John Pinkston Starr
John Pinkston Starr
John Pinkston Starr (1849-1909)
Compiled and copyrighted January 2013 by
Linda Sparks StarrJohn Pinkston Starr, born 27 August 1849 in what is now Spalding
County, Georgia, to John Henry and Mary (Elder) Starr, was the tenth of
fourteen children (one set of twins). His mother died spring 1864 and
his father married again that fall. Four half-siblings arrived in the
next ten years. Additionally, several cousins lived nearby, all
providing John with many diversions.
Only twelve years old in 1861, John could only stand and watch as his
older brothers and numerous cousins plus a few uncles marched off to
war. Life for him that first year or two probably was changed only by
the chores now expected of him; many once assigned to older siblings
were now his. His name doesn’t appear on any list of soldiers
found in the Georgia State Archives; but his granddaughter, Alice
(Starr) Schisler, was insistent his beard covered a hole in his cheek
from a bullet wound received in combat. An archivist concluded he
probably served near the end of the conflict during the fighting around
Atlanta. By then the Confederate Army was conscripting anyone who could
hold a rifle, but weren’t taking time to add names to muster rolls.
Martha Alice Griffin [name as given in both the J.P. Starr and Wm.
Griffin Bible records] was born 7 January 1853, the seventh of eleven
children of William and Martha (Ogletree) Griffin. (Her father
was not the Baptist minister of same name and also resident of the
area.) When very young, she joined the M.E. Church South at County Line
Church. [per obituary that gives her name Alice E. (Griffin)
Starr] This is the church founded by John’s father, both his
grandfathers, and other family members and neighbors. Thus John
and Alice knew each other all their lives. However, it was Shiloh
Methodist Church in Sunnyside, Georgia, where she married John P.
Starr 10 October 1875. The name Shiloh was later changed to
Sunnyside Methodist. All Dock’s children and the first four of his
grandchildren, were baptized in this church during his lifetime.
An example that genealogical tidbits are found in unlikely places is
the April 1925 letter from John’s half-brother, William “Willie” Starr,
to Alice’s brother, W. B. Griffin. Willie wanted corroboration of
the Starr-Griffin marriage date provided by their son, Harry
Starr. Willie noted that Harry thought his parents wed the 25th
of October “but I don’t think this is correct as my father died the
18th of October 1875 and I remember going with him to Dock and Alyce’s
wedding at Shiloh.” Willie thus gives us John’s nickname, “Dock,”
and the fact John Henry attended the wedding. This latter
knowledge is important, for only eight days after the nuptials Willie
and Dock’s father died.
Even though John Henry Starr (1812-1875) left a young widow and four
small children, his will gave land to all but two of his seventeen
children. John’s portion was 50 acres adjoining William Griffin
plus $900. The amount of land was less than others received, but few
received land AND money. Georgia was still struggling to overcome
the devastation of the War, and cash was in short supply. It seems
likely the money was intended for John’s medical studies.
Dock and Alice’s only child, Harry (no middle name), was
born 26 September 1876 in Sunnyside. Alice reportedly [per her
obituary] was still a picture of health but she had already been
infected with tuberculosis. She lost one sister to “consumption”
in the fall of 1876, then another sister, followed quickly by their
mother, before the end of 1877. Early in 1878 Dock moved his
family to Florida where he hoped the change in climate would reverse,
or at least slow, the progression of her disease. It was to no avail.
Alice died in Sanford, Florida 25 March 1878.
For Dock and his young son there was no reason to remain in Florida,
but there were several reasons to return to Georgia. Harry’s maternal
Aunt Mary (Griffin) Tucker gladly took charge of Harry, now a
toddler, allowing John to concentrate on his medical studies in
Atlanta. Mary’s son, Adolphus Tucker, was born the day John and Alice
married. Thus the two boys, so close in age, were more like twins
than cousins. According to AMA records Dr. John Pinkston Starr
received his medical degree from the Atlanta Medical College in 1879.
Dock’s granddaughter, Alice (Starr) Schisler, repeatedly stated he
studied medicine in Philadelphia. The assumption became he
received his degree from a Philadelphia Medical College. John P.
was in Philadelphia February 1876, but as noted above he didn’t receive his degree
there. Perhaps he was training in some specialty? A small
Victorian-era valentine card, tucked between two larger papers and thus
easily overlooked, was found after Alice Schisler’s death. She
had mentioned the valentine several times but thought it “lost with
some of Helen’s things.” The note on the reverse side was
probably written by Mary Tucker: “To Harry This valentine was
sent by your father to your mother in 1876 when he was in Philadelphia
Dock set up his medical practice in Sunnyside, Georgia. Sunnyside
was a small community and most medical doctors in this era had a
business on the side that helped support their families. He opened a
general store. Between managing the store and delivering babies or
tending the ill, Dock had little time for his growing son. This
was fine with Harry and Adolphus who had the run of two houses
and perhaps the store as well. Dock’s days were presumably busy
but in time he decided to fill the void in his life by remarrying. On
14 June 1885 he wed Katie Orr in Sunnyside.
[Personal disclaimer: I’ve not personally researched Katie Orr’s
life nor that of her children; what appears here comes from Harry’s
side of the family. Understandably there was tension between Harry and
his stepmother, if only because there was so little difference in their
ages. At the time of the marriage, Katie was 16 and Harry 9 years
old. After Harry’s move to Oklahoma and Dock’s death, several
years went by with no contact between the two families. Willie’s 1925
request for family information opened the door and we have Harry's account. After Katie’s death in
1934 the surviving half-siblings enjoyed visits over the next several
years in each others’ homes. In 1975 my husband, his parents and I were
privileged to meet Uncle [to Harry's children] Henry and “Miss Bettina”
in their son’s Macon, Georgia, home.]
Smithville, OK, 1947, left to right: Harry, Nellie, Ella Mae and Henry
/ Harry, Nellie, Pauline, Ella Mae,
Bettina, Alice and Henry
Pauline is Harry's wife. Bettina is Henry's wife. Alice is the eldest daughter of Harry and Pauline.
Information on how Dock and Katie met did not come down through Harry’s
side of the family. Dock was 36 years old and Katie sixteen when they
married 14 June 1885 at Sunnyside. According to Harry’s son,
Jack: “From this time forward Harry lived with the Tuckers full
time.” Later on Harry was sent to a prep or high school in
Calhoun, Georgia noted for having one of the best math teachers in
Georgia. Removing one party is one way to ease tension in a household;
but this turned out to be the best thing that happened to Harry.
He used the math skills learned in Calhoun through his entire working
years, plus he met his future wife in the bargain.
Spalding County land records reflect John P. Starr had interest
in several small tracts of land, and most included a mortgage. My
guess is the lease to farm these tracts barely covered the mortgage
payment. In this period it was common for people to pay bills at
trading stores and doctor’s offices with chickens, eggs, fruit or
vegetables. An occasional payment of a hind-quarter of beef or pork
might have made its way to the store shelf or Starr table. Though times
were difficult for most everyone, this family probably lived as well as
their neighbors. They may have worried about paying bills, but
were always able to do so.
After graduation Harry traveled to Texas to visit family. While there
he was stricken by war fever and enlisted for service in the Spanish
American War. After his enlistment ended, he returned to
Sunnyside where he caught up with his various friends and
cousins. But he hadn't forgotten the girl he had left in Calhoun He and
Pauline Rankin married November 1900. By September 1901 they were
living in Sunnyside for Dock delivered his first grandchild that day.
Named for her two grandmothers, Alice Margaret Starr always enjoyed
sharing her many Georgia memories. Although probably not connected to
Harry’s return to Sunnyside, it was about this time Dock and Katie’s eldest son, Henry, then fifteen, “ran
away to the big city” (Atlanta) as he related in a 1976 newspaper
article on the occasion of his 69th wedding anniversary.
Katie T. (Orr) Starr
Dock and Harry agreed to share responsibility for the store. Presumably, Harry would
oversee the store's day to day operation and Dock provided advice and any extra
money needed when ordering inventory. Store profits were perhaps
divided between the two rapidly growing families. Harry’s next
three children were born in Sunnyside, all reportedly delivered by
their grandfather. Dock and Katie’s youngest daughter and fifth
child, Ella Mae, was born 30 April 1905. By that time Harry and Pauline had three children and a fourth would soon arrive.
In this photo, Harry (in uniform) poses
with four of his cousins.
Top left: Dolphus Tucker, who grew up with Harry;
Center: Ed Elder;
Top right: _______ Malair/Melear;
Bottom right: Jack Moore.
Harry and Pauline were not happy with the overall situation and knew it
was up to them to change things. According to Alice (Starr) Schisler,
they moved to Calhoun when she was four and one-half years old (or late
fall 1905 after the birth of Pauline Estelle. At the urging of
one brother-in-law, Harry tried his hand as a salesman or “drummer” as
salesmen were then called. Neither he nor Pauline liked his absence
from home for days at a time. Sometime in 1906 they took
Pauline’s brother’s advice and moved west to what was then Indian
Territory. Her parents were totally against the move; we failed
to ask Alice if she knew what Dock thought about it.
Around 7 p.m. Friday evening 25 June 1909 Dock died of a heart
attack while milking the family cow. He was 59 years old and
his youngest daughter was only four. Funeral services were the
next afternoon at 4 p.m. at the Sunny Side Methodist Church. He was buried in the adjoining church cemetery.
records show the widow Katie Starr struggled to pay monthly bills plus
setting “something” aside towards payment of the numerous loans on
those small tracts of land he’d purchased as investments. Katie Theresa
(Orr) Starr died 4 May 1934 and is buried next to her husband.
Children born to Dr. John Pinkston and Katie Starr:
John Henry Starr (1886-1977) and Miss Bettina Marie Sylvestro
According to the 1976 newspaper account published at the time of their
69th anniversary: “John Henry Starr was just a poor, 15 year old
Georgia farm boy when he ran away to the big city. [Atlanta] He
found a job running elevators ... In 1906 Starr came to Macon to help
install elevators in the new Grand Opera House building ... He met
darkly attractive Bettina Silvestro, the daughter of Italian immigrants
who ran a general store at the corner of Mulberry and Second
Streets.” They married 22 December 1907 in Macon.
The Macon Telegraph 16 February 1909 issue reports J. H. Starr
was injured while repairing the elevator at the Empire Store on Third
Street. His upper torso was inside the elevator shaft, when
miscommunication with workers above sent the elevator’s heavy weight
balance into a rapid descent. A fellow worker grabbed Starr which
kept him from falling to the basement. Starr was taken to the home of
his mother-in-law where a physician dressed his injuries. Although
badly bruised about the head and shoulders, he was reported resting
easy that evening.
John Henry Starr founded the Starr Electric Company in Macon which his
two sons took over when he semi-retired. We have fond memories of
meeting in 1975 Uncle Henry and "Miss Bettina" – as he referred to
her. During our visit, she sat in a dining chair, her back never
once touching the chairback. What made this more amazing was she’d gotten
out of her sick bed, dressed as if going out, and then sat thusly
throughout our visit. Oh, the questions we now wish we’d asked Uncle
Henry that day!
Nellie Elsie Starr 1888-1967 and John Frank Kenner
They were married 16 July 1910 in Atlanta, Georgia by Presbyterian
minister Rev. D. H. Ogden. They had four children. They
were living in Hopewell, Virginia at the time of her death.
The obituary from the Hopewell Newspaper, 18 September 1967 issue, says
in part: Mrs. Nellie E. Kenner, 80, died early today in a
Richmond hospital following a period of declining health.... she was a
member of First Methodist church and a life member of the Virginia
Conference, Woman’s Society of Christian Service. She was past
president of the Hopewell Rebeckah Lodge 56, a member of Pythian
Sisters and a member of Daughters of America. Besides her husband
she is survived by three daughters ... one sister, one brother, 8
grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren. She is buried in Appomattox
Cemetery. Click here for additional information recorded by Nellie.
Robert Carlisle “Carl” Starr 1889-1961 and Anna Thelma Orcutt
In a letter from Gladys (Starr) Campbell Sunday 23 December (year not
given): “Carl lived in Tulsa and when he retired, moved to Lake
Ft. Gibson and is buried in that area. He came to Smithville several
times. He was head of Otis Elevator Co. in Tulsa and Helen worked for
him for awhile.“ Carl married Anna Thelma Orcutt 24 April 1920 at
Sherman, Texas. No issue.
Two obituaries for him differ in a few details. One obit says he
arrived in Tulsa in 1925 and worked as a mechanic. After working
for the Otis Elevator Co., he formed his own company. One obit
says it was Shephard Elevator Co. and the other obit says Starr
Elevator Co. which became Harper Elevator Service Co. Both agree
that Carl and Anna settled in Texas after his retirement in 1948, but
one does mention Ft. Gibson in passing. Several postcards of
various places in Texas sent by Carl to Harry and Pauline
survive. Even though Carl died at Uvalde, Texas, his
funeral was held at the Coweta (Oklahoma) Methodist Church and he was
buried in the Coweta Cemetery. One obituary adds he was a cousin
of Tulsa World Sunday Magazine columnist Fred Starr. (They were
distant cousins.) It also states his widow, "Ann", was a granddaughter of
Alvin T. Hodge, Judge, in the Creek Nation. They are buried at
Coweta on land her family once owned.
|Carl and Anna
|Photographed at Carl's funeral: niece Helen (Starr) Wade, brother Henry Starr, nephew Harry Starr Jr., and niece Alice Starr.
In this document Anna’s mother is discussed with mention of her eldest daughter Anna Starr:
For biographical information about Alvin T. Hodge and others:
Myrle Amelia Starr 1894-1934 and Henry Arnold Weems
Myrle Starr and Henry Arnold “Arnie” Weems were married in
Atlanta, George 20 March 1910 by the Rev. Schafer. Tragically,
Myrle Starr, Arnold and their daughter Anne Elsie Weems
were killed in a car-train accident 25 March 1934 near Hampton,
Georgia. According to newspaper accounts, they had just visited
her mother in Sunnyside “who is on her deathbed” and were going to
Hampton to visit Arnold’s brother. Arnold was a yard conductor
for the Georgia Railroad. Two children survived.
Ella Mae Starr 1905 - after 1976 and Edwin Julian
Little is known about this couple other than that they lived in Johnson
City, Tennessee and she was alive in spring 1976. [letter from Uncle
Henry Starr to Helen (Starr) Wade.]
Siblings Ella Mae, Henry and Nellie on steps of Katie's home in Sunnyside
Linda Sparks Starr copyright (c) 2013