Starr, Amory Reily (1847–1906)

By: John N. Cravens

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: February 2, 2021

Amory Reily Starr, lawyer, soldier, and politician, the son of Harriet (Johnson) and James Harper Starr, was born on August 24, 1847, in Nacogdoches, Texas. He attended Nacogdoches University, which offered courses from the elementary grades to college level. During the first years of the Civil War he ran away from home four times to join the Confederate Army and finally on July 4, 1864, was allowed to serve as a private and scout in Company H of Col. William P. Hardeman's Fourth Texas Cavalry. After the war he again attended Nacogdoches University and then the University of Virginia, where he received a law degree. After returning to Nacogdoches he and his friend Peyton Forbes Edwards were in law partnership for a brief period before 1873, when Starr assumed control of the James H. Starr and Son land agency, which had belonged to his father and brother, James Franklin Starr; the Starr family had moved to Marshall in 1870. Amory Starr was married to Georgia Mehaffey on June 4, 1872; they had four sons and two daughters. During Reconstruction Starr joined the Knights of the White Camellia. Because of the group's antiblack activities in Harrison County, officers of the federal government placed Starr and other members in the stockade at Jefferson, but none of the group would testify against the others, and the charges against them were dropped. Starr was one of the organizers of the Citizens party, which restored White Democrats to control in Harrison County in the 1878 election. He preferred acting as a party official and leader in local politics to seeking election to state or national office; he stated in 1882 that he would "rather be chairman of a white league, Capt of a rifle club or Mayor of Marshall. We make congressmen." He served as a member of the state Democratic executive committee, was elected mayor of Marshall, and was appointed a regent of the University of Texas in 1893 by Governor James Stephen Hogg. Starr died in Marshall on December 15, 1906, and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery there.

Alwyn Barr, Reconstruction to Reform: Texas Politics, 1876–1906 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1971). Randolph B. Campbell, A Southern Community in Crisis: Harrison County, Texas, 1850–1880 (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1983). John N. Cravens, James Harper Starr: Financier of the Republic of Texas (Austin: Daughters of the Republic of Texas, 1950). Marshall News Messenger, January 24, 1951. James Harper Starr Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Allen W. Trelease, White Terror: The Ku Klux Klan Conspiracy and Southern Reconstruction (New York: Harper and Row, 1971). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. E. W. Winkler, Platforms of Political Parties in Texas (Austin: University of Texas, 1916).

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

John N. Cravens, “Starr, Amory Reily,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 15, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 2, 2021