Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Revolutionary Rebel in the Family

Before I began this adventure we had no idea how deep my husband's roots ran in this country. During the course of research it became clear that every line of his family had immigrated to the United States by the mid to late 1600's.

It soon became clear our daughter could apply for membership to the Daughters of the American Revolution, through no less than four different lines.

Wondering if she would be interested in this particular part of her heritage, I brought up the subject one evening. Surprisingly, Starr became excited about the entire process and wanted to see where it would lead.

With that in mind I decided to focus my research on the family with the earliest links to the nation. That is when I stumbled upon James Starr, my husband's 3rd cousin 6x removed.

While reading about this ancestor, the terms "Sons of Liberty" and "Boston Tea Party" kept appearing in the hit list.

Sites referring to James Starr being a participant in this historic event are Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, Boston Tea Party Historical Society and Old South Meeting House.

The most significant piece of information about James soon came to light. The following expert is from the Google Books title The Historic Boston Tea Party of December 16, 1773 by Caleb A. Wall, published 1896.

James Starr.

James Starr was a descendant in the sixth generation from Dr. Comfort Starr, one of the first settlers in Dedham in 1635. James was born in New London, Ct., May 2, 1740, being two years older than Hewes and twenty years older than Peter Slater.

He was a cooper by trade, of a strong healthy physical constitution, well qualified to endure hardships. He enlisted at 18 in the army, was in the French and Indian war in 1758, and was at Montreal when it surrendered to the British. After the war he returned to his native town of New London, Ct., went then to Boston, and then settled in Bridgewater.

Inspired by the battle cry of "freedom" as one of the Sons of Liberty, he was one of the party of "Mohawks" who threw over-board the tea in Boston Harbor on the night of Dec. 16, 1773, and loved in after years to tell the story of how, with his cooper's axe, he helped to knock open the tea chests and

tip their contents into the water. At the opening of hostilities with the mother country, he enlisted for the naval service, and was taken prisoner and carried to New York, where he remained eleven months.

At the close of the war he returned to Bridgewater, sold out there in 1802 and went to Jay, Franklin Co., Me., where he remained until his death, Nov. 20, 1830, aged over 90 years.

He was grandfather of the late Wm. A.S. and Rufus L. Smythe of Worcester, their mother being his daughter. Our venerable fellow citizen Wm. E. Starr, now in his 83rd year, is a descendant of Dr. Comfort Starr through another line. A daughter of Wm. A.S. Smythe is wife of A.L.D. Buxton, residing at 50 Cedar street, Worcester.

Sounds like James was quite the rebel!

Interestingly, our family has referred to our Starr with this very adjective. Now we know where she inherited her spunk and independent attitude. Seems those characteristics appear throughout the Starr family history.

I would like to thank The Massachusetts Historical Society for allowing usage of the broadsheet at the head of the post. When I emailed the society to ask for permission they quickly replied:

"The Massachusetts Historical Society is always pleased when bloggers are interested in the material made available on our website. Whether you quote the document or use the image available online, we only ask that you link back to the image/text quotation on the MHS web page so that readers of your blog will be able to source the material correctly."

Off I go to follow the trail of James Starr, The Sons of Liberty!


  1. Deb, You've provided a nice detailed account of James Starr, and I liked the links to your sources. Esp. the MHS (I must go sometime). Did you know about Mr. Starr when you named your daughter?

  2. Barbara,

    Thanks for your kind words. I very much enjoyed researching James.

    As for our daughter's name. No we knew nothing about my husband's heritage at the time.

    Starr was my mother-in-law, Rachel's maiden name. Before our daughter was born Rachel was diagnosed with advance stage cancer.

    To honor her we named our daughter Starr. To say she was happy would be an understatement!

    It was not until recently upon doing the family history did I stumble upon the fact that it was a family tradition to name children Starr in that line.

    Blog post to come....

  3. Very exciting! I hope you plan a road trip to Boston soon to walk in your ancestors footsteps.

  4. WOW! This got me excited, and it isn't even my family. I can't imagine how it must have gotten you excited! I can't wait to read more about this. I've been told that my great-grandmother was a member of the DAR but haven't gotten to that part of my research with my aunt yet. I'm hoping to find out that perhaps we have some areas in common as one of my lines comes from CT. :)

    Great post!

  5. I love your husband's family, especially the Starrs! Great post, Deb!

  6. What a blessing to be able to trace your husbands (your daughters) ancestry line so far and deep in this country. Thank you for sharing. This report excites me!

  7. Very cool and right in my back yard too! I 'll have to see if I have any Starr gravestone photos from Dedham or Bridgewater.

  8. Deb, I just double checked my family tree. There is a Mary Stone (one of my 1st cousins many generations back) who married a Comfort Starr in 1683 in Dedham, Massachusetts (near the towns you mentioned in your post). The excerpt you posted mentioned he was a descendant of Comfort Starr. Is this the same family? My Comfort Starr was born 1662 in Boston, died 1729, son of John Starr and Martha Bunker, grandson of Comfort Starr and Elizabeth Watts, grandson of immigrant Thomas Starr from Romney, Kent, England.

  9. Heather, I checked and Comfort Starr married to Mary Stone was my husband's 1st cousin 9x removed! How exciting!

  10. There is a Google book about the Starrs in early Bridgewater, Conn Just Google it.

  11. Edward-Thanks for the heads up about the book. I found it this morning! Busy discovering new facts.