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McPherson, Lydia Starr (1827–1903)

Judith N. McArthur Biography Entry

Lydia Starr McPherson, journalist, was born in 1827 in Warnock, Ohio, the daughter of William F. and Sarah (Lucas) Starr. She moved with her family to Iowa at the age of twelve and began teaching school at Ashland, Iowa, when she was seventeen. On May 2, 1849, she married David Hunter and settled with him near Keosauqua, Iowa, where they had five children. After Hunter's death, Lydia moved with her three sons to Oskaloosa, Iowa, and then to Caddo, Indian Territory, in 1874, and married Granville McPherson, owner of the Oklahoma Star. Together they edited the Star, for which she wrote under the pen name Urania, until Granville moved the paper to McAlester in the Indian Territory in 1876. In 1878 he moved to Blanco, Texas, where he died. Lydia remained behind in Caddo and began publication of the Caddo International News, under her own editorial direction, with her sons as printers. The following year she moved her family to Whitesboro, Texas, and established the weekly Whitesboro Democrat, the first newspaper in Texas owned and operated by a woman. In 1879 she and her sons were invited to transfer operations to Sherman, and the new Sherman Democrat, which became a daily in 1881, developed into a profitable and influential paper. Lydia McPherson joined the Texas Press Association in 1881, one of the first three women members, and served as corresponding secretary of the association. She was a delegate to the World's Press Association convention in Cincinnati in 1886. She was appointed honorary commissioner for the World Exposition in New Orleans in 1885, and from 1886 to 1890 she served as postmistress of Sherman. She contributed to Cosmopolitan magazine, the Toledo Blade, Youth's Companion and the Chicago Advance, among others, and wrote poems and novels; her only published volume was Reullura (1892), a collection of poetry. In 1890 she toured the western and Pacific states and sent travel letters to the Sherman Democrat. She died in 1903; her sons owned the Democrat until 1920.

Frances E. Willard and Mary A. Livermore, eds., American Women (2 vols., New York: Mast, Crowell, and Kirkpatrick, 1897).


  • Journalism
  • Newspapers
  • Editors and Reporters
  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Literature
  • Dramatists and Novelists
  • Fiction
  • Poets
  • Women

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Judith N. McArthur, “McPherson, Lydia Starr,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed April 17, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 1, 1995

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: