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Star, Idaho

Star is a city in northwestern Ada County, Idaho, with parts stretching into neighboring Canyon County. The population was 5,793 at the 2010 census, up from 1,795 in 2000. It was named in the 19th century by travelers on their way to Middleton and Boise who used the star on the school house to find east and west. The name stuck and it became Star, Idaho. Today it is a growing town west of Boise and its schools are shared with Middleton School District and West Ada School District.

Star is part of the Boise metropolitan area.

The community of Star was one of the earliest settlements in the Boise Valley.
One of the first settlers was Ben F. Swalley who in 1863 drove his ox team and wagon onto 300 acres of land along the Boise River, one mile south of the present town. Others soon followed, homesteading the good farm land along the Boise River. The surrounding farms often catered to the needs of early travelers and miners providing them with food and lodging on their way to and from the mines in the Boise Basin.

One of the later branches of the Oregon Trail that crossed the river near Boise passed through what now is Star, just south of present-day Highway 44. Ezra Meeker, who spent his last years marking the course of the old Oregon Trail, visited Star on May 5, 1906. Portions of this early Oregon trail corridor became the Old Valley Road connecting Boise to Caldwell. In the spring, travelers had to take the alternate foothills road to keep from getting stuck in the mud bogs. Starting in the 1860's, the stage from Boise City followed Old Valley Road and arrived at Gray's Station just east of Star, near the old Balm Mill, on what is now Moon Valley Road. Here the stage left Old Valley Road and proceeded northwest through the sage brush to the Willow Creek Stage Station, northwest of Star. The route continued to Payette and eventually to Umatilla, Oregon and the Columbia River. Stage routes served the area through the 1880's with their big six-horse coaches.

The first location of the village of Star was one mile to the east of present Star, about halfway between the present town of Star and Star-Emmett junction. The first schoolhouse was built there in the 1870's on land donated by Ben F. Swalley. When the settlers finished building the schoolhouse, one of the men sawed out a star and nailed it to the front door, pounding nails all around its edge. This star became an important landmark for miles around and was a guide for travelers and miners. When they came to the schoolhouse with the star on the door, they would find lodging for the night. In time, the town became known as Star. The village of Star began to grow, providing services to travelers and serving as a rural center for neighboring farmers and ranchers. In 1880, a post office was established in Star with Shepp Gray the first postmaster and proprietor of the general store. The early settlement also had two blacksmith shops for "iron work" as well as the district school house, two churches, and half a score of residences. The first hotel was opened in 1888.

The 1870s schoolhouse with the original star, was eventual moved and later replaced by a brick schoolhouse on River Street in 1903. In 1912, Star had a new high school built. The 1870’s schoolhouse was dismantled in 1937 and a new school was built with the salvaged bricks. Star Elementary School was completed in 1975 adjacent to the brick schoolhouse which was later demolished. Star maintained its own school district for a period but is now part of the West Ada School District. A new middle school is opening in the fall of 2018.

Sources: Wikipedia, City of Star Website


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