John Harris, Sr., and the Mulberry Tree

John Harris, Sr., and the Mulberry Tree (HM2ASL)

Location: Harrisburg, PA 17104 Dauphin County
Buy Pennsylvania State flags at!
Country: United States of America
Buy United States of America flags at!

N 40° 15.395', W 76° 52.733'

  • 0 check ins
  • 0 favorites
The Story as reported by Robert Harris, grandson of John Harris, Sr., in 1828.
Around 1720, a band of Indians stopped at the Harris trading post requesting rum. John Harris refused to grant them. In anger, they tied Harris to a nearby mulberry tree with the intent of burning him alive. One of the Harris family's slaves, Hercules, paddled over to the West Shore to get help from a tribe living there. They came to rescue Harris, and he was so grateful that he immediately emancipated Hercules and, in doing so, proclaimed his intent of being buried beneath the famed mulberry tree.
What Documented History Tells Us
In 1701, at the request of Indian leaders, William Penn outlawed selling liquor to Indians. At a council held in 1706 with the Conestoga, Shawnee, and Conoy tribes, the Indians asked Governor John Evans to keep traders from meeting Indians returning from the hunt - when they were loaded with furs and pelts - getting them drunk, and taking all the fruits of their hunt before they returned to their wives and families. The governor agreed to require traders to do their trading at Indian towns only. Establishing trading posts was also part of the solution.
In 1707, Governor John Evans led a contingent of men to "Peixtan" to arrest Nicole Godin, a French trader who had been selling rum to

the Indians. Godin was also rumored to be inciting Indians against the English. The Shawnee complained about Pennsylvania's failure to enforce laws against rum traffic.
There is no written record of the attempted burning of John Harris, Sr. at the mulberry tree until 1828, more than 100 years after the event. Robert Harris, John Harris, Jr.'s son, took active steps to preserve the story of the mulberry tree for posterity.
The first known publication of the incident at the mulberry tree was by Samuel Breck, a close friend of Robert Harris, in 1828. William A. Reeder, also a friend of Robert Harris, created the painting of The Attempt to Burn John Harris in 1839 - 1840. The original painting, 3'-8.5" long and 2'6.5" wide, hung in the old Capitol building for many years.
George W. Harris, John Harris Sr.'s great grandson, continued the story in telling I. Daniel Rupp for his book History of Dauphin County published in 1846.
When Mr. Harris, Sr. died in 1748, he was buried under the mulberry tree as he had requested. In his will, drawn up 1846, John Harris directed that, "It is my will that that my negro man Hercules be set free & be allowed to live on a part of the tract purchased of James Allco... left to my son William."
The people of Harrisburg assigned great significance to the mulberry tree, and went to

extraordinary lengths to preserve it. By 1840 it was still complete to the stumps of the first branches, and had been whitewashed for preservation.
The wood gavel and ballot box held at the HSDC are labeled with metal plates as having been made from the wood of the mulberry tree.
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, August 25th, 2018 at 5:03pm PDT -07:00
Sorry, but we don't have a picture of this historical marker yet. If you have a picture, please share it with us. It's simple to do. 1) Become a member. 2) Adopt this historical marker listing. 3) Upload the picture.
Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18T E 340216 N 4457929
Decimal Degrees40.25658333, -76.87888333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 15.395', W 76° 52.733'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 15' 23.7" N, 76° 52' 43.98" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)717
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling North
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 219 S Front St, Harrisburg PA 17104, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

Is this marker missing? Are the coordinates wrong? Do you have additional information that you would like to share with us? If so, check in.

Check Ins  check in   |    all

Have you seen this marker? If so, check in and tell us about it.

Comments 0 comments

Maintenance Issues
  1. Is this marker part of a series?
  2. What historical period does the marker represent?
  3. What historical place does the marker represent?
  4. What type of marker is it?
  5. What class is the marker?
  6. What style is the marker?
  7. Does the marker have a number?
  8. What year was the marker erected?
  9. Who or what organization placed the marker?
  10. This marker needs at least one picture.
  11. Can this marker be seen from the road?
  12. Is the marker in the median?