Tuesday, February 26, 2013

1880s Autograph Album of May Starr of Wilbur, Oregon, in Douglas County


1880s autograph album of May Starr of Wilbur, Oregon, in Douglas County.



The album is a large one, approximately 8-1/2" x 7" and contains 96 pages of sentiments from May herself, her relatives and friends.  Many of the signers filled the entire page.  The pages are very wrinkly and didn't scan well. 

Several of the signers were students at Oakland Academy and Umpqua Academy in Oregon.

An alphabetical list of the signers appears at the end of this post.



From online research, hopefully correct: [corrections and additions welcome!]

May Starr was born 6 July 1862 in Douglas County, Oregon, the daughter of Felix and Icephene (Willits) Starr, who were born in Virginia and Indiana, respectively.

May's parents had come to Oregon from Indiana in an ox cart.  Her father later returned to Indiana to acquire a herd of well-bred horses, which he drove to Oregon.  

The name Starr was a variation of the German name Stoehr, which had turned into Stehr, Stair and Starr in the United States. Some of the signers in the album were named Stair.

I found an extensive history of the Stoehr family here.  It includes an          account of May's family's move west.  In the Centennial History of Oregon, 1811 to 1912, Volume 4, a biography of May's future husband, James L. Cole, also has insights into the Starr family. 

May's sister Lilly and brothers Felix and James signed pages in her album. 

Sister Lily D. Starr of Wilbur, Oregon, signed a page on 4 January 1881.  There's a later  message from Lilly on the same page where she signed her name as Lilly and a "star" symbol.



May's brother Felix Starr signed a page on 14 July 1881.


May's brother James P. Starr of Wilbur, Oregon, signed a page on 12 February 1881.



Many other relatives from Oregon and Indiana signed pages.  Refer to the list below.

On 25 November 1886, May married James L. Cole, son of James C. and Louisa (Leeper) Cole.  He was born 21 September 1860 at Coles Valley in Douglas County, Oregon.  

James and May lived in Douglas County, Oregon, eventually at May's father's farm.  They had, I believe, four chidren, three of whom lived to adulthood.

Their first child, Grace May Cole, signed a page in her mother's album.



If you have corrections and/or additions to the information above, please leave a comment or contact me directly.  Thanks!

Alphabetical list of signers: [Note: given names within a particular surname may not be in alphabetical order.]


  • A Friend; an entire page dated November 1884, filled with sentiments from someone who must have thought a great deal of May
  • A Friend; entire page is filled with handwriting, framed in a Greek portico design, with a small Victorian scrap.  Perhaps the same Friend who wrote another full page
  • Friend, signed 4 April 1886
  • Mincie, signed 19 January 1880 or 1886; May's schoolmate
  • Susie, undated but written after May's marriage on 25 November 1886, or on that day, as it's inscribed to Mrs. May Cole.
  • "Your Friend" Torny or Lorny or ?, either from or signed at Indianapolis, Indiana, on 6 July 1882
  • Mattie, signed on 6 August 1909.  "This in remembrance of the summer of 1909, from the little white-haired cousin  you knew in Indiana in 1882.  With much love, Mattie.  May's cousin.
  • Jennie; May's cousin
  • Albert Abraham, signed at Umpqua Academy on 9 June 1881
  • Maurice Abraham, signed at Roseburg, Oregon, on 10 June 1881
  • J. Q. Adams.  Too late in the game for THAT J. Q. Adams! "Remember me and my best wishes when you are at home washing dishes"
  • Mary E. Baker, signed at Oakland, Oregon, on 18 January 1885
  • Lillie D. Barnard, signed at Wilbur, Oregon, on 15 February 1881
  • Caddie Beckley, signed at Oakland, Oregon, on 27 January 1886
  • Hattie Benjamin, signed at Wilbur, Oregon, on 18 June 1881
  • H. L. Benson, signed at Wilbur, Oregon on 3 January 1881
  • Mrs. L. E. Benson of Santa Clara, California, signed at Wilbur, Oregon, on 29 September 1881
  • F. W. Benson, signed at Wilbur, Oregon, on 1 January 1881
  • Emma Benson
  • Ida Booth
  • Cora Booth, signed on 4 January 1881
  • George Brown, signed at Wilbur, Oregon, on 8 March 1881
  • A. T. Brunner, signed at Calapooia, Oregon, on 15 July 1881
  • M. E. Brunner, signed at Calapooia, Oregon, on 15 July 1881
  • Page with individual sentiments of O. C. Butler and Mrs. O. C. Butler, signed at Wilbur, Oregon, on 8 February 1881
  • Sarah Carebeer, signed at Wilbur, Oregon, on 24 January 1881
  • Myra E. Cathcart, signed at Oakland, Oregon, on 4 February 1886; May's schoolmate
  • "Your loving daughter, Gracie Cole".  Grace May Cole, daughter of James and May (Starr) Cole, was born 3 December 1885 at Oakland, Oregon.
  • Anna Cooper, signed at Wilbur, Oregon, on 4 February 1881
  • Mary E. Cooper, signed at Wilbur, Oregon, on 21 February 1881
  • Mary I. Cunningham of Pittsburg, Indiana, signed on 4 July 1882; May's cousin.  This was Mary Isophine Cunningham, daughter of Daniel and Margaret (Willits) Cunningham.  Margaret was a sister of May's mother Isophene (Willits) Starr
  • Silas W. Cunningham, signed 6 August 1909; May's cousin.  This was Silas Willits Cunningham, whose mother Margaret Ann (Willits) Cunningham was a younger sister to May's mother Icephene (Willits) Starr.
  • Lydia Cunningham of Brookston, Indiana, signed on 7 August 1909; May's cousin.  Lydia Cunningham's mother was Margaret Ann (Willits) Cunningham, younger sister of May's mother Icephene (Willits) Starr.
  • Eliza Cunningham of Pittsburg, Indiana; May's cousin, likely Eliza Jane Cunningham, daughter of Martha Ann (Willits) Cunningham and her husband Daniel Cunningham
  • Nettie Davis, signed at Wilbur, Oregon, on 13 February 1898. "Not like the rose may our friendship wither.  But like the evergreen live forever."
  • Rose B. Day; May's schoolmate
  • George E. Day
  • Rachel Dimmick, signed 28 February 1881
  • Isabelle Dimmick, signed at The Dalles, Oregon, on 20 September 1881
  • James Ensley
  • A. Ensley, signed at Wilbur, Oregon, on 13 February 1881
  • J. L. Ensley, signed at Calapooia, Oregon, on 25 February 1884
  • Ida L. Goodman, signed at Calapooia, Oregon, on 18 September 1886
  • Rosa Green of Wilbur, Oregon, signed on 22 February 1881.  Page is shared with the sentiments of a friend who left a sentiment in November 1884.
  • Mary Gross, signed at Oakland, Oregon, on 1 October 1883
  • Minnie Hill; May's schoolmate
  • Helena M. Holman, signed at Wilbur, Oregon, on 28 September 1881 at Umpqua Academy
  • Merica M. Hunt, signed on 6 February 1898; America M. Hunt
  • Amanda E. Kerley, signed at Calapooia, Oregon, on 18 October 1883
  • Stephen Laraut, or Staphen La Raut, signed at Wilbur, Oregon, on 22 September 1881.  He inscribed his page to May's younger sister Lillie Starr [Lily Starr]
  • Max Levinson, signed at Wilbur, Oregon, on 11 April 1881
  • Bina Maupin, signed 5 January 1881
  • J. S. Mires
  • Maggie Mires, signed at Calapooia, Oregon, signed on 20 September 1881, or 1887
  • Minnie Otey, signed at Wilbur, Oregon, in November 1884
  • Clara H. Patterson, signed at Alvarado, California, on 19 March 1882
  • Adella Peters, signed at Oakland, Oregon, on 19 January 1886
  • Mrs. Addie Prior, signed Oakland, Oregon on 7 January 1897
  • Ella Reed
  • F. W. Reed
  • Minnie M. Ruckle, signed on 27 January 1881 or 1886
  • George T. Russell, signed at Oakland, Oregon, on 22 January 1886
  • Lillian Russell, signed at Oakland, Oregon, on 20, January 1886
  • Mrs. G. T. Russell, signed on 16 January 1886
  • Jennie F. Shaw, signed at Shelbyville, Indiana, on 1 July 1882
  • Celena Shaw, or Celina Shaw, signed in Indiana on 19 July 1889.  She was Celena (Willits) Shaw, sister of May's mother Icephene (Willits) Starr
  • F. M. Shaw, or T. M. Shaw, signed at Battle Ground, Indiana, on 27 June 1882
  • Very faint, but looks like Olive Shortridge, signed at Oakland, Oregon, on 15 February 1886
  • Addie E. Smith, signed at Wilbur, Oregon, on 18 June 1881
  • Mary A. Smith, signed at Wilbur, Oregon,, on 21 February 1881
  • Phene Smith, signed at Oakland, Oregon, on 21 Januaryh 1881 or 1886.  Not sure of given name
  • Maggie Smith, signed at Oakland, Oregon, on 20 January 1886
  • Cora Stair, signed at Transitville, Indiana, on 4 May 1882
  • Ida Stair; May's cousin
  • Milton Stair, signed on 5 April 1882 at Denver, Colorado
  • Katie Stair, age 14, signed at Battle Ground, Indiana, in 1882; May's cousin
  • Lizzie Stanfield, signed 23 April 1882
  • May Starr, album owner of Wilbur, Oregon, signed a page on 25 December 1881; perhaps this album was a Christmas present.  Her surname is believed to have originated as Stoehr; variants are Stehr, Stair and Starr
  • Felix Starr, signed on 14 July 1881.  Felix Starr was May's younger brother.  Her father, Felix Starr Sr., had died by this date.
  • Lou Starr of Transitville, Tippecanoe County, Indiana, signed on 4 April 1882; May's cousin.
  • Lilly D. Starr, signed at Wilbur, Oregon, on 4 January 1881.  She wrote another message in pencil at the bottom and signed it Lily with a "star" symbol.
  • James P. Starr, signed at Wilbur, Oregon, on 12 February 1881.  He was May's older brother.
  • Laura, possibly Laura Stevens [runs off the page], signed at Calipooia, Oregon, on 22 May 1889
  • Eula Strange, signed at Wilbur, Oregon, on 18 February 1881
  • Henry S. Strange, signed at Umpqua Academy, on 30 September 1881
  • Mattie Strange, signed at Umpqua Academy on 3 February 1881
  • J. R. Sutherland, signed at Wilbur, Oregon, on 1 March 1881
  • Annie Sutherland, signed at Wilbur, Oregon, on 14 January 1881
  • H. D. Thomas
  • Milton H. Tower, signed at Oakland Academy on 14 January 1885; May's schoolmate
  • James R. Underwood, signed at Calapooia, Oregon, on 19 October 1883
  • Theron C. Waite, signed at Wilbur, Oregon, on 4 January 1881
  • F. B. Waite of Roseburg, Oregon, Signed 5 January 1887
  • W. A. Williams
  • Becca E. Williams.  There was a Rebecca E. Williams who lived at Wilbur, Oregon.
  • Sarah Wimberly, signed at Wilbur, Oregon, on 11 January 1881
  • Mary Winiford, signed at Wilbur, Oregon, on 3 February 1881
Wilbur, Oregon


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