Children of Thomas Casbon (1803–1888): Emma

Emma Elizabeth Casbon was the last child born to Thomas and Emma (Scruby) Casbon, and the only one born in the United States. Her life is poorly documented. Reporting of births was not required in Ohio until the 1850s, so there is no official record of her birth. The birth date carved into her grave stone is May 22, 1847.[1] This would have been about one year after her family arrived in Ohio from England. She was named after her mother Emma and her maternal grandmother, Elizabeth (Robinson) Scruby. Her name is duly recorded on the 1850 and 1860 census reports with the other family members, but no information is given other than her age and sex.[2],[3]

The next record I have is a copy of the marriage certificate of Emma with Robert Newell Rigg, in Porter County, Indiana, on April 15, 1869, when Emma was just shy of 22 years old.[4]

Marriage registration of Robert Rigg and Emma Casbon, 15 April, 1869, Porter County, Indiana (Click on image to enlarge)

As I’ve noted previously, Thomas Casbon moved with his family from Ohio to Indiana about 1865. His farm was only about 1½ miles south of that of William Byron Rigg in Porter Township. Mr. Rigg came to Porter County from Pennsylvania in 1861.[5] His son, Robert Newell (after his paternal grandmother), born in 1845, didn’t have far to look for his bride.[6]

Initially Emma and Robert continued to live in Porter Township, where Robert worked on a farm, presumably that of his father.[7]

The young couple remained childless after five years of marriage. This changed dramatically after an unfortunate event. In August 1874, a son was born to Emma’s brother Sylvester and his wife Harriet (Perry).[8] He was given the name George Washington Casbon. In November of the same year, Harriet died, leaving Sylvester a widower with five children at home, ranging from the infant George to 13-year old Cora.[9] Possibly to alleviate Sylvester’s burden (and grief), or to offset their own state of childlessness, Emma and Robert agreed to take responsibility for George’s upbringing.

In 1876 Robert, Emma, and George moved to Iowa. I don’t know why they moved, but as one of five sons, there might not have been enough affordable land to go around in Indiana, while Iowa still had abundant land for settlement (this is only speculation on my part). The 1880 census shows Robert, Emma, and “Georgio” living in Geneseo Township, Tama County.[10] George is listed as “son,” and the enumerator has mistakenly listed his parents’ birthplaces as Pennsylvania and Ohio (George’s father, Sylvester, was born in England; mother, Harriet, was born in Canada).

Detail from 1880 census, Geneseo Township, Tama County, Iowa (Click on image to enlarge)

It is unclear whether George was truly adopted, or simply raised in loco parentis by Robert and Emma. There are some indications that his home life was not a happy one. Since Emma is the subject of this post, and not George, I won’t dwell on his situation at this time. He will be the subject of a future post.

Meanwhile, although I have no documentation, living descendants of George have told me that Robert and Emma’s marriage was troubled. They reportedly filed for divorce in 1904.[11] Whether the divorce was granted is unknown to me. It is noteworthy that in the 1905 Iowa State Census, Robert is listed as married but was apparently living by himself; I haven’t been able to locate Emma, and George was now grown and living on his own.[12]

This is the only photo I have of Emma, taken at a family reunion in 1901 when she was 54 years old; she is hidden in shadow behind her brother Jesse (a metaphor?)

The 1910 Census does nothing to clarify their marital status. They were not together when the census was enumerated. Robert was in Iowa, and Emma was in Indiana, a house guest of her brother Jesse. [13],[14] Robert was listed as married, while Emma was listed as widowed. Emma’s status could simply be an incorrect assumption by the enumerator, or an evasion on her part.

Detail from 1910 Census, Center Township, Porter County, Indiana. Emma’s marital status is listed as “Wd,” for widowed (compare to Jesse’s daughter Anna, who was divorced) (Click in image to enlarge)

Emma’s death occurred in Valparaiso, Indiana on July 29, 1910, just a few months after the census was taken. Her obituary gives little new information, and makes no mention of a divorce from Robert.[15]

Obituary from the Waterloo (Iowa) Evening Courier, August 5, 1910 (Click on image to enlarge)

Given her “widowed” status on the census and the fact that she had been staying with her brothers in Indiana for several months preceding her death, it seems likely that she was estranged from her husband. I’ve gotten the impression from living descendants that they might have even lived in separate homes in Iowa.

Robert lived another 14 years after Emma’s death and never remarried. He died July 17, 1924 in La Porte City, Iowa, not far from the farm he moved to in 1876.[16] His obituary described his as “one of the most substantial farmers and stock raisers of this section.”[17] It also makes no mention of a marital schism with Emma.

Obituary from the (La Porte City) Progress Review, July 17, 1924 (Click on image to enlarge – image is poor quality)

Given the ambiguous state of their marriage, I find it interesting that, in the end, they were buried side by side in Iowa.

The Rigg memorial stone, Westview Cemetery, La Porte, Black Hawk County, Iowa (photo courtesy of Claudia Vokoun)

What I find most interesting, and sad, however, is that neither of the obituaries mentions their foster-son, George. I’m afraid the silence says a lot about their relationship. Whatever the case, it is thanks to Robert and Emma that the Casbon name was brought to Iowa, where there are now a considerable number of George’s descendants.

[1] Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 18 August 2016), memorial page for Emma Rigg (1847–1910), memorial no. 18208125, created by “Deb”; citing Westview Cemetery, La Porte City, Black Hawk, Iowa.
[2] 1850 U.S. Census, Wayne County, Ohio, population schedule, Clinton township, p. 2 (written), dwelling 8, family 8, Emma (age 3) in household of Thos. Casban; image, FamilySearch ( : accessed 4 July 2016); citing NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 739.
[3] 1860 U.S. Census, Holmes County, Ohio, population schedule, Washington Township, p. 223 (written), dwelling 1534, household 1556, Ema (age 13) in household of Thomas Casbon; image, FamilySearch ( : accessed 12 August 2016); citing NARA microfilm publication M653, roll 989.
[4] “Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007,” Porter, Indiana, database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 20 July 2016), entry for R.N. Rigg & Emma E. Casbon, 15 Apr 1869; citing Marriage Record 3, 1863–1871, p. 455 (stamped), Porter County Clerk’s office, Indiana.
[5] “John Wallace Rigg,” History of Porter County, Indiana : a narrative account of its historical progress, its people and its principal interests (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1912), 2: 425; online image, Hathi Trust Digital Library (;view=1up;seq=79 : accessed 29 June 2017).
[6] History of Tama County, Iowa, Together with Sketches of their Towns, Villages and Townships, Educational,Ccivil, Military and Political History … and Biographies of Representative Citizens (Springfield, Illinois: Union Publishing Company, 1883), p. 739; online image, Internet Archive ( : accessed 29 Jun 2017).
[7] 1870 U.S. Census, Porter County, Indiana, population schedule, Porter Township, p. 109 (stamped), dwelling 187, family 185, Noah Rigg; image, FamilySearch ( : accessed 6 January 2017); citing NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 351.
[8] “World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards”; database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 22 December 2016), George Washington Casbon, b. 16 Aug 1874; citing Tama County, Iowa, United States, NARA microfilm publication M1509.
[9] Weston A. Goodspeed and Charles Blanchard, Counties of Porter and Lake, Indiana: Historical and Biographical: Illustrated (Chicago: F.A. Battey & Co., 1882), p. 706: online image, Internet Archive ( : accessed 22 Aug 2016).
[10] United States Census, 1880, Tama County, Iowa, population schedule, Geneseo Township, p. 461 (stamped), enumeration district (E.D.) 322, dwelling 120, family 126, Riggs Robert N (age 34); database and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 24 December 2015); citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 365.
[11] Casbon family tradition about Robert and Emma Rigg, privately held by Jon Casbon [address for private use], as reported by Claudia Vokoun, a granddaughter of George W. Casbon.
[12] Iowa State Census, 1905, Geneseo, Tama, card no. 268, R. N. Rigg; imaged in “Iowa, State Census Collection, 1836-1925” Ancestry Library Edition (accessed through participating libraries: accessed 29 June 2017); citing State Historical Society of Iowa.
[13] United States Census, 1910, Tama, Iowa, population schedule, Geneseo Township, E.D. 175, sheet 2-B, dwelling 34, family 34, Riggs, Robert N., in household of Rodman, W. Ray; database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 30 June 2017); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 424.
[14] United States Census, 1910, Porter, Indiana, population schedule, Center Township, La Porte Road, p. 26 (stamped), E.D. 137, sheet 10-A, dwelling 155, family 158, Emma Riggs in household of Jesse Casbon (indexed as “Larbon”); database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 30 October 16); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 374.
[15] “La Porte City Resident Dies,” Waterloo (Iowa) Evening Courier, p. 5, col. 5; online images, Newspaper Archive (accessed through participating libraries : accessed 29 June 2017).
[16] “R. N. Rigg Died this Morning: Well Known Citizen Passed Away at Home of Mr. And Mrs. E. E. Gates, West of this City,” (La Porte City, Iowa) Progress Review, 17 Jul 1924, p. 1, col. 4; online image, Newspaper Archive (accessed through participating libraries: accessed 29 June 2017).
[17] “R. N. Rigg Died this Morning.”

4 thoughts on “Children of Thomas Casbon (1803–1888): Emma”

  1. The good news, is that George and his children kept in touch with the Indiana brothers and cousins. Over time the connections were lost; but now, common interest in our heritage is bringing us back together again.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.