WILLIAM S. STARR
History of Idaho, Volume 3, by Hiram T. French, M.S.
The Lewis Publishing Co., Chicago and New York 1914, Page 997-998
When a man has reached the meridian of his lifetime, and has won many of the prizes which men most cherish and consider the best elements of success, his career constitutes an interesting study, and it is a natural curiosity to inquire about his course through life, and how he has worked and planned out the different stages of his achievements. As a practical farmer and fruit grower, one of the most successful and influential men of Idaho is William S. Starr of Kimberly in the Twin Falls district. His experiences make an interesting story of an individual life, and from a time in his young manhood when he had practically no capital and was mortgaging the energies of his future in order to establish a home, he has been steadily progressing, and has not only won satisfying rewards for himself, but has performed a great and useful service in helping others along the high road to prosperity.
William S. Starr was born in Bates county, Missouri, January 12, 1863. His parents were Stephen C. and Nancy (Rhinehart) Starr, the father a native of Indiana, and the mother of Missouri. The father, who has always followed farming as his occupation, now lives in Portland, Oregon. The mother died in 1904 in Albany, Oregon. William S. was the oldest in a family of three sons and three daughters, and one daughter died at the age of nineteen years.
The first ten years of his life were spent in Missouri, after which the family moved out to Colorado, in which state he grew to manhood and received most of his early education. For one year he was a student in St. Mary's College in Kansas, and on leaving college returned to Colorado and took up his career as a farmer. After leaving college he bought a ranch of eighty acres, going in debt for this property. During the next six years he divided his time between farming in the summer and teaching in the winter, earning enough money from his school work to pay for the land. When the land was paid for he gave up teaching as an occupation, and has since been identified almost exclusively with agriculture in its different branches. He remained on the Colorado farm for ten years, and was engaged in raising hay, grain, beans and also conducted a dairy. He raised a great deal of garden products, such as tomatoes and melons, and, as there was a good market in southern Colorado for this fruit, he sometimes disposed of his crop on a contract, and the buyers came and gathered it and relieved him of all care in picking and marketing.
In 1885 Mr. Starr made an overland trip from southern Colorado to Dayton Washington, driving a herd of range horses over this route. He passed over what is known in history as the old Oregon trail, and on his way went through the Twin Falls district and also stopped a time in the Rock Creek district and visited the Shoshone Falls. It was during this brief experience in Idaho, nearly thirty years ago, that Mr. Starr first became acquainted with the country and realized the great future possibilities of its development. What he saw on that trip eventually brought him to Idaho. The eighty acres in southern Colorado, which he had bought for $1,750, under his work and improvement for ten years was then sold at $4,000, and he invested all that amount in the Twin Falls district of Idaho, where it has since increased in value to at least $30,000. Mr. Starr sold his holdings in Colorado in 1904, and then located on his present ranch of 160 acres in the Twin Falls district. At that time there was no irrigation in that section, and his land could not be worked until water could be brought to it.
In the meantime he leased the hotel at Shoshone Falls, and conducted it for about one year and made a little money, which he applied to the improvement of his ranch. In the fall of 1904 he began clearing the sagebrush from his land, and in less than ten years has brought it up to the highest standards of cultivation, and all the land is now under ditch. The Starr farm impresses the traveler as one of the prettiest places in this section of Idaho. A large part of it is devoted to general farming, but forty acres is planted in raspberries and its management is leased to Mr. M. B. Sherman of Payette, Idaho. Mr. Starr has the distinction of having been the first man to plant an orchard in this part of Idaho. As a fruit grower he occupies a prominent place, and has received prizes in many fruit exhibits. In 1911 thirty-one prizes were awarded to his fruits in the Twin Falls Fruit Fair, and in 1912 the same fair brought him sixty prizes for his exhibit. He has also been very successful with stock, and maintains a small dairy herd for his own use, and has one hundred head of high-grade sheep.
Not only as a farmer, but in various lines of business and civic enterprise has Mr. Starr become well known to the people of the Twin Falls district. He is a director and stockholder in the Kimberly Alfalfa Meal Mill. He is interested in other corporations, though he does not allow much of his time to be taken from the management of his ranch, which is his hobby as well as his regular vocation. In politics he is a Republican. Mr. Starr is secretary of the Twin Falls Fruit Growers' Association. He was associated with Mr. Alexander McPherson in introducing irrigation to this vicinity. His previous experience in Colorado as a farmer of irrigated lands fitted him for a helpful part in the introduction of irrigation to Idaho.
He has served as president of the Kimberly Farmers' Association, and when the central organization was perfected he was made president of that, and through his influence has extended the co-operation of the local agriculturists and has done much in the way of practical education among the country residents of this state. Mr. Starr was secretary of the Farmers' Alliance in Colorado, and attended the national conventions of the organization in Ocala, Florida, in 1890. He is a man who has traveled extensively and has a broad knowledge of agricultural and civic conditions in different parts of the country.
In 1890, in Trinidad, Colorado, Mr. Starr married Miss Nola Richardson, a native of Tennessee, and a daughter of Harvey and Mary (Broyles) Richardson. Both her parents were natives of Tennessee. To Mr. and Mrs. Starr have been born the following children: Edith, born in Colorado and living at home; Jessie, who is attending the University of Idaho at Moscow; Roy, who was born in Colorado and is attending school at Twin Falls; and Ernest, born on the home ranch in Idaho and the youngest of the family. Mrs. Starr and her family are members of the Methodist church.