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Stark Family Association Historical Background
By Clovis LaFleur, July 2008
In the year 1895, two sisters, Ida and Jennie Stark, along with their cousin, Emily Stark, arranged to have a Stark Family Reunion at Chapman's Fall, East Haddam (Millington), Middlesex County, Connecticut. [Photograph (Left) of Chapman's Falls by: David Ellis <email@example.com>]
Ida and Jennie were daughters of Lauriston M. and Mary (Dickinson) Stark, while Emily was a daughter of Lauriston's brother, Abiel. In this first reunion of Aaron Stark's [1608-1685] descendants living in Connecticut, there were 23 participants, mostly descendants of Denison Stark. Denison was the son of Abiel and Molly (Graves) Stark; grandson of Nathan and Ann (Fitch) Stark; g-grandson of Abiel (First) and Mary (Walworth) Stark; gg-grandson of Aaron (Junior) and Mehitable (Shaw) Stark; and ggg-grandson of the progenitor of this Stark Family in America, Aaron Stark (Senior) who married Sarah. Emily, Ida, and Jennie issued invitations to their near relatives to meet at a picnic at Chapman's Falls, Millington, Connecticut on August 13th, 1895. Twenty-three responded to the invitations, and the occasion was so thoroughly enjoyed that it was decided to continue them, and for three succeeding years similar gatherings were held at Baker's Pavilion, a short distance from the Falls.
By the year 1902, the Association had enough funds to have a yearbook printed and distributed. In 1903, the reunion was held on August 20, 1903 and the following are transcriptions of the yearbooks published by the Association which were continued continuously until the Association disbanded after 1952.
In it's infancy, the Stark Family Association membership consisted of descendants of Aaron Stark [1608-1685]. The membership later included descendants of Archibald Stark of New Hampshire (father of General John Stark of Revolutionary War fame) and James Stark of Stafford County, Virginia.
In the 1903 yearbook, the story was told of how John Muirhead saved King James IV of Scotland from a charging bull and was given the surname Stark by a grateful King. The descendants of Aaron Stark adopted the coat-of -arms resulting from this event; registered in1672 in England by the Scottish Stark Family of Killermont ¾ one version of this coat-of-arms presented by the Association on the title page of each of the yearbooks published.
A recent Stark Family DNA project has revealed the direct male descendants of Aaron Stark, when compared to the DNA results of direct male Descendants of Archibald Stark and James Stark ¾ are not related and the odds greatly favor that they have not shared a common male ancestor within thousands of years. However, the direct male descendants of James and Archibald were found to be related and may be descendants of the Stark Family of Killermont. (Click HERE to go to the Stark Family Y-DNA Project Home Page for more information)
The Stark Family Association was organized in 1895 by the above descendants of Nathan Stark and Anna Fitch (Aaron1; Aaron2; Abiel3; Nathan4). In these first years of the Association, Nathan and Anna's descendants held informal family reunions in August of each year. August 20, 1903, those at the annual family reunion decided to form the Association, electing officers and writing and approving a constitution for the Association. After the meeting, the following "Report" of the proceedings was published.
In 1903 most of the members and those attending the reunion were descendants of Nathan Stark and Anna Fitch. However, members of several other branches were represented as members and at the reunion. These branches were:
Aaron1; William2; William3; Moses4;
Aaron1; William2; William3; Daniel4;
Aaron1; Aaron2; Abiel3; Abiel4;
Most of those attending the Family Reunion lived in New London County, Connecticut or in Connecticut Counties nearby. Eugene Stark Gardiner and his wife traveled the furthest distance to attend; traveling from Franklin, Indiana. He was a son of Edwin Gardiner and Emily Stark and a descendant of Nathan and Anna. Following is the Constitution approved by the membership in 1903
Stark Family Association Constitution Approved 1903
In order to form a more perfect union and to become more closely identified with each other, We, the descendants of one Muirhead, a Scotchman, to whom King James the Fourth gave the name of Stark (meaning strong) for his great bravery, do hereby adopt the following as the constitution of the Stark Family
This organization shall be known as the STARK FAMILY ASSOCIATION.
The object of this Association shall be: To bring this widely scattered Family into closer fellowship, to promote fraternal feeling among its members, and the collection and preservation of facts and events in the history of the Stark Family.
SECTION 1. The officers of the Association shall be, President, one or more Vice-Presidents, Secretary and Treasurer, and Historian, who together shall constitute an Executive Committee, and whose duties shall be such as pertain to their several offices.
SECTION 2: Officers shall be elected at the annual reunion, and shall hold their several offices for the term of one year, or until their successors are elected.
SECTION 1. An annual reunion shall be held at such time and place as the Executive Committee may deem for the best interest of the Association.
SECTION 2. Special meeting may be called by the Executive Committee or by request of five members of the Association.
SECTION 1. All persons connected with the Stark Family, by birth or marriage, are eligible to membership.
SECTION 2. Any person who is eligible may become a member of the Association by the enrollment of their name and the payment of an annual membership fee of fifty cents: Membership to expire at the annual reunion.
This constitution may be amended at any regular meeting by a two-thirds vote of the members present and voting.
The officers elected in that first year were: 1) Moreau J. Stark, North Lyme, Conn., President; 2) Irving W. Stark, Lebanon, Conn., Vice-President; 3) Sidney E. Ackley, Chester, Conn., Vice-President; 4) Charles S. Jewett, North Lyme, Conn., Vice-President; 5) Mrs. Katie F. Jewett, North Lyme, Conn., Secretary & Treasurer; and 6) Mrs. Hattie S. Ackley, Chester, Conn., Historian.
(Following are articles from the Stark Family Association Yearbooks)
Moreau Johnson Stark was President of the
Association from 1898 to 1929 and Honorary President from 1929 until his
death June 7, 1934. Due to illness, Moreau was briefly replaced in
the 1928 officers election by James E. Stark; who resigned the following
year due to illness. William Gates Stark became President in 1929,
serving until 1952, when the Association was formally dissolved by it's
Following was a biographical sketch of William Gates
Stark published in the 1928 yearbook, Pages, 17,18,& 19.
In 1907, Charles Rathbone Stark became the Stark Family Association Historian. In 1927, he published, "The Aaron Stark Family, Seven Generations of the Descendants of Aaron Stark of Groton, Connecticut." In 1922, Charles R. Stark self-published a book entitled "Groton, Conn. 1705-1905." Following Biographical sketch was published in the Stark Family Association 1930 Yearbook, Charles having passed away in January of that year. (Pages 14-17)
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