The family of Elihu William Nathan Starr (1821-1891) had made swords and firearms in Middletown since the late 18th century. As a teenager, E.W.N. Starr attended the American, Literary, Scientific and Military Academy, which later became Wesleyan University, beginning a lifelong association with the military. While not a professional soldier, Starr was a key member in the state militia, beginning with his enlistment in 1830. In 1847 he organized the 7th Light Infantry Company of the 6th Regiment, also known as the Mansfield Guards after Starr’s friend J.K.F. Mansfield. He achieved the rank of Brigadier General in 1860 and was the Commandant of the Mansfield Military Camp that was occupied by the 24th Regiment Connecticut Volunteers until the permanent officers took command in 1862.
Starr also served his city as Postmaster, Town Clerk, City Clerk, and Treasurer.