John Henry Starr, born April 9, 1812 in Wilkes County, Georgia, was the
fourth child of Benjamin and Charlotte (Pinkston). He grew up on a farm
southwest of present-day Washington, Georgia, surrounded by various
aunts, uncles and cousins. During the 1820s the residents of Wilkes
County engaged in much to and fro movement between their older
residences and their "new farms" in Henry/Fayette counties in what was
then far western Georgia. As an older son, J. H. may have made a
permanent move westward before his parents took that step.
It was in the area now Henry / Fayette County where J. H. met Mary L.
Elder, born April 15, 1814 in Clarke County, Georgia. Although it
might have been as neighbors, they likely met at the Inman Methodist
Church, "parent congregation" for later County Line. Married June 14,
1831, J. H. and Mary made their home in Union District of western Henry
County, but this area fell into Spalding County in 1851.
John Henry was one of the trustees for the newly created County Line
Methodist Church. He was a natural for this position. His father
Benjamin kept a room with outside entrance "always ready
for" the circuit riders who often arrived in the middle of the night.
Mary's parents, Joshua and Anna (Gray) Elder donated the tract
"where County Line Meeting House now stands."
Fifteen children were born to J. H. and Mary, including one set of
twins who died within a month of their birth. Unusual for this period,
all the other children lived to adulthood. Sadly, the youngest
was only five when Mary died of cancer March 14, 1864. Son David
E. wrote the eulogy for her which appeared in the Southern Christian
Advocate [vol. 27, No. 24, June 16, 1864 p.2.] A portion is copied
Mine was a good mother, and it was a
struggle to give her up. She
embraced and professed religion and joined the M. E. Church in early
life. From that time she had a firm and constant purpose to obtain the
prize presented by faith in Christ .... For many years she was a
constant teacher in the Sabbath school and a member of the "General
Bible Class." She taught her children to love this nursery of the
Church. When my father was absent at the hour for family prayer, she
would have his place filled by one of her boys, though young in years.
She was an affectionate wife, a good mother and kind mistress. Her
servants expressed to me, what a deep loss they had
sustained. ... For twelve long months she suffered and
endured all the
acute and agonizing pain of a very grievous cancer. But she counted
this affliction light compared with the glory which should be revealed
to her in Christ. .. In her last hour she was happy, and gave
us dying testimony of her acceptance with God. All that seemed to
trouble her at this time was the absence of her four sons in the army;
but to us she left a rich legacy -- God's blessings -- with this
word: "Tell my boys to meet me in a land of peace and love, where
affliction and war will never enter, nor separate us." D. E.
September 16, 1864 John Henry married his near cousin, Ellen Athay
Ogletree, born August 7, 1840. She was the daughter of Thomas Ogletree
and Nemisis (Bennett) whose mother, Frances (Pinkston), was a sister of
J. H.'s mother, Charlotte. Thus both descended from the
Revolutionary War soldier Shadrach Pinkston who served in the
Commander-in-Chief's Guard. Additionally, the Ogletrees had been
friends of the Starrs since the Wilkes County days. Ellen's
grandfather, Absalom Ogletree, is buried among the Starr gravesites in the cemetery of County
Line Methodist Church (see above photo) beside John Henry's father, Benjamin.
John Henry and Ellen had four children before his death October 18,
1875. At the time their youngest was barely one and their oldest just
over eight. The reason for J. H.'s death isn't known, but he was
able to attend the wedding at Shiloh (now Sunnyside) of his son, John
P. and Alice Griffin, just days before.
Ellen remained at the home place taking care of her young
children. According to They Followed the Sun (probably written by
her son James William) [page 93]:
She was also a good woman and the mother of four children who lived to
be grown. She had a hard time, being left a widow with four small
children, having never attended to business in a public way and her
girlhood being just before and during the Civil War period, deprived
her of an education. She was born August 7, 1840. She died from
pneumonia and erysipelas on her forehead, going down one side of her
face which affected her throat, on January 23, 1888. She lived
and died at the old home estate in Spalding County and the only picture
ever made of her was as a corpse.
For several years descendants gathered at "the old home place" to honor
John Henry on the anniversary of his death. It was his and
Ellen's son, James William, who initiated the project which resulted in
Provenance of the Letters
By 1925 all but four of the children of John Henry Starr were deceased
. His numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and the
first of the great-great-grandchildren were scattered across the
country. The annual fall family reunion at "the old home place" was
quietly cancelled due to lack of attendance. Regretting the loss of
this last tie with his extended family, James William, or "Uncle
Willie" as he was known to his nieces and nephews, decided to
compile a "descendants record." Request 1925.pdf
is only one of
numerous personal letters he sent, asking relatives for very specific
information on their immediate family.
As is usual in such undertakings, people delayed getting their family
information to "Uncle Willie" and the project was stalled for several
years. Towards the end of 1940 Willie renewed his efforts.
By March 1941 he had lost his beloved wife and his own health was
declining. Willie's son, James Pierce, took up the task, asking the
cousins whose data was still missing to send back the information "from
memory" if need be. Sadly, Willie died before the Starr Family
Record was completed. To our knowledge, nothing more was done with the
letters and unfinished manuscript until the early 1960s.
Sometime in that decade Pierce's widow, Bennie Lee, gave the letters to
Helen (Starr) Wade of Dallas. Helen was the granddaughter of Willie's
half-brother, Dr. John. We suspect the letters were given to Helen in
anticipation for their use towards the larger Starr-family
genealogy. Helen perhaps had learned of Willie's project
from family letters that came into her possession after the death of
her father. She may have asked Bennie for them; or, Bennie may have
offered them after learning about the then "in the works" Starr
Thus the provenance for the letters is: the writer to James
William Starr; to his son James Pierce Starr; to Helen (Starr) Wade;
and at her death in 1980, the letters came to Gerald and Linda Starr.
Realizing the value to descendants of viewing the actual handwriting
(as opposed to a typed or published transcription) pdf images of the
original letters are posted here along with a short narrative for each
of John Henry's children. The letter writer is identified when
possible. However, when the genealogical data was submitted on separate
pages, the accompanying letter and envelope is missing.
Sometimes only one person provided the data for all the descendants;
other times several passed along the same information. Informants
didn't always agree on dates or even spelling of names. Regrettably,
some pages are missing; what you see is what we have with the following
exceptions: For privacy sake we didn't scan pages
containing specific birth dates for individuals likely to still be
They Followed the Sun
, published 1971, is a far larger Starr Family
Record than envisioned by James William and he died before that project
began. Even so, he deserves credit for collecting the descendant line
from John Henry (1812-1875).
(Click on a name to go to a narrative that includes links to relevant items from the letters.)
| John Henry Starr and Mary (Elder)
||Order of birth
||Name and Date of Birth
|| Joshua Howard; July 10, 1832
|| Rev. David Elder; April 5, 1835
|| Charlotte A.; May 10, 1836
|| Benjamin Hartwell; October 7, 1837
|| Martha Elizabeth; August 28, 1839 
|| Nancy Ellen; December 24, 1841
|| Mary; December 15, 1839 
|| Henry Clay; July 29, 1846
|| Samuel Silas; November 7, 1847
|| Dr. John Pinkston; August 27, 1849
|| Twins born "about" 1851
|| Hilyard Blanton; May 15, 1854
|| Acy Floyd; July 4, 1855
|| Rosa Linsey; October 13, 1858
|John Henry Starr and Ellen Atha (Ogletree)
|| James William; August 22, 1867
|| Joseph Tenth; December 25, 1869 [1870?]
|| Elijah Eleventh; June (or January) 1, 1872
|| Rachel Rebecca; August 20, 1874
This section is devoted to comments within letters that offer
clues for further research or insight into the extended family group as
it was in 1925.
consists of three letters written in 1925 by James
William Starr. (Markers direct the reader to the portion of the
letter thought most newsworthy.) In the first, after commenting there
are only four brothers left of the group of 17, Willie travels
down memory lane with Mary Wilson.
Although they are uncle and niece, he is the younger of the
two. The second letter, addressed to a descendant from his
Grandfather's brother Elijah Starr, has Willie's explanation
of his relationship to
other family members she has met. In many ways the third letter,
to his niece and
Texas resident Minnie Parker, is the most interesting for it mentions
several family members were living in 1925.
James William Starr wrote a short history of the family,
presumably for inclusion in his family records.
A portion of this narrative appears in They Followed the Sun
Traditionally, the list of children for Henry Starr (1752-1821) and
Mary ( ? ) is: Joshua, "John Elijah", Silas, "Benjamin
Franklin", Asa D., Samuel Steele, Amelia and Caleb. No
contemporary Georgia Court or Church record has been found for Caleb
and Amelia. Neither is there a contemporary record for the double
names: "John Elijah" and "Benjamin Franklin." Additionally,
there is an "Elizabeth Starr" who marries in Wilkes County, Georgia in
1812. No one can place her into a family. All that said, Elijah's
descendant gives his name as "John Elijah."
And Henry Clay Starr, in his compilation
of the children of Benjamin and Charlotte (Pinkston) Starr at
gives Benjamin's name as "Benjamin Franklin."
is a longer (and typewritten) list of descendants,
beginning with Benjamin and Charlotte, but following up only with the
descendants of John Henry (1812-1875). The typist is possibly Helen
(Starr) Wade; but the marginal notes isn't her
handwriting. Another possibility is this was compiled for Willie's
book and perhaps it is Pierce's handwritten notes along the
margin. Page 4 is missing and then everything after page 6.
The above letter from Elijah's descendant mentions five brothers from
Ireland. (a.k.a. Pennsylvania Irish Quaker Starrs.) We also have
another "brothers from Ireland" tale, but in this one there are only
two brothers. It is found in the first letter within the file John
Henry April 1925.pdf
He continues: one married an Indian and
the other didn't. He identifies his father, Dr. John P. Starr, as
the one who told him that particular story. The Indian line is
surely the Cherokee Starrs "founded" by Caleb Starr and Nannie Harlan;
presumably "the other didnt" line is Henry's. IF Caleb descends
from the Quaker Starrs, as most researchers think, DNA has proven both
these traditions are erroneous.