WASHINGTON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY (Washington County, Utah)
BIOGRAPHYPeter Harrison was born about 1830 in Canada.
He married Frances B. McComb in 1858 and they had four children together. The family was living in Auburn, Placer County, California in 1860, where Peter was a blacksmith and one of the first in the area to manufacture wagons. They moved to Nevada in 1867, and in 1870, the family is living in Hamilton, White Pine County, Nevada, where Peter owned a furniture store. In 1875, the family was living in Pioche, Lincoln County, Nevada.
The Harrisons moved to Silver Reef in December of 1876, In February 1877, Peter advertised in the first edition of the Silver Reef Echo. Anticipating the upcoming market, he had shipped a load of single beds to Silver Reef.
Peter built a large building that served as a grocery store, furniture store, and a firstclass lodging house. The two-story hotel, named the Harrison House, boasted a covered porch, balcony, and cellar, and offered lodging, food, and even an organ. It was described as one of the best in Southern Utah.
In May 1879, the hotel succumbed to the great fire and burned to the ground. Peter subsequently served on the fire committee.
In January 1882, a sudden change of weather caused many severe colds and croup. Only one person died, and it was Peter's youngest child, a daughter named Frankie. She died within ten hours of the attack and was buried amid great lamentation and sorrow. The girl, about 7 years old, was a universal favorite with every denizen of the camp.
The Harrison House hotel operated throughout most of the 1880s. By 1884, only two mining companies were still operating in Silver Reef, but the hotel remained in business. By 1887, only one mining company was left, and Peter was deep in debt. Finally, on January 4, 1888, he filed for bankruptcy.
Peter sold all of his holdings, including the hotel and his house, and moved his family to Montana. Over the next decade, he was a defendant in several court cases where he owed someone money. In 1894, he was the superintendent of the Moulton Mining company at Barker.
Peter died April 23, 1902 in Montana. His wife lived another quarter of a century.
A research report by Elaine Young, PhD.