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Connie Park Rice

fraternal and community leader, was born in Kanawha County, West Virginia, the son of Lewis Starks, a cooper, and Mary Starks. While attending the public schools in Charleston, West Virginia, Starks worked as a cooper's apprentice, making and repairing wooden barrels, and later worked in shops along the Elk River.

Dissatisfied with the cooper s trade he took a job as janitor in the offices of the Kanawha Michigan Railroad The constant clicking of the telegraph apparatus intrigued Starks so he bought a minimal amount of telegraph equipment to practice on and convinced one of the operators to teach him how to operate it Soon he was taking the place of absent operators becoming the first black telegraph operator for the Kanawha Michigan Railroad A railroad official a Colonel Sharp soon noticed the ambitious young man and employed him to work as a telegraph operator at the ...