Images courtesy of the Eunice R. Benckenstein Library and Archive.
March 19, 1851 – October 8, 1936
Born on the bayou in San Augustine County to Martha Ann and John Thomas Stark, William grew up as the oldest son of eventually 18 siblings. No stranger to responsibility, he took over the operation of the family farm at the young age of 11 when his father left home to join the Confederate Army during the Civil War.
At 21, after 10 years working on the family farm and delivering mail throughout countryside on his father’s postal route, William moved to the growing lumber town of Orange. He started several businesses and became an expert in the local lumber industry. This developing industry attracted many northern businessmen to the area, including Henry Jacob Lutcher, whose daughter, Miriam, attracted William. After an extended courtship, much of which took place through letters, the couple married in December 1881.
Along with his own businesses and investments, William took increasing responsibility over his in-law’s lumber mill, The Lutcher & Moore Lumber Company. Under his leadership, it became one of the most influential lumber businesses in the world. Not only did the company produce large volumes of product, it also created innovative industry standards that are still used today.
Affectionately known as “Uncle Bill” to the town of Orange, William always took care of his friends and family. The biggest example of this still exists today in the form of The W.H. Stark House, built for his wife as her dream home and filled with treasures from throughout their life together.