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Below is a family biography included in Book of Biographies: Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens, Cortland County, New York published by Biographical Publishing Company in 1898.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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JAMES HENRY STARIN, station agent for the D., L. & W. R. R. at Homer, Cortland County, N. Y., and a member of the well known firm of Maxson & Starin, belongs to a family whose names appear often in the annals of the history of New York State. Mr. Starin is a son of Thomas and Sabrina (Vedder) Starin, and was born at Fultonville, Montgomery County, N. Y., October 31, 1848.

The Starin family is descended from Holland Dutch ancestry. The American branch was founded by Nicholas Starin, who was born in Holland, not far from the Zuyder Zee, at a point in Guelderland province. He was born in 1663, and in 1696, in company with his second wife and the three children which had been born to them, also with three children born to his first wife, he came to America. He was, of course, landed at New Amsterdam (New York), having taken passage with his little flock on board a Dutch West India merchantman. His arrival occurred during the regime of Gov. Fletcher. Nicholas Starin was soon aware that the best way to employ his means in the securing of wealth for himself was to embark in trade with the Indians. With this in mind he soon went up the Hudson and located at Fort Orange, now Albany. Here he made money, and gained a reputation of being a very shrewd but at the same time an exceedingly honest trader, both with the red men of whom he bought, and the dealers on the other side of the water to whom he sold. After a time he removed to the locality called in the early history of the country “German Flats,” and there passed from life at the age of ninety-six years. Nicholas Starin was the father of fifteen children, of whom Phillip Frederick Adam Starin was the great-great-grandfather of the subject of this sketch.

This gentleman, next in the line of descent, was born at German Flats in 1715, and died at Glen, N. Y., in 1795. By occupation he was a machinist, and he found ample scope for his talents and skill among the incoming settlers in the Mohawk Valley country.

John Starin, his son, came into life at Charleston, N. Y., now Glen, August 31, 1754. He was an Indian interpreter, and later on was a trusted ally of General George Washington, with whom he was on quite confidential terms, his great knowledge of Indian lore making him a most valuable assistant. He was also one of the forty male members of the Starin family who made honorable records in the Revolutionary War as soldiers in the Continental Army. Of this number as many as ten were under the direct command at one time of General Washington. After the war had been brought to a successful close, John Starin kept a tavern at a place that is now the village of Fultonville, N. Y. There he died February 19, 1832. He was during his life a member of the historic Caughnawaga Stone Church, and was leader of the choir. In 1770, he wedded Jane Wemple, daughter of another family of historic renown. She bore him eight children, of whom Myndert, the grandfather of our subject, was born at Glen, May 31, 1786.

Myndert Starin was a man of education and culture, and at one time served as the first mail carrier in his section. Later on he was a very prosperous frontier trader, his journeys taking him into the then far West. In the War of 1812 he fought bravely for his country, and a few years After the conflict was over went into business in Johnstown, N. Y., where he soon gathered heavy property interests about him. As a member of the firm of Starin & Robinson he founded a village and named it Fultonville, in honor of Robert Fulton. At this point they conducted a flouring mill, a saw mill, a paper mill, a nail factory, a cordage and weaving factory, along with several less important interests. He was also engaged in the passenger and freighting business, and owned several boats that navigated the Mohawk River from 1810 to 1815. About the time that the Erie Canal project loomed up, he became a strong advocate of the great undertaking, and he was of great assistance to Gov. Clinton in pushing the plan through to a successful termination. He was a follower of his father’s footsteps at the old Stone Church, and he was, too, the honored choir master for many years. Myndert Starin departed this life February 8, 1845, leaving a widow, whose maiden name had been Rachel Sammons, and a family of eight children.

Thomas Starin, father of our subject, was one of the children, and his birth occurred November 10, 1823, at Glen, the family home. He attended the schools at Glen, and later the Cherry Valley Academy. Becoming a man he first entered the hotel business at Fultonville, but later on became a member of the grocery firm of Starin & Freeman of Fultonville. He also owned boats on the then completed Erie Canal, and did a heavy freighting business. Later he became interested in business with his brother, John H. Starin, of New York City. The latter gentleman is, by the way, the transportation king of the metropolis, and the pennant bearing the name “Starin” flies from the staffs of more vessels of all descriptions than some governments own. Thomas Starin was in politics an active Republican, and was always a leading spirit in whatever circle chance threw him. He was the father of six children, all of whom are dead except James H. Starin, the subject of this history.

The latter received his education in the Fultonville schools, and in the Montgomery County Institute at Fonda, and later at a private school at Albany, N. Y., under the direction of Prof. Collins prepared for college. Preferring a business career, however, he engaged in the produce business with his uncle, D. D. Starin, at No. 98 Park Place, New York City, being at the time only about eighteen years of age. He remained there a few years, and then went to Saugerties, up the Hudson, and was for two years book-keeper for John Maxwell, a large dealer in blue stone. Later he was bookkeeper for Cunningham & Marvin Bros., who were wholesale dealers in wood and willow ware, located on the corner of Murray and Washington Streets, New York City. He then went back to New York, and entered the employ of his uncle, John H. Starin, in the railroad transfer department at Pier 48. He held various positions in this immense enterprise, but finally became agent at Pier 14, North River, for the New Jersey Central R. R. Co. At that post he remained for four years, at the end of which period, March 6, 1877, he came to Homer, and assumed charge of the local R. R. station. He also had control of the local agency of the U. S. Express Co. about eighteen years. Besides his duties as the representative of the Lackawanna Line, he has also engaged in the lumber, coal and builder’s supplies business, both at Homer and Cortland, being associated with Mr. Byron Maxson. Their business along the lines mentioned is now the heaviest in this section, as they handle both a wholesale and a retail trade. Mr. Starin in politics is a stanch Republican. He was mentioned for Member of Assembly, but through his business cares he withdrew from the contest.

Mr. Starin is a director in the Homer and the First National Banks, and is a member of the Homer Lodge, No. 352, F. & A. M. His wife was a Miss Josephine A. Brockway, daughter of the late William N. Brockway, in his time one of Homer’s leading manufacturers. Their union took place January 16, 1895, the bridal tour being to the Pacific coast and all points of interest in the West; they now have one child, Sabrina Brockway by name. In social life Mr. Starin is a member of the Columbia Club. In 1891 Mr. Starin, in company with Dr. John H. Loran and a party of friends, took an extended tour through the European countries, and had a most enjoyable time.

In concluding this sketch, a few words as to the family name “Starin” are not amiss. The original Dutch name was probably “Ster.” Nicholas, the founder of the American branch, Germanized it by making it “Stern,” an equivalent; later on “Stern” became “Staring,” and by dropping the last letter, this easily became “Starin,” the now time-honored cognomen.

Our subject, according to the ideas of all who know him, is a gentleman who is in every respect worthy of his race. Possessed of marked abilities in many channels of activity, he brings to bear on all the duties of life a manner and method which result in their best performance, and at the same time win respect and high standing. Mr. Starin is in every respect a representative citizen, and a man whose public spirit and utility are too well known to need further comment. The publishers of this collection of biographies of Cortland County take pleasure in presenting his portrait* on a preceding page.

*A portrait was included in the original printed volume.

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This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in Book of Biographies: Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens, Cortland County, New York published in 1898. 

View additional Cortland County, New York family biographies here: Cortland County, New York Biographies

View a map of 1897 Cortland County, New York here: Cortland County, New York Map

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