“Short a hand”

This is my 10th post for the Guild of One-Name Studies blog challenge 2020. The challenge was to write ten blog posts in the first twelve weeks of the year.

Today’s post features two newspaper articles about an unfortunate incident that occurred in 1889 in rural Porter County, Indiana.

Source: The Porter County Vidette, 18 Jul 1889

The boy who lost his hand was Lawrence J. Casbon, who was born in Porter County
26 August 1875. Another article provides more details about the incident.

News clipping from unknown paper, courtesy of Ilaine Church

Young Lawrence was lucky to escape with his life. I have a hard time believing that he reacted as “cooly” as the first article states. It was quite literally a traumatic experience. Imagine what it must have been like—the horses getting spooked by the noise of the mower and then and then bolting, young Lawrence hanging on for dear life until he could hold on no longer; then being dragged and losing a hand in the blink of an eye. It must have seemed surreal. Life on the farm could be dangerous.

The mower in question was probably a sickle-arm machine in which a set of reciprocating blades would be lowered to the side to cut a swath of grass. The operator was seated above the axle and a horse team was hitched in front. For a short video demonstrating how the mower worked, click here. Now imagine the horses panicking while you are trying to ride the mower!

“Oliver Mower – Eureka, MT – Old Agricultural Equipment” on Waymarking.com

We know from later reports (see “Lawrence J Goes Transcontinental”) that Lawrence recovered from his injury and was able to adapt to being one-handed. He became a successful entrepreneur and businessman. I believe he was the first of the Indiana Casbons to enter into a non-agricultural career field.

Portrait of Lawrence and his wife Lydia May (Pauter); courtesy of Ron Casbon

For those familiar with Porter County, here is a map showing the location of Charles Casbon’s farm, just south of Division Road and just west of Sager Rd, in Morgan Township.

Detail map showing location of Charles Casbon’s farm; Lee and Lee’s atlas of Porter County, Indiana : Illustrated, (Chicago: Lee & Lee, 1895); Library of Congress (https://www.loc.gov/) (Click on image to enlarge)

3 thoughts on ““Short a hand””

  1. Good and interesting. Sometime I will tell you about the runaway team I witnessed at the farm. Not sure I can place the location of that farm. Dad

  2. Looking for a photo of Lawrence Casbon with him in his cigar store in South Bend. I will send you a copy…Ilaine

    Sent from my iPhone


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