Sylvester on a Cart

This photograph is courtesy of Ron Casbon.

(Click on image to enlarge)

The older man is Sylvester V Casbon, my second great grandfather. The man sitting next to him is unidentified – does anybody recognize him? The photograph is undated and location unknown. I wonder if it was taken near his farm in Deep River.

[UPDATE: 14 May 2020: I have another copy of this photograph from a different source, who has labeled the people as Thomas Hiram Church, Jr. (left) and Charles Thomas Casbon (right), the brother of Sylvester. There is insufficient detail for me to confirm the identities based on comparison photos.]

Sylvester was born June 6, 1837 in Meldreth Cambridgeshire, England, the eldest living son of Thomas Casbon (1803-1888).[1] Sylvester was the first Casbon to settle in Indiana, after moving from Ohio.[2] He had three children with his first wife, Adaline Aylesworth (1842–1868) and three with his second, Harriet Emiline Perry (1842–1874).

After moving to Indiana, he initially settled in Boone Township, Porter County, but later moved to Deep River, in Ross Township, Lake County.[3] In 1892 he moved to Valparaiso, Porter County, where he remained the rest of his life.[4]

Although there is little detail in the photo, I’m guessing that Sylvester was in his 50s or 60s at the time. This would date the photo to the late 1880s or the 1890s. Compare to this photo, taken at a family reunion in October 1901.[5]

Group photograph taken at Casbon family reunion, Valparaiso, Indiana, October 24, 1901; Sylvester is standing just to the left of the left-hand porch column; names added by the author (Click on image to enlarge)

Or, compare to this photo of Sylvester and his living descendants, taken about 1905.[6]

Undated photo of Sylvester Casbon and extended family ca. 1905; Sylvester is sitting next to his third wife, Mary Mereness; location is not indicated, but I believe this was Sylvester’s home on 501 Academy Street, Valparaiso; the home is still standing (Click on image to enlarge)

Referring back to the original photo of Sylvester on the cart, I believe this kind of cart is known as a buckboard. It is a simple cart, with a seat place on a platform of planks. The platform is not suspended on springs. On some buckboards, the seat may be placed on springs.[7] That does not appear to be the case in the photograph.

[1] “Sylvester Casbon,” History of Porter County, Indiana: A Narrative Account of its Historical Progress, its People and its Principal Interests (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1912), vol. 2, p. 482; digital images, Hathi Trust Digital Library ( : accessed 24 March 2017).
[2] “Sylvester Casbon,” History of Porter County, Indiana, p. 483.
[3] “Sylvester Casbon,” History of Porter County, Indiana, p. 483.
[4] “Sylvester Casbon,” History of Porter County, Indiana, p. 484.
[5] Casbon family reunion photograph, 24 Oct 1901; digital image ca. 2001, privately held by Jon Casbon [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Colorado Springs, Colorado. The location, condition, and characteristics of the original are not known.
[6] Sylvester Casbon family photograph ca. 1905; digital image ca. 2001, privately held by Jon Casbon [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Colorado Springs, Colorado. The location, condition, and characteristics of the original are not known.
[7] “Buckboard,” Wikipedia ( : accessed 24 March 2017), rev. 27 Oct 16, 09:01.

7 thoughts on “Sylvester on a Cart”

  1. Jon: Do you know where the 1901 reunion home in the background was located. It seems to me that Jim Brown indicated that was the Blachley residence across the street and down one house from 501 Academy st where I was raised? Also, I really question whether the 1905 picture was at 501 Academy st. There was an uncle Tom who had a place at Bass lake and I do not have any indication of how he was related and do not recall any of your posts talking about same. I do not who dad purchased the 501 Academy St from.

    1. The 1901 reunion home was that of Hiram Church (1866-1951, who was married to Lodema Casbon (1871-1938). The address at the time was 5 Elm St. Ilaine Church posted a 1901 Vidette article that identified it as the house of “Hilda” Church – that must have been a nickname for Lodema. I was later able to locate the house on Google Street view, and it is now numbered as 105 Elm St. the 1905 photo is only a guess. I compared the photo to a current Google street view photo of 501 Academy Street. The carved window casing of the double window is pretty distinctive and is identical in the old and new photos. The front porch is no longer there (has been turned into an enclosed entryway. Maybe I’ll have a chance to look into the property records this summer. I suspect “Uncle Tom” was Thomas Sylvester Casbon (1870-1955), a half brother of Lawrence. He would have been your great uncle. He farmed in Deep River for a number of years, and was later located in Pine Township.

  2. Hilda Church was the nickname of Hiram Church whos true name was Thomas Hiram Church after his father. He and his father had a fallen out and he was then known as Hiram Church. I have not found as to where the Hilda came from.

  3. What a gift to future generations of Casbons that you’ve identified everyone in the family reunion photograph! One thing I’ve been wondering about is whether the digitizing we’re doing with family records such as this will be accessible to descendants one or two hundred years from now.

  4. Well, I think they are more likely to be accessible than the originals, which will only become more degraded by time. I’m more concerned about continuity – who will pick up the ball when I’m gone? If there’s continuity, there’s more likely to be accessibility in the future. Re the name labels, there are a couple labeled versions floating around. Someone penciled in names on the version and I transferred them to my copy of the digital image. Thanks for your comment, Liz!

  5. […] Sylvester V Casbon was born in Meldreth (Cambridgeshire) June 6, 1837 and baptized August 6th of the same year.[3] His life has been well-documented, thanks to two books describing the early history of Porter (and Lake) counties, along with biographies of many of its citizens. The first of these books is titled Counties of Porter and Lake Indiana: Historical and Biographical, Illustrated, published in 1882.[4] The second is History of Porter County, Indiana: a narrative account of its historical progress, its people and its principal interests, published in 1912.[5] Sylvester’s biography from the latter reference has been transcribed and posted on the Porter County, Indiana INGenWeb site and can be found here. I am quoting many excerpts from the 1912 biography in this post. Sylvester was also the subject of two previous posts: “From England to Indiana, Part 5,” and “Sylvester on a Cart.” […]

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