Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918


Alva C. Starr

ALVA C. STARR. For the past twelve years the grocery establishemnt[sic] of Alva C. Starr, at No. 710 North Broadway, has been considered in the light of a necessary commercial adjunct by the people of Pittsburg. Many causes contribute to the success of this popular merchant, not the least of which are a thorough knowledge of his business and a determination to keep his particular branch thereof up to the highest known standard. Mr. Starr belongs to that element of business men who have made their own way to success, without the aid of outside influences, and his high standing in trade and business circles evidences the well-directed manner in which his operations have been prosecuted.

Mr. Starr was born on a farm in Vermilion County, Illinois, January 14, 1871, and is a son of S. P. and Maria Jane (Partlow) Starr. The family is of German extraction, the original American emigrant locating in North Carolina during colonial times. Peter Starr, grandfather of Alva C., was born in the Old North State, but as a young man went to Vermilion County, Illinois, where he was a pioneer farmer, and where his death occurred before the birth of his grandson. S. P. Starr was born in Vermilion County, Illinois, in 1831, and was there reared on his father's farm and educated in the primitive schools of the day and locality. He followed farming there, and also for a time engaged in mercantile pursuits, and in 1877 became a pioneer farmer of Montgomery County, where he owned a property in the vicinity of Cherryvale. This he cultivated with success until 1881, when he made removal to Crawford, locating near Pittsburg, where he continued his agricultural operations until several years before his death, when he retired from agricultural pursuits and took up his residence at Pittsburg. His death occurred in January, 1897. Mr. Starr was a republican, but not a politician, and a member of the Masonic fraternity. He belonged to the Methodist Episcopal Church, was active in the work thereof, held all the lay offices, and was for some years deacon. In Vermilion County, Illinois, Mr. Starr was married to Miss Maria Jane Partlow, who was born in that county in 1834, and died at Pittsburg, Kansas, July 25, 1916, and they became the parents of six children, as follows: John, who was connected with the Pittsburg Headlight and died at the age of forty-four years; Ella B., who is the wife of D. C. Wood, a foreman in the zinc smelters at Bartlesville, Oklahoma; P. H., who was a gas fitter of Pittsburg and died at the age of forty-four years; J. G., who is a banker of Joplin, Missouri; Alva C.; and Gracie M., who married Albert Stamm, a merchant of Pittsburg, and lost her life with her husband by drowning in an accident near Pittsburg, Kansas, in 1904.

Alva C. Starr secured his education in the public schools of Cherryvale and Pittsburg, and at eighteen years of age left school to learn the plumbing trade. This he followed as a journeyman and carefully conserved his earnings until 1904, working at Weir City and Iola. In the year mentioned he returned to Pittsburg, where he accepted an opportunity offered and embarked in the grocery business at his present location. From modest beginnings his trade has grown and developed to large proportions, and he now has a complete and up-to-date stock of staple and fancy groceries, and occupies a two-story building, with floor space 90 by 24 feet. His establishment is made attractive through the strict observance of cleanliness and order, the courtesy of clerks, moderation of prices and good quality of products. Mr. Starr is well known to the trade, being past president of the Retailers Association and at present a member of the executive board of that body. He is also one of the live and active members of the Commercial Club.

Mr. Starr owns his own home, a new modern residence, at No. 501 West Fifth Street. He supports the republican party with his vote, and on its ticket has been elected a member of the school board for the past three years. He is well known fraternally, being a member of Pittsburg Lodge No. 187, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; Pittsburg Chapter No. 58, Royal Arch Masons; Pittsburg Lodge No. 1554, Knights of Pythias; Pittsburg Lodge No. 56, Ancient Order of United Workmen; the Modern Woodmen of America; and Pittsburg Tent No. 70, Knights of the Maccabees, in all of which he is popular. In May, 1898, he enlisted in Company F, Twenty-second Kansas Regulars, for the Spanish-American war, and held the commission of second lieutenant.

Mr. Starr was married at Pittsburg, in 1898, to Miss Elizabeth Matson, daughter of Robert and Anna (Robinson) Matson, residents of Pittsburg, where Mr. Matson is interested in mercantile affairs. Three children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Starr: Grace Marjorie, who is a member of the senior class at the Pittsburg High School; and Jessie and Alva C., Jr., who are attending the graded schools.


Transcribed from volume 4, page 1844 of A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; originally transcribed 1998, modified 2003 by Carolyn Ward.

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