Cherokee historian, genealogist, and physician, Emmet Starr was born December 12, 1870 in Adair County, Oklahoma, the former Going Snake district, Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory. He was one of five children born to mixed-blood Cherokees Walter Adair and Ruth A. Thornton Starr. Emmet Starr grew up on a farm at Claremore in present Rogers County, Oklahoma, and attended Cherokee public schools. He graduated from the Cherokee Male Seminary at Tahlequah in 1888 and from the Barnes Medical College at St. Louis, Missouri, in 1891. He never married. He began collecting Cherokee documents in the early 1890s.
Starr practiced medicine for five years before dedicating himself to the study of Cherokee history. His books included the 1910 publication Cherokees "West," 1794-1839 and his notable History of the Cherokee Indians and Their Legends and Folklore. Published in 1922, the latter remains prized by Cherokee historians and genealogists.
Starr was elected in 1901 to serve a two-year term as a Cooweescoowee District representative on the Cherokee National Council. He opposed Oklahoma statehood and was a delegate to the Sequoyah Convention in 1905. He died at St. Louis, Missouri, on January 30, 1930, and was buried at Claremore, Oklahoma. He was inducted into the Oklahoma Historians Hall of Fame in 1997.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Bob L. Blackburn, "Oklahoma Historians Hall of Fame Emmet Starr," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 75 (Summer 1997). "Death of Dr. Emmet Starr," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 8 (March 1930). Rennard Strickland, "Emmet Starr," in Encyclopedia of North American Indians, ed. Frederick E. Hoxie (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1996).
Jon D. May
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