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Frances Lou STARNS

Female 1921 - 2006  (84 years)

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  • Name Frances Lou STARNS 
    Born 30 Sep 1921  Altus, Jackson County, OK Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Female 
    Died 17 Apr 2006  Anchorage, Anchorage County, AK Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Cause: Head injury from a fall 
    • (1) Nancy Austin McCoy :

      Letter dated August 31 (no year designated) from Frances STARNS to Cookie STARNS:

      Dear Cookie,

      It was a wonderful surprise to receive your call. You have been in my thoughts since our conversation. Thought you might like to have information on the family. It is easier to get a letter written if I use this old typewriter. The information is based on what I was told or what I know first hand.

      Stanton Starns (January1,1878-August 1949) married Lou Ann Gross (May 28,1882-1976); married May 28, 1907

      Their children:

      Noel (April 17, 1908-1908)
      Mildred (March 13, 1909-July 12, 1971)
      Laurence (October 5,1910-December 19, 1953)
      Clarence William (Bill) (April 7,1917-1971)
      Frances Lou (September 30,1921-) [Note by Nancy Austin McCoy: Frances died 4/17/2006]

      Stanton and Lou Ann were born in Birchwood, Tennessee, which is about 35 miles northeast of Chattanooga. Birchwood was an agricultural community. There was a general store, church, school, and a man had a barbershop and post office in his house.

      Stanton was orphaned at an early age. He went to Oklahoma when it was a territory and worked as a carpenter. He built and operated a grocery store and hotel in Hobert [sic]. The family moved to Altus after he started a grocery store there. Altus was the seat of Jackson County and the shopping center for that area. The economy was based on farming, with cotton and wheat as the main crops. Cotton gins processed the cotton to remove the seeds. The largest cotton compress operation in the U.S. was located in Altus. A compress produces bales of cotton.

      Daily deliveries of groceries ordered were a large part of the business during the week. Most folks had iceboxes which were not adequate for food preservation and ordered things needed each day. Two trucks with drivers were used for this purpose. Saturdays were busy days when people who lived outside Altus came to town.

      The majority of this business was charged, with the farmers paying once a year when they sold their harvested crops. Stanton said, "A man's word is as good as his bond." Stanton had a distinctive laugh. It was hearty and seemed to start at his toes. Made folks want to laugh with him. Families would bring their children to the store just to hear him laugh.

      About 1915, Lou Ann took Mildred and Laurence to Birchwood for a visit with her parents. It was a long and arduous journey by train. At one of the depots where a change in trains was required, Laurence wandered off and was lost. Lou Ann found him, finally. She was so frightened by this experience that she didn't make any more trips by train with small children.

      (2) Nancy Austin McCoy :

      Letter dated September 1 (no year designated) from Frances STARNS to Cookie STARNS:

      Dear Cookie,

      Am doing my best to remember things to tell you.

      The family attended the Methodist Church and sometimes would get together with friends for picnics on Sunday afternoons. Ice cream was usually made on that day. Lou Ann would combine the ingredients and Stanton would spend at least an hour turning the hand cranked freezer, which was surrounded by chipped ice and rock salt in a wood container.

      They had one of the first radios which was a "crystal radio." Headphones attached to the radio had to be worn to hear anything. They played records on the "Edison." Mildred played the piano. She started taking lessons when she was 5 years old. Laurence learned how to drive when he was ten. There was little traffic and no requirement for a driver's license.

      Lou Ann's brother, Ben Gross, was a school teacher and farmer. He was in the army during World War I and served as an infantryman in Europe. He attended a university in Paris for about a year after the war was over. Ben was a celebrity in Altus when he came for a visit before returning to Birchwood.

      When in his early teens, Laurence spent the summer with family friends in Los Angeles. Laurence liked California so much he wanted to stay. He told Stanton that they should move there as it was much better than Oklahoma.

      Property owned included some land just outside town that was not used. Laurence cultivated the land and planted a garden. That summer, he sold a good crop of vegetables by driving a truck through the residential areas. On stopping, customers would appear as he became known for having the finest fresh produce.

      Stanton supervised construction of a new home in 1924. The basement area included a room with a steel reinforced ceiling. Bathroom facilities were adjacent. Access was from the stairway from the back porch and from the first floor of the house. The ceiling was designed to have strength adequate to withstand the house collapsing in a tornado. Altus is in the path of what was known as "tornado alley." The custom was to locate "storm cellars" in back yards and some people had been killed while they were running from their house to the shelter. There were stables back of the garage for the two horses, Major and Don. Stanton and Lou Ann enjoyed riding and so did Laurence.

      There was more room for entertaining in the new home. Mildred and Laurence had friends over to play bridge and sometimes would move furniture against walls in the living room and dining room and roll up the rugs to they could dance to the music of the victrola.

      (3) Nancy Austin McCoy :

      Letter dated September 2 (no year designated) from Frances STARNS to Cookie STARNS:

      Dear Cookie,

      While swimming this morning, a remnant of memory flashed. There was a blue ribbon awarded to Laurence at the state fair in Oklahoma City. He was selected as the best male child in the "Best Baby" contest.

      There was 18 months difference in the ages of Mildred and Laurence. They were good friends and had fun together. There was on time that they carried on a running battle for weeks. Laurence had hung one of his football jerseys on a wall in his bedroom. An assortment of keepsakes was attached to it. Mildred took exception to this display as the jersey was sweat stained and smelled. It had been worn during a crucial game that brought victory to Altus High School. Laurence did not want to ruin the genuine nature of this garment by giving it up to the laundry.

      This matter was the subject of verbal exchange for a long time. Arguments concerned the need for authenticity of souvenirs versus desirability of cleanliness in all furnishings. Differences were not resolved by persuasion. As usual, one day Laurence went to his bedroom after school to change clothes. There was a blank wall where the jersey had hung. Mildred wasn't home yet, so Laurence charged into her bedroom to search for his treasure. When he couldn't find it, he confiscated a bottle of perfume. The absence of "Nuit Noel" became evident to Mildred as she was getting ready to go out on a date that evening.

      Laurence was gone, so she looked around in his room and couldn't find her property anywhere. Finally, a truce was declared. The jersey was returned in the original unwashed condition as ransom for the expensive perfume.

      Mildred was valedictorian of her class when she graduated in 1926. She went to Ward Belmont College for Women in Tennessee that September.

      (4) Nancy Austin McCoy :

      Letter dated September 3 (no year designated) from Frances STARNS to Cookie STARNS:

      Dear Cookie,

      Lou Ann started having headaches which increased in frequency and severity. She refused the strong "pain killers" offered by the family doctor in Altus and doctors in Oklahoma City. She said that she did not want to become addicted to "dope." In 1927, Stanton took her to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. A brain surgeon was successful in locating and eliminating pressure on a nerve that was causing the headaches. Lou Ann had fallen off the back of a horse-drawn wagon on her head when a child and thought this injury might have ultimately caused the pressure.

      Lou Ann went to the football games to watch Laurence. She worried about him getting hurt and offered $100 of he would quit. That sum had a much higher real value then than now. Laurence said he would rather die than not play football. The knee injury occurred in a game played in late 1927. The family doctor said he should stay off his feet and rest in bed. David was employed to assist in the care of Laurence. A room in the basement was furnished for David so he would be available around the clock.

      When there was improvement, Lou Ann took Laurence to Oklahoma City. There, the doctor said amputation was necessary. Lou Ann immediately made appointments at the Mayo Clinic. Surgery on the knee was performed. Laurence could walk again, but always had problems with that knee. There had been an infection of long standing prior to surgery.

      Laurence graduated from high school in 1928. This was on schedule because of home study when he was not able to attend school. Mildred had transferred to Oklahoma University and was beginning her junior year when Laurence enrolled there in the fall of 1928. Mildred was in the Chi Omega sorority and Laurence was pledged to the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.

      (5) Nancy Austin McCoy :

      Letter dated October 4 (no year designated) from Frances STARNS to Cookie STARNS:

      Dear Cookie,

      Have been thinking about Laurence more than usual-tomorrow is his birthday. When Mildred and Laurence came home from school at Thanksgiving and Christmas and sometimes over a weekend, the family celebrated. Lou Ann was a great cook and worked in the kitchen for days in advance of those occasions. Every fall, she canned fruit and made a delicious chow chow. Laurence was especially fond of pear preserves so she always made lots for him.

      The 1930's brought the Great Depression and changed the lives of most folks. Many lost their savings in bank failures. Farmers lost their land because of successive years of crop failures due to lack of rain and dust storms. Lots of folks left that area to seek employment elsewhere. Every year, Stanton thought the economy and weather would improve. Lou Ann went to work in the store. Stanton's accounts with wholesalers were on an annual basis as were many of his customers' accounts. There were huge losses on customer accounts. Stanton said that he would rather die than take the bankrupt law. He paid his creditors in full.

      Strangers walked through Altus on their way to find work. The long refrigerated case in the meat market section of the store was frequently lined with strangers. Stanton provided each with a quart of milk, box of crackers, can of sardines, and some cheese. Lou Ann said that someone must have left a secret mark outside the building so that those who followed would know where to get a free meal. Stanton couldn't bear the thought of anyone going hungry.

      Laurence installed a steam presser in the basement of his fraternity house to help with his expenses. Students "dressed up" to attend class at that time. Laurence pressed pants and suits of his fraternity brothers to earn money. Later, he started a dry cleaners near the campus which was popular with the students. He had an agreement with the athletic department to clean football uniforms for free. He acquired a restaurant called "The Little Dutch Mill." Just before the beginning of World War II, he had expanded to building houses for sale with a contractor working for him.

      By 1939, Stanton had sold or lost to foreclosure most of his real estate. A house in the back of the Starns' home had been used originally as living quarters for household help. Lou Ann used a diamond ring as collateral for a loan. She used this money to convert this little house to a neighborhood grocery store. There were no "convenience" stores in Altus, so she had the forerunner of a 7-Eleven. By 1942, construction of an Army-??ir Base started east of town and there was a housing shortage. Lou Ann rented out the upstairs bedrooms.

      Laurence was not accepted for military service because of his bum knee. He moved to Anchorage in the fall of 1942.

      (6) Nancy Austin McCoy :

      Note dated February 8, 1990 from Frances STARNS to Craig Greer:

      Cause of death:

      Stanton Starns (1/1/1878-5/1949)-heart attack
      Lou Ann Gross (5/28/1882-2/13/1976)-cancer
      (married 5/28/1907)

      Five children:

      Noel (4/1908)-don't know
      Mildred (3/13/1909-July 12, 1971)-pancreatic cancer
      Laurence (10/5/1910-12/19/1953)-heart attack
      Clarence William (4/7/1917-l971)-cancer
      Frances Lou (9/30/1921-) [Note by Nancy Austin McCoy: Frances died on 4/17/2006 after a head injury from a fall]

      Stanton and Lou Ann were born in Tennessee. The parents of Stanton died when he was young. Don't know the cause of their death or that of the other child, a boy. As an orphan he must have had a difficult time. Stanton went to Oklahoma when it was a territory. He settled in Hobart and worked as a carpenter. After saving money, he built a hotel and grocery store in Hobart and then a grocery store in Altus. A fire destroyed the buildings in Hobart. The buildings were uninsured. Lou Ann had one sister and two brothers. One brother and his wife died during a visit in Hobart. I don't know the cause of death. Lou Ann's sister and other brother died of cancer when they were about 60 years old.

      I do not know the cause of death of her father. Her mother died of cancer.

      In the late 1920's, a doctor in Altus acquired x-ray equipment. Guess that it was unknown then that special precautions were required in the use of x-ray. Bill contracted ringworm on his head from handling a cat. The doctor shaved his hair and directed x-ray on his head as treatment. After these treatments, can recall that Bill would wake up at night screaming because his ears and/or his teeth hurt. Forever afterwards, he had trouble with his teeth, ears, sinuses, and in later years developed a constant ringing in his ears for which the medical profession could find no cause.

      Since in my early 20's, I have been convinced that Bill was not as responsible as the other family members because he had been damaged by x-ray. As far as I know, he was about average in school grades. He played the trumpet in the high school band-marching band and concerts. Bill had a natural talent for music. They may have had a small dance band in which he participated. Bill had a natural talent for art, proportion and form. He had an instinct for colors-he saw with the eye of an artist.

      (7) Nancy Austin McCoy :

      Undated note from Frances STARNS to herself:

      Sister [Note by Nancy Austin McCoy: Frances called Mildred "Sister."]: Ward Belmont 1926-27; OU 1927-30; taught at Friendship 1930-31; taught at Eugene Field 1931-32.

      Laurence: hurt, fall of 1927; married in 1932

      Mother: surgery, summer of 1927; married 1901 in Hobart [Note by Nancy Austin McCoy: This contradicts the 1907 date given earlier.]

      (8) Nancy Austin McCoy :

      Letter dated May 12, 2002 from Frances STARNS to Nancy Austin McCoy:

      Your "mine" of information was received yesterday. Will give thought to what I learned about family history and at a later time relate it-will not be much. Recall being asked by teacher in grade school (all students in 3rd year) to bring information on nationality of parents. Answer I relayed from Mother was "We came from good stock." Didn't know birth year of parents. Mother always replied that she did not want anyone to know how old she was. Believe I saw 1882 on her driver's license . . . not sure, or my birth certificate, which Lowell obtained for me when I needed it among other papers requested by Navy when I almost joined WAVES soon after graduation in summer, 1942. Stanton's birthday was January 1st, year never mentioned. Date I gave you was on birth certificate also.

      (8) Nancy Austin McCoy :

      Letter dated May 14, 2002 from Frances STARNS to Nancy Austin McCoy:

      Wanted to qualify that information regarding Stanton's parents loss when he was young was told to me by Sister. Some photos that were in bottom drawer of tall chest in largest bedroom of Mother's house were not there when I sent photos to you. Among those that were no longer there were tintypes of Daddy with his younger brother about 7 and 10 years old (?) and one of Nancy (Mother's mother). Daddy's brother died when I was in grade school. Mother's mother before that. Mother's 1st child was named Noel, died when a baby.

      They lived in Hobart at first where Daddy had worked as a carpenter and eventually built and operated a hotel and grocery store. Mother's sister Ida was married to Daddy's brother. They also lived in Hobart. The brother was a partner in the business enterprises. Mother's younger brother (not Ben . . . name unknown) and his wife came to Hobart. Both died, leaving one daughter about Sister's age. This was Margaret, who was taken to Birchwood to be raised by Nancy and Ben. I met Margaret in Oklahoma City when she was visiting cousin Wilma. This was after I had moved here. She told me all about the pretty clothes Lou Ann sent her. Apparently, Mother bought things for her at same time as things for Sister. No contact with her or Wilma either. Byron was one I kept in touch with.

      (9) Nancy Austin McCoy :

      Letter dated May 22, 2002 from Frances STARNS to Nancy Austin McCoy:

      Your "packet" came yesterday. Lots of information to re-read and think about. Most is news to me.

      Believe I've told you about my association with Byron, [Note by Nancy Austin McCoy: Byron Starns was Lou Ann's nephew, the son of her sister Ida, who married the brother of Stanton Starns.] his wife Jessie and young son when I was working at Naval Training Center, Norman, in early '50s. I felt an instant liking for Byron. He and Laurence could have been identical twins. Only difference was that Byron was an inch or two shorter and a little more stocky in build. Byron took me to Oklahoma City to meet Rene, Wilma, and Ida.

      I thought highly of Byron and we could have been close friends forever. He was manager of the University Book Store for O.U. While I was still in Norman, the family moved to Gainesville, FL, where Byron's new job was manager of student union building for the University of FL.

      Maurine worked in an administrative office at O.U. when I was in school there. We never spoke, although I saw her in passing many times. We looked so much alike.

      Mother often spoke of Prof. Rutherford, who walked on water as far as she was concerned. Spoke fondly of being one of his students.

      The other cousin I became close to was Bronce-son of Cora Bristoal, Stanton's 1st cousin. Mother liked them. They moved to Altus after I graduated from H.S. Bronce married Avahlene Conwell. His sister, Betty, married Raymond Fox, Jr.

      Those photos I sent you after Mother died were missing some taken by (?) Studio photo of Benjamin Gross in his WWI uniform was one that was still in the collection. I had old photo of Mother and Ida reproduced-gave Sister and Mother one. Mother's wasn't at her house when she died.

      First time I saw Uncle Ben was when he took a train trip to Altus with his wife and son, Ben Jr. There was another son, Harry. Either he hadn't been born yet or I don't recall him at that time. I was 12 or 13 years old. They stayed a few days.

      Some answers to your questions:

      Mrs. Stanton (Lou Ann) Starns, Birth Date May 28, 1882, died February 13, 1976. Services by Tim's Chapel of Memories, February 16, 1976. Burial, Altus Cemetery, February 16, 1976.

      Burial of Stanton, Laurence, and Clarence William also handled by Tims Funeral Home, with graves in Altus Cemetery in locations adjacent to Lou Ann's. Contact Tims Funeral Home for exact location of graves and dates of death.

      Stanton Starns died August 14, 1949. Laurence Starns died December 1953. Clarence William died in 1971 (know it was after the death of Mildred Austin; it could have been 1972).

      Cookie was Laurence's daughter. (Mary Lou was his only other child.) Midge was mother and gained ownership of all his business enterprises and real estate. Can provide more on Midge, but you wouldn't want to hear it. Cookie was born 1/16/51. She was adopted by Ed Babinec (Babinic?). Midge married him in 1954 or '55.

      (10) Nancy Austin McCoy :

      Letter Dated June 9, 2002, from Frances STARNS to Nancy (AUSTIN) McCCOY:

      Have given much thought to the one trip to Birchwood. Then let subject go-hoping a rest would trigger memories-to no avail. Initial recollections are all there is. Bill [Clarence William STARNS] drove Mother's [Lou Ann (GROSS) STARNS'] car (always an excellent driver) to take us to Birchwood, summer of 1947. Guessing that stay was no more than 3 days as Mother would have closed her store. Short distance from Birchwood, had to ford a creek. (Could have been another body of water.) Mother said it was that way when she left.

      There was a general store (groceries, bolts of cloth on shelves, and other supplies). Post Office located in residence of Postmaster. Passed by one school house and church on way to Gross homeplace. Mother said that was same as when she left. I have a picture of lush green hills as far as one could see. No neighbors visible-maybe there were none. Don???t know how much land their property included. Many trees in the yard. Can???t describe house. Recall feeling welcome.

      Food was delicious. Ben [Benjamin Harrison GROSS, Sr.] had cured own hams, as always. Coffee has never tasted so good. Jessie [(BROWN) GROSS], Ben???s wife, said it was due to their water. House completely modern-bathtubs, sinks, etc.-exception, no toilet. Immaculate outhouse located suitable distance from house. Uncle Ben followed old ways and considered an inside toilet unsanitary for his home.

      They had a huge party in front yard for Lou Ann. Invited Lou Ann???s friends-there were many people-at least 40. Long tables set under shade trees in front yard-mounds of plentiful food dishes covered tables. People stayed a long time-all talking about "old times."

      Ben [Harrison GROSS], Jr., was a graduating high school senior-a very serious, polite young man. His younger brother Harry was a good looking boy-very outgoing and friendly. Harry wanted to be a baseball player when he grew up-played a lot of baseball then. They taught me how to shoot a "22" at a large bull???s eye set up at some (safe) distance from their home. I became very good as I had patient teachers. They had Beagles they used as hunting dogs.

      Bill and I wanted to see Atlanta and country enroute which was a good one day round trip. Took Ben Jr. with us. He wanted to go, but half way there he started worrying about whether we would get back on time (set by his father) and from then on ceased to enjoy the ride.

      Mother took me to the general store. There were men gathered around a "pot bellied" stove (no heat there of course) on cane chairs-apparently there for their daily social. One of the men spoke up and said, "Why Lou Ann, your daughter is might near grown." It was the summer before I was 26-was wearing shorts (conservative knee length) and bare foot sandals.

      Jessie had been a school teacher. She and Ben spoke perfect English with no noticeable accent.

      One other thing, we all went to a baseball game. At that time, it was usual for a few players to play sans shoes. Said that they needed bare feet so their toes could get a good grip in the dirt when running. I was surprised at the number of players on each team who were barefoot on arrival.

      Recall asking Mother why they had ever left Tennessee. This was during the early 1930's dust bowl days when even sight of house across the street was obscured by clouds of dust. Mother never answered me then, but I got my answer in Birchwood.

      Uncle Ben used to send us a large box of delicious chestnuts every year. Then a blight killed all the chestnut trees in U.S., so there were none in Birchwood when we were there.

      (11) Nancy Austin McCoy :

      Letter Dated July 17, 2002 from Frances STARNS to Nancy Austin McCOY:

      Have been re-reading family history you sent. Am wondering if there is a record of the Gross family participation in Revolutionary War. Would be interesting if there were any Cherokee blood mixed in with ancestry. I was familiar with some Indian tribes while growing up. Of all that I had seen, admired Cherokees greatly-for their intelligence, stature, and outstanding good looks-very handsome people. Remember a Cherokee-good orator-in contests. He gave an original speech, "Trail of Tears," where he dropped to his knees toward end of 10 minute recitation. A tough competitor-always won until we met at a state contest in Norman. I won-even at age 17. I wondered if I did because of judge's prejudice against Indians. There was much of that.

      (12) Social Security Death Index:

      Name: Frances Szabo
      SSN: 512-16-2885
      Last Residence: 99522 Anchorage, Anchorage, Alaska
      Born: 30 Sep 1921
      Died: 17 Apr 2006
      State (Year) SSN issued: Kansas (Before 1951)
    Person ID I2764  Frost, Gilchrist and Related Families
    Last Modified 29 Dec 2018 

    Father Stanton STARNS,   b. 1 Jan 1878, TN Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 14 Aug 1949, Altus, Jackson County, OK Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 71 years) 
    Relationship natural 
    Mother Lou Ann GROSS,   b. 28 May 1882, Birchwood, James [now Hamilton] County, TN Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 13 Feb 1976, Altus, Jackson County, OK Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 93 years) 
    Relationship natural 
    Married 28 May 1907 
    Family ID F1903  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Stanley SZABO 
    Last Modified 29 Dec 2018 19:11:43 
    Family ID F1907  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart