The People's Tribune

Stark Bro’s Honored With State Historical Marker

The Missouri State Society of the Daughters of American Colonists (MSSDAC) has recognized Stark Bro’s Nurseries & Orchards Co. as a significant contributor to Missouri’s history by awarding it an official bronze historical marker.

The marker recognizes company founder James Hart Stark, his historic hand-built cabin (which was moved to Stark Bro’s from Buffalo Township in 1953), the founding of the nursery in 1816 and the subsequent generations of the Stark family — and legions of loyal employees — who have kept the company going since its inception.

A public dedication ceremony was held Sunday afternoon, June 3, in front of the 202-year-old Stark Cabin on Highway NN at West Georgia street. Speakers included Ann Keller, MSSDAC State Regent, and Jan Stevens, State Chair, Historical Landmarks and Memorials.

Many local dignitaries and were in attendance, including Representative Jim Hansen, Louisiana Mayor Marvin Brown, City Council Mayor Pro Tem Kathy Smith, as well as Mary Armstrong, the president of the National Society of the DAC, and a number of Stark Bro’s officers and employees, who are also recognized on the marker. American Legion Post 370 had Color Guard duties.

Ken Lane, Stark Bro’s Chief Marketing Officer, who accepted the marker on behalf of the company, was clearly moved by the honor.

“After 202 years in business, Stark Bro’s is the world’s oldest fruit tree nursery still in operation. We recognize that we have an obligation to preserve and respect the integrity of the brand, the thousands of employees that got us this far, and the generations of Starks before us. This marker will serve as a daily reminder of that responsibility.”

Historical significance and age are the main qualifying criteria for a marker; the historical significance is established by reviewing its role and importance in local history, and the age requirement depends on the topic.

“This has some personal meaning for me,” said MSSDAC State Regent Ann Keller.

“My grandfather would do carpenter work at the old packing shed on Highway 54 in the fall, and I can still remember the huge apples he would get for me. I can even say I have been a Stark Bro’s employee, as I worked in the mail room one summer many years ago.”

The marker will serve as not only a reminder of the past and the nursery’s origins, but will educate visitors to the area.

“I hope that passersby stop to read the inscription, and in doing so will better understand the spirit of what transpires in the buildings across the road,” said Lane. “While we may be not Starks by blood, we are all Starks in spirit, and that is what will take us through the next two hundred years.”

For more information about Stark Bro’s Nurseries & Orchards Co., please visit

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