Broughton Harris

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Broughton Harris (August 16, 1822—January 19, 1899) was a Vermont businessman and political figure. He was Secretary and Treasurer of Utah Territory, and became one of the Runaway Officials of 1851.

Early life

Broughton Davis Harris was born in Chesterfield, New Hampshire on August 16, 1822 or 1823.[1] He attended Chesterfield Academy and Kimball Union Academy, and graduated from Dartmouth College in 1845. In college he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Alpha Delta Phi.[2][3][4]

Harris studied law briefly before embarking on a career as a journalist as editor of the The Vermont Phoenix and editor and publisher of The Semi-Weekly Eagle, both Whig party newspapers.[5]

From 1847 to 1850 Harris was Register of Probate for Windham County.[6]

Secretary of Utah Territory

In 1850 President Millard Fillmore appointed Harris as Secretary and Treasurer of the newly organized Utah Territory. Harris and two other federal appointees were unable to work cooperatively with territorial Governor Brigham Young, and left the territory without replacements being named.[7][8][9]

The Fillmore administration approved of the conduct of Harris and the other "runaway officials," and Harris was subsequently offered appointment as Secretary and acting Governor of New Mexico Territory, which he declined.[10]

American Civil War

Harris settled in Brattleboro, Vermont. He became a Republican when the party was founded, and he served in the Vermont State Senate in 1860 and 1861.[11]

Harris was also one of Vermont's Delegates to the Peace Conference of 1861, which unsuccessfully attempted to prevent the start of the American Civil War.[12]

Later career

Harris became a partner in Harris Brothers & Company, one of the largest railroad construction corporations in the country, and he was also President of the Brattleboro Savings Bank.[13][14]

In 1884 Harris was a Delegate to the Republican National Convention.[15]

Death and burial

Broughton Harris died in Brattleboro on January 19, 1899.[16] He was buried in Brattleboro's Prospect Hill Cemetery.[17]


In 1851 Harris married Sarah Buell Hollister, daughter of New York City businessman Edwin M. Hollister. They honeymooned while en route to Salt Lake City for Harris to begin his duties as territorial Secretary.[18] They had a daughter, Mary Buell Harris, who was the wife of attorney and writer John Seymour Wood.[19][20]

Sarah Buell Hollister authored a journal of her 1851 honeymoon trip to Salt Lake City, her experiences in Utah Territory, and the return trip after her husband left his position as territorial Secretary. This journal was later published as An Unwritten Chapter of Salt Lake.[21]


  1. Thomas William Herringshaw, Herringshaw's Encyclopedia of American Biography of the Nineteenth Century, 1904, page 451
  2. Richard F. Miller, editor States at War, Volume 1, 2013, pages 24-25
  3. Phi Beta Kappa, New Hampshire Alpha, Catalogue of the Fraternity, 1851, page 36
  4. Alpha Delta Phi, Catalogue of the Alpha Delta Phi Society, 1860, page 159
  5. Dartmouth College, Necrology, 1898-1899, 1899, page 18
  6. Jacob G. Ullery, Men of Vermont Illustrated, 1894, page 182
  7. Works Progress Administration, Utah: A Guide to the State, 1941, page 64
  8. Norman F. Furniss, Mormon Conflict: 1850-1859, 2005, page 22
  9. Randal S. Chase, Church History Study Guide, 2012, page 85
  10. George Derby, James Terry White, editors, The National Cyclopedia of American Biography, Volume 4, 1893, page 238
  11. Hamilton Child, Gazetteer of Cheshire County, N.H., 1736-1885, 1885, page 110
  12. Benson John Lossing, The Pictorial Field Book of the Civil War in the United States, Volume 1, 1874, page 235
  13. The Granite Monthly magazine, Necrology: Hon. Broughton Davis Harris, Volume XXVI (1899), page 125
  14. Richard F. Miller, editor States at War, Volume 1, 2013, pages 24-25
  15. Republican National Committee, Official Proceedings of the Republican National Convention, 1903, page 65
  16. Erik S. Hinckley and Tom Ledoux, They Went to War:: A Biographical Register of the Green Mountain State in the Civil War, 2010, page 115
  17. Marjorie Valliere Howe, Gravestone listings of Prospect Hill Cemetery, Brattleboro, VT, 2000, page 141
  18. Hamilton Child, Gazetteer and Business Directory of Windham County, Vt., 1724-1884, 1884, pages 136-137
  19. Yale University, Biographical Record of the Class of 1874 in Yale College: Part Fourth, 1874-1909, 1912, pages 246-247
  20. Lafayette Wallace Case, The Hollister Family of America, 1886, pages 511-512
  21. Newberry Library, A Catalogue of the Everett D. Graff Collection of Western Americana, 1968, page 266