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Dr. Alfred Starr

Doctor in Burr Oak, Iowa, whose wife allegedly wanted to adopt Laura.

As I came in the door [Mrs. Starr] put her arm around me and went on with her talk. She said she wanted me to go and live with her… – Pioneer Girl

Alfred Horatio Starr was born March 21, 1830, in Otsego County, New York. His parents were Ruggles Starr and Frances Augusta Ludington. Alfred Starr married Eunice Antoinette Hall in New York on December 11, 1853. Alfred Starr trained as a doctor.

The Starrs had two daughters: Frances Elizabeth Starr was born September 1854 in New York, and Ida May Starr was born December 3, 1857 in Wisconsin.

The Starrs moved to Buchanan County, Missouri, prior to the start of the Civil War. In 1862, Dr. Starr joined the First Missouri State Militia Cavalry. He was discharged the following year due to disease of the lungs (consumption). He joined the Fourth Regiment, Provincial Enrolled Missouri Militia in June 1863 and served as assistant surgeon until his discharge in September 1864.

The Starrs were lived in Burr Oak, Iowa, in the late 1870s and early 1880s, moving from Iowa to Wisconsin. Dr. Starr was receiving disability by 1880, due to his poor healty. He died January 22, 1890, in Baraboo (Sauk County) Wisconsin, and is buried in Walnut Hill Cemetery.

Eunice Starr lived with one or both of her daughters following the death of her husband, settling near Denver, Colorado, where she died August 1, 1924. She was buried in Arvada Cemetery, Arvada, Colorado, northwest of Denver.



Laura Ingalls Wilder mentions Alfred Starr as their doctor in Burr Oak, Iowa, during the Ingallses’ stay there, although she never refers to any illness treated by him. In Pioneer Girl, Wilder wrote that Mrs. Starr was visiting Ma one day and when Laura walked in, she put her arm around her and said she wanted Laura to come live with her, to work around the house, and to keep her from being lonesome, since daughters Ida and Fanny were grown and away teaching school. In the summer of 1876, Fanny was 22 and Ida was 19.

Of course Ma said she couldn’t possibly spare Laura!

Wilder writes later that Fanny Starr visited Mattie Masters in Walnut Grove, and that they were both romantically interested in Dr. Robert Hoyt, who had studied in Burr Oak with Dr. Starr. Fanny was said to have been engaged to Dr. Hoyt at one point, but Mattie was the one who ended up marrying him in late 1878, most likely by having an affair with the unmarried doctor and getting pregnant (what was most likely a tubal pregnancy, which resulted in her death).

Frances Elizabeth Starr lived with her sister and brother-in-law in Hesper (Winneshiek County) Iowa, in 1880 and was a teacher there. Fanny married Oscar B. Allen in Floyd (Floyd Co.) Iowa on September 27, 1882. Oscar was born in July 1853, the son of Cyrus and Lucy (Judson) Allen. Fanny and Oscar had two children: Horatio M. Allen, born October 1885; and Eunice (Allen) Jenks, born in 1887. While Charles Ingalls was a bookkeeper on the Chicago and NorthWestern Railroad going west, Oscar Allen held the same position for the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad, returning to Iowa after some months. His father had owned a sawmill in Floyd County, and Oscar worked in the mill after his father’s death. Oscar and Fanny seem to have separated; she moved to Colorado and he to Minnesota. Fanny died in Denver on March 31, 1930. She was buried in Denver.

Ida May Starr married Burr Oak carpenter and county schoolteacher, Davis B. Willis, in 1880. The couple had eight children: Merton (1880), Ray (1882), Una (1884), Starr (1886), Clara (1888), Laurence (1891), Leslie (1891), Burton (1897), and Herbert (1897). Davis died prior to 1920. Ida died August 21, 1933, in Idaho. She was buried in Ashton.


Dr. Starr (PG)
     Mrs. Starr / Star (PG)
     Fanny / Fannie (PG)
      Ida (PG)