Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Obituaries of Cortlandt W. Starr of Pelham Manor, a Principal of Jewelry House Black Starr & Frost

Cortlandt W. Starr was an early Pelham Manor resident who spent much of his adult life in Pelham.  He was born in Sag Harbor, Long Island in 1832 and began working as a clerk at the jewelry firm known as Ball, Black & Co. in about 1850.  Slowly he advanced in the organization.

By 1860, Ball, Black & Co. was the most famous jewelry store in New York City.  Its jewelers designed jewelry for royal families and dignitaries throughout the world.  Ball, Black & Co. went out of business in 1876.  The same year Robert C. Black, Cortlandt W. Starr and Aaron Frost reconstituted the jewelry partnership firm as a partnership named Black, Starr & Frost that became one of the foremost jewelry firms in the world.

I have written about Cortlandt W. Starr a number of times.  See Thu., Feb. 09, 2006:  Cortlandt W. Starr of Black Starr & Frost.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes three brief obituaries that appeared in various newspapers shortly after Cortlandt W. Starr's unexpected and untimely death on September 30, 1888.  Each is followed by a citation to its source.

"Death's Work.

Sunday's last brought us news of the sad termination of two useful lives -- both Sag-Harbor people -- one Miss Glorinna Margaretta Nicoll, who died in our own village Sunday afternoon -- the other Courtlandt [sic] W. Starr, who died at New Rochille [sic] the same day [i.e., September 30, 1888].

Of the death of Mr. Starr we have no particulars, further than that he died suddenly -- his sister, Mrs. Dr. Rogers in this place, not knowing of his sickness until she heard by telegraph Sunday afternoon, that he had just died.  Mr. Starr was the son of the late Marcus A. Starr of this place.  At an early age he went to New-York with the jewelry firm of Ball, Black & Co., and when that firm went out of business, a son of Mr. Black, together with Mr. Starr and a gentleman by the name of Frost, carried on the business under the name of Black, Starr, & Frost, and this was the firm's name at the time of Mr. Starr's death.  For some time past he has been living at Pelham, but recently moved to New Rochelle.  The funeral services were held at Christ Church, Pelham, on Tuesday, at 2 o'clock when the remains were taken to New London for burial, where his father and mother are at rest.  Since writing the above we find the following in the New York Tribune:

Cortlandt W. Starr, of Black, Starr & Frost, the well-known fifth-ave. jewellers, died suddenly on Sunday of congestion of the lungs.  On Saturday he was taken ill at his new home at New-Rocchelle, and from that time became rapidly worse until death ensued.  He was born at Sag-Harbor in 1832, was graduated from Trinity School, this city, and then accepted a clerkship with Ball, Black, & Co.  He was made bookkeeper and then cashier, and in 1876 the old firm gave way to the one of which he was a member at the time of his death.  During the Rebellion Mr. Starr served as sergeant and then lieutenant in Company I of the 31st Regiment of New-York.  He had in his possession an old gun, badly shattered, which he was proud of and showed to all his visitors.  The following inscription upon it tells its history:  'At the shelling of Carlisle, Penn., July 1, '63, while in the hands of C. W. Starr, first sergeant of Company I, 31st Regiment, N. G., was struck by a piece of Rebel shell.'  He was on his knees at the time.  When the 31st was merged into the 71st Regiment he was made adjutant.  Mr. Starr was a genial, whole souled man, with hosts of friends, who will hear of his death with deep regret.  A wife and three daughters survive him.  The funeral services will be held at Christ Church, Pelham, at 2 P. M. to-day.  To morrow the body will be taken to New-London, where it will be buried in the family plot."

Source:  Death's Work, The Sag-Harbor Express, October 4, 1888, Vol. XXX, No. 11, p. 2, col. 3.


Cortlandt W. Starr, a member of the well-known jewelry firm of Black, Starr & Frost, died suddenly at his home in New Rochelle on Sunday morning of congestion of the lungs.  Mr. Starr joined the jewelry firm of Ball, Black & Co. in 1850 when their store was at the corner of Murray street and Broadway.  His business career was interrupted in 1863, when he enlisted in the Thirty-seventh New York Regiment, and went to the front.  He was promoted to be a Lieutenant, and, after the war, when the Thirty-seventh was mustered into the Seventy-first, Mr. Starr became the Adjutant of Veterans of the Seventy-first Regiment, an office which he held at the time of his death.  In 1874 he became a member of the firm of Black, Starr & Frost.  He was 56 years old.  The funeral will take place this afternoon."

Source:  Obituary, The Sun [NY, NY], Oct. 2, 1888, p. 2, col. 6.  

"Died. . . . 

STARR.--Suddenly, at Pelham,, on the 30th ult., Cortlandt W. Starr, in the fifty-sixth year of his age.

Funeral services at Christ Church, Pelham, on Tuesday, October 2, at two P. M.

Carriages will be in waiting at Pelhamville on arrival of the 1:02 train from Grand Central Depot."

Source:  Died. . . . STARR, The Evening Post [NY, NY], Oct. 1, 1888, p. 5, col. 6.  

Black, Starr & Frost Magazine Advertisement, March 1925.
The Firm Continues to Exist, With Roots Stretching Back to 1810.

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