Kay Starr

Birth Name: Katherine Laverne Starks

Date of Birth: July 21, 1922

Place of Birth: Dougherty, Oklahoma, U.S.

Date of Death: November 3, 2016

Place of Death: Beverly Hills, California, U.S.

Ethnicity: English, Irish, possibly Iroquois Native American and Choctaw Native American

Kay Starr was an American singer. She was a well known pop and jazz singer in the ’40s and ’50s.

Kay was the daughter of Annie Mae (Coll) and Harry/Henry (Asa, according to some sources) Starks.

Various statements have been made about Kay’s ancestry. Some sources state that her father was a “full-blooded Iroquois Indian” (sometimes born on a reservation). About her mother, it has been said that her ancestry was either fully Native American (often Choctaw, Cherokee, or both), Irish, or mixed Irish and Native American. Kay’s maternal grandfather was Irish. Other than that, it is not clear if any of these claims are true. Kay’s parents were both listed as “White” on the 1930 census.

In this clip, Kay appeared to confirm the interviewer’s breakdown of her ethnicity: “You are a Cherokee Indian, actually you’re not quite a Cherokee Indian because your father was Iroquois, (and) your mother was half Choctaw.”

Kay was most likely of at least part Native American descent, but to what degree is not clear.

Kay’s paternal grandparents were born in New York.

Kay’s maternal grandfather was named Edward D. Coll. Edward was born in Ireland.

Kay’s maternal grandmother was Matilda Deel (who likely was the daughter of Robert C. Deel/Deal and Nancy T. Griffin). Matilda was born in Texas or Tennessee, and had English ancestry. She is listed as “White” on U.S. Censuses. Robert was the son of Robert Bennet Deel and Mary Ann Polly MARLER. Nancy was the daughter of Bluford Griffin and Eveline.

Sources: Kay Starr on the 1930 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org

Genealogy of Kay Starr (focusing on her mother’s side) – https://www.geni.com

Kay’s mother on the 1920 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org

4 Responses

  1. madman says:

    I think her mother is only white, and that her grandmother is of English descent. Neither Robert nor Nancy are listed as anything other than white on censuses.

    Her father is also listed as white, but I could only find one census.

  2. madman says:


    This might be Kay’s mother, Annie Coll, on the 1905 New York State Census. It says that her father, Edward Coll, was Irish. Edwards wife, Delia, was also Irish. The 1930 Census states that Annie’s mother was born in Texas, and the genealogy identifies her as Matilda Deel. Either Delia was not Kay’s maternal grandmother or there are some misconceptions about her family background.

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