houses grace the towns and cities of East
Texas. Some have survived by miraculous good fortune and some
are nurtured along by generations of caring owners who cherish them.
All are testimony to an earlier way of life, but only a few are
associated with the movers and shakers of previous eras. A good
example of the latter is the Starr Family Mansion in Marshall.
This structure is associated with a family of prominence in the
political and economic development of our state and region for the
whole of the nineteenth century.
The first Starr family member associated with Texas, Franklin
J. Starr, moved here from Ohio in 1834. For a while Starr partnered
in the practice of law with William Barret Travis. He ended
up in Nacogdoches
as a result of the Runaway Scrape,
or the hasty departure to the east in front of Santa Anna's Mexican
army during the Texas Revolution in the Spring of 1836.
Harper Starr joined his brother Franklin and soon was involved
in public affairs. He served as land commissioner in Nacogdoches
County and as President Mirabeau B. Lamar's secretary of the
treasury before relocating in Marshall.
Starr purchased Rosemont, the home of the Rev. A.F. Wagner,
for his residence, and over time the property became a family compound.
His son, James Franklin Starr, helped manage the family's
business interest. He purchased a portion of the estate for his
own residence, Maplecroft -- now known as the Starr Mansion.
James Franklin Starr and wife Clara had six daughters. As each daughter
married, Starr built a home for her new family on the estate.
Several of these buildings are extant: a portion of Rosemont,
three of the houses Starr constructed for his daughters, a school
house, and proud Maplecroft.
The Starr Mansion compound remained in family possession until 1985,
then was transferred to Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. Portions
of the property can be rented for parties, bed & breakfast service,
Old houses vary greatly depending on the care they receive. This
old house is in excellent condition, and it offers a wonderful insight
into the way East Texans lived not so long ago.
All Things Historical
April 1-7, 2001
(Archie P. McDonald is Director of the East Texas Historical Association
and author or editor of over 20 books on Texas)