Dauphin County was formed from part of Lancaster County by an act of the Pennsylvania General Assembly of 4 March 1785, and named in honor of the oldest son of the King of France for his assistance during The Revolutionary War. That Act also provided that its seat of government and justice should be "near Harris's Ferry." The city that formed there was initially called Louisbourg in honor of the French King Louis but, in 1791, was named Harrisburg in honor of John Harris.
(Photo courtesy of Flickr Commons contributor Don Shall, 2010)
The Dauphin County area was originally part of Chester County which, by an Act of The Pennsylvania Assembly in 1729, became part of the newly formed Lancaster County. John Harris of Yorkshire England, who arrived in Philadelphia with William Penn, eventually settled on the Susquehanna River and it was his son John Harris, Jr who, in 1782, petitioned The Pennsylvania General Assembly to establish what became Dauphin County and for which Harrisburg was eventually named.
John Harris, Jr, born c. 1727, was granted 300 acres of land December 17, 1733 by patent in the area now the site of The Dauphin County Court House. He farmed, developed a large trading business with Indians , and managed the ferry his father established on The Susquehanna River, eventually known as Harris’ Ferry. That ferry was used during The Revolutionary War to transport supplies.
DAUPHIN COUNTY TODAY
County Seat: Harrisburg
Size: 558 Square Miles
Boundaries: The Susquehanna River, Northumberland County, Schuylkill County,
Lebanon County, Lancaster County, York County, Cumberland County,
Population: 268,100 (2010 Census)
(Photo courtesy of Historical Society of Dauphin County. Possibly Schell Family Farm, Harrisburg area, ca. 1940's)
BIRTH AND DEATH RECORDS - Maintained by Dauphin County for 1893 - 1906 only.
MARRIAGE RECORDS - Available 1885 through to present; approximately 800 marriages registered for the years 1852 - 1855.
For copies of above records send $10 for copy of births and deaths, and $6 for copy of marriages to:
Register of Wills and Clerk of the Orphans' Court
101 Market Street, Room 103
Harrisburg, PA 17101
For more information call 717-780-6500
The Historical Society of Dauphin County - 219 South Front Street, Harrisburg, PA 17104
Capital Area Genealogical Society
P.O. Box 4502
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17111-0502
(Dauphin County Township Map courtesy of Kristin Bryson and Bare Roots Publishing.)