Introducing the Iowa Casbons! Part 1

I first heard of the Iowa Casbons when I was a teenager. My brother had a friend from Iowa who knew of people named Casbon, and who were living in the Waterloo, Iowa area. Up to that point, as far as I knew, the only Casbons in the world were a small number of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, all (with the exception of my immediate family) living in or around Valparaiso, Indiana. I had a vague notion that they had come from someplace else, maybe England; but in my mind, it seemed just as likely that they had sprung up from the Indiana soil. I remember thinking how strange it was to learn of other people with the same name, living in Iowa of all places!

It wasn’t until many years later, when I became interested in tracing the family history, that I learned how the Casbons came to Iowa. I made reference to this in an earlier post, but will give a brief summary here. George Washington Casbon, born August 16, 1874 in Valparaiso, Indiana to Sylvester V (1837–1927) and Harriet (Perry, 1842–1874) Casbon, was given up after his mother’s death to be raised by his uncle Robert N (1845–1924) and aunt Emma (Casbon, 1847–1910) Rigg. Robert and Emma moved to Tama County, Iowa, when George was only about two years old. There he grew up and lived for almost his entire life. All of the Iowa Casbons are descended from George.

I am indebted to Claudia Vokoun, a granddaughter of George, for contributing photographs, documents and personal memories that have vastly increased my understanding of George and his descendants.

Of George’s early years there is little information. I know from a census record that he attended rural school (probably a one-room schoolhouse) and completed the fourth reader.[*],[1] Another census has “8” written in the space for “Extent of Education: Common [school], so this probably means he attended school for eight years.[2] I also know that he was in contact with his Indiana brothers and cousins, as well as his father, Sylvester. I know this because George possessed an autograph book, in which he kept little sayings from his relatives.[3] Claudia Vokoun has sent me copies of some of these autographs.[4]

Handwritten autographs; top: “Dec 27 1886/Deep River Ind./Brother George/May your virtue
ever shine/like blossoms on a pumkin [sic] vine/Yours truly,/Charles P Casbon” (George’s brother);
Bottom: “Dec 27 1886./Boon Grove Ind.,/Cousin Georgie/Remember me when far away/and only
half awake. Remember/me on your wedding day and/send me a slice of cake./Yours truly,/Lodema E Casbon” (George’s cousin); courtesy of Claudia Vokoun

Autograph to George from his father: “Sep 4th AD 1891/Dear son think of [me]/when far away in/Indiana and always/be [a] good boy and favor/me your Father/S.V. Casbon”; courtesy of Claudia Vokoun
According to Claudia, George obtained these on visits to Indiana.[5] Before I had this information, I thought there might have been little or no contact between George and his Indiana relations, but these autographs suggest otherwise. Claudia also sent me copies of photographs showing that George’s brother Charles Parkfield Casbon visited George in Iowa in the 1920s or 30s.

On December 26, 1905, George married Bertha Maud Carpenter in St. Hilaire,
Minnesota.[6] Maud, as she was known, was born November 22, 1879 in Benton County, Iowa, to Ira R and Josephine (Keech) Carpenter.[7] In 1895 her family was living in Clark Township, Tama County, Iowa, and in 1900 they were living in nearby Black Hawk County.[8],[9] George grew up in Tama County, almost on the county line with Black Hawk County, so it’s likely that he met Maud during this time, when she was a teenager or in her early 20s. Maud’s family moved to Minnesota in about 1903 (because of her sister’s allergies, according to Claudia), and George followed about a year later (along with his aunt Emma), either already engaged or soon to be so.[10],[11],[12]

George and Maud (Carpenter) Casbon, undated photo; courtesy of Claudia Vokoun

George’s and Maud continued living in Minnesota the first two years of their marriage, during which time George operated a bakery and a farm.[13] Two children were born in Minnesota: Sylvester on February 25, 1906, and Ira Raymond (known as “Buddy”) on December 10, 1907.[14],[15]

Left: George with Sylvester; right: Maud with Ira (“Buddy”); undated photos, courtesy of Claudia Vokoun (Click on images to enlarge)

After a couple years in Minnesota, George and Maud returned to Tama County, Iowa, where they farmed the land (155 acres) that his uncle, Robert Rigg, had sold to his wife Emma for $1.00 as part of a settlement to dismiss her petition for divorce.[16] By the time of the 1910 census, a third child had been born, Emma Elizabeth, on October 10, 1909, named to honor the aunt who had raised George.[17]

Detail from 1910 U.S. Census, Geneseo Township, Tama County, Iowa; the entry for George’s uncle, Robert Rigg, is just above that for George and his family (Click on image to enlarge)

1910 was significant for other reasons. First, on New Year’s Day, 1910, while George was in Chicago selling cattle, a lamp tipped over in his and Maud’s home (owned by Emma Rigg), starting a fire that consumed the home.[18] According to Claudia Vokoun, George built a small “‘cabin’ for a family of 5 and they lived there till five more children were born.”[19]

Left: the house that burned down January 1, 1910; right: the “cabin” that George built for his family after the fire; undated photos, courtesy of Claudia Vokoun (Click on images to enlarge)

The second major event of 1910 was Emma’s death on July 29th.[20] Emma had gone to visit her brother Jesse in Indiana the previous October. While there, her health deteriorated to the point that a return to Iowa was not possible.[21] In her last will and testament, dated November 30, 1909, she bequeathed to George “all the residue and remainder of my estate, real, personal and mixed of every kind and nature, and wherever situated to be his absolute property in fee simple.”[22]

Court filings show that all of the personal property in Emma’s estate was “exhausted in the payment of claims filed and allowed against said estate,” and that the executor of the estate (Jesse Casbon) requested that he be allowed to sell one half of Emma’s land in Iowa in order to settle those claims.[23] I don’t know whether the request was granted, but somehow, George was able to retain all of Emma’s land, as evidenced by later
plat maps.[24]

In my earlier post I observed that George was not mentioned in Emma’s obituary, and wondered if this was a reflection of a poor relationship between them.[25] Now, thanks to the information provided by Claudia, I can say with confidence that they must have had a close relationship. Not only did she make George the chief beneficiary of her estate, but she wrote several letters to George and Maud in her final months, which make it abundantly clear that their relationship was longstanding and affectionate. It is also clear that she doted on George and Maud’s children.

Detail from letter written February 1910 from Emma (Casbon) Rigg to George & Maud Casbon; Emma is addressing her great nephew: “Dear Sylvester Hello how are/you getting along you must help dady/& mama you are now 4 years old pull/Brother Ira in your wagon & help to/to take [care] of sister Emma”[26](Click on image to enlarge)
This seems like a good place to end this part of George and Maud’s story. I’ll pick up where I left off in the next post.

[*] This may well refer to McGuffey Readers, a series of books in widespread use beginning in the mid-1800s. “The fourth Reader was written for the highest levels of ability on the grammar school level.” (“McGuffey Readers,” Wikipedia [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McGuffey_Readers : accessed 4 October 2017]).
[1] 1925 Iowa State Census, Tama County, book 1, population schedule, Geneseo & Otter Creek Townships, unnumbered 4th page, line 34, categories 1-7, Casbon George W; imaged as “Iowa State Census, 1925,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9XG-D7SN?i=10&cc=2224537 : accessed 4 October 2017); citing FHL microfilm 1,429,567, item 1; citing citing Iowa State Historical Department, Des Moines.
[2] 1915 Iowa State Census, Tama County, Card 454, Geo W Casbon; imaged as “Iowa State Census, 1915,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C9PV-G9ZQ-T?i=786&cc=2240483 : accessed 4 October 2017), image 787 of 5290; citing FHL microfilm 1,462,833; Iowa State Historical Department, Des Moines.
[3] Claudia Vokoun, Kansas City [(E-address for private use),] to Jon Casbon, e-mail, 16 Aug 2017, “Re: Photos etc in the notebook”; privately held by Casbon [(E-address), & street address for private use], Colorado Springs, Colorado, 2017.
[4] Photocopies of autographs to George Casbon, in scrapbook compiled by Claudia Vokoun, Aug 2017; privately held by Jon Casbon [Address for private use], Colorado Springs, Colorado.
[5] Vokoun to Casbon, e-mail, 16 Aug 17.
[6] “Welcome to Minnesota Official Marriage System”, database, MInnesota Official Marriage System (https://moms.mn.gov : accessed 3 October 2017), search term (field – Last Name): “Casbon,” Casbon, G W & Carpenter, Maud, 26 Dec 1905; citing Red Lake County.
[7] “Metropolitan Deaths … Mrs. Maude B. Casbon,” Waterloo (Iowa) Daily Courier, 5 Jun 1972, p. 5, col. 1; online image, Newspaper Archive (accessed through participating newspapers: 16 August 2017).
[8] “Census of Iowa, 1895,” Tama County, Iowa, population schedule, Clark Township, p. 147 (stamped), dwelling 106, family 107, Ira Carpenter; imaged as “Iowa State Census, 1895,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939V-51R4-F?i=123&cc=1803957 : accessed 10 September 2017), image 124 of 905; citing FHL microfilm 1,022,184; citing State Historical Society, Des Moines.
[9] 1900 U.S. Census, Black Hawk County, Iowa, population schedule, Big Creek Township, p. 33 (stamped), enumeraton district 3, sheet 17-B, dwelling 459, family 461, Ira Carpenter; imaged as “United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-DCV9-21?i=33&cc=1325221 : accessed 10 September 2017); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 417.
[10] 1905 Minnesota Census, Red Lake County, population schedule, St. Hilaire, p. 159 (penned), enumeration district 6, sheet 3, line 108, Carpenter, Ira R (age 56); imaged as “Minnesota State Census, 1905”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9Q97-YSB7-M9K?i=3&cc=1503056 : accessed 27 September 2017), image 247; citing FHL microfilm 928,810; citing State Library and Records Service, St.Paul.
[11] Claudia Vokoun to Jon Casbon, e-mail, 17 Jan 2017, “Re: Harriet Perry,” privately held by Casbon, 2017.
[12] 1905 Minnesota Census, Red Lake County, population schedule, St. Hilaire, p. 173 (penned), sheet 17, Casbon, G.W., imaged as “Minnesota State Census, 1905,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9Q97-YSBQ-11S?i=17&cc=1503056 : 3 August 2017), image 18 of 24; citing FHL microfilm 928,810; citing State Library and Records Service, St.Paul.
[13] “Deaths – George W. Casbon,” Waterloo (Iowa) Daily Courier, 25 Feb 1944, p. 2, col. 5; online archive, Newspaper Archive (accessed through participating libraries: 16 January 2016).
[14] “Minnesota People Records Search”, database, Minnesota Historical Society (http://www.mnhs.org/search/people : accessed 4 October 2017), search terms: (First Name) Sylvester, (Last Name) Casbon, Casbon, Sylvester, 25 Feb 1906, Red Lake County, certificate number 1906-20802.
[15] Vokoun to Casbon, personal correspondence.
[16] Tama County, Iowa, District Court, Emma E. Rigg vs. Robert N. Rigg, February term 1902; photostatic copy provided to Jon Casbon by Claudia Vokoun, August 2017.
[17] “Find A Grave Index,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QV27-9BWJ : accessed 5 October 2017) Emma E. Casbon Eldridge, 1982; Burial, Dunkerton, Black Hawk, Iowa, Fairview-Lester Cemetery; citing record ID 59075462, Find a Grave, http://www.findagrave.com.
[18] Vokoun to Casbon, e-mail, 17 Jan 17.
[19] Notes about Rigg and Casbon land in Black Hawk & Tama Counties, Iowa, in scrapbook compiled by Claudia Vokoun, Aug 2017; copy privately held by Jon Casbon.
[20] “Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899-2011,” database with images, Ancestry Library Edition (accessed through participating libraries: accessed 29 June 2017), certificate image, Emma Riggs (age 63), 29 Jul 1910, Valparaiso, Porter, no. 493 (stamped); citing Indiana State Board of Health.
[21] “La Porte City Resident Dies,” Waterloo (Iowa) Evening Courier, 5 Aug 1910, p. 5, col. 5; online images, Newspaper Archive (accessed through participating libraries : accessed 29 June 2017).
[22] Last will and testament of Emma E. Rigg, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana, 1909, photostatic copy in scrapbook compiled by Claudia Vokoun, Aug 2017; copy privately held by Jon Casbon.
[23] Estate of Emma E. Rigg, Application of Executor to Sell Real Estate Debts, District Court, Tama County, Iowa, May term 1911; photostatic copy in scrapbook compiled by Claudia Vokoun, Aug 2017; copy privately held by Jon Casbon.
[24] “Map of Geneseo Township,” Atlas of Tama County, Iowa (Chicago: The Anderson Publishing Co., 1916), p. 5; online image, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa Digital Library (http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/atlases/id/1358/show/1328 : accessed 5 October 2016).
[25] Jon Casbon, “Children of Thomas Casbon (1803–1888): Emma,” Our Casbon Journey, 3 Jul 17 (https://casbonjourney.wordpress.com/2017/07/03/children-of-thomas-casbon-1803-1888-emma/ : accessed 5 October 2017), para. 14.
[26] Emma Rigg to George & Maud Casbon, letter fragment, abt Feb 1910, p. 7; privately held by Jon Casbon. Originally collected by Emma Elizabeth (Casbon) Eldridge, then passed to her daughter Claudia (Eldridge) Vokoun, and then in August 2017 to Jon Casbon.

8 thoughts on “Introducing the Iowa Casbons! Part 1”

  1. Jon, I had done a little research on George and Maude, but had hit a wall. So I find this article very interesting. I also have a photo that I thought was them, but after seeing yours I know that it is not. I will be sending the photo I have and maybe you can help me identify them. Thank you your search. I enjoy every article. This all needs to be in a book! Enjoying the Search, Ilaine Groves Church

  2. You must be so grateful to Claudia for the information she provided about the Iowa branch of your family! Their story just came alive on the screen. And I’d forgotten about autograph books; it was nice to be reminded of them.

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