, and after the English Parliament rewrote the line of succession to reluctantly include her out of desperation, Queen Anne rid England of both Dutch rule, and Catholic influence, while obtaining control of Dutch trade in the New World, in one fell swoop, on April 23rd, 1702.

The Iroquois, were simply aware that the Spanish and French were Catholic because of their manner of dress, Priests that traveled with them, and symbols worn by the faithful. Therefore, the Catholic was the greatest threat to the Native American. They may have otherwise been less willing to accept the Dutch and English, and the outcome of Queen Anne's Wars may have been quite different without them. The severity of the Catholic Inquisition, in spite of the Pope's siding with the NonConformists against the Catholic forces of France and Spain prevented those forces from dominating. As a result, "An Attempt to Burn John Harris", becomes extremely important to the balance of power in Europe.

John Harris insisted on being buried under that Mulberry tree to mark an extremely important occasion in history. He sacrificed himself in death, to be a martyr in the grave, for English goodwill and purpose, to ensure that memory not be simply myth, or silly story; but also be an entertaining legacy, marking a true event that secured English power in North America and the world in that day.

John Harris Senior's family was not impressed, and fought his decision to be buried, not in a proper cemetery, but under a muddy tree along the riverbank. After his death, for years, successive generations of his family tried to dig him up and move him.

Thus, the efforts of a mere ferry-crossing, patiently and quietly maintained by John Harris, were of extreme importance to world commerce @ the time of his alleged harassment in 1718. This event, involving a few natives and some Rum, determined the balance of power for all of Europe in the 18th century. The information maintained (evidence against the fraudulent Iroquois and Dutch alliance), and passed along through channels of trust of commonality (namely Yorkshire birthrights), enabled the English rulers to accurately identify enemies and threats to the security of modern economic structure and commerce. If this 'scuffle for a quick dizzy' had not taken place, the American Revolution would not have been possible. It becomes obvious, that John Harris was, in fact, an important political agent, when viewed from this perspective, and that his birth in Yorkshire was no coincidence or irrelevancy. That an Indian faction, which was probably Iroquois, allegedly stopped to harass John Harris, was not an isolated event, or even an unlikely mythical retelling. The significance of his being buried @ the very spot also, from this same perspective, is discovered, a much more internationally-politically significant event, and much less a trite monument to subjective, singular colonial frontier life experience and it's hazards than has previously been awarded to it. This event is one of the most important memorials in the formation of the United States of America.

"An Attempt to Burn John Harris"; lithographic reproduction after the painting by William S. Reeder, circa. 1840

{ Harris Research II: Aesthetic Detail and Justification }


John Harris Senior, as depicted in the painting by William S. Reeder is unlikely an image of Harris as he lived. As Benjamin Franklin was the prominent political force from Pennsylvania, Reeder more likely was depicting a semblance of Franklin. Reeder, in his "An Attempt to Burn John Harris", would have been depicting an American archetypical patriot, incorporating elements from William Penn, Franklin, and possibly others, as well as regional bias.

There were surviving members of the Indian tribes, further out west by this time, and several artists documenting specific details of each subculture. Judging from the clothing and anatomical rendering of them, it is unlikely that Reeder took any but a cursory study of Native American culture.

It is unclear, as to the exact location in the painting, and determining exact changes to the topography and riverbank are speculative and undocumented. Harris' homestead and Trading Post depicted in "An Attempt to Burn John Harris" are most likely not an attempt at an exact replica.

The painting is most likely heavily influenced by the work of Benjamin West, a Philadelphia prodigy, later the President of England's Royal Academy of Art from: 1792 to 1805 (racollection.org.uk).

"An Attempt to Burn John Harris"; lithographic reproduction after the painting by William S. Reeder, circa. 1840

John Harris

In the painting by Reeder, as well as this lithograph by Ralph Trembly, the central figure of Harris is tied to a Mulberry tree, his gray hair is long and hangs to the sides of his face, as did the wigs men wore in that day, but were no longer fashionable in the 1840's, when the painting was painted.

The fashion for wearing the full-bottomed wig divided into three masses of curls did not last very long, owing to the growing consciousness of its inconvenience, even among the leisured. Later, the wig was of equal length all round, but sometimes the portion at the back was divided into two, the ends being tied with ribbons. This fashion persisted among old men until about 1760, but in general wigs became smaller about 1720, and continued to diminish in size throughout the century.(americanrevolution.org)

Even though the scene depicted on the riverbank, was estimated to have taken place in 1718, an element of coincidental reality still exists, in that colonial frontiersman such as Harris, likely did not wear a wig as well. This fact is noted by the image generously provided by the Yorkshire Museum, of the old man reading. The gray hair, however, may be close to the truth. Harris was born about 1675, making him age 43 at the time of this event.

Since fashion was more or less a less rigid and more subjective expression of one's life, in the eighteenth century than in twenty-first century United States of America, it would not be unkind to suggest that Edward Shippen's style of dress was very influential to John Harris, Sr.'s style of clothing. As this was a formal, History Painting completed in the Victorian Era, the man tied to the tree in Reeder's depiction would be more formally dressed, and differently, than he may have been had this been an actual occasion.

Clothing style John Harris would have worn may have been similar to the image of the Minuteman or Revolutionary American, which a contemporary American may hold in their imagination.

As this is a studio replication, I, the artist, will have to take some creative liberties with the exact detail of dress. In period terms John Harris would have been a practical man and motivator who lead by example; as opposed to the two other conventional methods being tyranny (or rule through fear), and the Mark Twain described- trickery; meaning that he would have "not been afraid to get his hands dirty", as put eloquently by my Grandmother, Hazel Murphy. This impacts his clothing choice and style immediately, as all style is a derrivation from practical neccessities. Since the Quakers ruled in the region in their unadorned, plain-dressed, black-and-white way, and Harris had made friends with the most powerful men in this region; who were not Quakers; I believe he may have garbed his round shoulders in an embroidered waistcoat, like those worn by the fashionable and effeminate "dandies" in London, except around his property while working and fussing about. It would have gotten dirty, ripped the delicate embroidery, shown the right amount of self-effacement to the dandies, who never visited but held the purse on the other side of the pond... and roused the right amount of comradery amongst his fellows and the workmen working with him in the colonies. At this point, there was the seeds being planted, which Benjamin Franklin would eagerly harvest the fruit of; those now hackneyed 'seeds of discontent' which would lead to the American Revolutionary War. An embroidered waistcoat in spring or autumn, with buttoned-on sleeves, as many in that time period wore, I think would be functionally appropriate also, in that, the sleeves being detachable would extend the life of the jacket by preventing armpit stains. Shortly after this immediate time frame, it became fashionable in Europe, especially in the country, for men to wear the long waistcoats of the previous trend-era, with a collar sewn on, calling them 'frock coats'. Proper waistcoats of the mid-eighteenth century, or 1750s, were growing shorter and opening above the crotch diagonally. Collars in the early part of that century appear to be a functional aspect of undershirts and great-coats or capes, either to secure the fabric wrapped around the neck called a caravat, or as an on-sewn flap of the section sewn together to form the hood on a woman's cape.

Coats and waistcoats [were] very long with large pockets in the flaps of each. The stockings were worn outside the breeches, drawn up over the knee, but gartered below. Stockings could be of coloured silk - blue or scarlet - with gold or silver clocks, but youths and poorer men wore black stockings of wool. In winter the curious fashion was followed of wearing several pairs of stockings at once.(americanrevolution.org)

Harris operated a Trading Post for the most part, and added a paid Ferry crossing around 1722 after he had children. The riverbank may have been muddy. Frontiersman often wore full- length boots. If Harris wore boots as most men who operated colonial outposts did, this would contradict Reeder's portrayal of a man in tights, revealed by shorts, or breeches.

To contrast, and suggest hypothetical derivative clothing styles to the imagination, as Reeder would have done in his research; himself, also being under the influence of contemporary socio-political standards; this image of society gentleman from the same early 1700's category of northern English attire and style, suggests a starting point for such derivations. This image was also most generously provided by personal correspondence with the Yorkshire Museum Trust, who preserves a copy of this research in their museum archives.

Immense numbers of diamonds were worn both by men and women, for since the Dutch improvements in diamond cutting at the beginning of the century, the stones could be made to present a much more brilliant effect than formerly.(americanrevolution.org)

Cuffs were still large and sometimes heavily embroidered, but disappeared from hunting and riding coats. Riding was also responsible for a modification of the coat-tails. These were buttoned back, and soon became merely ornamental, i.e. the revers were formalised as part of the decoration of the coat, thus making the wider opening at the front of the coat permanent. The last vestige of this buttoning back is to be seen in the two black buttons in the small of the back of a modern morning or evening coat and in the more elaborate arrangement of buttons on the back lower edge of a soldier's tunic.(americanrevolution.org)

At the beginning of the century the increased facilities for trade with the East, due to the growing success of the East India Company, led to the introduction of vast quantities of Indian calicoes, which soon became very popular. English cloth manufacturers grew alarmed, and Acts of Parliament were passed, both by Queen Anne and George I, prohibiting the use of calicoes, silks, etc., from India, Persia, and China. These were, however, extensively smuggled, and Steele, in his plea for the weavers of England, gives an interesting list of the materials they had displaced: brilliants, pulerays, antherines, bombazines, satinets, chiverets, oraguellas, grazetts (flowered and plain), footworks, coloured crapes (although most crape was made in Italy and was regarded by rigid Protestants as Popish), damasks, and worsted tammy draughts.(americanrevolution.org)

detail viewWales England

As a Welshman, Harris would have been proud of his ancestry. The hardy people across the sea to Ireland often wore a skullcap of wool, called a "monmouth cap". This is the origination of the "sock-hat" made fashionable by the British Navy. It is still in fashion today. The color red, long-symbolized a magical element in that Celtic region, and witches were described wearing red hats. Originally, Leprechauns, Sea People, or Morudh [pronounced Merrow], and sometimes Faeries, also called Daoine Sidhe [pronounced Deenee Shee], were never without their bright red cap... or at the very least a bright red jacket.

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The red coat was now firmly established as the sign of an Englishman. (wikipedia.org)

Red is the color of magic in every country, and has been so from the very earliest times. The caps of fairies and magicians are well-nigh always red.-W.B. Yeats

For this reason, Harris would have likely wore a bright red knitted woolen hat most days in season, as it was a working tradition in all of England for hundreds of years. In the colonies red had come to stand out in the green woods, and was associated strongly with England, (or by this time after the unification with Scotland in 1707, Great Britain).

"If your majesties is remembered of it, the Welshmen did good service in a garden where leeks did grow, wearing leeks in their Monmouth caps; which, your majesty know, to this hour is an honourable badge of the service; and I do believe, your majesty takes no scorn to wear the leek upon Saint Tavy's day." (Shakespeare, Henry V, Act IV, Scene VII.)

One other noticeable difference is the length of the waistcoat Harris wears in the painting. In the Victorian Era, waistcoats were out.

A vest replaces the waistcoat at this time, they were still very decorative with no collar. (wikipedia.org)

Reeder has Harris wearing a slightly exaggerated vest, instead of a full-length waistcoat, cut longer in Harris' day. In Reeder's painting, Harris wears a waistcoat that is trimmer and shorter, and diagonally cut beneath the buttons in the front. This style was worn in the Revolutionary Period at the end of the 18th century. Depending on the season, Harris may or may not have even worn a jacket.

One might imagine Harris as a stocky, broad-shouldered, diminutive -yet thoroughly affable fellow, putting about his riverbank property in his long, light-colored waistcoat embroidered with the colorful dotted outlines of pink and green flowers and bright red woolen hat, tightly cocked over his close-cropped, partly bald head. He was a steadily-moving gentle chap, with the bright eyes of a southern Celtic islander; his broad, sharp smile greeting traveler and trader; Native American, European American, and African American too. His expression was like a child blinking in the light, whether light or shade, unblinkingly. His skin was pale, or ruddy, like a professional golfer or sailor's skin. There was a permanent chapping of the lips, without any cracking or peeling. He had the red cheeks and pale skin of the classic Celt.

Men's coats were so long that they almost concealed the breeches, and the, waistcoats were almost as long as the coats. Shoe-buckles came in with William III, and were at first very small. They soon grew larger, and were often ornamented with jewels. (americanrevolution.org)

A very influential Colonial American individual was Edward Shippen. Shippen was close friends with Harris and was responsible for Harris' success and marriage.

When Harris landed in Philadelphia, his total wealth was 16 guineas (about $81.76) but he began to improve his fortune through contracts to clear land and open streets in the city of Philadelphia. He formed a firm and lifelong friendship with Edward Shippen, First Mayor of Philadelphia, justice of the State Supreme Court, the later president of the Provincial Council, and married Shippens niece Esther Sey (Say), also a native of Yorkshire, England. He developed cordial relations with the Penn family as well. (associatepublisher.com)

In the beginning of the English occupation of the eastern, now Pennsylvanian, region, the first elected Mayor of Philadelphia, Edward Shippen, sent John Harris Sr. to the "frontier" of Central PA, with the expressly stated purpose of keeping an eye on the French, and establishing good relations with the Natives. He followed nobly to this purpose in the tradition of that example set by William Penn, owner and founder of Pennsylvania. We can assume that Harris' choice of a location adjacent the remnant Susquehannok, or Shawanese tribe, was no coincidence.

We first hear of him after his arrival in Philadelphia as a contractor for clearing and grading the streets of that ancient village. In 1698 his name is appended to a remonstrance to the Provincial Assembly against the passage of an act disallowing the franchise to all persons owning real estate less in value than fifty pounds. The memorial had its effect, and the objectionable law was repealed. By letters of introduction to Edward Shippen, the first mayor of Philadelphia, that distinguished gentleman became his steadfast friend, and through his influence, no doubt, were secured those favors which induced him eventually to become the first permanent settler in this locality.(maley.net)

Harris took to his task expertly, garnering similar praise as Pennsylvania's founder, William Penn himself, for his trustworthiness and good nature. (newworldencyclopedia.org)

He was as honest a man as ever broke bread, was the high eulogium pronounced by Parson Elder, of blessed memory, as he spoke of the pioneer in after years. (maley.net)

It is evident that John Harris Senior was carefully stewarding this good reputation, also like William Penn, in spite of world and local politics, common prejudice and local custom, in his treatment of the Indians, although he may have been unaware of the exact overarching Crown strategy, he was aligned to it. He seemed to achieve a reputation of good, honest standing with all Native American tribes. This may have been no more than good business sense.

A helpful similarity, which may speak to deeper family ties, or merely a topic of familiarity for conversation amongst strangers in a foreign, unfamiliar, and at times hostile new land, was the coincidence of Shippen's wife's family being from a long line of Brew-masters and Innkeepers in Boston (ancestry.com). As both John Harris and Edward Shippen's wife were from a tradition of Brew-masters, this may have proved an invaluable means of introduction, for a road-worker to the Mayor.

Born in the county of Yorkshire, England, although of Welsh descent, about the year 1673, he was brought up in the trade of his father, that of a brewer. Leaving his home on reaching his majority, he worked at his calling some time in the city of London, where he joined, a few years afterwards, a company from his native district, who emigrated to Pennsylvania two or three years prior to Penn's second visit to his Province.(maley.net)

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Harris, Shippen and Penn, all had close ties to Yorkshire, England, and each other. It is then no surprise, to discover that Esther Say, to become Esther Harris, was also from Yorkshire, whom John Harris met at his friend, Mayor, Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court, and founder of Princeton University, Edward Shippen's home. These commonalities suggest a bond that imitated a family intimacy between the two men. (princeton.edu)

During John Harris' frequent visits to Philadelphia he met at the house of his friend Shippen, Miss Esther Say, like himself not over young, from his native Yorkshire, and in the latter part of the year 1720 married her. The wedding took place either at the Swedes church, Wicaco, or at Christ church, both being members of the Church of England. Among the early colonists who settled in Philadelphia were a number of the name of Say, but to which family Esther Harris was connected is not to be ascertained with certainty. She was kinswomen to the Shippens, and of course respectively connected. A remarkable woman, she was also well calculated to share the love, the trials, the hardships and the cabin of the intrepid pioneer. (maley.net)

It has been noted that Yorkshire holds some significance to John Harris Sr. York, England, lies within Yorkshire. A heavily fortified ancient Roman military complex, it has been conquered and reconquered for centuries, a crucially contested location between the Celtic, Nordic, Anglo-Saxon, and Classical Mediterranean forces. At this time, these contestants were represented by the Scottish house of Stuart versus the Dutch Crown and the French Catholics.

detail viewScotland

William Penn, who obtained the land deed from the English Crown for Pennsylvania, was connected well to Yorkshire, through his father, Admiral Penn, and this relationship began in childhood.

Admiral Penn, assigned to rebuilding the British Navy for war with the Dutch, asked that his son serve as personal assistant. Young William must have gained a valuable inside view of high command. Admiral Penn also used his son as a courier delivering military messages to King Charles II. Young William developed a cordial relationship with the King and his brother, the Duke of York, the future King James II. (quaker.org)

Penn, like Franklin and other early Americans, gained a reputation for self-sacrifice in exchange for benefits and leniencies to be afforded to the common man; leniencies to be obtained from the power structure of resource-hoarding royalty and aristocracy. A great contrast to the fluid economic structure of today, this ancient structure often comprised of one family and its extensions. It refined a method into habit, to cultivate the capacity amongst a small group of people, to maintain control over whatever wealth or resources were determined valuable by the population, at any point in time. This was largely determined through measure of physical strain, and sheer distance a great weight might be transported. Therefore, because gold metal did not corrode over time and distance, was very heavy, and shone like water when polished, it became a standard of commodity. Gold was both a representation medium for exchange, as well as being an attractive, malleable, practical commodity itself. All goods were compared to this standard, and gold was therefore hoarded. The New World continent was plundered in large part by the Spanish in a search for gold.

William Penn was an adaptation of this anti-democratic capacity. He was from a family who had amassed some wealth, who became a seeming traitor to its habits. He used his noble influence to become a lawyer, attack the oligarchic aristocratic authority, and gain support from the common and the disenfranchised majority. He did this, not only in England, but also in Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Switzerland, Poland, and the Netherlands. In keeping with the true British character, Penn eventually found a place for the discontented in his Pennsylvania, to construct the common good.

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Penn became associated with the Quakers in Cork, Ireland, (british-history.ac.uk), and married within the new community (chorleywood-pc.gov.uk). The Quakers were part of a resulting wave of, what was referred to as, "non-conformist religious principles", and was essentially a tradition of anti-Catholic reverberations caused by England's split from the Catholic Church in the 1500's.

While supervising his father's Irish estates, Penn was drawn into the Quaker world. His conversion to Quakerism was inspired by the simple piety (religious devotion) of their religion and the need to provide relief for victims of persecution. At the age of twenty-two, against his father's wishes, Penn became a Quaker advocate, or supporter. His marriage in 1672 to Gulielma Maria Springett, of a well-known Quaker family, completed his religious commitment. (notablebiographies.com)

Penn mounted a legal attack on the aristocratic religious rule of the oligarchs, in favor of a materialistic, possessions-centric lifestyle. By using the tool of the powerful against them, namely their wealth, Penn redefined religious principles by an economic standard. This could never have been done but in this most wealthy period in history.

The tool the powerful had heretofore used to justify their wealth, religion, begged now by Penn to favor a materialist reality. He argued that if the poor had no right to property, wealth and achievement, because of a preordained social status, then that same status was dealt to English aristocracy by the increasing wealth granted, to Spain, simply because they had more gold.

If better fortune came from God, who gifted them the Church to their service, then by their own reasoning, England should be subservient to wealthier powers.

Penn decided to challenge the Conventicle Act by holding a public meeting on August 14, 1670. The Lord Mayor of London arrested him and his fellow Quakers as soon as he began expressing his nonconformist religious views. At the historic trial, Penn insisted that since the government refused to present a formal indictment--officials were concerned the Conventicle Act might be overturned--the jury could never reach a guilty verdict. He appealed to England's common-law heritage: "if these ancient and fundamental laws, which relate to liberty and property, and which are not limited to particular persuasions in matters of religion, must not be indispensably maintained and observed, who then can say that he has a right to the coat on his back? Certainly our liberties are to be openly invaded, our wives to be ravished, our children slaved, our families ruined, and our estates led away in triumph by every sturdy beggar and malicious informer--as their trophies but our forfeits for conscience's sake.".(quaker.org)

As Henry the Eighth had broken from the Catholic Church to form the Church of England, he had set precedent and provided a defensive strategy to preserve English autonomy. Penn knowingly or not, had age-old English political strategy reinforcing his claims. Resulting from this victory for all mankind, he was rewarded imprisonment repeatedly (ushistory.org), even in the deadly Tower of London, from 1668 to 1669 (gwyneddfriends.org).

Penn's threats and old English nationalistic fears were realized when William of Orange took the throne of England aside Mary. William was Dutch. Thus the English lost their autonomy to the wealthier Dutch Empire.

Penn's father had fought the Dutch for Oliver Cromwell after Cromwell had beheaded Charles I. Mary was the daughter of James II, Duke of York, and Penn's childhood acquaintance.

Only two daughters survived: Mary (born 30 April 1662) and Anne (born 6 February 1665). Samuel Pepys wrote that James was fond of his children and his role as a father, writing that he played with them "like an ordinary father", a contrast to the distant parenting common to royals at the time. (wikipedia.org)

English fears were heightened still more, when James II's cousin, Louis XIV's bloodline, appeared to be ascending to the throne of Spain. As England had removed James from his throne for revealing that he had been secretly a Catholic, England chose as his successor, the seemingly lesser of two evils, and allied instead with the Dutch. The Netherlands were a similar haven for religious tolerance. This proved a poor decision.

Herein is interjected the reign of William of Orange, a Dutchman, and Mary. If the English had not removed James, the consequence of any inaction, would have effectively united the Catholic world against them -nonconformist, Anglican, England.

Thus, the traditional aristocratic opinion, regarding property as being the right of possession only of the most wealthy, simply because they were most wealthy, became most unpleasant. Using this traditional aristocratic logic, the expansive wealth of Spain alone would easily turn England into a lapdog for the Pope.

The Netherlands, wealthy and central to world trade as it was, could never hope to combat Spain, France, Portugal, and the Catholic Church. These Catholic powers were far wealthier together than any combination of Dutch and English at the time. The Nonconformists: the Dutch and English; had a tense bond with each other. England was at a severe disadvantage. With Netherland's control of New World trade in New York (then New Amsterdam), Dutch ownership of the majority of English ports, and the Netherland's newly gained influence over the British Crown itself, England's Aristocracy realized, they alone, would lose the very coat off their backs, if they did not accept some form of religious tolerance and charity.

In hindsight, this was an easy win for William Penn, as British sympathy and political strategy had been aligned closely with anti-European mainland sentiment (british-history.ac.uk). England then, if it hadn't already, realized that William Penn had national interests at heart all along and began using him as a conduit. William Penn is Ben Franklin's kite, and John Harris is the key.

It was here that this covert, anti-nationalistic, anti-Dutch, anti-Catholic, Yorkshire-centric, Crown strategy was gestated; that English power felt the will to bend instead, and not to break. Yorkshire becomes a stand-alone entity at this moment. Old friends and loyal subjects begin making noticeable, strategic gestures, towards an unlikely, seemingly impossible dream: English freedom. The responsibility of reclaiming it is left to Anne, a young girl no more than twenty years of age, hardly preordained in any sense. Anne was Queen Mary's sister, and James II's daughter. This royal bloodline is descendant of the Scottish House of Stuart and is represented by The White Rose of York.

This covert political strategy is not immediately evident, and in fact, was so well crafted, that to this day historical convention insists that the endeavor was no more than inner-family religious conflict, inbreeding, and disease.

During this period, Prince George and Princess Anne suffered great personal misfortune. By 1700, the future Queen had been pregnant at least eighteen times; thirteen times, she miscarried or gave birth to stillborn children. Based on her foetal losses and physical symptoms, a medical historian has diagnosed disseminated lupus erythematosus. Of the remaining five children, four died before reaching the age of two years. Her only son to survive infancy, William, Duke of Gloucester, died at the age of eleven on 29 July 1700, precipitating a succession crisis. William and Mary had not had any children; thus, Princess Anne, the heir apparent to the Throne, was the only individual remaining in the line of succession established by the Bill of Rights 1689. If the line of succession were totally extinguished, then it would have been open for the deposed King James or his son James Francis Edward Stuart (the "Old Pretender") to claim the Throne. Thus, to preclude a Catholic from obtaining the Crown, Parliament enacted the Act of Settlement 1701, which provided that, failing the issue of Princess Anne and of William III by any future marriage, the Crown would go to Sophia, Electress of Hanover, and her descendants, who descended from James I of England through Elizabeth Stuart. Dozens of genealogically senior claimants were disregarded due to their Catholicism. Anne acquiesced to the new line of succession created by the Act of Settlement. William III died on 8 March 1702 and Anne was crowned on 23 April 1702. (wikipedia.org)

The British Royal family is traditionally portrayed as bumbling, Catholic-hating sluggards, who blindly stumble into victory over world trade and world domination, to become the most expansive world union in history. England's success lies not in good fortune, born of beggarly religious conversion and disease. This consequence was a result of more than blind luck, and the majority of it involved a passionate, intelligent, and good-hearted aristocrat named William Penn.

Whilst the British power structure struggled with looming demise, William Penn is persecuted relentlessly. In spite of this, he wins an extremely important legal precedent for England, perhaps it's most important, ensuring that a Jury cannot be imprisoned for making an unpopular verdict. He then, inherits his father's estate.

He had previously preached all over Europe, as an English political dissident, battling high-profile, well-publicized, legal cases, to the benefit of the poor, neglected, over-taxed, and downtrodden; all the while, Penn was unwittingly raising an army of the disenfranchised majority of European society. These people were to become the population of the future Pennsylvania. Solidly anti-Catholic, they were also predictably independent-minded. They could not be taken by force, and England did not influence them. Even though Britain, and world trade, came under the Dutch nearly completely, and existed, solely beholden to the mercy of the Catholic majority, these "Pennsylvania Dutch"; primarily Scotts-Irish, German peoples; would remain in the wings, unwitting reservists for the British Crown. The Crown henceforth, becomes a deceptive facade, and Yorkshire becomes its true sanctuary. The Royal Family becomes no more than a feint with true power being negotiated, in the end, by Queen Anne herself.

This noble service of William Penn, and his benefit to the Crown, is memorialized by the story told by John Harris, Sr., which William S. Reeder memorialized, about the year 1840, in the painting, "An Attempt to Burn John Harris". In the story, and the painting, the services of both William Penn, as well as John Harris Senior, are commemorated. William Penn's service was honored by Harris, by his desire to be buried beneath a certain Mulberry tree near modern day Market Street in Harrisburg City, Pennsylvania, USA. This was the same tree, to which Harris said he was tied to by Indians.


The location, before it was Harrisburg, was the native peoples' crossroads, and had been for thousands of years. The river-crossing where Harris set his Trading Post and Ferry service, were a naturally formed transportation route, linking North America's native peoples and animal species, a veritable "super-highway" for trade, travel, and hunting.

The valley is backed by mountains, which cradle it, and run parallel to the ocean. The weather is kept mild as a result, and the mountains offer a strategic backing, for use in any military event: as shelter to flee to, to observe from, and to ambush from behind. The natural mountain crossing offers obvious transportation advantages.

The river, running through the mountains and counter to them, north and south, enhance these strategic and transport advantages to an infinite degree. At one point in the early post-Revolutionary history of the United States, the current Capitol City of Pennsylvania, was considered as a viable alternative to the District of Columbia, as a location for the national Capitol of the fledgling country. Harrisburg, it could be said, was Ben Franklin's 'Turkey', to John Adams' 'Eagle', of Washington D.C.

Image Courtesy of Lloyd Treinish.

And it was The Garden of Eden to John Harris.

It was during one of his expeditions that Harris first beheld the beauty and advantages of the location at Paxtang. It was the best fording place on the Susquehanna, and then, as now in these later days, on the great highway between the North and South, the East and West. Annually the chiefs of the Five Nations went to the Carolinas, where were located their vast hunting-grounds, and these, returning with peltries, found need of a trading-post.(maley.net)

detail viewOil Co. Driving Map

The scene did not likely occur in the daytime with so many observers. There were not Indian women playing with sticks, along the sandy riverbank. The riverbank was more probably muddy and heavily trodden and grooved from trains of horses and wagons fording the river, and stopping to pick up furs from Harris on their way to major cities, like Philadelphia. The river was described as shallowest at the point Harris chose, making it a common fording point, and this was a reason he set up a Ferry-crossing there years later.

...[The Susquehannok] people who carved “steps” into rocks (now submerged) in the nearby [York, PA] Susquehanna River. These “Indian steps” were actually footholds, used to reach the river to fish. (indiansteps.org)

Harris was tied to a Mulberry Tree. This was a reference to his past; yet another connection to Yorkshire; and may have been his hope for the future.

Settlers, Kelso said, were under "tremendous pressure" to give investors the instant gratification they needed because "they put so much money into it," and didn't want to lose their lifeline to England. Colonists tried different trades such as silk making, glassmaking, lumber, sassafras and tar, with no financial success.-William Kelso, director of archaeological research and interpretation at Historic Jamestowne.(from Associated Press Report by MICHAEL FELBERBAUM, AP Tobacco Writer – Fri Dec 31, 8:41 am ET)

The Mulberry Tree may have symbolized the very English struggle; the poor yearning for greatness; York was England's centre for fabric production. England had been enamored of China and the exquisite silks made in the ancient cities of the Orient.

Distant Affinity: Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis), Jackfruit (A. heterophyllus), Fig (Ficus spp.), Che (Cudrania tricuspidata), African Breadfruit (Treculia african). Origin: The white mulberry is native to eastern and central China. It became naturalized in Europe centuries ago. The tree was introduced into America for silkworm culture in early colonial times and naturalized and hybridized with the native red mulberry. The red or American mulberry is native to eastern United States from Massachusetts to Kansas and down to the Gulf coast. The black mulberry is native to western Asia and has been grown for its fruits in Europe since before Roman times.(California Rare Fruit Growers, Inc.)

In China, where Italy struck it rich with trade, spawning the Rennaisance, through Marco Polo's quest for silk and spice, the small English Isles hoped to emulate the success and complexity thereof, by the import of the Mulberry tree. For you see, that tree was the primary food which the silk worm took sustenance of. Harris may have been tied to what he worried visibly to protect, his hope of future production of silk garments and further fineries he had witnessed in his youth.

The ripe fruit is edible and is widely used in pies, tarts, wines, and cordials. The fruit of the black mulberry, native to southwest Asia, and the red mulberry, native to eastern North America, have the strongest flavor. The fruit of the white mulberry, an east Asian species which is extensively naturalized in urban regions of eastern North America, has a different flavor, sometimes characterized as insipid.[citation needed] The mature plant contains significant amounts of resveratrol, particularly in stem bark.[2] The fruit and leaves are sold in various forms as nutritional supplements. Unripe fruit and green parts of the plant have a white sap that is intoxicating and mildly hallucinogenic.[3] Black, red, and white mulberry are widespread in Northern India, Azerbaijan, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Georgia, Armenia, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, and Afghanistan, where the tree and the fruit are known by the Persian-derived names toot (mulberry) or shahtoot (King's or "superior" mulberry). Jams and sherbets are often made from the fruit in this region. Black mulberry was imported to Britain in the 17th century in the hope that it would be useful in the cultivation of silkworms. It was much used in folk medicine, especially in the treatment of ringworm. Mulberries are also widespread in Greece, particularly in the Peloponnese, which in the Middle Ages was known as Morea (Greek: Morias), deriving from the Greek word for the tree (Greek: Mouria). Mulberry trees were used for silk production, which was a major source of wealth for the region. Mulberry leaves, particularly those of the white mulberry, are ecologically important as the sole food source of the silkworm (Bombyx mori, named after the mulberry genus Morus), the pupa/cocoon of which is used to make silk. Other Lepidoptera larvae also sometimes feed on the plant including common emerald, lime hawk-moth, and the sycamore.(wikipedia.org)

In Reeder's depiction, Harris' homestead is on a bluff, overlooking the river. This may not be the case. The Susquehanna is an old river. Slow moving, it curves regularly and floods often. The river runs through fairly flat lands, and breaks free of the mountains just north of Harrisburg. It curves even more dramatically on its course through the Appalachian Mountain chain, on its way to Harrisburg. This indicates that, unlike younger rivers, it does not increase in speed very much. Because of its age and slow speed, there is not a large amount of sediment being carried from the mountains.

detail viewAntique PA Map

In present-day Harrisburg, the river-crossing is so conveniently placed by time, a great number of bridges have been built to accommodate the traffic, which has not slowed for a thousand years.

The Susquehanna valley has been home for native people for 10,000 years. About its earliest residents, little is known. However, the people most significant, most closely identified with the history of the river, were the Susquehannocks. (indiansteps.org)

Multiple large-scale automobile, train, and pedestrian bridges are lined up in close proximity to Harris' original Post. Large amounts of soil have been pushed to the riverbank into this area, in order to curb flooding, level roadways, build real-estate, and raise bridges above the flood waters, which regularly kiss their bottoms.

Harrisburg Railroad Route 1852; Original Map Base ©2010 by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. All Rights Reserved

Logging was the first major industry to bring massive changes to the riverbanks along the ancient Susquehanna River. Then the coal industry brought coal barges, scraping along its insides, replacing the jostling, chaotic flow of log-jams, with heavy, black paste. The coal barges laid so much coal dust in the bottom of the river, that men made great fortunes, and built huge mansions along the river, with the money they earned by cutting the packed coal-silt from the river-bottom into squares, hauling it from the water, and selling it.

detail viewOriginal Map Base ©2010 by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. All Rights Reserved

A certain amount of dams have been added among the bridges, which has altered the time-worn pattern of silt distribution along the river-bottom. Agriculture has been one of Pennsylvania's leading industries for decades, and water from the Susquehanna has been brought to the fields, to irrigate crops. The water, once poured over the loose, tilled, rocky soil, drains quickly back to the river, carrying with it a quantity of new deposits, for the now extremely shallow, river. The old river, shallow as old rivers are, now measures less than four feet in depth, at Harris' crossing.

detail viewOriginal Map Base ©2010 by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. All Rights Reserved

Suffice it to say, the general rule of an old river, is that it is shallow, floods wide, and curves often. A slow-moving river is ideal to trade along and travel, its shallow banks make pulling one's canoe to shore very convenient. The Susquehanna River flowed well before the continents were grouped into the one massive entity called "Pangea". It flowed still, while they slowly drifted apart over millions of years. Dinosaurs drank and died while animals evolved. The Susquehanna saw it all.

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Geologically, the river is extremely ancient, often regarded as the oldest or second oldest major system in the world. It is far older than the mountain ridges through which it turns, most of which were formed in uplift events of the early Cenozoic era. Like the Hudson,Delaware and Potomac rivers, the basin was well-established in the flat plains that existed during the Mesozoic era. There is evidence that the flow of the ancient Susquehanna was established early enough that it predated the Appalachian orogeny over 300 million years ago, meaning that the river was in existence well before Pangea broke up and formed the Atlantic Ocean.(wikipedia.org)

This large amount of rearrangement of the riverbanks, make it nearly impossible to determine what the spot, upon which the Harris Post stood, and looked like, three centuries ago. Harris himself contributed to this, no doubt, and may have used some of his skills acquired building roads in Philadelphia. He may have cleared, graded, raised and altered the natural topography quite a bit in his time there.

detail viewRainfall Chart

Many fur-traders in the west, a hundred years later, built their shacks into hills to prevent theft of their fur pelts. Made simply of logs and dried mud, they essentially were disguised as a small hill from the rear view. Harris most definitely, being a well-connected Englishman, and skilled engineer, did not live in a log hut. More realistically, he lived in something more akin to a small castle, or English stone Mill-house with flood-walls, lacking the large mill-wheel and sluice. He likely dug drainage channels around his property, to divert floodwaters, and irrigate his crops. These canals may have been similar to those dug by the Shawanese across the river. The Shawanese dug around their lands on this side of the Yellow Breeches Creek. They lived almost on an island, near the shallowest part of the river, atop the hills upon which modern Camp Hill sprawls, on an Indian Highway; they, like a rest-stop on the Pennsylvania Turnpike lay; surrounded by a network of canals, criss-crossed by fast growing crops.

About 1766, at the end of the French and Indian War, John, Jr. decided that it was about time for his family to have a more substantial house than the one that his father had built. The old home's location by the river had meant that the family had to leave during the periodic flooding. From this experience, John, Jr. knew that the river had never reached the top of a certain rise of ground even during the worst floods. So he chose the current site and had the front section of the house built with locally quarried limestone.(dauphincountyhistory.org)

It is evident that John Harris Junior was not the engineer or strategist his father was.

But the hope of the Susquehanna Indians for the good will and support of the English was suddenly smashed. On October 24, while the conference was in progress, John Harris, the white trader, led a party of forty-nine frontiersmen up the river to Shamokin to reconnoiter. He brought with him the bloody story of the Penn's Creek massacre, and learned in return the rumor about fifteen hundred invaders. Shamokin, on that dark Friday, was alive with undercurrents of intrigue; canoes came and went; both strange and friendly Indians were "all painted Black." And so, when Montour [native] advised Harris and his party to return by way of the rocky east side of the river, Harris, suspecting a trap, decided to go down the west bank. His caution was misguided. Next day, returning by the forbidden west side, he was ambushed at Penn's Creek by 120 French Indians headed by Pisquitomen. Pisquitomen was a nephew of Sassoonan and had lived on the Schuylkill; hitherto he had been a firm friend of the English. Three white men were killed in a running gun fight through the woods; five more drowned as they tried to escape across the river. (King of the Delawares: Teedyuscung, 1700-1763: pg. 70-71; by Anthony F.C. Wallace; UPENN Press, 1923)

The mansion he built is no safer from floods than his father's original location, as it is near Shipoke, an historic neighborhood on the southern edge of Harrisburg, which has the worst, and most frequent floods in the city.

Above [picture not included]: The second worst flood to hit Harrisburg was that of March 1936. Shipoke is to the right, beyond the Reading RailRoad Bridge. The photographer's boat was evidently stationed directly in front of the John Harris mansion. (HSDC) —Barton; Life by the Moving Road, pg. 19 (American Historical Press ©1998)

Pennsylvania Masonry-work is some of the finest and most unique in the world. Owing to the rockiness of the soil, Harris Junior's father, surely used it. As a road-builder and paver, he had the ability to gather a crew, and complete a job. In that day this occupation required a vastly more thorough skill set than 21st century road builders. City roads were paved with stone, drainage dug by hand, curb was quarried and hewn to custom fit. Philadelphia has some of the most sophisticated examples of this in all of world history. It is well known that Franklin himself, had a hand in refining early Philadelphia's civil systems.

Philadelphia, July 6, 1751

To the Honourable Thomas Penn, and Richard Penn, Esquires, Proprietaries of the Province of Pennsylvania, &c. The Address of the Managers of the Pennsylvania Hospital.

In Pursuance of that Act, we the Subscribers were, on the first of this Instant, chosen by the Contributors to be Managers of the said Hospital, and think it our Duty to take this first Opportunity of laying the Affair before our Proprietaries, in humble Confidence that so good and pious an Undertaking will not fail of their Approbation; hoping withal, from the accustomed Bounty of the Proprietary Family, in encouraging former Designs of publick Utility to the People of their Province, the present will also receive their kind Assistance; and as private Persons raise a Stock to support the Hospital, and the Assembly build the House, so (that all concerned in the Province may share in the Honour, Merit and Pleasure of promoting so good a Work) the Proprietaries will be pleased to favour us with the Grant of a Piece of Ground for the Buildings, and their necessary Accommodations. —signed Benjamin Franklin and others(The American Philosophical Society and Yale University)

These were talented individuals. Harris is underwhelmed by modern understanding of him. To become good friends with the Mayor of an important colonial city, Harris most likely was an expert builder and engineer. A Pilgrim-style, thatched-roof, log-trimmed, sloppily-constructed, fort, as depicted in Reeder's painting, is probably not the architectural legacy of John Harris Sr.

It is written, that Harris built a compound, with several adjoining sheds to store his furs and keep them safe from theft. Indians, loyal friends to him, were always around his place. As Indians in this period often supply the role of service personnel in this era; butlers, messengers, maids, laborers and even the nanny for white children; it is likely that Harris maintained a number of such relationships, probably loosely tendered and amicable. Harris is described as a generous man and had no shortage of income as a result of his location. The Fur Trade was more lucrative than the Diamond Trade in those days.

The fort in Reeder's painting appears to be more of a Civil War-era military structure that has been married, in a strange way, to a Jamestown or early settlement style of building. It even appears to have a thatched roof. Most successful colonialists evidently felt a strong need to imitate the architectural styles they were accustomed to in Europe. This imitation was extreme in scope. Harris may have built along these more "civilised" lines.

John Harris Senior, realistically, had several habitations for his family. The children were probably educated in Philadelphia. Owing to a record in Philadelphia regarding a feud between Harris and his wife; wherein Harris angrily severs all financial responsibility to her, and the fact that Harris' wife's Uncle was one of the most influential colonial American figures; Mrs. Harris and the kids likely spent a lot of time in the city.

He formed a firm and lifelong friendship with Edward Shippen, First Mayor of Philadelphia, justice of the State Supreme Court, the later president of the Provincial Council, and married Shippens niece Esther Sey (Say), also a native of Yorkshire, England. He developed cordial relations with the Penn family as well. (associatepublisher.com)

Harris' Trading Post was likely not his family's primary residence. By the time his children had been born about 1720, Harris had been running a profitable fur trading business for near twenty years. He had been what in modern times is referred to as a Civil Engineer, in one of the largest colonial cities. Being a trusted associate of the Mayor and Governor of a major commercial center, upon which the mother country herself had recently come to depend most heavily, would have provided Harris with the financial means to make choices, and be afforded luxuries, not commonplace in colonial society.

The New World was commerce on a scale Europe was not used to. It brought wealth unparalleled at any other point in history. This wealth was distributed to more people than ever.

The writer is not sufficiently acquainted with the economic history of the period to be able to say with certainty how much and precicely what sort of goods were paid to the Indians of the lower Delaware, the Schuylkill, and the Susquehanna rivers for beaver and other furs and skins, but interesting food for speculation is afforded by the report of barter-prices at Albany in 1689. There, for one beaver skin, an Indian could take his choice of eight pounds of powder, forty pounds of lead, a red blanket, a white blanket, four shirts, or six pairs of stockings; and for two beavers he could get a gun. (King of the Delawares: Teedyuscung, 1700-1763: pg.3; by Anthony F.C. Wallace; UPENN Press, 1923)

The hardships of colonial life were often exaggerated by colonial settlers as a form of self protection from one's envious neighbors. The population was so small, that everyone had a political stake in whatever issue faced them. Often re-tellings of re-tellings, being similar in their factual description, are not closer to actuality. While hardships did unfortunately occur, lawlessness and readily available scapegoats, proved the major obstacle to frontier life in North America.

"An Attempt to Burn John Harris"; lithographic reproduction after the painting by William S. Reeder, circa. 1840


Between this first encounter with Smith and the 1690s, the Susquehannocks saw highs and lows: Their highs were early in the 17th century, as they established themselves as unique from their Iroquois kin, and developed their own culture. The lows came 75 years later, when diseases like cholera and smallpox, brought on by trade with encroaching Europeans, reduced their population to nearly nothing, and they could no longer fend off raids from the expanding, European-armed Iroquois, then vying for control of the Susquehanna valley. By 1760, only 20 Susquehannocks remained, these people living peaceably as farmers in Conestoga, a Lancaster County village near the river. Some of these people were Iroquois kin, living with the remaining Susquehannocks. All, however, were murdered shortly before Christmas in 1763 by the Paxton Boys, a vigilante gang claiming the Ganestogas (as the survivors were called) aided hostile Indians during the French and Indian War.(indiansteps.org)

The Indians who allegedly tied John Harris Senior to a tree along the banks of the Susquehanna River in the location of modern day Harrisburg, circa 1718, had loyalties to the Dutch or French. They were Iroquois, or at least some northern vestige tribe belonging to the Mohawk Nation. These native people were exceedingly 'Europeanized', and had been dependent on European manufacturing for hundreds of years by the time of this event.

There were other problems with the fur trade. Competition between tribes over hunting grounds became more pronounced after the Europeans' arrival. Tensions also caused increased conflict among the English, the French, and the Dutch. The competition between the English and the French culminated in the French and Indian War. The Native American chiefs saw that each side was using them, but because of the Indians' dependence on white goods, they had to become involved in these conflicts. (ohiohistorycentral.com)

This area was evidently well-known by Native American inhabitants to be The Garden of Eden, and competition between tribes, which had been tense for thousands of years, completely destroyed their way of life.

The event in particular, the attempted burning and tying to a tree, may be a fabrication, in detail, but most certainly an actual occasion in general description. Native Americans most certainly harassed John Harris, probably quite regularly. Native Americans believably would have more of a motive to provoke Harris' neighbors, the small vestige Shawanese tribe across the river, by harassing Harris.

The people of the coastal zone were the ancestors of those who would be called eastern Algonquians- speakers of tongues of the Algonquian language group, the tribes that would be known as the Micmac, Abenaki, Narragansett, and Delaware, among others... Separated from these coastal peoples by the Appalachians were the people of the St. Lawrence and Susquehanna valleys. The term Iroquois refers to the five "nations" of New York- Mowhawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca. These Indians, along with others speaking tongues of the Iroquoian language phylum such as the Huron, Neutral and Erie... their communities tended to be larger than the Algonquian settlements to the east.
(The Smithsonian Book of North American Indians Before the Coming of the Europeans: pg.134, 135-6; ©1986 Smithsonian Institution)

Tribes such as the Iroquois and Shawanese, had been at war with each other for hundreds of years.

Few peoples made war as much a part of life as did the Iroqois.
(The Smithsonian Book of North American Indians Before the Coming of the Europeans: pg.143; ©1986 Smithsonian Institution)

Their foes were both other Iroquois tribes and the Algonquian peoples who had occupied the region much longer and who had never depended on agriculture as fully as the newcomers.
(The Smithsonian Book of North American Indians Before the Coming of the Europeans: pg.143; ©1986 Smithsonian Institution)

Warring apparently reached a destructive peak among the Northeast's tribes between 1400 and 1600- certainly before direct contact with European explorers.
(The Smithsonian Book of North American Indians Before the Coming of the Europeans: pg.143; ©1986 Smithsonian Institution)

The Iroquois, being the most likely assailants, were the major component of the Mohawk, or Five Nations. This was essentially the vestiges of a large collection of Native groups, which allied themselves with European forces in a military sense, to possess land, and control the distribution of preferred goods. The Shawanese were enemies with these northern tribes, and so were not included in the alliance. Since John Smith had established a meager association with the Shawanese; at that time, the Susquehannok; for the English in the south, the English eventually began to cultivate this relationship.

The early postcontact dress of some tribes is known from detailed historical paintings, photographs, extensive ethnographic descriptions, and the sheer persistence of traditional costume into modern times. For other groups there is virtually no useful information, sometimes because early European chroniclers were not interested in costume, or because records were lost, or because some native groups were destroyed by warfare and disease before records could be made.
(Encyclopedia of American Indian Costume; Josephine Paterek; pg. xii; ©1994 W.W. Norton & Co., NY)

Most artists throughout the colonial period did not document the likeness of native "Indians" faithfully. They were idealized and romanticized suggestions, made to titillate the fancy, imagination and fantasy of Europeans still living in Europe. Usually, artists did not have a first-hand witness of the Indian; their depictions were from second-hand information, gleaned from tipsy-tales of adventurers. Many Indians in reproductions of the day wore some version of the Classical 'Toga'. To add to the confusion, art scholars of that time believed, that to be a successful professional painter or draughtsman, the figure should be idealized, and modified to conform to a Greco-Roman style. Documentary, or "realism", was considered to be unprofessional.

One of the founding purposes of the Royal Academy of Arts was to establish a free school of art which would train a new generation of artists. Students at the Royal Academy Schools were taught drawing from casts of Antique statues, Life drawing, and copying and studying of Old Masters paintings and engravings. A Library was also provided where students could study subjects from the civilisations of ancient Greece to military and religious festivals, ceremonies and costume. (racollection.org.uk)

As most of the Native peoples dressed like Europeans until times of conflict, native dress became more and more regarded as costume, and tourist amusement.

Indians wove the most intricate and beautifully sophisticated garments with the durable glass European-made beads. These beads depicted here are actual Native American glass trade beads dug from Columbia, PA, which was the site of the last remnant tribal grouping of Native Americans in the Central Pennsylvania Region. [Photographed with permission from the owner, Director of the Art Association of Harrisburg. Excavated by Archeologist James "C.J." Holleran.] Native Americans in this area had formerly used turtle shells, hammered and solid bronze and copper to guild or not, wood itself painted or in it's natural state, bored stone, bones, and clay to make beads, and other items in Eastern North America. A bear-tooth necklace was a popular accessory of men. They wore skirts, capes, leather leggings, and leather sown around the foot, depending on the season.

The costume of the Indians shifted constantly, for there was a far-reaching trade network on the continent; materials, ideas, and fashions were traded and adopted, changed, and traded further. But there was seldom a departure from the basic garments worn by most North American Indians: shirts, leggings, breechclouts, dresses, moccasins, and robes.
(Encyclopedia of American Indian Costume; Josephine Paterek; pg. xiv; ©1994 W.W. Norton & Co., NY)

Until sometime after 1600 when European industrialized exploitation triggered the steady decline of traditional artisanship, Native crafstmanship had reached a nearly modern (21st c.) manufactured precision and meticulous and elaborate decorative splendour.

In my estimation, I believe nearly every Native costume in the Reeder depiction, to be unlikely- save for the stripe on the main agressor's pants; more probably embroidered though, the one eagle's feather, and the gorget on a silver chain about his neck. The Iroquois became prominent silversmiths, and believeably wore a garrish amount of silver jewelry- especially armbands and gorgets, or, large circle plates on chains hung around their necks. The rescuing Native party is correctly shown with a more 'English' style nightshirt. But I believe both parties would have been more distictly observed as sidedly European, and also, more obviously sporting uniquely identifiable 'team colors'. The rescuing party was a remnant faction resisting Iroquois allegiance who had recently been slaughtered in Virginia for being mistakenly too Native. This small band would be much more indentifiable as European, and in the political position of requiring Harris' protection, therefore, they enthusiastically provided for his; yet they would have worn simple linen pants, and probably hats of the European kind, or the simple monmouth, or navy-sock-hat style, still worn today. The agressor party too would have worn heavier 'stroud cloth' style pants, that today would look nearly identical to dark blue-jeans. Navy blue European Industrial-grade fabric was used especially by the Iroquois. They would have been wearing their hunting camouflage facepaint- the rescuing party would not. The only Native elements worn by the rescuing party would have been worn in a prominant and noticable sense by the chief, who may have had his scarlet English quality Broadcloth cape, kept famous until modern times by 'Little Red Riding Hood' herself.

Later Iroquois dress was influenced as usual by European styles and materials. Blankets, cloth (both the heavy stroud cloth and the lighter weight cottons), needles, and scissors were adopted, as well as such sundries as vermillion for paint, glass beads, thread, yarn, shawls, silk ribbons, and handkerchiefs. The Iroquois learned silversmithing from the whites and became exceedingly proficient. Their specialty was the making of silver brooches, which were based on Scottish and English models, that featured such symbols as eyes, the sun, crucifixes, and the "two jaws interlocked," which became the Iroquois national badge. Armbands, headbands, and gorgets were crafted in silver. Women used stroud cloth for their long wraparound skirts, which eventually developed into calf-length tunics of cloth (especially dark-blue broadcloth) adorned with ribbons, beadwork, and silver brooches. Iroquois men wore a cap that was like the Glengarry bonnet of the Scots; made of black velvet, it was heavily beaded in floral designs and was fairly common from 1840 to 1870.
(Encyclopedia of American Indian Costume; Josephine Paterek; pg. 58; ©1994 W.W. Norton & Co., NY)

Regarding native facepaint and camouflage: My theories surround regional and territorial identifiers less than mere intimidational or garrish and random decorative patterns. Native American culture according to my research and general knowledge is a primarily functionally biased anarchical and organic societal structure; a confidently natural and organic expression of trust in the earth's structural and compositional deference. Little in the seemingly gaudy and intensly colorful and ornate Native American decorative arts is not significant communication; each pattern and structure is akin to a specific word. Much of the Native American philosophy of verbal language was reserved for the all-important 'life song' of the individual, therefore, their lack of dependence on verbal language as an identifier leaves open the distinct likelihood that each individual's communicative efforts was a deeply interpretive, individual and creative expression dependant on the individual's own capability and responsibility to understand and guess how his peers and even geographically distant foreign others would or might interpret and judge those communicative efforts; efforts to be perceived as an effective relay of surely life-or-death deciding information. This task and crucial talent was exposed and tested in common hunting grounds where vastly separated tribesmen would congregate, making every effort to go unseen by other tribes, but in the unfortunate event of a clash and competition those individual tribesmen would need to instantly coagulate in a unified visual first assault. This was accomplished by the aforementioned regional identifiers in the decorative hunting patterns. Mud and animal parts were used for protection from elements and good health and hygene. These clothing elements were adjusted visually through choice of color and structuring of pattern to identify these instant tribal identifiers. The theory presented within these Iroquois hunting patterns depends on the certain detailed knowledge of the regional and migratory habits of song, ground and predatory birds or foul within each tribe as a territorial 'coat-tail' which each tribe across the continent would use to communicate both destination to tribal elders in a glance, but also direction and intended path of attack and retreat to those others in the common ground; specifically in this case, the Ohio River Valley in the early 18th century. These tribes would use the patterns of the birds roosting in their territory to tell others where they originated from; much like professional sports teams' uniform design and mascot designations of today; being primarily a regional territorial identifier; and where they each were going, as well as what they were hunting. For example, fishermen on the coast would likely don some combined decorative pattern seen worn by local sandpipers or waterbirds. Likewise, inland hunters donned the patterns of those local inland birds from their local habitat, combined with individual creative twists.

In the old days the Indians dressed in clothes made of well-prepared skins. In summer the men wore moccasins and deer-skin breech-clouts; they shaved the head, in some communities leaving only a ridge of hair running fore and aft on the crown. Women wore moccasins and skirts. In winter a variety of skin cloths were added: buckskin leggings, bear- and beaver-skin robes thrown over the left shoulder, a special sleeve for the right arm, thick shoepacks. Cosmetics of facepaint and bear's oil were used to ornament the face and hair. With the coming of European trade goods, the skin robes were replaced by "matchcoats" -small blankets worn over the left shoulder- or else by "strouds" -two-yard pieces of red, blue, or black cloth thrown over the shoulder like the matchcoat. Leggings were now made of stroud cloth, and shirts were an added luxury. Both men and women found in European goods new opportunities for ornament: strings of glass beads or wampum, silver buckles and clasps, red, yellow, or black silk ribbons, bracelets. Moccasins, however, continued to be worn; in fact, it was the whites who usually took over the Indian footwear on the frontiers.(King of the Delawares: Teedyuscung, 1700-1763: pg.13-14; by Anthony F.C. Wallace; UPENN Press, 1923)

A common adaptation that was most likely mistaken for a sash in many European depictions was actually a brilliantly woven strap, used for carrying things. This most simple method was often the most prominent tribal association method along the trade routes, and the woven patterns are the most obvious identifier of differing tribes.

In their artistic expressions, the makers and decorators of garments were concerned with such elements as balance (usually symmetrical), harmony, color (with its many symbolic references differing from tribe to tribe), sound (the addition of deer hooves and tin tinklers to garments was common in some areas, and even enduring perfume, was added to many articles.
(Encyclopedia of American Indian Costume; Josephine Paterek; pg. xiii-xiv; ©1994 W.W. Norton & Co., NY)

The Shawanese living across the river from John Harris Sr., used patterns and shapes that were more organic, fluid and colorful. Straps from the northern region, near New York State; also known as the Mohawk, Five, and Six Nation; were markedly more angular, and usually simple zigzag stripes and bold linear patterns.

The embroidered seam down the front of the Iroquois' pants and the characteristic 'tongue-flap' as we have in modern sneakers, may also have been an enduring and simple identfier.

Leggings were different; somewhat loose, they were sewed up the front, often with an embroidered strip covering the seam... Moccasins were the same style for both sexes and were much like the Algonquinan, but featured a squarish flap.
(Encyclopedia of American Indian Costume; Josephine Paterek; pg. 56; ©1994 W.W. Norton & Co., NY)

As a warmongering people, certain traits describing the Huron northern Iroquois element that may have appropriately endured may have been an violent, messy appearance.

...some say that the roach or bristle of hair they wore reminded the French of a hure, or wild boar, while others say the name came from a French word meaning "ruffian" or "unkempt person".
(Encyclopedia of American Indian Costume; Josephine Paterek; pg. 53; ©1994 W.W. Norton & Co., NY)

There were other functions of clothing, and a highly significant one was to establish tribal identity, often shown by the type of moccasin worn and the style of beadwork used to embellish those moccasins, by a certain cut of garment, or by a characteristic type of headdress.
(Encyclopedia of American Indian Costume; Josephine Paterek; pg. xiii; ©1994 W.W. Norton & Co., NY)

Certain items were common vestiges of former meaning: the bearclaw necklace, I believe never went out of fashion; the 'gorget', which was a circle or half-moon of metal or bone, formerly ascribed to decorative purpose, but I believe, forever would remain as a pretty safe way to avoid a spear, knife or arrow through the ribcage; the third is an element like a 'poncho' or cape is used globally to this day.

During the 1700's in England, the military developed a very inexpensive red, vegetable -based, semi-permanent fabric dye. This quickly became a valuable trade and conquest item to the Indians, as the cape was a traditional item of wear. This process was put into practice under Oliver Cromwell, a Welshman, whom Admiral Penn may have encountered in this land of their origin. This may be the reason for the Admiral's being appointed to that position by Cromwell. It apparently did not hurt Penn's standing with the new administration in 1658, when Cromwell's term was ended by malaria.

Whether scarlet or red, the uniform coat has historically been made of wool with a lining of linen to give shape to the garment. The modern scarlet wool is supplied by "Abimelech Hainsworth" and is much lighter than the traditional material, which was intended for hard wear on active service. It should be noted, however, that in the days of the musket (a weapon of limited range and accuracy) and black powder, battle field visibility was quickly obscured by clouds of smoke. Bright colours enhanced morale and provided a means of distinguishing friend from foe without significantly adding risk. Furthermore, the vegetable dyes used until the 19th century would fade over time to a pink or ruddy-brown, so on a long campaign in a hot climate the colour was less conspicuous than the modern scarlet shade would be. During the English Civil War red dyes were imported in large quantities for use by units and individuals of both sides. The ready availability of this pigment made it popular for military clothing and the dying process required for red involved only one stage. Other colours involved the mixing of dyes in two stages and accordingly involved greater expense. In financial terms the only cheaper alternative was the grey-white of undyed wool - an option favoured by the French, Austrian, Spanish and other Continental armies. The formation of the first English standing army (Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army in 1645) saw red clothing as the standard dress. As Carman comments (p24) "The red coat was now firmly established as the sign of an Englishman". (wikipedia.org)

Many young Natives were contracted as mercenary raiders for the French, Dutch, or whatever competing faction benefitted them at the present, just prior to the eruption of the French and Indian Wars. Traditional warriors, who had battled in chance meetings in the shared hunting ground of the Ohio River Valley with other regional continental tribes for hundreds of years in competition for hunting grounds, were happy to don the traditional warrior's garb, and continue this behavior for glass beads, axe heads, metal pots, and many other essential European manufactured products.

Indians gradually adopted European woven cloth, copper kettles, and sharp-edged iron tools as substitutes for their own native-made clothing, pottery, and stone tools. In exchange for these items, they gave the Europeans animal pelts, and, as time progressed, land. This exchange set up an economic relationship in which the Indians became dependent on European trade, even as supplies of fur-bearing animals in their homelands diminished. (explorepahistory.com)

In the original painting by Reeder, the Native rescue party alights near Harris' tribulation upon, what looks to be, a tree-bark or skin canoe lashed with reeds or gut-rope along the bow and leading edge. This is likely innacurate as the thick Pennsylvania forest would have provided plenty of means for Harris' rescuers to stick with the bullet and cannon-ball proof heavy log canoe, especially as they had been continuously attacked for years before Harris, and were an Iroquois rebel alliance force.

Where coasts, rivers and lakes permitted, the Indians used canoes for fishing- paper birch canoes in the north, log canoes farther south- and traveled and traded fairly extensively.
(The Smithsonian Book of North American Indians Before the Coming of the Europeans: pg.140; ©1986 Smithsonian Institution)

By Reeder's time, most Indian Tribes had adopted European dress and habits to a remarkable degree. The photos below are of a Shawnee man from around 1869, roughly 30 years after Reeder's painting was estimated to've been done.

Even in the early 1700's, Indian clothing styles and habits had changed, and were nearly identical to the European.

The speaker is Teedyuscung. He can talk English, although at the moment he is speaking in the Delaware language, which the Indian interpreter at his side renders into the white man's tongue. He wears tall riding boots, for he has come down on horseback from his log cabin in the wilderness, and he wears an English gentleman's suit of clothes tailored in Philadelphia, complete to vest and a row of buttons. He has been baptized a Christian-and can drink a gallon of rum in a day without getting drunk. "I am a Man!" he is wont to say. (King of the Delawares: Teedyuscung, 1700-1763: pg.1; by Anthony F.C. Wallace; UPENN Press, 1923)

Until conflict with Europeans spurred fierce fundamentalist movements, Indians lived very civilized lives. Indians wore European style clothing, used purchased flour, drank barreled whisky, used iron axe-heads, and shot muskets with lead bullets. Fabrics, cookware, tools, weapons and food, were imported from Europe and used by Indians and Colonists alike for nearly four centuries. Hunters and warriors, traditionally a functionally indistinctive occupation, were relegated to a ceremonial position.

When the smoke cleared, white attitudes had shifted decisively in favor of Indian dispossession and exile, while Indians were drawn to nativist movements that urged them to reject association with white society. (explorepahistory.com)

Many Europeans, in a lawless frontier, took advantage of this vulnerability of the natives, as their governments did, for centuries. It became standard policy to insinuate Indians for theft, suspicion, or mayhem. It was common also, for European colonists to conduct terrorist attacks upon their own citizenry, and blame the "poor savage", as the Indian was referred to on many occasions. Night raids on European settlements became common also, and were the principle factor in the Native people's removal and near extermination.

Indians pushed to the wall by fraudulent land purchases and colonial intrusions on their lands fought tenaciously to retain control of the upper Susquehanna, Allegheny, and Ohio valleys. This intercultural warfare grew increasingly vicious during Pontiac's Rebellion and the American Revolution. Tales of Indian atrocities committed against frontier communities gave license to equally murderous reprisals by white Pennsylvanians. When the smoke cleared, white attitudes had shifted decisively in favor of Indian dispossession and exile, while Indians were drawn to nativist movements that urged them to reject association with white society. (explorepahistory.com)

This war-like, ambush activity, was not part of traditional Native American methodology and behavior, when dealing with unfamiliar peoples, but has become an identifying aspect of them.

To a certain extent the variety of responses met by the English reflected the diversity of a village world. But as subjects of Powhatan, the Indians' wide-ranging behaviors also reflected a policy of testing the newcomers' strength and ineptitude, asserting military strength, and leaving the door open for alliance and trade. (nps.gov)

Most warriors ventured out of their villages. Women, children, and the elderly Indians stayed home. Many smeared themselves periodically with red clay and put black bear grease, especially in the hair, to keep bugs away, and balance bacteria levels on the skin to avoid illness and stench.

The Indian stands, tall and portly, with a belt of black and white wampum held before him in his outstretched hands. Behind him are his followers, his warriors and councilors, seated in a rough half-moon in the dust, gaudy in the sunlight with white English shirts and brown skin and bright red paint on their faces. (King of the Delawares: Teedyuscung, 1700-1763: pg.1; by Anthony F.C. Wallace; UPENN Press, 1923)

Thus, the European settler, anxious in their new environment, saw bright red young men, dressed to intimidate.

The young men would have been anxious in their own right, wearing thick red face plaster, as thick as the white face plaster worn by French Aristocracy in this era.

Europeans called them "the Red Indians" because of their lavish use of a natural pigment to color their bodies.
(The Smithsonian Book of North American Indians Before the Coming of the Europeans: pg.135; ©1986 Smithsonian Institution)

These hunters dressed in garish camouflage that frequently involved skulls and bones. They painted patterns on their faces for the same reason certain modern soldiers, football players, or stage actors do. They sought to blend into their environment, and gain the advantage of fright upon whoever they encountered, be it man or beast.

Camouflage and face paint had developed into an extremely refined art form by the time Europe ventured across the pond to make their acquaintance. Native face paint imitated fur patterns, insect coloring, flower blooms, and shadows through the trees. Native American hunters and warriors looked like wolves, deer fawn, snake, and dragonfly. They took the skins from animals they hunted, and wore them to keep warm; to look like them, to more effectively hunt them in the future. They bleached and dried the skull and bones of animals, small and large, and strung them about their figure. It was common among the tribes near Harris' location, to have a half-shaved head, spiked in the middle and on the top like a Mohawk, dyed red, and crested in the front by a songbird's skull. Thanks to personal correspondence with the Smithsonian Institute Museum of the Native American for this description.

Many of these young men, working as European mercenaries, would be wearing military jackets, swords, belts, and other items, taken from European soldiers whom they had ambushed and killed.

It is imagined, that a traditional male fear, might have be used to intimidate certain Europeans in certain circumstances, that being, the killing of wives or daughters. Indians may well have worn flowered hats and bonnets, stolen from the corpses of European women they had murdered, and worn them during high profile raids.

As European clothing styles were not designed for intimidation in the same sense, the sight of an Indian in the woods would have been unpleasant and fearsome to most Europeans. Over time, this was developed into hatred. John Harris Junior, the founder of Harrisburg City, addressed the issue of the trouble with native populations in his correspondence with his father's friend and former Mayor of Philadelphia, and Benjamin Franklin himself, as was the popular sentiment of the day.

At this period [French and Indian War] also we find an extensive correspondence between John Harris, Conrad Weiser and others and Edward Shippen, complaining of the insecurity of life and property owing to the depredations of the Indians; and their tenor is a continual and just complaint of the outrages committed by the savages, and urgent requests to the authorities for protection and arms, etc. (maley.net)

To Benjamin Franklin Esqr.

May 24th, 1754

Dear Sir

The inclosed came to hand just now, which I send to you, to let you see the Spirit of some of our back Setlers. If the Managers of the Lottery for the Battery should think Proper to encourage those People, they may be pleased to send fifty small Arms to Captain John Harris, who ought to engage himself to see them forthcoming. I am out of all Temper with our Assembly; but have a great esteem for yourself and am Dear Sir Your most Humble servant

Edwd: Shippen

p:s: I am just setting off for Cumberland County and shall call on Captain Harris and let him know what I have done with his Letters.

To Benjamin Franklin Esqr.

—Edward Shippen, (The American Philosophical Society and Yale University)

Paxton, October 31st, 1755


I inclose you the Deposition of a Person the Contents you please to observe. I have not yet moved my Family, not caring to discourage others. We Expect the Enemy every hour. I have cut holes thro’ my house and kept some Men to defend the same as I had information at Shawmokin that about 40 Indians were out many days from Fort Du Quesne to destroy my House and Family and am determined to hold out to the last Extremity hoping for Protection from the Province soon. The french intend to take possession of this River soon upwards and this Body of Indians is out to burn all before them take off our Provisions &c. which if suffered will be our Ruin. It was happy I hope for us my Journey to Shamokin tho’ with much loss and fatigue for their Scheme in all probability would not have been found out till put in Execution. Our Inhabitants seem spirited up to Assist in defending themselves and if the province would take possession of this River upwards and build a strength in spite of all opposition I imagine a Number of Persons will go and Assist at their own Expence. You may depend such an Enterprize shall meet with all the Encouragement that is in the Power of Sir Your most Obedient humble servant

John Harris

p.s. I am just inform’d that Montour and some Indians will be here tomorrow with a Scalp of one of the Indians my party of Men killed the 24th Instant and that the Indians there wants a Quantity of ammunition to defend themselves but I hope if any Granted that there will be Englishmen sent to assist in using it. Sir Yours

J.H.—John Harris,(The American Philosophical Society and Yale University)

Native American peoples had been courted by the English since the early 1600's, and were specifically cultivated to be an important strategic economic and military association. As the English had arrived to the New World relatively late in the game, they gained the benefit of having certain extremely disenfranchised elements to choose from, and work with. The Shawanese, originally the mighty Susquehannok Tribe of John Smith description, were a natural ally for the English hopes of influencing New World trade, as both were rather underdogs, in their respective neighborhoods. John Smith cultivated his relationship with this tribe delicately, having most extravagant relations with the group, starting with his lavish description of them in his Journal entry, this telling was partially also a publicity campaign for Smith's European beneficiaries.

Upon this river inhabit a people called Susquehannock. . . . 60 of those Susquehannocks came to the discoverers [Smith's party] with skins, bows, arrows, targets, beads, swords, and tobacco pipes for presents. Such great and well proportioned men are seldom seen, for they seemed like giants to the English, yea and to the neighbors [other Indians], yet seemed of an honest and simple disposition, with much ado restrained from adoring the discoverers as gods. Those are the most strange people of all those countries, both in language and attire; for their language it may well beseem their proportions, sounding from them, as it were a great voice in a vault, or cave, as an echo. Their attire is the skins of bears and wolves; some have cassocks made of bear heads and skins that a man's neck goes through the skin's neck, and the ears of the bear fastened to his shoulders behind, the nose and teeth hanging down his breast, and at the end of the nose hung a bear's paw; the half sleeves coming to the elbows were the necks of bears and the arms through the mouth with paws hanging at their noses. One had the head of a wolf hanging in a chain for a jewel, his tobacco pipe three quarters of a yard long, prettily carved with a bird, a bear, a deer, or some such device at the great end, sufficient to beat out the brains of a man, with bows and arrows and clubs suitable to their greatness and conditions. These [Indians] are scarce known to Powhatan. They can make near 600 able and mighty men and are palisaded in their towns to defend them from the Massawomeks, their mortal enemies.-Captain John Smith, founder of Jamestown, VA, USA (explorepahistory.com)

detail viewThe Original John Smith Map

Later, this carefully cultivated alliance between the Susquehannoks and the English became more evident during Bacon's Rebellion. England rule immediately exacted most swift retribution for the drunken slaughter of the wrong native tribe by the inhabitants of the former Jamestown vicinity.

Two militia captains (both with a history of aggression toward the Indians) went after the Doeg, but with little discrimination, also killed 14 friendly Susquehannok in the process. A series of retaliatory raids ensued. John Washington took a party from Virginia into Maryland, and with Maryland militia surrounded a Susquehannock fort. Although the Susquehannock held out for six weeks, when six chiefs came out to parley, the colonists attacked and killed them. Seeking to avoid escalation of war with the tribes, Governor Berkeley advocated a policy of containment of the Native American threat. He proposed building several defensive forts along the frontier. Frontier settlers thought the plan both expensive and inadequate. They questioned it as an excuse to raise tax rates. (wikipedia.org)

Governor Berkley was immediately recalled to England, and British troops were sent to Virginia. Seven years after the conflict had subsided, he was reinstated.

It would be easy for the Indians to be coerced, convinced, or bribed to harass the English settlers. Harassing John Harris would be politically useful because he had ties to Philadelphia politics, and was from the same region in England that the Royal family hailed from, Yorkshire. It is also possible that these assailants were simply rogue, and not coerced in the least. The Dutch were the first Europeans they had been introduced to, and the Netherlands was a powerhouse of character, devotion, and solid work ethic that still is in evidence in the twenty-first century. The Netherlands persistent attitude fueled the Renaissance single-handedly, and the natives in trade with them in the New York State region, most surely considered themselves Dutch-Indian to some degree. With citizenship, there comes a sense of entitlement. The Indians harassing Harris may have, in their minds, believed they were being patriotic.


9thly Be tender of offending the Indians, and hearken by honest Spyes, if you can hear y't any body inveighs ye Indians not to sell, or to stand off, and raise the vallue upon you. You cannot want those y't will informe you, but to sofften them to mee and the people, lett them know y't you are come to sitt downe Lovingly among them. Let my Letter and Conditions w'th: my Purchasers about just dealing with them be read in their Tounge, that they may see, wee have their good in our eye, equall w'th: our owne Interest, and after reading my Letter, and ye said Conditions, then present their Kings w'th: what I send them, and make a Friendshipp and League w'th them according to those Conditions, w'ch carefully observe, and get them to comply w'th you; be Grave they love not to be smiled on.
10thly From time to time in my Name and for my use buy Land of them, where any justly pretend, for they will sell one anothers, if you be not Carefull, that so such as buy and come after these Adventurers may have Land ready but by no means sell any Land till I come
[William Penn's Own Account of the Lenni Lenape or Delaware Indians-©1970 Mid-Atlantic Press, NJ]

For whatever reason, this alleged behavior, which most likely took place on a regular basis, served as the background information Britain's Queen Anne needed to confirm her suspicions about Britain's relationship with the Dutch. Their interests were intertwined by marriage; her sister Mary to William of Orange, by religion; a non-Catholic majority, and by economic interests; the Dutch had essentially funded the establishment of John Smith's famed Jamestown Colony (England's first permanent New World occupation), as well as used the British Isles as their seaport, owning the majority of commercial harbors there. England's power structure was losing their identity and autonomy. What was to be the largest empire to ever control the earth's population, was nearly invisible, and had been relegated to nothing more than a collection of island-people, who had leased their land and livelihood to foreign entities.

The Royal Family maintained a sense of duty to their independent rule. Queen Anne needed to determine whether or not she could trust the Dutch, to determine what type of action she would need to take, to enable England to remain competitive in the current world economy. That natives had been harassing one or more of England's few footholds on trade in the New World, would have directed Anne to more aggressively distrust England's Dutch partnership, and may have been useful, even crucial, information. This information came, in part, from the Trading Post at the Indian crossroads, operated by the Englishman, John Harris, Senior. The information was most likely communicated to Anne through trusted associations. These associations were likely long-established through time and most likely related to geographical proximities. The common factor is Yorkshire.

John Harris Senior continued developing positive relationships with his Indian trading partners, by that time a small band of formerly Lenni Lenape (who sold Penn his land), and Shawanese- the remnants of the Susquehannoks). Harris, in turn, provided the information and steeled English presence... along the most important trade route in the New World. He was most likely harassed continually well before 1718, when his story takes place. Queen Anne took power in 1702, and the balance of power that would decide the victor of the French and Indian War rested like the globe itself on his shoulders.

The difficult problem of alcohol in the fur trade was never eliminated. In fact, its effect on the Indians increased as the fur-bearing animals were depleted and the Indians began to surrender their lands. Eventually the fur trade moved into the West, beyond the Mississippi. There the beaver was reduced to virtual extinction during the nineteenth century. (ohiohistorycentral.com)


Harris held Pennsylvania solidly in England's grasp. William Penn returned to England. He had given it to itself and it's inhabitant's will, contesting the issue until his body could no longer sustain the weight of constant contention. His heart failed, he became paralyzed, and was bedridden until his death in 1718.

Penn had wished to settle in Philadelphia himself, but financial problems forced him back to England in 1701. His financial advisor, Philip Ford, had cheated him out of thousands of pounds, and he had nearly lost Pennsylvania through Ford's machinations. The next decade of Penn's life was mainly filled with various court cases against Ford. He tried to sell Pennsylvania back to the state, but while the deal was still being discussed, he was hit by a stroke in 1712, after which he was unable to speak or take care of himself. Penn died in 1718 at his home in Ruscombe, near Twyford in Berkshire, and was buried next to his first wife in the cemetery of the Jordans Quaker meeting house at Chalfont St Giles in Buckinghamshire in England. His family retained ownership of the colony of Pennsylvania until the American Revolution. (newworldencyclopedia.org)

The parallels between Harris and Penn are unavoidable. Incapacitated, their possessions plundered and abused, both having incredibly politically impactful positions; these are causes one might have to hazard to make these simple, yet easily overlooked connections.

Harris' Post and Ferry were very successful because of their location at the north-south, east-west crossroads and river mountain pass, and the direct route to the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. William Penn secured the territory of Pennsylvania as the first Governor of Pennsylvania. He was an outspoken religious nonconformist. He became a conduit for disenfranchised European immigrants. Thus, Pennsylvania became extremely dependent on European manufacturing. Harris' Post became a very strategic location. Pennsylvania became the essential keystone in European trade. Europeans wore beaver hats. John Harris became a “secret agent” of the British Crown, Great Britain's first “007”.

While small facts that color the tale may seemingly divert the listener's ear; like Harris accused of giving Indian traders less than the worth of their trade goods; this was so commonplace an accusation that it was most likely meant to be a joke to Harris' contemporaries, to give the story legs, as the figure of speech goes.

Carlisle, Pennsylvania, October 3, 1753, Iroquois Confederacy to the Governor of Pennsylvania:

"Your Traders now bring scarce anything but Rum and Flour; they bring little powder and lead, or other valuable goods. The Rum ruins us. We beg you would prevent its coming such quantities by regulating the Traders. We never understood the Trade was to be for Whiskey and Flour. We desire it may be forbidden, and none sold in the Indian Country; but if the Indians will have any they may go among the inhabitants and deal with them for it. When these Whiskey Traders come, They bring thirty or forty kegs and put them down before us and make us drink, and get all the skins that should go to pay the debts we have contracted for goods bought of the Fair Traders; by this means we not only ruin ourselves but them too. These wicked Whiskey Sellers, when they have once got the Indians in liquor, make them sell their very clothes from their backs. In short, if this practice be continued, we must be inevitably ruined." (ohiohistorycentral.com)

Penn had previously (1682) passed a "law" forbidding the sale of hard liquor to Natives. Since Harris had given them Rum in this alleged trade, it stands to reason that the overall story stands as a testament to support of Penn's reasoning, or as the main arguement here follows along that path of English political strategy toward Native discreditation and continuing justification for their eventual complete removal, it discovers in Harris' Legend, a rather 'toungue-in-cheek' rationale; being: "At this time some Natives are untenable, yet there is circumstance requiring certainty of judgement that all are, or may become- However, some Natives have call for compassion, yet in all circumstances all Natives are requiring of our control and Governance." Although Penn argued relentlessly for peaceful cohabitation in his letters, history bears the fact. This is the essential arguement in a historical, factual sense- but lacking in the fully humanized, colorful, and soul-full reality of any situation of merit, as is especially true in this case.

It is therefore enacted by ye Authority afores that no person within this Province doe from hence forth presume to sell or exchange any Rhum or brandy or any Strong Liquors at any time to any Indian within this Province & if any one shall offend therin ye person convicted Shall for every Such offence pay five pounds
[William Penn's Own Account of the Lenni Lenape or Delaware Indians: pg.50; ©1970 Mid-Atlantic Press, NJ]

Franklin comments in his autobiography about the Carlisle event, voicing the colonist's perspective. The coloring is evident:

The Year following, a Treaty being to be held with the Indians at Carlisle, the Governor sent a Message to the House, proposing that they should nominate some of their Members to be join’d with some Members of Council as Commissioners for that purpose. The House nam’d the Speaker (Mr. Norris) and myself; and being commission’d we went to Carlisle, and met the Indians accordingly. As those People are extreamly apt to get drunk, and when so are very quarrelsome and disorderly, we strictly forbad the selling any Liquor to them; and when they complain’d of this Restriction, we told them that if they would continue sober during the Treaty, we would give them Plenty of Rum when Business was over. They promis’d this; and they kept their Promise—because they could get no Liquor—and the Treaty was conducted very orderly, and concluded to mutual Satisfaction. They then claim’d and receiv’d the Rum. This was in the Afternoon. They were near 100 Men, Women and Children, and were lodg’d in temporary Cabins built in the Form of a Square just without the Town. In the Evening, hearing a great Noise among them, the Commissioners walk’d out to see what was the Matter. We found they had made a great Bonfire in the Middle of the Square. They were all drunk Men and Women, quarrelling and fighting. Their dark-colour’d Bodies, half naked, seen only by the gloomy Light of the Bonfire, running after and beating one another with Firebrands, accompanied by their horrid Yellings, form’d a Scene the most resembling our Ideas of Hell that could well be imagin’d. There was no appeasing the Tumult, and we retired to our Lodging. At Midnight a Number of them came thundering at our Door, demanding more Rum; of which we took no Notice. The next Day, sensible they had misbehav’d in giving us that Disturbance, they sent three of their old Counsellors to make their Apology. The Orator acknowledg’d the Fault, but laid it upon the Rum; and then endeavour’d to excuse the Rum, by saying, “The great Spirit who made all things made every thing for some Use, and whatever Use he design’d any thing for, that Use it should always be put to; Now, when he made Rum, he said, let this be for indians to get drunk with. And it must be so.” And indeed if it be the Design of Providence to extirpate these Savages in order to make room for Cultivators of the Earth, it seems not improbable that Rum may be the appointed Means. It has already annihilated all the Tribes who formerly inhabited the Sea-coast. (The American Philosophical Society and Yale University)

It is far more likely, when put into a humanist, romanticized perspective; the true purpose of any worthy painting in the Classic Historical Genre; that Harris was telling the tale which he meant to be retold by his grave under the Mulberry tree along the river; the importance of which, can know no bounds, as it is, in fact, one of the most overlooked yet important stories recording the formulation of the United States of America, for it swayed the balance of power, cleared the way in the Colonial and European imagination, and secured by oath of the loyalty of good will and humor the secrecy and posession of the most important military and economic geographic locations on the American Continent. If General Washington had not had this surety and Native intimacy ensured by the Harris Family, the Revolutionary diversionary military feint to draw and contain conflict in Trenton, New Jersey, would not have been conceived by him, nor would it have proven successful, and America would be lost. Queen Anne handed the reigns of independence by close association to Penn and now Harris, Washington picked them up from a distracted new regime, and the United States was planted.

Robert Harris, a grandson of the Indian trader, stated it as a fact in which he believed. According to a memorandum, made in his lifetime, he stated that a band of Indians came to the house of his grandfather and demanded rum. He saw that they were intoxicated, and he feared mischief if he gave them more rum. They became enraged and tied him to the tree for burning. The alarm was given, and Indians from the opposite side of the river came and after a struggle released him.(maley.net)

Others are buried beneath the tree with him, and it may yield another clue, to the true importance of this man Harris.

It appears from letters of John Harris, written to Governor Morris, that an Indian named Half King, also called Tanacharisson, died at his house on the night of the 1st of October, 1754. Rupp says that "he had his residence at Logstown, on the Ohio, fourteen miles below Pittsburgh, on the opposite side. George Washington visited him in 1753, and desired him to relate some of the particulars of a journey he had shortly before made to the French Commandant at Fort Duquesne." We find this note among the votes of Assembly, 1754: "Dec. 17, Post Meridian, 1754. - The Committee of Accounts reported a balance of L10 15s. 14d. due to the said John Harris for his expenses, and L5 for his trouble, &c., in burying the Half-King and maintaining the sundry Indians that were with him." It may be interesting to know that the Half King was buried near the first John Harris at the foot of the Mulberry tree. (maley.net)

September 28, 1753

A Letter, wrote by Taaf, and Callender, two Indian Traders, dated the Twenty-eighth Day of September, from a Place situate a little on this Side Allegheny River, directed to William Buchanan, was given him the Morning of the first Day of October, and he immediately laid it before the Commissioners for their Perusal. In this Letter an Account is given, that the Half King was returned, and had been received in a very contemptuous Manner by the French Commander, who was then preparing with his Forces to come down the River; and that the Half King, on his Return, shed Tears, and had actually warned the English Traders not to pass the Ohio, nor to venture either their Persons or their Goods, for the French would certainly hurt them. On this News the Conferences with Scarrooyady, and the Chiefs of the Six Nations, Delawares, and Shawonese, were renewed, and the Letter read to them, at which they appeared greatly alarmed; but, after a short Pause, Scarrooyady, addressing himself to the Delawares and Shawonese, spoke in these Words: Brethren and Cousins,

I look on this Letter as if it had been a Message from the Half King himself: We may expect no other Account of the Result of his Journey. However, I advise you to be still, and neither say nor do any Thing till we get Home, and I see my Friend and Brother the Half King, and then we shall know what is to be done.

—A Treaty held with the Ohio Indians, at Carlisle, In October, 1753. Philadelphia: Printed and Sold by B. Franklin, and D. Hall, at the New-Printing-Office, near the Market. MDCCLIII. (Yale University Library) (The American Philosophical Society and Yale University)

The burial place was to ensure that history remembered his story. The story was a Memorial to William Penn.
-by Bryan Thomas Molloy

[Return to Beginning]

Harris Critique

"After I studied Bryan's Harris painting, a spirit came to me, and it was Harris. He said "Al, you do a great job with Pennsylvania Magazine, but when are you going to do a cover story on me?"" Al Holliday, publisher Pennsylvania Magazine

“Bryan Molloy’s John Harris Project is an extensively-researched, beautifully-conceived work of artistic, historical, and literary significance.” -Carrie Wissler-Thomas: Director, Art Association of Harrisburg

"I read to the part about the Native Americans but couldn't read any further- so sad!" -Tracey Edgerly Meloni: Writer, Harrisburg Magazine, various other publications; former Political Speechwriter in Boston during Ted Kennedy era; Stepmother of Christopher Meloni (Actor, Law&Order:SVU, 42, Superman, etc.)

Dauphin County Historical Society's John K. Robinson adds: "Quite interesting."

Former WITF personality Nell McCormack Abom comments: "Wow, your work is very impressive. I didn't know all that about John Harris."

Premiere Harrisburg Historian and Penn State University Professor, Michael Barton offers this criticism of the Harris Research: "A very interesting and useful compilation of materials and commentary on John Harris."


Started working through oil studies which is the last step befor working directly on the eight foot wide by four foot tall canvas I have bolted to the wall and prepped ready.


Former Brodway professional Shaka Hudson modeled as all three rescuing Susquehannok Natives. With the river as the backdrop one fall evening he donned a wig and not, a cloak and not- while pretending to pull a non-existant canoe onshore. He was brilliant!


I've had the cloak, shirt, pants and cravat made. I also made a bear-claw and feather necklace with some replica resin bear claws of two different sizes.


I bought some official period linen fabrics made from the original flax. A shirt is being made in period style. I also bought some very fine linen for a cravat, or neckchief, the precursor to our modern tie. It is from Czech Rep. and is supposedly the finest linen ever made- both in the 1700s and to this day. It is softer than cotton.

I have commissioned a red wool cloak from local Harrisburg Tailor, Bernard Ballard, for the Rescuing Indian Chief to wear. I found the wool online from a farm in New Hampshire called Dorr Mill. It was very thick and had an excellent napp so that the surface of the fabric obscured the machined weave that put all of the other "hollywood authentic reenactment" sellers to shame. It is beautiful.

A descendant of John Harris and the Harris family has agreed to model as John Harris. J. Edward Sharp is from the branch extending from Harris' grandson, Robert Harris, who moved his family to Canada and followed in his grandfather's footsteps to found cities and industry in the Canadian colonial frontier. Mr. Sharp is the very image of his grandestfather and after all these years one can see and imagine the frontiersman and Native American liason in every detail of his visage. From the Native-esque sharp triangular goatee upon his chin, to the ring in his ear, Mr. Sharp has closely preserved the Harris bloodline. It is an honor and a priviledge to work with him. His likeness and lineage will surely lend authenticity and weight to the memory and legend of John Harris Senior.

J. Sharp Study

Canoe Study

Study of the canoe. The first is an actual canoe from India that is still in use in the 21st century. It is an interesting practical structural analysis of the functionality of the canoe form.

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Native American Study

Iroquois hunting pattern study: My theories surround regional and territorial identifiers less than mere intimidational or garrish and random decorative patterns. Native American culture according to my research and general knowledge is a primarily functionally biased anarchical and organic societal structure; a confidently natural and organic expression of trust in the earth's structural and compositional deference. Little in the seemingly gaudy and intensly colorful and ornate Native American decorative arts is not significant communication; each pattern and structure is akin to a specific word. Much of the Native American philosophy of verbal language was reserved for the all-important 'life song' of the individual, therefore, their lack of dependence on verbal language as an identifier leaves open the distinct likelihood that each individual's communicative efforts was a deeply interpretive, individual and creative expression dependant on the individual's own capability and responsibility to understand and guess how his peers and even geographically distant foreign others would or might interpret and judge those communicative efforts; efforts to be perceived as an effective relay of surely life-or-death deciding information. This task and crucial talent was exposed and tested in common hunting grounds where vastly separated tribesmen would congregate, making every effort to go unseen by other tribes, but in the unfortunate event of a clash and competition those individual tribesmen would need to instantly coagulate in a unified visual first assault. This was accomplished by the aforementioned regional identifiers in the decorative hunting patterns. Mud and animal parts were used for protection from elements and good health and hygene. These clothing elements were adjusted visually through choice of color and structuring of pattern to identify these instant tribal identifiers. The theory presented within these Iroquois hunting patterns depends on the certain detailed knowledge of the regional and migratory habits of song, ground and predatory birds or foul within each tribe as a territorial 'coat-tail' which each tribe across the continent would use to communicate both destination to tribal elders in a glance, but also direction and intended path of attack and retreat to those others in the common ground; specifically in this case, the Ohio River Valley in the early 18th century. These tribes would use the patterns of the birds roosting in their territory to tell others where they originated from; much like professional sports teams' uniform design and mascot designations of today; being primarily a regional territorial identifier; and where they each were going, as well as what they were hunting. For example, fishermen on the coast would likely don some combined decorative pattern seen worn by local sandpipers or waterbirds. Likewise, inland hunters donned the patterns of those local inland birds from their local habitat, combined with individual creative twists. The hunter in this rough sketch wears a combo-pattern derived from regional groundbirds and sparrows whose roost is also the Iroquois home. The migratory habits of these birds place their winter home in the Ohio River Valley, also the contest destination for the hunter. The huntsman also wears a feathered and beaded rain-coat or cape. This cape is composed of the colors worn by a combination of predatory and migratory birds who migrate through and hunt in the Ohio River Valley. All groups who were in any territorial conquest mode of agression against others in that hunting ground may have worn such a communicative, functional, and beautiful garment. At this point in time, various fractionate elements in New York and Quebec had unified as the Iroquios Nation. These Iroquois had for thousands of years prior, fought for primary status in that popular hunting valley and recently formed an alliance with the New World Conquerers. Because of this alliance, they may have believed, and most likely celebrated and communicated in the traditional way, their assumed victory and dominance over the old ways and traditionally contested territory.

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