Alice Hannah Casbon was the last child born to James (~1813–1884) and Mary (Jackson, ~1833–187_?) Casbon. There is a family tradition that Alice was born at sea while the family was making the crossing from Liverpool to New York aboard the ship Great Western. Although there is no evidence to support the claim, it is easy to see how the story came about. The Great Western arrived at New York on Christmas Day, 1870. Alice does not appear on the ship’s passenger manifest. Her birth date is recorded as 25 January 1871, just one month after the family’s arrival in New York. Thus, if the family had sailed one month later, or if her mother had gone into premature labor, Alice would have been born at sea!
Imagine how uncomfortable the voyage in the steerage of a sailing vessel must have been for Alice’s mother, being so far advanced in her pregnancy.
Despite the family tradition, all the available evidence supports the birth date given above. There is no official birth certificate, as these were not required at the time. However, every available census gives her birthplace as Indiana; and the 1900 census gives the month and year as January 1871. The date of 25 January 1871 is recorded on her death certificate and in her obituary.
Nothing is known of Alice’s childhood, but we can conclude that it would not have been easy. Alice was no more than 5 years old, and possibly much younger, when her mother died. James remarried in 1876 and died in 1884, when Alice was 13. Whatever was left of her childhood was spent with her stepmother, Mary (Payne). Unfortunately, there are no documents that I know of that describe this period of her life.
According to the 1940 U.S. census, Alice’s highest level of education was the fourth grade. Although this was common for girls at the time, it seems likely that Alice went to work at an early age, either at the home or elsewhere, given what we know about her circumstances.
On 24 January 1891, a day before her twentieth birthday, Alice married a two-time widower named Benjamin Edwards. He was 20 years older than Alice and, according to his obituary, had 13 children from his first marriage. At least five of these children were 10 years old or younger, so Alice was immediately placed into the role of stepmother.
The couple had another eight children together: Elsie, born 1892, Grace (1894), Bertha (1895), Mary Alice (1897), Howard (1899), Pearl (1901), Hazel (1903), and Florence (1906). All except Pearl, a son, survived into adulthood.
In the 1900 census, Ben, Alice, and their family were residing in Porter Township, Porter County, Indiana. In 1910 and 1920, they were living in Union Township, Porter County. By 1930, Ben, now retired, and Alice lived at 960 West Street in Valparaiso, the Porter County seat. This house is still standing.
Benjamin Edwards died in 1934 at the age of 83. Two years later, Alice married Charles Hicks, a roofing contractor and former city councilman. This marriage was short-lived due to Charles’s premature death following a traffic accident. The story received extensive coverage in the Valparaiso Vidette-Messenger. Both Charles and Alice suffered fractured knee caps along with cuts and bruises, as a result of a head-on collision on 4 February 1938. They were both hospitalized at Fairview hospital in LaPorte, Indiana, “where it was stated their condition is not critical.” On 25 February it was reported that both had undergone surgery for the fractured kneecaps. “Mrs. Hicks is recovering nicely, but Mr. Hicks’ condition is not so good.” Two days later, Charles was dead.
In her later years, Alice seems to have divided her time between at least two of her daughters. In the 1940 census, she was staying with her daughter Grace and her husband, Jay Blachly, in Valparaiso. In early 1948 she was said to be residing with her daughter Hazel and her husband, Arthur Simpson, in Three Oaks, Michigan. However, in July of that year, she was again residing with Grace, when she had a heart attack and was said to be making a “rapid recovery.” She was once again living with Hazel in Michigan when she passed away 15 March 1950 from “a lingering illness.” The nature of her illness is unknown to me. Alice was 79 years old when she died.
One of Alice’s daughters is said to have done a great deal of Casbon genealogy research. I have copies of some of these records, but they came to me indirectly and I don’t know who the daughter was.
 “Marine Intelligence,” The New York Times, 26 Dec 1870, p. 8, col. 5; online images (https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1870/12/26/issue.html : accessed 17 January 2017).
 “Michigan Death Certificates, 1921-1952,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KF41-L5D : accessed 21 February 2017); citing Three Oaks, Berrien, Michigan, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics, Lansing; FHL microfilm 1,973,189.
 1900 U.S. census, Porter County, Indiana, Porter Township, ED 91, sheet 4B, dwelling & family 75 (Benjamin Edwards); imaged as “United States Census, 1900,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-6QNS-7WT?i=7 : accessed 20 Jan 2015) >Indiana > Porter > ED 91 Porter Township > image 8 of 22; citing NARA microfilm publication T623.
 “Michigan Death Certificates, 1921-1952.” “Mrs Alice Hicks Dies Following Lingering Illness,” The (Valparaiso, Indiana) Vidette-Messenger, 16 Mar 1950, p. 6; image copy, Newspaper Archive (accessed through participating libraries: 16 Aug 2016).
 1940 U.S. census, Porter County, Indiana, Valparaiso, Ward 3, ED 64-6, sheet 4-B, family 89 (Blachley—transcribed as “Blackley”—Jay); imaged as “United States Census, 1940,” FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9MB-N9LX?i=7&cc=2000219 : accessed 6 July 2017); citing NARA digital publication T627.
 Porter County, Indiana, marriage records, vol. 9 (1889–1892), no. 282; imaged as “Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/1410397 : accessed 22 Mar 2019) > >Porter >1889-1892 Volume 9 >image 179 of 361; citing Indiana Commission on Public Records, Indianapolis.
 “Benj. Edwards, Local Pioneer, Death Victim,” The Vidette-Messenger, 19 Mar 1934, p. 4, col. 4; online image, Newspaper Archive (accessed 15 April 2018).
 1900 U.S. census, Porter County, Indiana, ED 91, Sheet 4B.
 1910 U.S. census, Porter County, Indiana, ED 150, sheet 8A, dwelling 151, family 153; imaged as “United States Census, 1910,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GRJJ-FWS?i=14 : accessed 29 Oct 2015); citing NARA microfilm publication T624. 1920 U.S. census, Porter County, Indiana, ED 154, sheet 9B, dwelling 187, family 197; “United States Census, 1920,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GR67-31W?i=18 : accessed 14 Dec 2015); citing NARA microfilm publication T625.
 1930 U.S. census, Porter County, Center Township, ED 64-7, sheet 7B; imaged as “United States Census, 1930,” FamilySearch images, (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GRH7-J26?i=13 : accessed 23 Mar 2019); citing NARA microfilm publication T626.
 “Benj. Edwards, Local Pioneer, Death Victim,” The Vidette-Messenger.
 “Indiana, Marriage Index, 1800-1941”, database, (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=5059 : accessed 23 Mar 2019), Charles Hicks & Alice Edwards, 4 Mar 1936; citing Starke County, Indiana, Index to Marriage Record 1896 – 1938, Inc. Letters, W. P. A.; original Record Located: County Clerk’s O; Book: H-21; Page: 20.
 “Charles Hicks and Wife Hurt in Auto Crash,” The Vidette-Messenger, 4 Feb 1938, p. 1, col. 7; Newspaper Archive (accessed 23 Mar 2019).
 “Condition of Charles Hicks Not Favorable,” The Vidette-Messenger, 25 February 1938, p. 1, col. 6; image copy, Newspaper Archive (accessed 23 March 2019).
 “C.S. Hicks Fails to Survive Crash Injuries,” The Vidette-Messenger, 28 Feb 1938, pp. 1-2; Newspaper Archive (accessed 23 March 2019).
 1940 U.S. census, Porter County, Indiana, Valparaiso, Ward 3, ED 64-6, sheet 4-B.
 “Local Brevities,” The Vidette-Messenger, 3 Apr 1948, p. 2, col. 1; Newspaper Archive (accessed 12 Jul 2020).
 “Local Brevities,” The Vidette-Messenger, 13 Jul 1948, p. 2, col. 1; Newspaper Archive (accessed 12 Jul 2020).
 “Mrs Alice Hicks Dies Following Lingering Illness,” The Vidette-Messenger, 16 Mar 1950, p. 6; image copy, Newspaper Archive (accessed 16 Aug 2016).