Biography of Alva C. Starr

Alva C. Starr. For the past twelve years the grocery establishemnt 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.

The Prairie Oil and Gas Company.As one of the largest corporations in Kansas, everyone has more or less knowledge of the Prairie Oil and Gas Company, and repeated reference is made to its activities in these pages. However, some items that might not otherwise be mentioned should be brought together in a paragraph or two.

The company was incorporated and established in December, 1900, with headquarters at Neodesha, Kansas. Since 1905 the home of this corporation has been at Independence, and the people of Independence take great pride in the fact that this corporation has its home in their city. In July, 1916, was completed the Prairie Oil and Gas Building, one of the finest office buildings in the State of Kansas. This is situated on West Myrtle Street between Ninth and Tenth streets.

The present officers of the company are: J. F. O’Neil, president; W. S. Fitzpatrick, vice president; Nelson K. Moody, vice president; J. A. Hollahan, secretary; and A. T. Patterson, treasurer.

All the organization and equipment of the Prairie Oil and Gas Company are for the purpose of producing and marketing crude oil. Its operations cover the fields in Kansas and Oklahoma excepting the Healdton oil fields. The company operates no refineries, and its essential business is to deliver the crude oil to these refineries.

When it was incorporated in 1900 the company had a capital of $3,000,000. Its present capital is $18,000,000.

The company developed a system of pipe lines from the Mid-Continent fields to a point near Chicago in the State of Indiana, capable of transporting its products for a distance of more than a 1,000 miles. The capacity of that pipe line is approximately 65,000 barrels a day, with a branch line to Sugar Creek with capacity of from 18,000 to 20,000 barrels per day, and another branch line to Wood River near Alton, Illinois, of 30,000 barrels a day. These lines were owned and operated by the Prairie Oil and Gas Company for the transportation of its own oil until August, 1914. At that time by law the pipe lines became common carriers, but were continued under the operation of the Prairie Oil and Gas Company until February 1, 1915. At that date there was organized a corporation under the laws of Kansas, with home offices at Independence, and with capital of $27,000,000, The Prairie Pipe Line Company. The Prairie Oil and Gas Company then sold all its pipe lines and transportation facilities and franchises to the new corporation. The officers of the Pipe Line Company are: W. F. Gates, president; C. H. Kountz, vice president; F. M. Wilhelm, secretary; and R. G. Harris, treasurer. This company has leased offices in the west wing of the new Prairie Oil and Gas Building.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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