If you're like me, you've probably been asked fairly often during the course of your life, "Where are you from, originally?" or "What nationality is your family?" The interrogator is generally not satisfied by any less of an answer than the name of the boat on which your grandparents emigrated to this country from Outer Slobovia in 1907, when they fled from the Great Artichoke Famine of the turn of the century. Of course, it is never possible for you to provide the answer they want, since all of our grandparents were born in the United States. So, the only possible answer is, "I am an American, I don't know of any ancestors that were not born here." This astonishes your questionner, and after further pumping, you realize that the only way out of the situation is to speculate out loud on plausible-sounding family origins. I would usually say something like, "Oh, well, Stark is a German word meaning `strong,' so I suppose my ancestors originally came from Germany."

I suppose it was a desire to provide more interesting answers on occasions like these that originally kindled my interest in our family history. Although I had for a long time thought about the idea of investigating our ancestry, I didn't really do anything about it until 1989, when as part of a French class I was taking, I was given the assignment of preparing an oral presentation on "How and Why My Ancestors Came to This Country." This annoyed me, since it was presumed first of all that one's ancestors arrived in the recent past from some other place, and second that one knew where that was. So, I decided to give a presentation in which I demonstrated that Les Stark sont de vrais américains (The Starks are True Americans).

Fortunately, I had a substantial amount of information with which to begin. At Christmastime in 1971, Doris Estelle Stark, our first cousin once removed, sent our parents a letter in which she listed all the Stark family history information she had been told by her father, Nathan Isaac Stark. In this letter, she traced the Stark line back to a certain Daniel Stark, who was born in 1793. She also said that her father claimed we were directly related to General John Stark of the Revolutionary War, but that she couldn't prove this. Since this idea had intrigued me for a long time (even to the point where I bought a book John Stark, Freedom Fighter that was offered by mail to all the Starks in the phone directory, and that turned out to be crammed with all sorts of interesting misinformation), I decided to begin by looking up information about General John Stark to see if I could find an easy connection with our ancestor Daniel Stark.

Well, I found a lot of fascinating books on John Stark, and was able to discover the names of a number of his descendants. However, I didn't find our Daniel Stark, and what started to worry me was the fact that I didn't see any Daniels at all. While looking through historical and genealogical books on New Hampshire, which was where John Stark's family settled, I started to notice that there seemed to be another group of Starks that were living in Connecticut around 1800. Since I was getting nowhere in New Hampshire, I started flipping through books on Connecticut, and in Families of Ancient New Haven, by Jacobus I found a record of a marriage in 1816 between Daniel Stark and Eliza Augur. Since Eliza Augur was shown to have married again in 1843, this time to Isaac Tuttle, it seemed clear to me that this matched the information in the letter by Doris Stark, where the wife of Daniel Stark was given as "Eliza Angus Tuttle." (The discrepancy later turned out to be due simply to the difficulty in deciphering handwritten entries in the family Bible records kept by Doris' grandfather, Nathan Tuttle Stark.)

Unfortunately, the book by Jacobus contained no information on the ancestry of Daniel Stark. As a consolation prize, though, I was able to extract from it information on fifty-seven ancestors of Eliza Augur, going back as much as six generations to persons who came to America from England in the early 1600's. This constitutes the main body of the new information I have been able to obtain, although I have been able to confirm various bits and pieces of the information sent by Doris Stark. The information I have found so far makes it very unlikely that we are descended from General John Stark. Rather, it is virtually certain that we are descended from a certain Aaron Stark, born about 1608, who settled near Stonington, CT as early as 1653. A large number of his descendants are catalogued in The Aaron Stark Family: Seven Generations of the Descendants of Aaron Stark, of Groton, Connecticut, by Charles Rathbone Stark. It is my belief that Daniel Stark, our ancestor, is the same as person number 443 in this book. Although I have what I think is strong evidence to support this belief, this evidence falls short of definitive proof. I have a few further leads that I am continuing to follow as time permits, but perhaps this issue is one that will never be answered satisfactorily.

So, after having spent a number of enjoyable hours over the past years in pursuit of scraps of data on our family history, I had the idea of organizing this information into a little booklet, so that I could share it with you. Inasmuch as family history research is a rather open-ended task that is never really completed, and as it is my intention to continue these investigations for awhile as a kind of hobby, I thought a booklet like this would also be useful as a basis for organizing these future investigations. The original version of this booklet was in a traditional linear format. Creating the present digital hypertext version has been an exhilarating experience, as I discover how the hypertext medium frees me from the rigidity of the linear format.

I hope you find this booklet as interesting to read as I have found it to write. Should you or one of your family find the search for the still-missing pieces of the puzzle laid out here as interesting as I do, you are cordially invited to contribute anything you should happen to find, and these contributions will of course be welcome in future updates.