Cherokee physician, historian and genealogist
Emmet McDonald Starr was born December 12, 1870, in Going Snake District, Cherokee Nation. His parents were Walter Adair and Ruth A. (Thornton) Starr. They were both members by birthright of the Cherokee Nation. The name Starr is of Irish origin, and Doctor Starr's great-grandfather, Caleb Starr, who was a native of Chester County, Pennsylvania, was a Pennsylvania Quaker, and early in life went south and married into the Cherokee Indian Tribe. Doctor Starr's mother was a descendant through her father from the Virginia Thorntons of English lineage, and on her mother's side was also of Cherokee stock. He is the oldest in a family of five children, and the other four were: George Colbert Starr, Mary B. Starr, wife of Dr. Wade H. Vann, Miss Lettie B., and Joseph M. The mother of these children died when the youngest of them was about six years old. The father married his second wife, Ella Christie of Christie, Adair County, and she became the mother of two children named Jennie and Caleb L. Starr.
In 1871 Doctor Starr's parents removed to what is now Rogers County, Oklahoma, and he grew up there on a farm. His father was a very prominent man in the Cherokee Nation, and for fourteen years held the position of district judge, and was still on the bench when the national government of the Cherokees was dissolved. Doctor Starr graduated June 28, 1888, from the Cherokee Male Seminary at Tahlequah, and in 1891 earned his degree in medicine from the Barnes Medical College in St. Louis.
He practiced medicine first at Chelsea and then at Skiatook, but after five years of successful work in his profession abandoned it in order to devote his time to his great work as a Cherokee genealogist and historian. On August 5, 1901, Starr was elected to serve a two-year term as a Cooweescoowee District representative on the Cherokee National Council. and he served in that body with credit for two years, one term. He opposed Oklahoma statehood and was a delegate to the Sequoyah Convention in 1905 Doctor Starr was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. He was a Master Mason.
Dr. Emmet Starr, well known as the genealogist and historian of the Cherokee people, died suddenly during the night of January 30, 1930. His remains were brought to his boyhood home, at Claremore, for burial. Dr. Starr never married and was survived by two sisters, Mrs. Mary Vann, wife of Dr. Vann and Mrs. Lettie Raspberry, and one brother, Caleb.
Dr. Starr was the author of several books on the Cherokee people. One entitled Early History of the Cherokees, another Cherokees, West, and History of the Cherokee Nation. He commenced the collection of material for genealogical and historical work in 1894.
Dr. Starr was a charter member of the Pocahontas Club, one of the oldest Indian clubs in existence. He was at one time president of same. Possibly there is no living man who was as well versed in Cherokee history as Emmet Starr.