WILLIAM H. STARK, whose name stands out as a captain of industry whose sturdy adherence to ideals of growth and development have resulted in an era of prosperity and civic expansion at Orange, has been vitally concerned with the advancement of this section for half a century, and not only Orange, but the surrounding territory has felt the force of his influence.
Mr. Stark has organized and successfully operated enterprises of such wide scope that there are few industrial or commercial ventures that have not come under his influence, or in the success of which he has not been a determining factor. As a business executive Mr. Stark is unusually versatile and discriminating, and he is not only thoroughly familiar with the commercial situation in Southeast Texas, but is a keen student of economic conditions throughout the world and has a wealth of information and constructive ideas regarding the administration of those enterprises which have made Orange a prosperous municipality and one of the leading cities of the coast. With a natural aptitude for directing large endeavors and a courage to face heavy responsibility, Mr. Stark has been a leader not only in commercial activities, but in civic affairs, and it would be hard to estimate the part he has taken in the development of Orange.
Mr. Stark holds the office of president in half a score of the more important industries and commercial enterprises at Orange, these being the LutcherMoore Lumber Company, the First National Bank of Orange, the Gray Oil Company, the Sabine Hotel Company, the Yellow Pine Paper Mill Company, the Orange Box Manufacturing Company, the Vinton Petroleum Company, the Orange Grocery Company, the Orange Rice Milling Company, the StarkHillard Warehouse Company, the Lutcher-Moore Cypress Lumber Company and the Dibert-StarkBrown Cypress Company. In addition to holding the presidency in the above mentioned companies, Mr. Stark is vice president of the Texas Creosoting Company, and is also one of the largest property owners at Orange, having built and retained the ownership of many of the finest business buildings that make up the business center at Orange, and also owning much residence property here. Mr. Stark has heavy farming and ranching interests in this section.
William H. Stark was born in San Augustine County, Texas, the nineteenth of March, 1851. His fatber, John T. Stark, a native of Missouri, came to Texas in 1836, a pioneer of the pioneers, and located in San Augustine, later removing to Burkville, Newton County, where he was living when the Civil War began. He fought through the war on the side of the Confederacy, and at the close returned to Burkville, later going to a farm, located between Newton and Jasper, Texas. Here he read law, and during his latter years came to Orange, building up a successful practice here. William H. Stark's mother was Miss Martha Ann Skidmore before her marriage to John T. Stark. Her parents, natives of Indiana, came to Texas in 1836, and were among the most honored pioneer families of the state. From his parents William H. Stark received a splendid heritage and the traditions of the sturdy pioneers who left comfortable homes to come to Texas, then an unbroken land of possibilities, and make a new home. As a lad of ten, at the outbreak of the Civil War, he took his father's place when the latter enlisted with the first of the volunteers, and operated the farm at Burkville. Later, when John T. Stark returned to Burkville at the close of the war, he went with his parents to the farm near Newton and remained there until he was almost twenty-one, when, anxious to seek his fortune he started to Orange, having been engaged to lead a horse here for which he was paid one dollar and a half. He arrived at Orange without a dollar in his pocket, but that did not greatly concern him, for he immediately found work with R. B. Russell and Sons, in the lumber mill they were operating here, his first job being that of throwing the bark out of the mill. Later he was made a sawyer, and it was during this time that he personally sawed the lumber that built the first mill of Lutcher and Moore in 1877. After three years with the saw mill he saved enough money to buy a small livery stable, which he developed until it was one of the largest livery business activities here. As success came to Mr. Stark in his livery stable venture he looked around for other opportunities, and became representative for a Houston grain firm, namely Robert Hall, selling grain for them in this territory, and building up a large trade. Then followed a period of years when as one industry was placed on a paying foundation another would be started, until Mr. Stark is not only one of the richest men in Texas, and one of the best known, but a business man whose opinions of the economic problems of today are highly valued and eagerly sought.
Mr. Stark was married at Orange, Texas, the twenty-second of December, 1881, to Miss Miriam M. Lutcher, the daughter of the late Henry J. Lutcher, founder of the Lutcher-Moore Lumber Company, and one of the most prominent lumber men and capitalists of his day in Texas. Mr. and Mrs. Stark had two children, Frances Ann, who died as a child of twenty months, and H. J. Lutcher Stark, one of the leading figures in the business, civic and educational world in Texas, and who is vice president, or secretary-treasurer of the various companies of which his father is an officer. H. J. Lutcher Stark is also a regent of the University of Texas and one of the most active Rotarians in the state. William H. Stark has one of the finest homes at Orange, where he and Mrs. Stark, both of whom are among the most admired and respected citizens of Orange, have made their home for many years. While Mr. Stark is a Rotarian and a member of the Golf Club, he is essentially a home man, and aside from his business interests, and his public spirited interest in the civic welfare of Orange, he has given but little time to other outside interests.