The month is August of 2008 and as I began to transcribe the 1908 Stark Family Association yearbook, I realized this reunion was held 100 years ago this month. This was only the ninth year of the twentieth century. Theodore Roosevelt was President and it was an election year. TR was only 50 years old, still young enough to indulge in his many other interest and ready to leave the unpleasant politics of his era.
He indicated to the Republican Party he would resign as President if he were allowed to pick his successor. The deal was made and William Howard Taft was chosen as his successor, easily winning the nomination of the Republican Party. As one historian wrote: “Taft was an extraordinary choice for a man like TR to make and was proof of the contention that great men should not be allowed to pick their successors.” [A History of the American People by Paul Johnson, 1997]
Taft’s “experience” credentials included: Graduation from the Cincinnati Law School in 1880; variety of Legislative jobs; assistant prosecuting attorney; superior court judge; federal circuit judge; secretary of War (1904); and governor-general of the Philippines. His Democratic opponent was William Jennings Bryan, this being his third attempt to be elected President -- having lost twice previously to William McKinley (1896 & 1900).
A quote from the 1908 Stark Family Association yearbook:
“THE Stark Family Association assembled for its thirteenth annual reunion at the Golden Spur Inn, East Lyme, Conn., Tuesday, Aug. 18th, 1908. The day was perfect and the friends began to gather early. We missed some who are usually with us, among the number our former historian, this being her first absence since the organization of the society. There were new friends to greet, whose names we were pleased to enroll as members of our association.”
This was the first year that Charles R. Stark was the Association’s Historian. The gathering discussed what was then believed to be three branches of the Stark family from Scotland which included the Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Virginia Families. Harold M. Stark of Boston, a descendant of the New Hampshire Family, had at the time accumulated more data and historical facts on these families than had anyone else to their knowledge. Plans were developed to have Harold develop and publish a volume on the Connecticut Stark Families. However, this compilation of the Aaron Stark Family would not be published until 1927 -- not by Harold M. Stark -- but by Charles R. Stark in his genealogical compilation of the Aaron Stark Family entitled, “The Aaron Stark Family, Seven Generations of the Descendants of Aaron Stark of Groton, Connecticut.”
I leave you with your thoughts on how much has changed since 1908. We are making history this very minute in the ninth year of the twenty-first century. It’s an election year and we are faced with choosing a President to lead the country for the next four years -- that being, itself, an extraordinary event one hundred years later. There have been many technological changes in the last one hundred years, yet, we are basically no different as human beings as were our ancestors one hundred years ago; having in many areas moved forward, while in many other areas having regressed. May the world soon make a course correction that will lead us to a better place by the end of the century.
The 1908 Stark Family Yearbook transcription can be found at URLhttp://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~clovis/yb1...
Clovis LaFleur, August 12, 2008