Images courtesy of the Eunice R. Benckenstein Library and Archive.
January 23, 1859 – November 27, 1936
The daughter of middle class German-American butchers, Miriam spent a happy childhood attending finishing school during the week while trimming meat in the family shop on the weekends. Growing up in the established and developed lumber center of Williamsport, Pennsylvania meant she had access to all the conveniences of a modern city. Her father eventually joined the industry, and big changes took place when he decided to move his business and family from Williamsport to the frontier, heavily forested town of Orange, Texas.
As a young women starting her adult life, Miriam split her time between her immediate family in Orange and her extended family and friends in Williamsport. After an extended courtship with William Stark, she committed to a life in Orange, with multiple reassurances that together, they would make the town as nice as possible. They married in 1881. After losing their first child, Frannie, before her second birthday, the couple welcomed a son, Henry Jacob Lutcher Stark, in 1887. Both children were named after Miriam’s parents, who played and active and involved in Lutcher Stark’s childhood.
After Lutcher Stark went off to college, Miriam began to increasingly pursue her own interests, primarily travel and literature. From her many trips throughout the country and overseas, Miriam accumulated one of the finest private collections of romantic literate and classic works. She shared her love of literature and educate with her community through numerous book clubs and created the Stark Reading Contest in 1904, which still continues as a scholarship program to this day.
From original works by Shakespeare and Venetian scenes painted by Moran to hand embroidered lace and American Brilliant cut glass, her home was a deeply personal expression of her interests and sense of style.