Henderson County, Kentucky Biography


E. L. (EDMUND LYNE) STARLING, historian of Henderson County, Kentucky was the son of Lyne STARLING and Miriam P. DILLON; born Saturday morning 9 May 1840 in a two-story frame building, situated near the southwest corner of Elm and Second Streets.

Edmund’s mother, Miriam, a woman of beauty and of culture, died when he was nine months old, leaving her son to his grandmother, Anne Maria Todd STARLING, of whom he often said, “No sweeter or nobler mother ever lived.” 

Edmund’s father, Lyne STARLING, died when he was eleven years old.

The formative period of this orphaned boy’s life was spent on a farm two and one half miles from Henderson on the Knoblick Road.  His environment was one of ease and of culture and it is easy to discern how he became the idol of doting grandparents.  He was sent to the best schools the town afforded, but it was to his grandmother, Ann that he owed more than to any one person, his knowledge and love of books.


Ann was the daughter of Judge Thomas TODD, a Justice of the United States Supreme Court.  She inherited rare mental qualities, and it was her delight to inculcate in her grandson a love of good literature.  


I have never understood why my father was denied a finished education.  The reason was not pecuniary; no doubt it was sentimental.


When he was fourteen years of age, E. L. STARLING’s grandfather bought from Dr. W. B. READ the property situated on the corner of Green and Clay Streets.  He gave up farming and moved to Henderson to live.  The portals of the STARLING home were always open to the stranger, the friend, and the wayfarer and distressed.


There the subject of this sketch grew into young manhood, and counted among his friends, men his seniors in years and experience.


When he was fifteen years of age he was place in the Circuit and County Clerks office under Mr. William D. ALLISON, who held the two offices for over thirty years.  E. L. STARLING’s grandfather as of a great educational value to a young man regarded a term of service with MR. ALLISON.  He started in as a copy boy and resigned his position five years later while in full charge of the two offices.


In 1860, prior to the outbreak of the war, Mr. ALLISON died and E. L. STARLING, his only deputy at the time, held the two offices until the appointment of a successor, for being a minor he could not legally succeed Mr. ALLISON.  His health too had become impaired from close confinement and on the advice of a physician he resigned only to be recalled to assist the new clerk, Mr. Tignal J. HOPKINS, in adjusting himself to the affairs of the office.


During the same year, Fort Sumter was fired on and the tocsin of war sounded.  Governor MCGOFFIN called for volunteers.  Among the first to offer his service was Colonel John H. MCHENRY of Owensboro.  Being commissioned by the State of Kentucky to raise a regiment for service, he established a camp at Hartford, Kentucky, and called for recruits.


At that time E. L. STARLING was in command of a company of one hundred men, fully equipped with arms by the State.  The company was the result of a largely attended mass meeting held at the Courthouse.  The best citizens were enrolled.  After organization there were nominations for the Captaincy, and E. L. STARLING then twenty-one years of age, was elected by a large majority.  He immediately assumed command and began preparing his men for any call that might be made upon them.


For several weeks after the outbreak of hostilities, he caused the town to be guarded at night and was the means of keeping order and quiet during that perilous time.


During the summer and early fall of 1861, Captain E. L. STARLING received military orders from Frankfort to go with his company to Spottsville on Green River and there go into camp as guard to the locks.  “There situated until further orders.”  It was known that an attempt would be made to destroy this very valuable and important piece of property, and protection was necessary to keep the river open.  Here Captain E. L. STARLING was in command until relieved by a regiment of U. S. Volunteers.


He soon received orders from Frankfort to proceed forthwith to Henderson and demand of Captain E. G. HALL, who was in command of what was known as a state Guard Company, all arms consisting of rifles, swords, bayonets, sixty sets of accouterments, a brass cannon and seven artillery sabers and belts.  Third Lieutenant Samuel W. RANKIN, the only commissioned officer at the time, turned over the keys of the Armory.  In a short time the guns were packed ready for shipment.  They were taken aboard a steamer and in a few hours safely stored in Evansville.


A second order Military headquarters authorized, Captain E. L.  STARLING to take charge of a complete outfit of Calvary Arms, they were in the possession of a company of which John S. NORRIS was Captain.  The arms were secured and shipped to Evansville.


Captain E. L. STARLING was complimented from Military headquarters for his valuable service to the State.


Soon afterwards the various State organizations disbanded for the purpose of enlisting into either the Confederate or Union Armies.


Colonel John H. MCHENRY tendered Captain E. L. STARLING the position of Adjutant of his Regiment, which position he accepted.  A month later the Regiment was mustered into the United States service and went into Camp at Calhoun, Kentucky, on Green River as full-fledged soldiers.  After camping for several weeks without anything of real interest to give them an idea of a soldier’s life, the call came in February 1862.  The Regiment was ordered to embark on board of a fleet of steamers.  The Fleet was directed to Fort Henry on the Tennessee River, arriving too late to take part in the battle, orders directed their return to Paducah and proceeds with all possible dispatch up the Cumberland River to Fort Donelson.


On Friday morning, February 13, Lieutenant E. L. STARLING took part in the bloody Battle of Fort Donelson.  After the surrender of the Fort, Saturday night the 17th Kentucky Regiment to which he belonged marched into the town of Dover and received the surrender of several Regiments.


On April the sixth and seventh 1862, Lieutenant E. L. STARLING took part in the Battle of Shiloh or Pittsburg Landing.


The hardship of camp life and exposure to weather brought on camp dysentery and E. L. STARLING’s health was so impaired it necessitated his resignation from the Army.  His Colonel complimented him in his report to the Department for his bravery and attention to duty during each engagement and a personal letter to his family said “He won not only the confidence and esteem of the officers associated with him, but he endeared himself to every private soldier in his Regiment.”


E. L. STARLING resigned as First Lieutenant and Adjutant of the 17th Kentucky Volunteers.  GENERAL HALLECK and GENERAL U. S. GRANT signed his honorable discharge from the Army.


E. L. STARLING returned home and was welcomed as one of Henderson’s favorite sons, but it was many months before he regained his health.


On October 6, 1863, he married Mary Belle STEWART of New Orleans and of Louisville, Kentucky.  The wedding was solemnized in St. Paul’s Protestant Episcopal Church, the Rev. Daniel H. DEACON officiating.  Seven children bless this union.  E. L. STARLING possessed a bass voice of unusual quality and for years sang in the choir of St. Paul’s Church, and also served in the capacity of Vestryman and Warden.


In 1864, he organized the grocery firm of STARLING, NORRIS & Company, the largest in Henderson.  They occupied what is now known as the P. A. BLACKWELL Building.  Mr. NORRIS decided to go to California to live and was succeeded in the firm by Mr. NUNN.


Later he had erected the three-story building now occupied by the Henderson Publishing Company, where he continued in mercantile pursuit with David BURBANK, Jr.


In 1868, E. L. STARLING was elected Mayor of Henderson, holding the office for six years.  His administration was an able one.  Practically his first step was in the interest of education.  During the first year of his incumbency in office, he placed before his council the paramount importance of a good Public School System.  In 1869 an act was passed incorporating the Henderson Public School  Bonds to the amount of $50,000 were issued, and the first Board of Trustees elected, with E. L. STARLING President Ed-officio.


During the same year the high school was incorporated with E. L. STARLING the first President of it’s school board.


In 1870, the building now known as the Center Street School was completed and the first public school opened to the youth of Henderson.  Prof. Maurice KIRBY of the Louisville Male High School became its first superintendent and Miss Lydia HAMPTON of Hampton College, Louisville, the first Principal of the high school.


As mayor in Henderson’s formative period, E. L. STARLING was a fearless executive and planned wisely.  Pavements, public ways, the terminus of the Evansville, Henderson and Nashville Railroad secured by him, gas works, city buildings and even the town clock was due to his efforts.  During the latter part of his administration, plans were formulated for the construction of our water works system.


After six years as chief executive of Henderson, E. L. STARLING retired; leaving a record in accomplishment that will always be a monument to his memory.


In 1875 E. L. STARLING entered the field of journalism, first he was associated with The Henderson Reporter, then The Henderson Journal and ultimately closed his reportorial work as Managing Editor of The Gleaner.  Something like forty years of his life was devoted to newspaper and journalistic work.  He used his pen and the press as a means of making the world better within the corner of his habitat.


He upheld the cause of Christianity, democracy and education at all times and continually advocated public improvements, many of which he had the satisfaction of seeing materialized.  His success was not counted in dollars but was that of a duty well performed.  He believed in Henderson and wrote it so from time to time.


It was while Editor of The Reporter that he decided to write the history of the county he knew and loved so well.  He was prepared for the task for his mind was a storehouse of knowledge, knowledge of a character to lend value to a book of historical import.


Only those nearest to the author could appreciate his effort and the labor involved in the completion of his history, for the work entailed long and patient research, and required courage to go forward in the face of indifference on the part of many who later were to call the history their own.  


In the spring of 1893, E. L. STARLING suffered an accident to his knee that left him a cripple the rest of his life.  After a year’s illness, he resumed his journalistic work, which he pursued with interest until a few months before his death.


My father died Sunday, 15 May 1910, aged seventy years.  He was a gentleman of the old school, in religion a church man, in politics a democrat, in which cause he vigorously used his pen in the advocacy of those principles.

Sketch by Mary Starling Price

“Biographical Sketch of Edmund Lyne Starling” by his daughter, Mary Starling Price was found in the Henderson County Historical & Genealogical Society’s family files.

“Henderson County Death Records, 1839 – 1911” Edmund L. Starling d) 15 May 1910, pl) Henderson, bur) Henderson, cause) tuberculosis, Dr. W. F. Armstrong, age) 70, b) unknown, res) Henderson, parents) unknown.

“Starling’s History of Henderson”  Page 638, Col. Edmund Lyne Starling married Ann Maria TODD,  2 October 1817 at Frankfort.  Ann Maria was born 30 Mar 1801 and was the third child of Judge Thomas Todd.  Page 640, Ann died 15 Dec 1862.

Page 637, Col. Edmund Lyne Starling was born in Mecklenburg County, VA on 9 May 1795.  Page 640 Edmund Lyne died 30 Aug 1869.

Page 639, Col. Edmund Lyne Starling and Ann Maria Todd had eleven children:  Lyne, Thomas Todd, Sarah Carneal, Jane Davison, Elizabeth Todd, William, Charles Todd, Susanna, Ann Maria, Lucy Bell and Edmund Lyne.

Page 640 Lyne Starling was born Logan Co on 23 Aug 1818.  He died at the age of 33, having been married 3 times – first to Miriam P. Dillon of Franklin Co.  Miriam died 20 Jan 1841, one year and seven months after her marriage, leaving one son, E. L. StarlingLyne married secondly, Anna Belle WALKER on 30 Jun 1843.  Anna Belle died 13 Nov 1844 leaving no issue.  Lyne married third Mary F. ALLISON 20 Apr 1846.  Mary is the eldest daughter of William D. ALLISON, for many years clerk of the Circuit and County Courts of Henderson County.  Lyne died 25 Nov 1851.  By his last marriage, one child, Ann Maria was born 26 Jan 1849.  Ann Maria died 22 Nov 1865.

Page 642 Mary Belle (Mollie) STEWART was born 31 Mar 1844, Louisville, Kentucky.  Mary died 17 Jan 1920.

Page 643 E. L. Starling and Mary Belle had 8 children born unto them:  Edmund Lyne b) 31 Jul 1864, Stewart b) 9 Mar 1866, Ann Maria, Lyne, Mary Stewart (Mamie), Thomas Stewart, Miriam and Susanna Lyne.

Contributed by Netta Mullin, HCH&GS

Copyright 2002 HCH&GS