David Stark was my husband's maternal grandfather, who died of cancer in his late forties, leaving his widow with children still at home - the youngest was four. There is little evidence of his life in document form. One item is the draft of a letter he sent to a hospital requesting a reduction of the bill for the isolation care of three of his children in the fever ward for six weeks. The family story is that the letter received a favourable response, but with his death shortly thereafter his widow required years to pay off the reduced bill. Beyond that there is little: his inscription in a book he gave to his daughter - a fine copperplate hand; a few pictures; his military record, obrained by his youngest son from England. And as for memories, only his two youngest, one being my mother-in-law, survive, and the youngest doesn't remember his father at all. My mother-in-law says of him that he didn't speak with his children. She didn't recall any dinner-table conversation, in fact she recalls no conversation with him ever and she was thirteen when he died. She does recall him inviting each child to pick something from the Eaton's Catalogue as his gift when he returned from overseas after the end of World War I. She picked a brown velvet dress.
The David Stark story as I am assembling it is in strong contrast to that of my great-grandfather Henry Thomas Wake, of whom more later. Henry Thomas left MUCH documentary evidence.
Even with the dearth of material for the David Stark book, I feel it is worthwhile to assemble everything that can be found and make it available to David Stark's descendants. But there is not enough to get a feeling for the man, or to grasp some small portion of his thoughts. This saddens me, and I am impelled to make everything I can of the scraps available to me.
Status: Another grandson of David Stark has been trying to track down evidence of David Stark's birth in Scotland. Although the documents of birth, death and marriage as well as census records are all available for the relevant times, nothing has been found. The family is inclined to the view that when he fought with his father and left home at an early age to join the army, he may have lied about his age, and even given a different name.
The few pictures have been assembled, the memories of his daughter have been drafted, the scant material evidences of his existence have been assembled. His daughter, my mother-in-law, has his army paybook - I have seen it - but she cannot at this moment put her hands on it. A copy of its pages belongs in David Stark's book, so I must wait for the paybook to be found. I feel I cannot pressure someone of her age, though she likes the idea of a book about her father, but I feel pressure myself due to her age. I hope the book will be complete while she is still with us.