The county’s humble beginnings date back to the period between 1815 and 1820, when the members of the first Anglo-American expeditions set up encampments in the area. These potential home sites were an expected reward to them for helping free up Mexico from Spain. Some of the pioneers arrived in 1822, just after the Mexican War of Independence.
Soon free of the indigenous Indians, the county began taking shape in 1824. Twenty-nine titles were issued to settlers by Baron De Bastrop, a state land commissioner. Soon, pioneer John R Harris laid out Harrisburg, opened a store and a saw and grist mill. He also began a goods transportation business with his boats that ran between New Orleans and Harrisburg.
1828 to 1833 saw twenty-three more families secure titles along the watercourses in the county. By then, Harrisburg had become an established port that served as an entry point for immigrants and freight. Harrisburg County also became the hub for east-west roads in the years that followed. It was officially renamed the Harrisburg District in 1833.
Harrisburg County was formed by the First Congress in December 1836. A couple of years later its modern day boundaries were laid out too. Finally, in December 1939 the Congress officially renamed it the Harris County, in honor of John R. Harris.
The 4.6 million residents of Harris County pay one of the nation’s highest property tax rates and rank 22nd for property taxes as percentage of the home’s value on owner-occupied housing.
Like in the rest of the state, after the independence of Texas residents paid taxes to both the local and the state governments for decades. But several factors led to the downfall of the State Property Tax system.
Although the lawmakers tried to put a tighter tax collection system in place by the late 1800s, it was only in 1982 that Texas was able to abolish the State Property Taxation altogether. The Peveto Bill of 1979 laid the foundation of the modern tax system that directs the collection of taxes in the area today. It required the property to be assessed at full market value and reassessed at least once every three years. It separated appraisals from tax collection, thereby depoliticizing the process.
Local Property Tax is levied by local governments such as school districts, cities, counties and special purpose districts to provide several public services.
A recognized area by 1940, Harris County slowly began to see the development of new mills, railroads and even major roadways. Unlike early settlers who cultivated field crops and tended to cattle on open-range ranches closer to water bodies, the French and German settlers who came in during the 1840s were artisans, merchants and dairy farmers who chose settlement sites along the railroads.
Changing Demography and the Landscape: A recognized area by 1940, Harris County slowly began to see the development of new mills, railroads and even major roadways. Unlike early settlers who cultivated field crops and tended to cattle on open-range ranches closer to water bodies, the French and German settlers who came in during the 1840s were artisans, merchants and dairy farmers who chose settlement sites along the railroads. By 1890 land developers from the Midwest had begun to purchase land in the county which attracted other Midwesterners to explore the vicinity to grow fruits, berries and vegetables, or just to find a place to escape the winters.
The turn of the century saw Asian settlers with Japanese immigrants who developed rice farms in the Webster area. The beginning years if the 20th century witnessed immense development in the county. Lumber and farming interests helped small towns come up. The oil boom from 1905 onwards significantly increased the county’s population.
The development of Harris County as an industrial power began in 1911, when voters approved the formation if the Harris County Ship Channel Navigation District. Later, in the 1960s the establishment of the NASA Manned Spacecraft Center quickly changed the rural aspect of Harris County’s landscape. Another venture authorized by the Harris County voters was the Harris County Domed Stadium or Astrodome. It was considered the eighth wonder of the world for being the first stadium of its kind.
For long Harris County has remained the most populous county in Texas. By 1960 it had more than a million residents that doubled by 1990 and quadrupled by 2010. With over 4.6 million residents, Harris County’s population today is diverse and increasingly urbanized.
Do you own real, business or personal property in Harris County? Are you claiming all the exemptions applicable on your property? Learn more now.
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