Charles Baird Stark, one of the ablest lawyers of Missouri, whose ability is combined with a high sense of duty and professional honor, was born in Springfield, Robertson county, Tennessee, June 13, 1854. He is a son of Joseph Carter Stark, and a grandson of John Stark, who was born in Virginia and removed to Tennessee in 1812. He was a planter and was the only one of a line of Starks that was not a lawyer, back to a John Stark, who was admitted to the bar, in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1665. In the possession of Charles B. Stark, is a silver snuff-box that was owned by James Stark of Scotland, and is of a remarkably artistic design and engraving. It is inscribed with the date, 1743, and bears the family motto “Fortiorum Fortia facts,” and the insignia of a bull’s head. He also possesses ancient razors and many other heirlooms which he prizes most highly. The grandfather of General John Stark, who commanded the American forces in the Battle of Bennington in 1777, was in the direct ancestral line of Charles B. Stark. They have been a family of lawyers and military men. One of them, Jeremiah Stark, lost an arm by an Indian’s arrow in the French and Indian war. He was the father of five sons who served in the Revolutionary war. The grandfather, John Stark, who as previously stated, became a planter of Tennessee in 1812, married Miss Margaret (Peggy) Primm, a daughter of John Primm, born in Stafford county, Virginia, in 1787. She became the wife of John Stark in 1812, in Saint Clair county, Illinois. She was one of a family of seventeen children that had removed from Virginia to Illinois about 1802.
Judge Joseph Carter Stark, father of Charles B. Stark, died in 1890. He had long been a distinguished member of the Tennessee bar, practiced in Springfield, and for some time was senior partner of the firm of Stark & Judd, the latter becoming United States Judge of Utah, through the appointment of President Cleveland. Joseph C. Stark, also filled judicial office, being elected a judge of the Tenth Circuit Court of Tennessee. He was spoken of as “an able and acceptable judge -a gentleman who brought dignity and character to the judicial office.” He married Lamiza Ann Baird, who passed away July 12, 1903. She was the daughter of Charles Baird of Robertson county, Tennessee, and a granddaughter of Thomas Baird, who was born in the Carolinas, whence he removed to Tennessee.
The Bairds were a long line of planters. During the Revolutionary war, one of them, an officer in the Continental army, was captured by the British and after being stripped of his uniform was clothed in the suit of a British soldier who had just died of smallpox. In consequence he contracted the disease which terminated his life.
In the family of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph C. Stark are two sons and a daughter. John L. Stark is now living in Mexico, while the daughter Margaret lives with her brother Charles B., and is a teacher in the Saint Louis schools. Back of Charles B. Stark, as indicated in the foregoing, is an ancestry, honorable and distinguished and his lines of life have been cast in harmony therewith. After pursuing his early education in a private school, he attended the Liberty Academy at Springfield, Tennessee, and later the Cumberland University at Lebanon. Immediately afterward he entered his father’s office and studied law. He was admitted to the bar in 1874 after a severe examination by Judge Horace H. Turlow, who later was the justice of the United States supreme court. Mr. Stark began the practice of law in his father’s office and there remained until 1880 when he removed to Saint Louis and entered upon law practice in this city, a total stranger. For two or three years in the early ’90s he was in partnership with Walter F. McIntire, now of Los Angeles. During the years of his connection with the Saint Louis bar he has made steady progress and public opinion has long granted him a prominent position in professional circles. He has been a careful student of the principles of jurisprudence and is one of the ablest lawyers of Missouri. His clientage has long been extensive and of a most important character. In 1912 and again in 1916 he was a candidate for judge of the supreme court of Missouri and was most strongly endorsed by every judge of Saint Louis except one, who refused for purely political reasons. The democratic members throughout the state strongly endorsed him. The Hannibal Morning Journal stated, “Judge Stark is a high-class man in every particular. Knowing the right he dares to do it. No influence could turn him from duty. He would honor the great position he seeks.” And the Atchison County Mail brought the following: “He has been a careful student of the constitutional and political history of the country and has always consistently lived up to his convictions as a democrat, believing that the only safety of the country lies in the enforcement and application of the principles of the democratic party in the administration of the government. He has given freely of his time and means in promoting the success of his party.”
Mr. Stark is perhaps most widely known outside of Saint Louis as the author of Stark’s Digest in three volumes, published in 1886 and still in common use. The American Law Review said of this work: “The maker of a good digest of state reports need not trouble the profession with any apology for his work. Whatever justice there may be in the, complaints about the multiplication of law books, they do not apply to books of this kind. The labor involved in making a digest of a numerous series of state reports is so great, and the remuneration is so small, that books of this kind never appear until long after the need of them has been felt. The need of the present work has been felt by judges and practitioners in Missouri for several years; and now that it has appeared and they have had an opportunity to examine it they may feel thankful that Its preparation fell into such careful hands.
“This work has all the points of a good digest. The statements of points decided are, in general, as accurate and concise as it is practicable to make them. The classification is good and has been for the most part carefully adhered to. The author, aware of the fact that many topics will be looked for by different searchers under different heads, has, in order to make his work as thoroughly useful as might be, duplicated many of his paragraphs under different titles. In some cases we venture to think he has repeated his paragraphs unnecessarily; but is must be said that in this regard it is safer to err on the side of fullness, than on the side of brevity and condensation. The work is prefaced by a table of cases criticised. This table we have had occasion to use to a very considerable extent. It is a feature of great value; and while it is not perfect, nor indeed claimed to be by the author, it will be found, we are satisfied, that very few inaccuracies or omissions occur in it. The author credits the making of this table to E. W. Pattison, Esq., the author of the Missouri Digest, which is the predecessor in point of time of the present work. Indeed this Digest embodies the matters which were embodied in the third volume of Pattison’s Digest, which was a supplementary volume. It is much to be regretted that the first and second volumes of Pattison’s work were not embodied in this work also, so as to make a complete digest, without the necessity of looking into two volumes for the decisions under each title. As it stands this work is the continuation of the original work of Pattison; and we have two Missouri Digests, Pattison in two volumes, which brings the work down so far as to include Vol. 49 of the Missouri Reports, and the present work, in three volumes, which digests the decisions of the Missouri supreme court, and of the Missouri Court of Appeals from that time to the close of last year.”
For years Mr. Stark was counsel for the Saint Louis Brown Stocking Baseball Club, and for Chris Von der Ahe. In connection with this line of work he made the draft of the original constitution for the American Baseball Association, which was adopted in the early ’80s at Indianapolis, the forerunner of the National and American Leagues. He has a fine gold-headed cane which was presented to him in recognition of his service to the game.
During the World war Mr. Stark offered his service to the government in any capacity and without pay. At the suggestion of Governor Gardner he was appointed on a district draft board, of which he was made vice chairman, before which came all the appeals from the draft boards of Saint Louis city and county. He spent practically all his time in the service of the country and the money he received as pay he donated to the Red Cross and other war activities.
Mr. Stark is a Methodist in religious faith. Fraternally he is connected with the Masons, belonging to Tuscan Lodge No. 360, A. F. & A. M.. on demit from Western Star Lodge, No. 9, of Springfield, Tennessee. He is a past master of both lodges and is also the past high priest of Saint Louis Chapter, No. 8, R. A. M. He also belongs to St. Louis Commandery, No. 1, K. T. For forty years he has been a resident of St. Louis, where he is well known as a dignified yet genial gentleman, greatly esteemed and admired by a legion of friends, whose number is almost co-extensive with the number of his acquaintances and his record from the beginning has been a credit and honor to the bar of the state.