Emeline Harriet (Perry) Casbon (~1840–74)

When Mary Adaline (Aylesworth) Casbon died in March 1868, she left behind her husband, Sylvester V. Casbon, 30 years old, and two children: Cora Ann, seven, and Lawrence Leslie, almost three. He would have needed help caring for the children and maintaining the household. I’m sure family and friends would have stepped in to help, but what he really needed was a wife.

It was another year and a half before he found one. Her name was Emeline “Harriet” Perry. They were wedded on October 11, 1869 in Porter County, Indiana.[1]

Detail from Porter County marriage records, 1869 (Click on image to enlarge)

As was the case with Adaline, there are very few records of Harriet’s life, so her story must be told from those few records and whatever else can be inferred from the lives of those around her.

The exact year of Harriet’s birth cannot be determined because of conflicting information in the available records. The earliest record I know of is the 1850 U.S. Census of Center Township, Porter County, Indiana.[2]

Detail of 1850 U.S. Census, Porter County, Indiana (Click on image to enlarge)

This census shows Harriet, age 10, with the rest of her family. If the age is correct, Harriet’s birth date would be between late October 1839 and early October 1840. However, the 1860 and 1870 censuses give her age as 19 and 27, respectively. Her grave marker lists her year of birth as 1842. Since the 1850 census was recorded closer to her actual birth date than the other records, I’ll go with “about 1840” for her birth year. All the censuses agree that she was born in Canada.

This census is also the best record we have showing Harriet’s immediate family, so it’s worth spending a little more time with it. We can see that her father’s name was Ezekial Perry, 51 years old and born in New York. Her mother’s name was Olive (probably Briggs), 49 years old. Harriet’s siblings, in birth order, were Alfred B (27), Allen (24), Electa (14), (Mary) Adaline (11), James (7), and Dwight (2). There is evidence on an Ancestry family tree that Ezekial had been previously married, and that Alfred and Allen were products of that marriage.[3]

Ezekial Perry, Harriet’s father, was probably born in Cayuga County, New York, in 1799.[4] This is supported by a handwritten family tree.[5] We can see from the 1850 census, that Ezekial moved his family to Canada sometime between about 1836 and 1839 (Electa’s and Adaline’s birth years, respectively). Then he moved back to New York sometime between 1840 and 1843 (James’ birth year). Then he moved to Indiana sometime before 1848 (Dwight’s birth year).

Given the obvious fact that Ezekial and his family moved around a lot, it would be nice to know how and why he ended up in Porter County. I don’t know the answer, other than saying that moves like this usually came down to finances, friends, or family. The 1850 census gives us a clue. In it is an entry for Ambrose Perry, age 29, born in New York and living in Center Township with his wife and daughter.[6] Ambrose was apparently Ezekial’s son from his earlier marriage.[7] Ambrose’s three-year-old daughter was born in Missouri, so he must not have arrived in Porter County any earlier than 1847. It’s possible that Ambrose arrived first and Ezekial followed; or vice-versa. It’s also possible that they arrived together. There were a number of families with origins in New York living in Porter County at that time, so it’s also possible that the Perrys were acquainted with one or more of these families.

The next record we have of Harriet is in 1856, when she was married to Henry Chester, son of a Lake County, Indiana farmer.[8] Depending on which birth year is correct, Harriet would have been somewhere between fourteen and sixteen years old at the time. It turns out that Harriet’s older half-brother, Allen, married a woman named Roxanna Chester about a month and a half after Harriet’s marriage to Henry.[9] Roxanna was almost certainly Henry’s younger sister, who appears in the 1850 census as “Joxanna”[10] Apparently the two families were acquainted!

Henry and Harriet Chester appear in the 1860 census with two daughters, Mary and Olive, living in Ross Township, Lake County, just across the county line from Porter County.[11] We don’t know exactly what happened, but Harriet and Henry were divorced, sometime before 1866, when Henry remarried.[12] I first learned of the divorce in an interesting blog post a couple of years ago.

The next recorded event in Harriet’s life is her marriage to Sylvester Casbon in 1869. With the marriage she became the stepmother to Sylvester’s two children: Cora Ann, now approaching eight years old; and Lawrence Leslie, age four. Harriet also brought a daughter, Henrietta, to the marriage, as seen in the 1870 census.[13]

Detail from 1870 U.S. Census, Ross Township, Lake County, Indiana (Click on image to enlarge)

We can see in this census that Sylvester and Harriet were now living in Lake County, having moved there from Porter County sometime in the late 1860s. We can also see a small detail in column 17: Harriet “cannot write.”

In fairly short order, Harriet bore Sylvester three sons: Thomas Sylvester, born 1870; Charles Parkfield, 1872, and George Washington Casbon, 1874.[14] With the latter birth, what should have been a happy occasion soon turned to tragedy. Harried died on November 14, 1874, not quite two months after George’s birth.[15] Records do not tell us the cause of her death. Sylvester was once again a widower with five children of his own, ranging in age from thirteen to two months old, and possibly Harriet’s daughter Henrietta as well. The children had no mother. This must have been one of the hardest aspects of life in those times.

Harriet’s grave marker, Mosier Cemetery, Porter County, Indiana (photo taken by Jon Casbon, 2017); this appears to be a more recent stone, apparently erected by one or more of her sons (Click on image to enlarge)

As was true of Adaline (Aylesworth) Casbon, Harriet’s legacy continues through her descendants. I don’t have an accurate accounting of her descendants, but I know there are many. Notably, Harriet is the matriarch of the Iowa Casbons through her son George, who was raised by Sylvester’s sister, Emma, and her husband, Robert Newell Rigg.[16]

Harriet’s memory is tied to Iowa in more ways than her Casbon descendants. Thanks to Claudia Vokoun for pointing out to me that several members of the Perry family moved to Black Hawk County, Iowa, right next to Tama County, where George was raised and eventually settled. Harriet’s half-brother, Alfred B Perry, moved to that area in about 1857.[17] He was followed by his brothers Ambrose and Allen sometime before 1870.[18] This seems like more than just a coincidence to me. Whether or not George Casbon’s adoptive parents knew the Perry’s is unknown, but there was probably some common factor that drew these Porter County families to the same part of Iowa.

[1] “Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KDH3-PGM  : accessed 21 January 2016) > Porter > 1863-1871 Volume 3 > image 295 of 352, Syvester Casborn and Emiline H Perry, 21 Oct 1869; citing Porter County Clerk; FHL microfilm 1,686,156.
[2] 1850 U.S. Census, Porter County, Indiana, Center Township, p. 107 (stamped), dwelling 139, family 139, Ezekial Perry; imaged as “United States Census, 1850,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-D1K9-NMX?i=20&cc=1401638 : accessed 10 April 2018) > Indiana > Porter > Centre > image 21 of 26; citing NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 165.
[3] “Public Member Trees,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/56271556/person/42015269794/facts : accessed 10 Apr 2018), “Curtis Vorthmann” family tree by “Cheri_Vorthmann,” profile for Ezekial Perry (1799–1880).
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] 1850 U.S. Census, Porter County, Indiana, population schedule, Center Township, p. 108 (stamped), dwelling 162, family 162, Ambrose Perry; imaged as “United States Census, 1850,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-D1K9-XPG?i=22&cc=1401638 : accessed 10 April 2018) > Indiana > Porter > Centre > image 23 of 26; citing NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 165.
[7] Public Member Trees, Ancestry; “Curtis Vorthmann” family tree, profile for Ezekial Perry (1799–1880).
[8] “Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KDH3-P6Y accessed 10 April 2018), Porter County, p. 240, record 2, Henry Chester and Harriet Perry, 3 Jul 1856; citing Porter County Clerk.
[9] County Clerk, Lake, Indiana, “Marriage Record 1849 B (1849–1866),” p. 188 (penned), 2d entry, Allen Perry and Roxanna Chester, 5 Mar 1866; imaged as “Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9PX5-D82?i=121&cc=1410397 : accessed 10 April 2018) >Lake > 1849-1866 Volume B1849 > image 122 of 311.
[10] 1850 U.S. Census, Lake County, Indiana, population schedule, Ross Township, p. 141 (stamped), dwelling 27, family 27; Charles Chester; imaged as “United States Census, 1850,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-XCMQ-BY?i=3&cc=1401638 : accessed 10 April 2018) >Indiana > Lake > Ross > image 4 of 18; citing NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 157.
[11] 1860 U.S. Census, Lake County, Indiana, population schedule, Ross Township, p. 20 (penned), dwelling 138, family 138, Henry Chester; imaged as “United States Census, 1860,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GYBY-9MY5?i=19&cc=1473181 : accessed 10 April 2018) >Indiana > Lake > Ross Township > image 20 of 38; citing NARA microfilm publication M653, Roll 274.
[12] County Clerk, Lake, Indiana, “Marriage Record 1849 B (1849–1866),” p. 563 (penned), 2d entry, Henry Chester and Harriet L. Hanks, 5 Mar 1866; browsable images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9PX5-D3N?cc=1410397 : accessed 10 April 2018), image 437 of 827; citing Family History Library microfilm  2,413,488, item 2.
[13] 1870 U.S. Census, Lake County, Indiana, population schedule, Ross Township, p. 431 (stamped), dwelling 70, family 71, Casbon Sylvester; imaged as “United States Census, 1870,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-64PS-5W7?i=10&cc=1438024 : accessed 10 April 2018) >Indiana > LaGrange > Ross > image 11 of 44; citing NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 333.
[14] Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/116217116 : accessed 10 April 2018), memorial page for Thomas S Casbon (1870–1955), memorial ID 116217116, created by “Kathy”; citing Graceland Memorial Park, Valparaiso, Porter, Indiana. “United States, World War One (WWI) Draft Registration Cards,1917-1918,” images and transcriptions, findmypast (https://search.findmypast.com/record?id=usm%2fww1dr%2f005250509%2f02362&parentid=usm%2fwwidr%2f1669325093 : accessed 9 November 2017), card for Charles Parkfield Casbon, serial no. 537, local draft board, Valparaiso, Porter, Indiana; citing National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), series M1509. Registration card for George Washington Casbon, Tama County, Iowa, 1918; imaged as “United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-81HC-9MQ?i=656&cc=1968530 : accessed 10 April 2018) > Iowa > Tama County; A-Z > image 657 of 5002; citing NARA microfilm publication M1509.
[15] Weston A Goodspeed, Charles Blanchard, Counties of Porter and Lake, Indiana: Historical and Biographical, Illustrated (Chicago: F.A. Battey & Co., 1882), p. 707; online image, Internet Archive (https://archive.org/stream/countiesofporter00good#page/706/ : accessed 10 April 2018).
[16] Jon Casbon, “Introducing the Iowa Casbons! Part 1. 5 Oct 2-17, Our Casbon Journey (https://casbonjourney.wordpress.com/2017/10/05/introducing-the-iowa-casbons-part-1/ : accessed 10 April 2018).
[17] 1860 U.S. Census, Black Hawk County, Iowa, population schedule, Lester Township. p. 136 (penned), dwelling 82, family 79, Alfred B. Perry; imaged as “United States Census, 1860,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GB9N-91KT?i=10&cc=1473181 : accessed 10 April 2018) < Iowa > Black Hawk > Lester Township > image 11 of 14; citing NARA microfilm publication M653, Roll 312.
[18] 1870 U.S. Census, Black Hawk County, Iowa, population schedule, Lester Township, p. 451 (stamped), dwelling 108, family 107, Perry Ambrose; imaged as “United States Census, 1870,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-624W-G16?i=14&cc=1438024 : accessed 10 April 2018) >Iowa > Black Hawk > lester > image 15 of 22; citing NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 377. 1870 U.S. Census, Black Hawk County, Iowa; FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-624W-PV7?i=18&cc=1438024 : accessed 10 April 2018) >Iowa > Black Hawk > lester > image 19 of 22.

5 thoughts on “Emeline Harriet (Perry) Casbon (~1840–74)”

  1. Good Jon. How were we related to the Perry that owned the grocery store 1/2 block down Haas street on the South side of the street. His son later, as a state policeman was shot and killed near Chesterton. All about the time I was leaving Valpo. Thanks Dad

    1. As far as I know, there were no Perrys in Porter County after about 1870 who were related to or descended from Ezekial Perry, although there were a few Perrys in the County in the 1930s and 40s. The grocery store was on 253 Haas and run by a man named Parry. There were several Parrys in Valpo who were either grocers or butchers (I’ll send you one of their advertisements!). I’m not aware of any relation between them and us or the Perrys. Thanks for your comment!

  2. Harriet was my 2nd great grandmother. In my research on the Perry family, I find some moved to Iowa to homestead land. Thanks Jon for telling Harriet’s story so well. I did not know that she could not write.

  3. Thanks for your comment, Linda. I know that Ambrose, Alfred B, and Allen all moved to Iowa. Electa was listed as “mother of the groom,” in the marriage of her son, Charles Albert Kimble, 17 May, 1890, in Black Hawk County, Iowa, but that doesn’t mean she ever lived there. I haven’t been able to trace her beyond 1870. Brother James died in Andersonville prison 1864 during the Civil War. Sister Mary Adaline married and moved to Nebraska, eventually joined by father Ezekial, who died there. Mother Olive presumably died in the 1860s but I haven’t found a record of her death or grave. I’m not sure what happened to youngest son, Dwight. I’m glad you contacted me!

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