Centennial Crafts for Kids
In 1831, at age 28, Orson Starr came to Royal Oak and built a cowbell factory on the southwest corner of 13 Mile Road and Main Street. He lived in a log house just to the south of the factory. Later, he would build a house at 3123 N Main St, which still exists today as a museum. All the buildings were part of a subdivision known as Elmo Park.
Born in New York, Orson’s father, Vine Starr, also manufactured cowbells. When Orson married Rhoda Gibbs, the couple headed west to the territory of Michigan to seek their fortune.
According to a 1930 Detroit Free Press article, the couple stopped in Ohio, but decided they didn’t like that state so they continued west.
Orson manufactured eight bells. The sizes of the bells varied depending on the animal they were attached to. The largest bell, a number eight, was about eight and a half inches high and six inches wide. The bells were stamped “O. Starr.” In later years, a seven pointed star replaced the cowbell-maker’s name.
The number one bell would sell for $3 per dozen; the number eight sold for $15 a dozen.
Today Starr cowbells are sought by collectors. You can view Orson's cowbells at the Orson Starr House Museum located at 3123 N. Main St. Admission is free. For more information, call (248) 588-0170.
Source: The Detroit Free Press, Jan. 26, 1930
How to make an Orson Starr String Puppet
String puppets were popular toys for children in the 1920s. Here's How you can make your very own Orson Starr puppet to ring in the centennial!
Download, print and color Orson Starr.
|Cut out the puppet and glue to cardboard, such as an old cereal box.|
|Glue two popsicle sticks together.|
|Punch holes in pieces A, B, C and D where dots are indicated and assemble with paper fasteners.|
A = Torso
B = Upper arms; left and right
C = Lower right arm
D = lower left arm
|Thread a string through the top of the hand holding the bell and attach to the popsicle sticks.|
Ring in Royal Oak's 100th anniversary!