Biographical / Historical
The common thread binding these families together is the service of five among them as Trustees of Middlebury College, beginning in 1806, with Thomas Abbott Merrill who served until his death in 1855. He was born in Massachusetts in 1780, was a tutor at Dartmouth and at Middlebury 1804-05. Ordained in 1805, he became the pastor of the Congregational Church at Middlebury in the following year and served until 1842. His great grandson, Egbert C. Hadley also served as a Middlebury Trustee from 1936-1968. Hadley was a great nephew of Moses Allen Starr, M.D. who was a Trustee from 1898-1932. The Hon. Peter Starr, an attorney, served as a Trustee from 1819 until his death in 1860. Moses Allen Starr, M.D. was Hon. Peter’s grandson, through his son, Egbert. Hon. Peter’s son, Charles Jones Starr, by his first wife, was a Trustee from 1855-1893.
Starr Hall on the Middlebury College campus, one of the early buildings, was named for Hon. Peter Starr, to commemorate both his spirit and his generosity to the college. It was erected with funds contributed by two of his sons, Charles Jones Starr and Egbert. Starr Library was donated by Egbert Starr, was enlarged by his son, Moses Allen Starr, M.D.
Thomas A. Merrill had a number of children, the most significant of whom for this narrative was the youngest, Eliza Ann Merrill, born in 1826. She married Henry William Starr, son of Hon. Peter Starr by his second wife, Eunice Sergeant. Eliza Ann had one year at Mt. Holyoke Seminary with the class of 1844. She was a heroine of a sort later on, as a married woman. When she married H. W. Starr, he was a widower with two sons, Charles E. and Peter J. Together they had three daughters, one of whom died in infancy. When her brother, Edward Merrill, and his wife both died leaving five children, Eliza Ann Starr took them into her home to raise, in about 1869. H.W. and Eliza Ann and all those children lived in Burlington, Iowa, where she died in 1890. There is a letter from her husband’s cousin, Dr. Moses A. Starr in response to an inquiry about her health shortly before her death. There is also a medical opinion suggesting that making her comfortable while the end is awaited is the best that can be done. She had an inoperable tumor.
Eliza Ann’s daughter, Caroline (Carrie) Augusta Starr married Harry Clifton Hadley, an attorney practicing in Burlington, Iowa. Carrie Augusta had been born in Middlebury, VT when her mother was visiting family (Merrill) in 1859. She, like her mother, enjoyed a period of higher education at Vassar College with the class of 1880. She married Hadley in 1886, and quickly produced Clifton Starr in1887 and Egbert Charles in 1888. Tragically, her husband died in 1890, as did her mother. She moved to Middlebury, VT in 1899, where she resided until her death in 1916. Her two sons were raised in Middlebury and attended the college in the classes of 1909 and 1910. Egbert Charles Hadley was a Trustee from 1936 and Board Chairman from 1944 until his retirement there from in 1968. He died in Middlebury in 1981. Clifton served in World War I, and had a career as an attorney in Boston and in New York City.
The Hadleys are avid genealogists and within these files are family lines going back into the l7th Century. Elbridge Drew Hadley, who is a half brother (being the son of their father’s first wife) to Harry Clifton Hadley, Carrie Starr’s husband (see above) and uncle to Clifton and Egbert, is a continuing source of Hadley background and information. We have his application to become, on the strength of his great-grandfather’s service in the Revolutionary War, a Son of the American Revolution. That was George Hadley who enlisted from Weare, NH, in 1776; he also served in the French and Indian War in 1762, and was at Fort Edward in 1777.
The Merrills, Starrs and Hadleys, so interconnected, and such faithful servants of Middlebury College, came full circle when Egbert C. Hadley purchased the farm that once belonged to his mother. Mr. and Mrs. Hadley prepared their retirement home in Middlebury during the years 1939-1942, approximately. They left the home and property to the College and it is known as Hadley House.