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Keith Nichols

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Star - 0950 Info

History of Star
The first location of the village of Star was one mile to the east of present Star, about halfway between the present town of Star and Star-Emmett junction, and is one of the earliest communities in the Boise Valley. The Pioneer ditch (started in 1863 by M.B. Palmer) and its supply of water allowed the country between Star and Middleton to be settled early.

One of the first settlers was Ben F. Swalley who in 1863 drove his ox team and wagon onto 300 acres of land along the Boise River, a mile south of the present town. Others followed, homesteading the good farm land along the Boise River. The surrounding farms often catered to the needs of early travelers and miners providing them with food and lodging in Star, on their way to and from Boise and the mines in the Boise Basin. 

 

 
A Taste of the Old West
The first schoolhouse was built there in the 1870s on land donated by B.F. Swalley. When the settlers finished building the schoolhouse, they could not decide on a name for the building. One of the men sawed out a star and nailed it to the front door, pounding nails all around the edge of the star. This became an important landmark for miles around, and was a guide for travelers and miners. When they came to the schoolhouse with the star on the door, they could travel west one mile and find board and lodging for the night. So in time, the town became known as Star.

The village of Star began to grow, providing services to travelers and serving as a rural center for neighboring farmers and ranchers. In 1880, a post office was established in Star with Shepp Gray the first postmaster and proprietor of the general store. The early settlement also had two blacksmith shops for iron work as well as the district school house, two churches, and half a score of residences. The first official hotel was opened in 1888. In 1905, Star incorporated and established city limits reaching four miles in all directions. During the early part of the century the town flourished, growing rapidly with a number of merchants doing good business. The town had a mayor, marshal, constable, and justice of the peace. The jail was a frame building located just east of the Odd fellows Lodge Hall. 
 

 
Into the Future
Rapid growth of Star came with the confidence of the Boise Interurban Railway. In 1907, W.E. Pierce completed the electric railroad which ran from Boise to Caldwell, via Eagle, Star and Middleton, and back through Nampa and Meridian. The fare was 65 cents. The interurban also brought electricity to Star.


Star's growth declined with the closure of the Boise & Interurban in 1928. Another setback came in 1929 when the town was dis-incorporated. That year the state paved the highway east and west of Star to the city limits. Star would have had to pay for the pavement through the city. The farmers made so much disturbance about their taxes, which would have been raised to build the highway, that the city charter was turned back and the highway became the property of the state.


Over the past years the population of Star has stayed at around 500--about the same as it was early in the century. In recent years the population has grown and the 2000 census reports it at 1795 people. Star remains the trading center of a working community which earns its living for the most part from the soil. 

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