Local timber industry history and the development of Starker Forests. Family history noted with an *

1847-48: Joseph C. Avery lays out the community of Marysville on the north side of the Marys River where it flows into the Willamette.

*1849: August Henry Starker leaves Germany in the midst of the People’s Revolution and moves to U.S.

1853: The Yaquina Fire burns 480,000 acres and destroys an estimated 25 billion board feet of timber west of Corvallis (Marysville).

*1853: Henry Starker marries another young German immigrant, Fredericka Elizabeth Yenter, and buys a farm in the eastern part of the new state of Iowa. (The couple has five children: Charles, William, Otto, August and Marie).

*1857: Otto Starker born in Yarmouth, Iowa.

1878: Hawkin’s Sawmill constructed one mile west of present day Philomath.

1873: Timber Culture Act modifies the Homestead Act of 1862, offering free land to settlers who would plant and maintain at least 40 acres of timber per 160-acre claim. (Later reduced to 10 acres).

*1887: Otto Starker marries Mary Alice Walker and buys a farm near Grenola, Kansas, where he and his uncle and brothers eventually hold many joint business interests. (The couple has two children: Thurman James and Marguerite Caroline).

*1890: Thurman James Starker born. Known later in life as “T.J.”

*1898: T.J. Starker and his family move to Burlington, Iowa. T.J. Starker graduates from grammar school in 1904, and goes on to complete three years of high school.

1905: The quick harvest of Northwest timber raises concerns for the protection and management of Oregon forests and the Forest Service is founded. Two years later, the first National Forests are established.

*1905: Otto Starker and his Uncle Charles travel to Oregon on business and attend the Lewis and Clark Exposition in Portland.

*1907: In October, Otto Starker moves his family to Oregon by train. T.J. Starker enrolls in Portland High School, where he meets his future wife, Margaret Ostrander, and delivers papers for The Oregon Journal. He also assists his father who constructs many of the first cement sidewalks in the city, some of which are still in use today.

*1908: T.J. Starker graduates from high school. In the fall, he heads south to the small town of Corvallis to attend Oregon Agricultural College to take classes in the new profession of Forestry. Out of the 1,500 enrolled students only 20 are enrolled in the new school of Foresty, or which George W. Peavy is soon appointed head.

1910: After a devastating forest fire season in 1910, the state legislature creates Oregon State Board of Forestry with the duty to protect private forest lands from fire.

*1910: Having joined OAC with sophomore status and packing three years of requirements into two years, T.J. Starker graduates with the first class of OAC Forestry along with three classmates. In the fall, at the urging of Peavy, he heads off to graduate school at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

*1912: T.J. Starker departs Michagan with a hand written degree from his favorite professor, Filibert Roth, and takes a temporary job planting trees for $2.75 a day in the Oregon National Forest (now Mount Hood National Forest), while he awaits his civil service examination scores.

*1912-13: T.J. Starker takes a job in for the Whitman National Forest, and eventually ends up working in timber sales of Ponderosa Pine, headquartered in Sumpter.

1914-18: T.J. Starker marries Margaret Ostrander in June. The couple lives in Sumpter and White Pine. T.J. Starker later went on to work stints in Eugene and in Portland working on the federal acquisition of private lands to protect watersheds. His next job was with the Office of Products in the District Six office of the Forest Service in Portland.

1914-18: World War I raises demand for wood harvests.

*T.J. Starker travels throughout western Oregon and Washington to encourage mills to cut and ship spruce lumber need to build airplanes.

*1918 and 1920: T.J. and Margaret have two children: Bruce and Jean.

1917: T.J. Starker takes a job as a traveling secretary for the Western Pine Manufacturer’s Association and travels all over the Pacific Northwest getting experience in manufacturing and marketing of timber products.

1922: Peavy offers T.J. Starker a job teaching at OAC. He accepted and started teaching that fall. He taught silviculture, forest management, wood identification, camp cooking, use of pack animals and forest products. The Starkers lived in Reed Apartments initially and T.J. built the family a house near 23rd and VanBuren streets (dirt roads at the time).

T.J. lead many field trips and secured use of the private Avery woods for forestry class (which he later helped the city acquire (now Avery Park).

1925: From 1925 on, T.J. Starker played a role in the acquisition of the college forests, starting with 80 acres north of Corvallis in 1925 bought with $1,800 fundraised by alumni. Later the widow of a lumberman, Mary McDonald, gave money to purchase an additional 4,800 acres as an outdoor laboratory.

1929-32: The Great Depression starts with a crash on Wall Street and slowed construction. Oregon sees definite signs that its timber based economy is in trouble as 48 percent of the state’s lumber camps close and annual production drops from 5.3 billion to 1.7 billion board feet annually.

1932-40: During the Depression, more than 2 million acres of private forest land becomes tax delinquent and ownership defers to county governments.

1932: Peavy becomes president of Oregon State College.

1933: The Tillamook Burn, a series of forest fires in the northern Coast Range destroys a total area of 355,000 acres. 

*1936: Bruce Starker graduates with first class from the new Corvallis High School.

*1940: Bruce Starker graduates from OSC School of Forestry and goes on to Yale for graduate studies earning a masters in Forest Management in 1941. He enlists in the U.S. Coast Guard in 1942.

*1936-1942: T.J. Starker starts making investments in previously cutover land with an eye towards second growth production, while many in the market focused on harvesting the remaining old-growth. The first piece of land he buys is 110 acres south of Blodgett. In the early 40s, a large tract of land that sit within the boundaries of McDonald Forest today. In 1942, T.J. Starker leaves his teaching post and embarks on a private forester career. He becomes good friends with Rex Clemens, who he often scouted property with.

*1946: Bruce Starker returns home to help his father manage his timber investments. He marries Elizabeth “Betty” Margaret Bond. The couple built a spacious home on a wooded hillside between Corvallis and Philomath, which later became the headquarters of Starker Forests. Sons Bond and Barte were born in 1947 and 1950.

1962: Gov. Mark Hatfield appoints T.J. Starker to the Oregon State Board of Forestry. He served until 1970.

*1968-69: T.J. semi-retires and Bruce’s oldest son Bond, just graduated from the Oregon State University College of Forestry, begins working full-time for the family company.

*1971: Beginning in 1971, Starker Forests became a formal partnership with Bruce, Bruce’s wife Betty and their two sons.

1971: Oregon Legislature passes the nation’s first comprehensive forest practices act.

*Bruce Starker was appointed by the Board of Forestry as one of three forest industry members to serve on the nine-member regional advisory commission to craft the new rules.

*1972: Barte Starker graduates from OSU’s School of Forestry and joins the family company full-time.

1975: Bruce Starker, who learned to fly after following the lead of his wife, was piloting a plane over Timberlands in Yamhill County with his son Bond when the plane crashed. Bruce was killed, but Bond survived. As a memorial to Bruce the family donated several acres to the city of Corvallis for the Bruce Starker Arts Park, as well as donations for the renovation of the Majestic Theatre. The Starker Lecture Series at Oregon State University is also a memorial to Bruce and his father T.J.’s contributions and interest in professional debates.

1981: Six years after Bruce’s death, the partnership became Starker Forests Inc. with T.J. as chairman. The company’s land holdings had grown to about 50,000 acres in 10 Oregon counties.

*Over the years, T.J. builds 10 homes in Corvallis and constructs the Peak Plywood Plant with 10 stockholder employees (including his son Bruce, and son-in-law Kermit Roth), three sawmills and six industrial buildings.

*1983: T.J. Starker passes away in March. His memorial service is held in Avery Park.

1987: Barte Starker appointed to new seven-member Board of Forestry by Gov. Neil Goldschmidt.

1980s-2000s: Latest generations of Starkers: Barte and his wife Patricia Lemon, had twin girls Wendy and Sally. Bond and Marilyn J. McCornack Starker, had a son and daughter, James and Anna. Sally recently had a son. Anna has two children. All of that generation and their spouses are active in the management of the company. The twins are spearheading efforts to promote more recreation opportunities in Starker Forests.

2011: Starker Forests will celebrate its 75th anniversary with an open house on July 23, commemorating T.J. Starker’s first timberland purchase in 1936. The company today holds approximately 80,000 acres of forest land in Benton, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, and Polk counties and directly employs about 20 people.

Information from “Starker Forests: The Legacy of T.J. Starker,” by Jim Fisher, Oregon Color Press, April 1991.


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