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RC Starr

Rev. Robert C Starr (1779 - 1862)

Bridgewater, MA to Thomaston, ME.

Joiner in Bridgewater.

GAWP 5 presented Robert C Starr as the probable craftsman behind the RC Starr planes.

Tom Whalen researched and provided this write-up.


                                                 Robert C Starr

                                              Bridgewater Joiner

                                                 Maine Minister

                                                 by Tom Whalen

Several wooden planes bearing the name of R.C. Starr (no location) have been reported. AWP’s fifth addition lists several examples of planes bearing the R.C. STARR mark made of birch, applewood and beech with heavy flat chamfers usually associated with planes made in the 18th century.

Robert Calef Starr was born in Bridgewater Ma, on February 11, 1779. Robert’s father James is a noted participant in the American Revolution serving gallantry in the Continental Army and the Navy. James participated in the Boston Tea Party leading up to the Revolution. James established the Town of Jay Hill when he and his family located there in 1802. James’ livelihood would soon change from a craftsman to a politician.

James’ occupation listed in Boston is that of a cooper. He moved to Bridgewater in 1775, there, his occupation is listed as a cooper and joiner. His son Robert served under his father as a joiner.

One may question where the planes were made, in Bridgewater or locations in Maine? I believe the planes were made in Bridgewater based on the plane’s 18th century features. Robert would have been making planes for his own use during his apprenticeship in Bridgewater. The number of planes extant suggest that the planes were produced by Robert for his own use. It does not appear he was producing wood planes for sale. Robert was a journeyman when he moved to Jay Maine in 1802.

The Starr hollow plane in my collection has the characteristics of a typical 18th century plane. The plane is beechwood 10” long with heavy flat 3/8” chamfers turning down at the toe and heel with a heavy gouge cut below.  The escapement side of the plane has a shallow cove running the length. The flatback wedge final is rounded, the plane iron is hand forged. The toe of the plane is stamped R.C. STARR.  Wood planes imprinted with the name of James Starr have not surfaced.

On January 13, 1803, Robert and Mary Hoag’s were married in Jay. In 1807 they relocated to Warren Maine.  It was in Warren where Robert started his theological studies. He was ordained in 1816 at the age of 37. Starr and his family would move to Woolwich Maine in 1818 where he served as the minister of the Woolwich Baptist Church from 1818 to 1828.

On August 11, 1823, Roberts’ wife Mary died leaving 8 young children behind.  In 1824 Robert married Jane McMillian in Bath Maine. Robert continued his studies, in 1827 he received an honorary membership from the Waterville College Theological Institute in Maine. In the following years Starr preached in many towns including Woolwich, New Gloucester, Friendship  Maine before retiring from active service to Thomaston Maine where he resided with his children. Robert Calef Starr passed away in Thomaston on December 11, 1862, at the age of 82.

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