Biography of Hon. James P. Starr
Jefferson County, IA Biographies





Hon. James P. Starr, mayor of Fairfield and one of the leading attorneys of the city, has resided in Jefferson county for only a brief period but already his merit and ability have gained for him high and well deserved success. He was born in Fairmount. Clark county, Missouri, November 3, 1869, his parents being Robert H. and Mary C. (Smith) Starr, who were natives of Berks county, Pennsylvania, the father born April 16, 1840, and the mother on the 4th of April, 1846. The Starr family comes from a long line of Quaker ancestry, the progenitor of the family being John Starr, who resided at Old Castle, County Meath, Ireland. His sons and daughters came to the new world between 1674 and 1697, settling in the colony of Pennsylvania. The representatives of the name remained connected with the Society of Friends or Quakers until the grandparents of our subject left that church. Moses Starr, the son of John Starr, the progenitor, was one of the first settlers of Berks county, Pennsylvania, and was the first representative from that county to the provincial assembly.

The youthful days of Robert H. Starr were spent in the Keystone state and later he continued his education in the high school at Alliance, Ohio. He was on a visit to a sister in Illinois when he enlisted for active service in the Civil war in August, 1861, as a member of Company K, Thirty sixth Illinois Infantry, continuing with that command until January 6, 1865, when he was honorably discharged because of disability occasioned by a gun shot wound in the right leg, making amputation necessary. Prior to the war both the Starr and Smith families had removed to northeastern Missouri and it was after his service at the front that Robert H. Starr and Mary C. Smith were married, their wedding being celebrated on Christmas Day of 1865. They continued their residence in Clark county, Missouri, until 1874, when they removed to Keosauqua, Van Buren county, Iowa, where the father died in 1901. The mother continued a resident of that place until 1906, when she returned to her old home in Clark county, Missouri, and is now living in Kahoka. During the period of his residence in Clark county, Missouri, Robert H. Starr filled the office of county treasurer. Taking up the study of law he was admitted to the bar of that state in February, 1874, and in 1875 was licensed to practice before the bar of Iowa, continuing as an active follower of the profession until a few months prior to his death. He was prominent in the public affairs of the community in which he made his home after coming to this state and for two terms served as mayor of Keosauqua, manifesting the same loyalty and fidelity in the discharge of the duties of citizenship as he displayed when upon southern battlefields he followed the stars and stripes. He held membership with the Grand Army of the Republic and gave his political support to the republican party. Unto him and his wife were born ten children who are yet living: Phoebe H., the wife of H. E. Meredith, of Victor, Iowa; Julia E., the wife of C. W. Wiley, a resident of Keosauqua; James P.; Belle L., the wife of C. L. Kerr, of Kahoka, Missouri; Ida L., the wife of H. L. McLeland, residing at Palisade, Nebraska; Bethel, the wife of J. F. Dweedy, of Lucerne, Wyoming; Anna L., the wife of A. G. Lazenby, living at Keosauqua; Lottie V., the wife of Hugh F. Tweedy, of Montrose, Iowa; and Charles L. and William P., twins, living at Kahoka, Missouri.

James P. Starr was a lad of five years when his parents removed from Missouri to Keosauqua, Iowa, where he pursued his education in the public schools. He afterward attended the law college of the State University and was admitted to the bar in 1892. He then entered upon active practice with his father at Keosauqua, the professional relationship between them continuing until the father's death save for a period of four years, from 1893 until 1897, when James P. Starr was deputy clerk of Van Buren county. Following his father's demise he formed a partnership with J. C. Calhoun, of Keosauqua, under the firm name of Starr & Calhoun, this relationship being maintained until Mr. Starr removed to Fairfield in December, 1906. Here he has continued in the general practice of law alone and the reputation which he had already gained in the practice of law in this state was sufficient to introduce him to the public here as an able lawyer. From the beginning he has enjoyed a large practice and now divides his time between this and his duties as mayor of the city. He was appointed Fairfield's chief executive in October, 1910, following the resignation of Dr. J. F. Clark, and in March, 1911, was elected to the office for a full term, so that he is the present mayor of the city to which he is giving a businesslike administration. His recommendations to the council have been of a practical character and have looked to the future as well as the present interests of the city.

On the 3d of March, 1893, Mr. Starr was united in marriage to Miss Chloe Fellows, who was born near Keosauqua, Iowa, April 25, 1874, a daughter of S. D. and Ann (Bowen) Fellows, who were among the pioneer settlers of Van Buren county and now reside at Fairfield. Mr. and Mrs. Starr have become parents of four children, Helen M., Keo F., Io M. and James Carleton.

For sixteen years Mr. Starr has been a valued member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and for some years has also held membership in the Christian church in which he is now serving as deacon. He has been a life long republican and is allied with the progressive movement of that party which resents the unlimited domination of the few over the many and seeks rather the expression of popular opinion in the attainment of good government. He has been a close student of science and the times and is well versed in the questions of the day not only political but also sociological and economic. He is a man of action rather than of theory and his work never has its root in hasty judgment, either in his public service or in his practice before the bar.

From:
History of Jefferson County, Iowa
A Record of Settlement, Organizatin,
Progress and Achievement Vol II
BY: Charles J. Fulton
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Chiago 1914


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