Anna’s Cookbook

Anna Mae (Casbon) (Kitchel) (Fleming) was the second of four daughters born to Jesse and Emily (Price) Casbon. She was born at Porter County, Indiana, 22 December 1876 and died at Orlando, Florida, 16 December 1957.

Thanks to Anna’s great-granddaughter, Jan Hoffman, I have some new material to share with my readers.

Jan has been going through her mother’s (daughter of Anna’s son, Jesse II) papers and other possessions and has found several items that were passed down from Anna. One of those items is this cookbook.

Cover and title page of The National Cookbook, by Marion Harland and Christine Terhune Herrick, 1896; courtesy of Jan Hoffman (Click on image to enlarge)

We know this was Anna’s because of what is written inside.

Inscription of Anna’s cookbook; courtesy of Jan Hoffman (Click on image to enlarge)

Anna Mea [sic]Casbon
   Valparaiso,
      Porter Co.,
         Indiana
            Box 924
               Age 20 years 3 days
               Dec 25 1896
                       to
               Dec 25 1955 =
                    59 years old

The book must have been given to Anna as a Christmas, or perhaps a combined birthday and Christmas, present. She was still unmarried at the time. (She married Newton Kitchel in July 1898.) It’s interesting that she added the age of the book in 1955. I wonder if she presented it to her granddaughter as a Christmas present at that time.

I haven’t been able to find out much about the history of The National Cookbook (although the entire book can be found online at Google Books), but there is quite a bit written about its authors.

Marion Harland is the penname of Mary Virginia Terhune (1830–1922). She was a prolific author of both fiction and non-fiction. She achieved success with a genre known as “plantation fiction.” She later expanded her writing to include domestic matters, such as household management and cookbooks. Those interested in learning more can read a Wikipedia article about her here.

Christing Terhune Herrick (1859–1944) was Marion’s eldest daughter. She followed in her mother’s footsteps as the successful author of many cookbooks and other domestic guides. You can read more about her here.

Anna’s cookbook contained additional surprises. One was this handwritten recipe for “Chilli Sauce.”

Anna’s recipe for “Chilli Sauce’; courtesy of Jan Hoffman (Click on image to enlarge)

Jan says she is going to give the recipe a try. I’m looking forward to her report.

As you can see in the recipe, spelling was not Anna’s strong point. I’ve noted poor spelling in several things written by her. She even misspelled her middle name in the inscription. I don’t know if this reflects an interrupted education or some form of learning disability. I’m glad it did not stop her from writing.

Another item found inside the cookbook was this list of expenses.

A list of expenses found in Anna’s cookbook; courtesy of Jan Hoffman (Click on image to enlarge)

This appears to be a list of expenses for rent, food, supplies, and other services rendered to an unknown party. It references “carring [sic] them around,” “trip West Point,” “hauling their goods from Clay Bank,” “Rig to get there [sic] company at Hartleys Warf [sic].” I’ve identified some of these places as being in the Tidewater Region of Virginia. Because of this, I suspect that the list was written when Anna and her family were living at Newport News, Virginia (under the surname “Fleming”—Anna’s second husband), in the late nineteen-teens to early 1920s.

Family items such as Anna’s cookbook and the handwritten notes inside it help to connect us to the lives of our deceased ancestors. Thanks again to Jan for sharing these. I’m looking forward to more goodies from her!

Jesse Casbon vs. Hiram Church

This startling article appeared in the 30 June 1909 Porter County (Indiana) Vidette:

Porter County (Indiana) Vidette,, 30 Jun 1909, p. 1; microfilm image, Porter County Public Library (Click on image to enlarge)

                                                 Farmer Narrowly Escapes Bullets
   Hiram Church, a well known farmer living about two miles southwest of town, came near being the victim of an assassin’s bullet at an early hour this morning.
   Mr. Church was awakened about two o’clock by noises outside the house. He arose from bed, lighted a lamp and went to the window to investigate. The moment he reached the window a pistol shot rang out in the night air, the bullet lodging in the ceiling of the room in which Mr. Church was standing. In an instant a second shot was fired, the leaden missile being flattened against the stove.
   Hastily donning his clothes, Mr. Church summoned his son and struck out after the would-be assailant. The man was traced as far as Sager’s woods where the trail was lost.
   Before going home Mr. Church went to the home of Jesse Casbon, a man with whom he has had more or less trouble, and found him just returning to his place of abode.
   Mr. Church came to Valparaiso and swore out a warrant for the arrest of Mr. Casbon, charging him with assault with attempt to commit murder.
   The two men have had trouble over the renting of the farm on which Mr. Church resides, and the case is now in court, having been taken to Lake county on a change of venue. Bad feeling has existed between the two men for a year or more.
   Mr. Church is positive that he recognized Mr. Casbon through the window. The bullet which struck the stove was from a 32 calibre revolver and would easily have caused death had it not went wide of its human target.
   Mr. Casbon was arrested this afternoon by Constable Bryarly. He gave bonds for $1,000 and was released.

The next day the Evening Messenger reported that the grand jury returned an indictment against “Jesse Casbon, charged with shooting at Hiram Church, felonious assault.”[1]

For background, Jesse Casbon (1843–1934) was the third son of Thomas Casbon (1803–1888), who emigrated from England to Ohio in 1846 and then moved to Porter County, Indiana in 1865. Hiram Church (1866–1951) was the son-in-law of Jesse’s brother Charles Thomas Casbon and was married to Charles’s daughter Lodema. The Church family had been in northern Indiana since at least 1850. Hiram and Lodema hosted the 1901 Casbon family reunion at their home in Valparaiso.

As the article states, Jesse and Hiram Church were involved in a property dispute. The property involved was  about 160 acres located mainly in sections 26 and 27 of township 35 north, range 6 west, located about 1 ½ miles southwest of downtown Valparaiso, the county seat, and directly west of the county (poor) farm. Deed records show that Jesse purchased this property in 1879.[2] A plat map from 1895 shows this land in Jesse’s possession.

Detail from a map of Center Township, Lee and Lee’s Atlas of Porter County, Indiana. Illustrated (Chicaco: Lee & Lee, 1895), p. 39; imaged at Library of Congress (https://www.loc.gov/resource/g4093pm.gla00070/ : accessed 6 Sep 20), showing Jesse Casbon’s land southwest of Valparaiso (Click on image to enlarge)

At some point Jesse rented the farm to Hiram Church. This contradicts the entry for Hiram in the 1910 census, where he is listed as the owner, not renter, of this property.[3]

Unfortunately, I don’t have access to any court records, so the details of the legal case are unclear. A fragment of a letter from Emma (Casbon) Rigg, Jesse’s sister, who was visiting from Iowa at the time and staying with him, suggests that Church claimed he had a verbal agreement that Jesse “would & did sell him the farm for 11000 [dollars].”[4]

Returning to the shooting, the odd thing is that I have not been able to find any evidence that Jesse was ever tried for the alleged assault. A few years ago, I searched the Valparaiso newspapers (on microfilm) at the Porter County Public Library, and I found no further mention of the shooting. Were the charges dropped?

Instead, the newspapers shift to the legal battle between Jesse and Hiram Church. An article in the 1 August 1909 (i.e., only one month after the shooting) Porter County Vidette quotes the Michigan City (LaPorte County, Indiana) Dispatch, stating that “Hiram Church filed an action against Jesse Casbon to quiet [sic: quit] title to a farm in Porter County owned by the former.”[5] In other words, Hiram claimed that he was the rightful owner of the property. Even though it was only one month later, no mention was made of the assault charge against Jesse. The article also stated that the venue for the case was changed from Porter to LaPorte county.

A 6 July 1911 article in the Hammond Lake County Times stated that the case of “Jesse Cashon [sic] vs. Hiram Church; Possession” was filed in the superior court at Crown Point, Indiana.[6]

The Hammond Lake County (Indiana) Times, 6 Jul 1911, p. 5, col. 1; microfilm, Porter County Library; author’s collection (Click on image to enlarge)

What had happened with the case in LaPorte County? Why was a case now being filed in Lake County (immediately west of Porter County), where it had supposedly been filed once before in 1909? I don’t have answers.

The resolution of the case is found in this undated article I received from Ilaine Church (a granddaughter-in-law of Hiram Church).

Undated news clipping, unknown newspaper; courtesy of Ilaine Church (Click on image to enlarge)

                                                             Settled Out of Court
   The case of Church against Casbon for the possession of real estate has been settled out of court and dismissed. The suit has been a noted one and has been in the courts for about four years. It was tried at Crown Point and Church won the suit. A new trial was secured by Casbon and the case was venued to Laporte county, where it was dismissed after the court received notice of the agreement for a settlement. The plaintiff gets possession from the defendant of a farm located near the county house, which was the subject of contention for which he is to pay the defendant $12,000.

This summarizes the case in a nutshell, although I wish there were more details. Apparently, Hiram Church won the case in Lake County referred to in July 1911, but what had happened in the preceding two or three years? It seems to have bounced back and forth between Porter, LaPorte, and Lake counties.

Even though undated, the article must have been written in either late 1911 or early January 1912, because a deed recorded in Porter County shows the sale by Jesse Casbon to Hiram Church of a piece of property matching the description of that first purchased by Jesse in 1879, for the price of 12,000 dollars.[7]

It is frustrating not having the details of either case—the alleged assault or the property dispute that might have triggered it. One thing that is clear is that there was a great deal of animosity between both parties in the dispute. It is unlikely that a 12,000-dollar payment did anything to ease the hard feelings.

In my previous post, I mentioned the possibility of bad blood between Jesse and his brother Charles. Given that Hiram Church was married to Charles’s daughter, is would be understandable if Charles took Hiram’s side in the argument and distanced himself from his brother.


[1] “Grand Jury Adjourns,” The (Valparaiso, Indiana) Evening Messenger, 1 Jul 1909, p. 1, col. 3; microfilm, Porter County Library.
[2] Indiana Porter County, Deed Index 6, Grantee, Mar 1876—Dec 83, Casbon Jesse from John T Derrit x3, 20 Mar 1879, Parts S26, 35, 27 T35 R6, recorded 15 Apr 1879; in collection “Deed records, 1836-1901,” browsable images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/609009 : accessed 12 Jan 17; citing FHL Film 1,703,896, Item 5.
[3] 1910 U.S. census, Porter County, Indiana, Center Township, ED 137, sheet 7B, dwelling 115, family 118; imaged as “1910 United States Federal Census,” Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7884/ : accessed 6 Sep 20) >Indiana >Porter >Center >District 0137 >image 14 of 26.
[4] Fragment of letter from Emma Rigg to George Casbon, undated (ca. May 1910); image copy supplied by Claudia Vokoun, now in author’s collection.
[5] “Change of Venue in Four Cases,” The Porter County (Indiana) Vidette, 4 Aug 1909, p. 2, col. 1; microfilm, Porter County Library.
[6] “New Cases in Superior Court,” The Hammond Lake County (Indiana) Times, 6 Jul 1911, p. 5, col. 1; microfilm, Porter County Library.
[7] Porter County, Indiana, deed records, book 11, page not recorded, [copy of] warranty deed dated 10 Jan 1912, Jesse Casbon to Hiram Church for $12,000, E 1/2 SE 1/4 S27 and part W1/2 SW 1/4 S26 and part of NW 1/4 S 35, T35 R6W; photocopy, author’s collection.

Jesse Casbon in the News

Of Thomas Casbon’s (1803–1888) three sons, I know the least about Jesse. He was born at Meldreth, or possibly Melbourn, Cambridgeshire, in 1843.[1] He came to the United States (via Quebec) aboard the ship Parkfield in 1846. Jesse served in Company D, 148th Ohio Regiment, during the American Civil War and afterwards joined his family in Porter County, Indiana.[2] He married Emily Price, almost twelve years his junior, in 1872,[3] and had five children—a son who died in infancy and four daughters. Most of his adult years were spent farming in Porter County, Indiana. He died at the age of 90 in 1934.[4]

I have recently received some interesting newspaper articles about Jesse. They fill in a few blanks about his life, although they raise questions as well.

“Caution!”

The Porter County (Indiana) Vidette, 30 December 1875, p. 2, col. 6; courtesy of Steve Shook (Click on image to enlarge)

                                                               Caution!
Whereas my wife Emily has left my bed and board without just cause or provocation, I warn all persons not to harbor or trust her on my account, as I shall pay no debts of her contracting after this date.                                                                   JESSE CASBON.
    December 15th, 1875

I received this item from Steve Shook a few weeks ago. Steve is the unofficial Porter County historian as well as administrator of the excellent Porter County, Indiana, genealogy and history website. He also writes a blog titled Porter County’s Past: An Amateur Historian’s Perspective. I highly recommend both of these sites to anyone with family links in Porter County.

What does this brief newspaper item tell us? To put it in simple terms, Jesse and Emily’s marriage must have been going through a “rough patch.” We know nothing about the circumstances or who, if anyone, was at fault. We only know that Emily left Jesse and he was notifying the public that he would not be responsible for her continuing support.

The couple had been married two and a half years at this point. Their oldest daughter, Maude, was about 18 months old. Did Emily take Maude with her or leave her behind?
(It’s also possible also that a son, Ivan, had been born, but we don’t have birth or death dates for him.)

Apparently, advertisements such as this were quite common well into the twentieth century. It was usually husbands, but occasionally wives, who posted the ads. The intent of the ad might have been to shame and embarrass the spouse as well as to serve as a legal notice. I suspect that in this case, it was also an attempt to force Emily to return to Jesse’s “bed and board.” She apparently did so in short order because the next event I know of in their married life is the birth of their daughter Anna in December 1876, just a year after the ad was placed.

Was it a happy marriage? I can’t say. However, they remained married for 21 years until Emily’s death in 1893. I have written of Emily before, regarding her hobby of beekeeping and her deathbed testimony of Christian faith. It seems that their separation in 1875 was a temporary blip in their married life, whether it was happy or not.

“Public Sale, March 16th

Steve Shook also sent me this advertisement. It was placed about three months after the “Caution!” item.

The Porter County Vidette, 9 March 1876, p. 2, col. 4; courtesy of Steve Shook (Click on image to enlarge)

                                                     Public Sale, March 16th
I will offer for sale, three miles south of Gates’ corners, on
     Thursday, March 16th, 1876,
the following property: 3 work horses, 1 two-year-old colt, 6 head milch cows, 15 head of stock hogs, 4 brood sows, 200 bushels of corn, 6 or 8 tons of hay, 1 two-horse wagon, 1 set of double harness, 1 Furst & Bradley corn plow, 1 laporte corn sheller, Plows, Drags, and Household Furniture, consisting of Stove, Chairs, Bedstead, Cupboard, Table, Bureau, etc. …

I wonder what was going on in Jesse’s life at this time. It looks like he might have been liquidating as many of his possessions as possible. Perhaps he was just raising cash to buy land, since he purchased 40 acres of land at Gates Corner two months later.[5] (Per Steve Shook, “Gates’ Corners is located where present days Indiana state Road 2 and county roads 100 South and 300 West intersect one another … named after Moses Gates, who owned 160 acres directly north of this intersection.”) If Jesse was short on cash, it was only a temporary condition since he was described later in life as “a prominent farmer”[6] and “a wealthy widower.”[7]

“Animals Cremated”

The Porter County Vidette, 7 December 1900, p. 2, col. 1; microfilm image, Porter County Public Library (Click on image to enlarge)

     Valparaiso, Ind. Dec. 5.—Jesse Casbon’s barn, together with the contents, 14 cattle, three horses, the entire grain crop and farming implements, was destroyed by fire. Loss, $3,500; partially insured.

I’ve had this article for quite some time and posted it at an earlier date, but decided to re-post, since it fits in with today’s theme.

By this time (1900), Jesse was living in Center Township, just outside of Valparaiso, on about 160 acres of land adjacent to what was known as the Porter County Poor Farm. I don’t have any other information about the fire or its aftermath.

“A Birthday Party”

One day after Steve Shook sent me the “Public Sale” advertisement, I received the text of this article from Ilaine Church, a distant cousin-in-law and frequent genealogy correspondent. It describes a much happier episode in Jesse’s life.

The (Valparaiso) Evening Messenger, 25 Nov 1912; courtesy of Ilaine Church (Click on image to enlarge)

     Jesse Casbon, residing on the Laporte road, east of town, was the victim of a clever surprise Sunday, the occasion being his 69th birthday anniversary. The affair was secretly planned and carried out by his two daughters, the Misses Edna and Lily Casbon. Quite a number of relatives repaired to the home, but the disagreeable weather during the day kept many away who otherwise would have been in attendance. As a remembrance of the event Mr. Casbon received many valuable presents. At noon the guests were served with a dinner that made the tables groan and creak with its weight. Those present were S. V. Casbon and wife, Thos. Casbon and family, Lawrence Casbon and family, Charles P. Casbon, Jr. and family, and the Misses Iva and Mabel Priest. The afternoon was pleasantly spent in social intercourse and all departed with the wish that the Misses Lily and Edna would get on many more such happy affairs.

One thing I like about old newspapers is how much detail they go into describing local events. I also like this story because it names so many people. Of Jesse’s four daughters, only the two youngest, Lillian and Edna, were unmarried and living in Porter County in 1912. Of the guests mentioned, S.V. Casbon was Jesse’s oldest brother, Sylvester, and Thomas, Lawrence, and Charles P. (incorrectly referred to as “Jr.”) were Sylvester’s sons. Iva and Mabel Priest were the surviving grandchildren of Jesse’s oldest sister, Mary Ann (Casbon) Priest, deceased. By this time, Jesse’s sister Emma was also deceased.

Notably absent was the remaining brother, Charles Thomas Casbon. Was this because of the “disagreeable weather” or was their perhaps some bad blood between Jesse and Charles? I’ll describe the reason this might have been the case in my next post.

Of note is the fact that Jesse was now living east of Valparaiso on the “Laporte road.” LaPorte was the county seat of LaPorte County, directly east of Porter County. A 1911 directory tells us that Jesse lived on rural route 6, which included portions of the LaPorte road (now Indiana route 2).[8]

I have left out a series of news articles that were written between 1909 and early 1912. These will be the subject of my next post.


[1] Meldreth Parish (Cambridgeshire, England), register of baptisms [1813–67],” p. 59, no. 469; accessed as “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681–1877,” browsable images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/search/film/007567609?cat=210742 : accessed 28 April 2017), image 226; citing FHL microfilm 1,040,542, item 5.
[2] Ohio, Roster Commission, Official roster of the soldiers of the state of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861–1866 (Cincinnati: The Ohio Valley Press, 1889), vol. 9, p. 583; image copy, Hathi Trust Digital Library (https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000454243 : accessed 10 February 2019).
[3] “Indiana Marriages, 1811–2007,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/1410397 : accessed 11 September 2018) >Porter > 1871–1875 Volume 4 > image 79 of 246.
[4] Indiana, State Board of Health, Certificate of Death, no. 2487; “Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899–2011,” Ancestry (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=60716 : accessed 13 December 2016), >Certificate >1934 >01>image 2493 of 3006.
[5] Indiana, Porter County, Deed index 6, Grantee, Mar 1876–Dec 83, Jesse Casbon from Stephen William,
13 May 1876; imaged as “Indiana, Porter, Deed records, 1836–1901,” browsable images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/film/008035253?cat=609009 : accessed 12 Jan 17); citing FHL Film 1,703,896, Item 5.
[6] “Church Makes Sensational Charge,” The (Valparaiso, Indiana) Evening Messenger, 30 Jun 1909, p. 1, col. 4; Porter County Public Library, unnumbered microfilm.
[7] “Escaped Bullets; Valparaiso Farmer was Victim of an Attempt at Assassination,” Bedford (Indiana) Daily Mail,
1 Jul 1909, p. 4; imaged at Newspaper Archive (accessed through participating libraries: 12 Apr 2016).
[8] Bumstead’s Valparaiso City and Porter County Business Directory Including Rural Routes (Chicago: Bumstead & Co., 1911), p. 378; imaged as “U.S. City Directories, 1822–1995,” Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/2469/ : accessed 31 Mar 20) >Indiana >Valparaiso >1911 >Valparaiso, Indiana, City Directory, 1911 >image 184 of 204.

Rural Routes in Porter County, Indiana

Have you ever seen a postcard or letter addressed like this?

Postcard from Kate (Marquart) Casbon to her younger sister Mary Jane “Dot” (Marquart) Dye, May 1913; the postcard mentions Kate’s three sons, Leslie, Lynnet, and Loring, and two of Kate and Mary Jane’s brothers, George and Ed; author’s collection (Click on image to enlarge)

The address is written as “Hebron R.3. Ind.,” meaning Hebron (Indiana) rural route 3. The abbreviations “R.R.” for Rural Route and “R.F.D.” for Rural Free Delivery will be familiar to many. I’m sure that many of my Casbon relatives grew up on rural routes. I was familiar with the abbreviations but didn’t really have a clear concept of what they stood for.

As I dug deeper, I learned that rural routes have an interesting history. Up until 1896, free home delivery of the mail was limited to cities. Farmers and others who lived in the country and even people who lived in towns had to go to the nearest post office to pick up their mail. There were many subsidiary, or “fourth-class” post offices, located in towns or more remote outposts. These usually were part of an existing business establishment such as a general store or sometimes even a private home.[1] Rural Free Delivery was started on an experimental basis in 1896, with routes determined by postal inspectors. “A number of factors went into an inspector’s decision, such as creating routes so that carriers did not end up using the same road twice in the same day, each route had to reach at least 100 families, and the roads had to be passible throughout the year.”[2]

Rural Free Delivery was instituted throughout the United States by law in 1902. Routes were developed and “country people” began to receive their mail in mailboxes located along the routes. Many of the fourth-class post offices were no longer needed and closed down.

In Porter County, Indiana, numbered Rural Routes originated at the post offices in Chesterton (four routes), Hebron (four routes), Valparaiso (eight routes), and Kouts (two routes). These routes provided effective coverage of the entire county. Mailing addresses simply listed the post office, route number, and state.

As I said, I did not have a clear understanding of what these routes looked like. I thought they might refer to specific roads, or perhaps districts. In fact, they were circuitous pathways that sometimes looped or doubled back. They look more like urban bus routes to me than anything else.

I was lucky to find a map of Porter County routes in 1911.[3] A portion of the map is shown below. I have color-coded certain routes where various Casbon relatives lived at the time.

”Map of Porter County, Indiana showing rural delivery service” (1911), with certain routes drawn over and color-coded (Click on image to enlarge)

Here are the Casbon relatives who lived on these routes in 1911:[4]

  • Valparaiso Route 2: Hiram and Lodema (Casbon) Church
  • Valparaiso Route 5: Benjamin and Alice (Casbon) Edwards
  • Valparaiso Route 6: Jesse Casbon, Thomas S. Casbon
  • Valparaiso Route 7: Charles P. Casbon, Lawrence L. Casbon
  • Hebron Route 3: Amos (misspelled as “Anas”) Casbon, John and Cora (Casbon) Sams
Detail from Bumstead’s Valparaiso City and Porter County Business Directory Including Rural Routes (1911), showing entries for Casbon along rural routes (Click on image to enlarge)

As you can see, Rural Route addresses don’t provide an exact location as do modern street addresses. Most Rural Routes have now been replaced with street addresses. I believe that numbered Rural Routes continued to be used in Porter County until the early 1990s.

I found this short video about Rural Routes on YouTube.

Do any of my readers remember their R.R or R.F.D. addresses?


[1] United States Postal Service (USPS), “Rural and Urban Origins of the U.S. Postal Service,” report no. RISC-WP-19-007, p. 6; PDF download, USPS Office of Inspector General (https://www.uspsoig.gov/document/rural-and-urban-origins-us-postal-service : accessed 3 Sep 20).
2] “Rural Free Delivery,” Smithsonian National Postal Museum (https://postalmuseum.si.edu/exhibition/behind-the-badge-postal-inspection-service-duties-and-history-history/rural-free-delivery : accessed 3 Sep 20).
[3] United States, Post Office Department, ”Map of Porter County, Indiana showing rural delivery service” (1911); imaged at “Indiana State Library Map Collection,” Indiana State Library Digital Collections (http://cdm16066.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/p15078coll8 : accessed 1 Sep 20) >Porter.
[4] Bumstead’s Valparaiso City and Porter County Business Directory Including Rural Routes (Chicago: Bumstead & Co., 1911), p. 378; imaged as “U.S. City Directoriies, 1822-1995,” Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/2469 : accessed 3 Sep 20) >Indiana >Valparaiso >1911 >Valparaiso, Indiana, City Directory, 1911.

Alice Hannah Casbon (1871–1950)

Alice Hannah Casbon was the last child born to James (~1813–1884) and Mary (Jackson, ~1833–187_?) Casbon. There is a family tradition that Alice was born at sea while the family was making the crossing from Liverpool to New York aboard the ship Great Western. Although there is no evidence to support the claim, it is easy to see how the story came about. The Great Western arrived at New York on Christmas Day, 1870.[1] Alice does not appear on the ship’s passenger manifest. Her birth date is recorded as 25 January 1871, just one month after the family’s arrival in New York.[2] Thus, if the family had sailed one month later, or if her mother had gone into premature labor, Alice would have been born at sea!

Imagine how uncomfortable the voyage in the steerage of a sailing vessel must have been for Alice’s mother, being so far advanced in her pregnancy.

Despite the family tradition, all the available evidence supports the birth date given above. There is no official birth certificate, as these were not required at the time. However, every available census gives her birthplace as Indiana; and the 1900 census gives the month and year as January 1871.[3] The date of 25 January 1871 is recorded on her death certificate and in her obituary.[4]

Nothing is known of Alice’s childhood, but we can conclude that it would not have been easy. Alice was no more than 5 years old, and possibly much younger, when her mother died. James remarried in 1876 and died in 1884, when Alice was 13. Whatever was left of her childhood was spent with her stepmother, Mary (Payne). Unfortunately, there are no documents that I know of that describe this period of her life.

According to the 1940 U.S. census, Alice’s highest level of education was the fourth grade.[5] Although this was common for girls at the time, it seems likely that Alice went to work at an early age, either at the home or elsewhere, given what we know about her circumstances.

On 24 January 1891, a day before her twentieth birthday, Alice married a two-time widower named Benjamin Edwards.[6] He was 20 years older than Alice and, according to his obituary, had 13 children from his first marriage.[7] At least five of these children were 10 years old or younger, so Alice was immediately placed into the role of stepmother.

The couple had another eight children together: Elsie, born 1892, Grace (1894), Bertha (1895), Mary Alice (1897), Howard (1899), Pearl (1901), Hazel (1903), and Florence (1906). All except Pearl, a son, survived into adulthood.

Detail from an Edwards family photo (undated); left to right, back row: Elsie, Grace, Benjamin, Alice (Casbon), Bertha, Hazel; front row: Howard, Florence, and unidentified; courtesy of Ron Casbon (Click on image to enlarge)

In the 1900 census, Ben, Alice, and their family were residing in Porter Township, Porter County, Indiana.[8] In 1910 and 1920, they were living in Union Township, Porter County.[9] By 1930, Ben, now retired, and Alice lived at 960 West Street in Valparaiso, the Porter County seat.[10] This house is still standing.

Benjamin Edwards died in 1934 at the age of 83.[11] Two years later, Alice married Charles Hicks, a roofing contractor and former city councilman.[12] This marriage was short-lived due to Charles’s premature death following a traffic accident. The story received extensive coverage in the Valparaiso Vidette-Messenger. Both Charles and Alice suffered fractured knee caps along with cuts and bruises, as a result of a head-on collision on 4 February 1938. They were both hospitalized at Fairview hospital in LaPorte, Indiana, “where it was stated their condition is not critical.”[13] On 25 February it was reported that both had undergone surgery for the fractured kneecaps. “Mrs. Hicks is recovering nicely, but Mr. Hicks’ condition is not so good.”[14] Two days later, Charles was dead.[15]

In her later years, Alice seems to have divided her time between at least two of her daughters. In the 1940 census, she was staying with her daughter Grace and her husband, Jay Blachly, in Valparaiso.[16] In early 1948 she was said to be residing with her daughter Hazel and her husband, Arthur Simpson, in Three Oaks, Michigan.[17] However, in July of that year, she was again residing with Grace, when she had a heart attack and was said to be making a “rapid recovery.”[18] She was once again living with Hazel in Michigan when she passed away 15 March 1950 from “a lingering illness.”[19] The nature of her illness is unknown to me. Alice was 79 years old when she died.

Undated photo of Alice in her later years; courtesy of Ron Casbon

One of Alice’s daughters is said to have done a great deal of Casbon genealogy research. I have copies of some of these records, but they came to me indirectly and I don’t know who the daughter was.


[1] “Marine Intelligence,” The New York Times, 26 Dec 1870, p. 8, col. 5; online images (https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1870/12/26/issue.html : accessed 17 January 2017).
[2] “Michigan Death Certificates, 1921-1952,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KF41-L5D : accessed 21 February 2017); citing Three Oaks, Berrien, Michigan, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics, Lansing; FHL microfilm 1,973,189.
[3] 1900 U.S. census, Porter County, Indiana, Porter Township, ED 91, sheet 4B, dwelling & family 75 (Benjamin Edwards); imaged as “United States Census, 1900,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-6QNS-7WT?i=7 : accessed 20 Jan 2015) >Indiana > Porter > ED 91 Porter Township > image 8 of 22; citing NARA microfilm publication T623.
[4] “Michigan Death Certificates, 1921-1952.” “Mrs Alice Hicks Dies Following Lingering Illness,” The (Valparaiso, Indiana) Vidette-Messenger, 16 Mar 1950, p. 6; image copy, Newspaper Archive (accessed through participating libraries: 16 Aug 2016).
[5] 1940 U.S. census, Porter County, Indiana, Valparaiso, Ward 3, ED 64-6, sheet 4-B, family 89 (Blachley—transcribed as “Blackley”—Jay); imaged as “United States Census, 1940,” FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9MB-N9LX?i=7&cc=2000219 : accessed 6 July 2017); citing NARA digital publication T627.
[6] Porter County, Indiana, marriage records, vol. 9 (1889–1892), no. 282; imaged as “Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/1410397 : accessed 22 Mar 2019) > >Porter >1889-1892 Volume 9 >image 179 of 361; citing Indiana Commission on Public Records, Indianapolis.
[7] “Benj. Edwards, Local Pioneer, Death Victim,” The Vidette-Messenger, 19 Mar 1934, p. 4, col. 4; online image, Newspaper Archive (accessed 15 April 2018).
[8] 1900 U.S. census, Porter County, Indiana, ED 91, Sheet 4B.
[9] 1910 U.S. census, Porter County, Indiana, ED 150, sheet 8A, dwelling 151, family 153; imaged as “United States Census, 1910,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GRJJ-FWS?i=14 : accessed 29 Oct 2015); citing NARA microfilm publication T624. 1920 U.S. census, Porter County, Indiana, ED 154, sheet 9B, dwelling 187, family 197; “United States Census, 1920,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GR67-31W?i=18 : accessed 14 Dec 2015); citing NARA microfilm publication T625.
[10] 1930 U.S. census, Porter County, Center Township, ED 64-7, sheet 7B; imaged as “United States Census, 1930,” FamilySearch images, (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GRH7-J26?i=13 : accessed 23 Mar 2019); citing NARA microfilm publication T626.
[11] “Benj. Edwards, Local Pioneer, Death Victim,” The Vidette-Messenger.
[12] “Indiana, Marriage Index, 1800-1941”, database, (https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=5059 : accessed 23 Mar 2019), Charles Hicks & Alice Edwards, 4 Mar 1936; citing Starke County, Indiana, Index to Marriage Record 1896 – 1938, Inc. Letters, W. P. A.; original Record Located: County Clerk’s O; Book: H-21; Page: 20.
[13] “Charles Hicks and Wife Hurt in Auto Crash,” The Vidette-Messenger, 4 Feb 1938, p. 1, col. 7; Newspaper Archive (accessed 23 Mar 2019).
[14] “Condition of Charles Hicks Not Favorable,” The Vidette-Messenger, 25 February 1938, p. 1, col. 6; image copy, Newspaper Archive (accessed 23 March 2019).
[15] “C.S. Hicks Fails to Survive Crash Injuries,” The Vidette-Messenger, 28 Feb 1938, pp. 1-2; Newspaper Archive (accessed 23 March 2019).
[16] 1940 U.S. census, Porter County, Indiana, Valparaiso, Ward 3, ED 64-6, sheet 4-B.
[17] “Local Brevities,” The Vidette-Messenger, 3 Apr 1948, p. 2, col. 1; Newspaper Archive (accessed 12 Jul 2020).
[18] “Local Brevities,” The Vidette-Messenger, 13 Jul 1948, p. 2, col. 1; Newspaper Archive (accessed 12 Jul 2020).
[19] “Mrs Alice Hicks Dies Following Lingering Illness,” The Vidette-Messenger, 16 Mar 1950, p. 6; image copy, Newspaper Archive (accessed 16 Aug 2016).

Aylesworth Connections

Descendancy chart of the Aylesworth family, beginning with the original immigrant, Arthur1 Aylworth and ending with Carrie Belle9 and Mary Adaline7 Aylesworth in their respective branches (Click on image to enlarge)

The Aylesworth name is well-known to many of the Casbons who trace their roots through Porter County, Indiana. One reason for this is that Carrie Belle Aylesworth (1873–1958) was the wife of Amos Casbon (1869–1956). Their wedding took place on 28 November 1900 at the home of Carrie’s parents (see “Wedding Bells”) in Boone Township. This loving couple had six sons and three daughters, all but one of whom lived into adulthood and had families of their own. Many of their grandchildren are living today and remember them well.

Before Amos or Carrie were even born, there had been another Casbon-Aylesworth wedding in Porter County. That was the marriage of my second great-grandfather Sylvester Casbon to Mary “Adaline” Aylesworth on 30 October 1860. Sylvester and Adaline had two surviving children—Cora Ann and Lawrence—before Adaline’s untimely death in 1868.

Because of these two marriages, the descendants of Amos, Carrie, Sylvester, and Adaline  are connected through both their Casbon and Aylesworth ancestries.

But what are those connections? How are the two branches related? The answer is fairly straightforward on the Casbon side. Their common ancestor was Isaac Casbon (~1773–1825) of Meldreth, Cambridgeshire, England, the grandfather of both Amos and Sylvester Casbon. Amos and Sylvester were first cousins, despite the fact that their ages were 37 years apart. Because of the age difference, their descendants of similar ages are mostly cousins “once-removed,” meaning their relationship to the common ancestor—Isaac Casbon—is one generation apart.

The connection on the Aylesworth side is more complicated. Carrie Aylesworth’s great-grandfather, Philip Aylesworth (~1793–1866) was the older brother of Adaline Aylesworth’s father, Giles (1807–1880). Their common ancestor was John Aylesworth (~1764–1810). Carrie was two generations farther away from John than Adaline; therefore, they were first cousins, twice removed.

The concept of cousins once or twice removed can be confusing, so I’ve created a diagram showing the lines of descent of the branches of the Aylesworth family to which Carrie and Adaline belonged.

The diagram also demonstrates the places where the Aylesworth ancestors lived as they slowly migrated westward to Indiana. This is an interesting story in itself and will be the topic of the next post.

The Aylesworth genealogy has been well-documented. Many of today’s living descendants have a copy of the Aylesworth Family book, last published in 1984. This book traces the family back to Arthur (generation 1). Most of the information about the first seven generations comes from an earlier book, Arthur Aylesworth and His Descendants in America, written by Homer Elhanan Aylesworth and published in 1887.[1] A copy of this book has been scanned and can be viewed or downloaded at https://archive.org/details/arthuraylsworthh00ayls.

Because of the Casbon-Aylesworth connection, members of the Casbon family have always been invited to the Aylesworth family reunions, which still take place on a (mostly) annual basis.

Aylesworth family reunion ca. 1921; several Casbons are in the photo: Amos & Carrie and their children, Lawrence and Leslie Casbon; how many can you pick out? (Click on image to enlarge)

[1] (Providence, R.I.: Narragansett Historical Publishing Co., 1887).

“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)

Sunday School

This is my eighth post in the Guild of One-Name Studies blog challenge 2020.

Many genealogy researchers have learned that old books can be a valuable source of information about their ancestors. Many books that are no longer protected by copyright have been digitized and are available online. The three book sources that I use most often are Internet Archive, Hathi Trust Digital Library, and Google Books. You can go to any of these sites and type in a search term, such as a surname, and then get a list of books containing that search term. A regular Google search will also find these references, although they may be scattered throughout the search results.

A recent search turned up a source, titled The Sunday Schools of Lake: An Account of the Commencement and Growth of the Sunday Schools of Lake County, Indiana, from about 1840 to 1890.[1] The book was written to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Lake County Sunday-school Convention, an interdenominational annual meeting of many of the county’s churches, as well as “the 50th Anniversary of Sunday-school work in Lake County.”[2]

In addition to giving a detailed history of Sunday schools in the county, the book provides a listing of students enrolled in the Convention’s Sunday schools in 1890. A few Casbon names turned up in this list.

Detail from pages 161-2 of The Sunday Schools of Lake, showing students enrolled at the Deep River Union School in 1890; (note: “1888” next to the name of the school is the year the school was organized)
(Click on image to enlarge)

The three names on page 161, Charles, Lawrence and T. (Thomas) Casbon, are all known to me. They are the sons of my second great-grandfather, Sylvester Casbon. Sylvester had moved to Deep River from Porter County in about 1865. Lawrence was born in 1865 to Sylvester’s first wife, Mary Adaline (Aylesworth), who died in 1868. Thomas and Charles were born in 1870 and 1872, respectively, to Sylvester’s second wife, Emilene Harriet (Perry), who died in 1874. In 1890, Lawrence, Thomas, and Charles would have been about 25, 20, and 18 years old, respectively. All three were still unmarried.

I must admit that I am completely baffled by the name on page 162—Stella Casbon. There is no other record of a child with that name. She does not appear in vital records, census reports, family histories, newspaper articles, or photographs. The fact that she was enrolled in the Boys’ and Girls’ class tells us that she would have been younger than the three Casbon sons. But there are no records of a younger daughter being born to Sylvester. Nor was a child of that name born to any of Sylvester’s siblings. There is no record that Sylvester’s third wife, Mary (Mereness) had any children. There were no other Casbon families living in Lake County at the time. So, who was Stella? I just don’t know.

The fact that the Casbon name appears in this book led me to reflect upon the religious beliefs and practices of the early Indiana Casbons. I’ll say at the outset that there is insufficient information to draw any firm conclusions. The Indiana Casbons are all descended from Isaac Casbon of Meldreth, Cambridgeshire, England, who lived from about 1773 to 1825. The baptisms, marriages, and burials of Isaac’s family were recorded in the parish registers (i.e., Church of England) of Meldreth and nearby parishes. Since this was the near universal practice of the time, it tells us nothing about the family’s religious beliefs or practices. The baptisms of two of Isaac’s children, Joseph and James, were not recorded, which suggests that the sacrament was not a high priority. As a poor agricultural laborer, Isaac was at the lower end of the social order. Putting bread on the table was probably a higher priority than religious practices.

Of Isaac’s son Thomas, my third great-grandfather, nothing is written about his religious beliefs. The few biographical references I have seen do not mention religion. If he is mentioned in church records in the U.S., I am not aware of them.

However, I do have a little information about Thomas’s sons. An 1882 biographical sketch of Sylvester Casbon, the father of the three sons mentioned above, states that “he is liberal in politics, attends church, and is much esteemed by his neighbors.”[3] The 1912 History of Porter County Indiana includes sketches about Sylvester and his brother Charles. Of Sylvester, the book says “he and his wife are members and liberal supporters of the Christian church [of Valparaiso, Indiana], with Rev. Hill as their pastor.”[4] Charles and his wife, Mary (Marrell) were also said to be liberal supporters of the same church.[5] Sylvester’s obituary also mentions his membership in the Christian church.[6] The fact that Sylvester and his brother were members of this church tells us that they considered themselves to be Christians, like the majority of Americans at the time. However, it tells us nothing about how important their Christian beliefs were to them.

The Christian church referred to above is now known as First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and was founded at Valparaiso, Indiana, in 1837.[7] A modern source describes the denomination in these terms: “the Disciples of Christ, also known as the Christian Church, has no creed and gives its congregations complete autonomy in their doctrine. As a result, beliefs vary widely from individual church to church, and even among members of a church.”[8] Thus, it is hard to tell exactly what the members of The Christian Church in Valparaiso believed.

First Christian Church, Valparaiso, Indiana, 1950 (https://www.fccvalpo.org/our-building-over-time)

Going back to the Sunday school roster of 1890, The Sunday Schools of Lake tells us that the Deep River Union School was organized “in August, 1888, by the evangelist ‘Christian’ minister of this district, Rev. Ellis B. Cross.”[9] I haven’t been able to find out anything more about the school or its founder. Were the three Casbon sons there because of their Christian beliefs or was it more of an acceptable social outlet—something young men in Deep River were expected to do (especially since there was also a young ladies’ class!)?  How was their Sunday school experience reflected in their later lives?

I was always under the impression from conversations with my father that his family in Indiana wasn’t very religious. His grandfather was Lawrence Casbon—the one listed on the Sunday school roster above. Lawrence’s obituary mentions his membership in the local Masonic Lodge but says nothing about church membership.[10] Likewise, the obituaries of his three sons, Leslie, Loring, and Lynnet, mention their memberships in the Masons, Scottish Rite, American Legion, and similar organizations, but say nothing about church membership. Perhaps these social organizations became their surrogates for participation in an organized church. [Update: see comment from Dave Casbon, below.]

Of Lawrence’s two brothers, Thomas’s obituary describes him as a member of the same Christian church as his father.[11] Charles’s obituary says that he belonged to the Elks lodge but does not mention a church affiliation.[12]

As I said earlier, there isn’t enough information to draw firm conclusions. The Indiana Casbons described above were all respected members of their communities. They fit in with the norms and expectations of their fellow citizens. Church membership and Sunday school attendance was probably one of those expectations in the late 1800s.

I will be eager to hear from any of their descendants whether they have different recollections or opinions.

[1] T.H. Ball (Crown Point, Indiana: T.H. Ball, 1891); Google Books (https://books.google.com/books?id=g5A_1QM4wVAC : accessed 21 Jan 2020)
[2] The Sunday Schools of Lake, p. 5.
[3] Weston A. Goodspeed, Charles Blanchard, Counties of Porter and Lake Indiana: Historical and Biographical, Illustrated (Chicago: F.A. Battey & Co., 1882), p. 707; Hathi Trust Digital Library.
[4] History of Porter County Indiana: A Narrative Account of its Historical Progress, its People and its Principal Interests (Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Co., 1912), p. 484; Hathi Trust Digital Library.
[5] History of Porter County Indiana, p. 461.
[6] “Death Calls S.V. Casbon; Reached 90,” The (Valparaiso, Indiana) Vidette-Messenger, 10 Dec 1927, p. 1, col. 1; Newspaper Archive (accessed through participating libraries).
[7] “Our Story,” First Christian Church (https://www.fccvalpo.org/our-story).
[8] Jack Zavada, “Disciples of Christ Beliefs and Practices,” Learn Religions (https://www.learnreligions.com/disciples-of-christ-beliefs-and-practices-700019).
[9] The Sunday Schools of Lake, p. 86.
[10] “85-Year-Old Resident of County Dies.” The Vidette-Messenger, 16 Jun 1950, p. 1, col. 5; Newspaper Archive.
[11] “Deaths … Thomas S. Casbon,” The Vidette-Messenger, 16 Mar 1955, p. 6, col. 3; Newspaper Archive.
[12] “Death Takes C.P. Casbon,” The Vidette-Messenger, 1 Feb 1949, p. 1, col. 1; Newspaper Archive.

Amos in Iowa?

This is my sixth post in the Guild of One-Name Studies (GOONS) blog challenge 2020. The challenge is to post 10 blogs in the first 12 weeks of the year.

Amos Casbon is not a new character in my blog. He can be considered the patriarch of what may be the largest branch of Casbons living in America. He was the son of James and Mary (Jackson) Casbon and the brother (or half-brother?) of Margaret “Maggie” Casbon, about whom I wrote in the fourth post of the GOONS challenge. Amos was born 6 July 1869 at Cottenham, Cambridgeshire, England.[1] He was only a toddler when his family emigrated to Porter County, Indiana, USA, in late 1870. He was probably only 4 or 5 years old when his mother died. His father remarried in 1876.[2] James was murdered in an unprovoked attack in August 1884, when Amos was 15 years old.[3]

After his father’s death, there is little solid information about Amos until his marriage to Carrie Belle Aylesworth in 1900. He was probably forced to grow up fast, without the support of a close loving family. Family tradition has it that Amos and his stepmother did not get along and that he was estranged from his sister Margaret, who seemed to have strayed from the “straight path.” He might have lived with and worked for local farmers. He was said to have lived for some time with his older cousin, Jesse Casbon, who also lived in Porter County. My impression is that this was an unsettled time in Amos’s life.

Portrait of a young Amos Casbon; undated, courtesy of Ron Casbon

We know that he worked as a grip for a Chicago streetcar company for four years in the late 1890s.[4]

Amos’s entry in The Lakeside Annual Directory of the City of Chicago
(Chicago: The Chicago Directory Co., 1896), p. 391; Ancestry.com

In addition, a 25 January 1900 news announcement tells us that Amos, then living in Chicago, was job hunting in the Boone Grove (Porter County, Indiana) area.[5]

Last May, when I spent time at the Valparaiso Public Library, I discovered that Amos had also spent some time in his late teens and perhaps early twenties living and working in Iowa. The discovery was made when I found this news item on microfilm.

Untitled Article, The Porter County Vidette, 11 July 1889

Why is this important? For one thing, it puts another data point on the timeline of Amos’s life, during a time about which we have little other information. The timeline is probably only important to me and to those descendants of Amos who share in interest in their family history (of whom there are several).

The second reason is that Amos’s presence in Iowa connects him to another branch of the family, specifically the branch living in Iowa that consisted Emma (Casbon) and Robert Rigg, and their nephew George Washington Casbon (see “Introducing the Iowa Casbons! Part 1”). Emma, although 22 years older, was Amos’s first cousin, the daughter of his uncle Thomas Casbon (1803–1888). George, who was five years younger than Amos, was his second cousin, the son of Emma’s brother Sylvester Casbon. Emma, Robert, and George lived on a farm in Tama County, Iowa, about six miles away from LaPorte City, where Amos was reported to be living in 1889.

It is unlikely to be a coincidence that that Amos was living and working so close to his Iowa relatives. It is a little surprising, though, since the Rigg family had moved to Iowa in 1876, when Amos was only 7 years old. Considering the difference in their ages, he was hardly old enough to have formed a close personal friendship with Emma, or with George, who was only 2 years old when he moved to Iowa.

We can infer from this that family ties between all the branches of the family—Amos, his stepmother and sisters, Emma’s family in Iowa, and her siblings in Indiana—were still very close. There had probably been occasional family visits between Iowa and Indiana, and letters were probably frequently exchanged. Even though Amos might not have had a close relationship to Emma and George, he was a member of the larger family. That bond was strong enough to bring him to Iowa as a young man.

Ties between the Iowa and Indiana Casbons remained strong for a generation or two. We know this from photographs and other items documenting visits between the Iowa and Indiana families. There is even a news item from 1931 reporting that Amos and his family had returned “from a trip to points in Iowa visiting friends and relatives.”[6]

By my generation, the ties between the Iowa and Indiana clans were virtually forgotten. For that matter, the ties between my branch and the descendants of Amos were very weak. Even though their families continued to live in the same county in Indiana, I never met or knew any of these cousins until recent years. I don’t believe this was the result of any kind of hostility; it was just a natural process that happened as each generation grew in size and the degrees of separation increased. Thankfully, as a result of efforts by members of all three branches to reconnect with our common heritage, not to mention modern conveniences such as Facebook and email, we are communicating and sharing stories with each other again.

[1] England, birth registration (PDF copy) for Amos James Casburn, born 6 Jul 1869; registered September quarter 1869, Chesterton District 3b/452, Willingham Sub-district,  no 45; General Registry Office, Southport.
[2] “Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/1410397 : accessed 24 October 2015) >Porter >1871-1875 Volume 4 > image 242 of 246; Indiana Commission on Public Records, Indianapolis.
[3] “Murder! That is About what is Made out of the Case of Old Man Casbon,” Porter County (Indiana) Vidette, 28 Aug 1884, p. 1, col. 2.
[4] “Boone Grove Couple Will Observe 50th Anniversary,” The (Valparaiso, Indiana) Vidette-Messenger, 21 Nov 1950, p. 1, col. 6.
[5] “Boone Grove Items,” The Porter County Vidette, 25 January 1900.
[6]“Aylesworth,” The Vidette-Messenger, 27 Nov 1931, p. 6, col. 1.

The Deaths of Thomas and Hannah Casbon

This is my fifth post in the Guild of One-Name Studies blog challenge 2020.

One of my favorite sources of information about the Casbons who left England and eventually settled in Porter County, Indiana, USA, is The (Valparaiso, Indiana) Vidette-Messenger, or The Vidette, for short. For most of the twentieth century The Vidette was the main newspaper for Porter County. Thanks to my local public library, I have free access from my home computer to the digital archives of The Vidette from 1927 to 1977. That’s because my library subscribes to the Newspaper Archive web service. (Hint: see if your local library subscribes to Newspaper Archive—it’s a great resource.). The Vidette archives are also available up to 1995 with a paid Newspapers.com subscription.

Although I love The Vidette archives, they fall short because they don’t cover the first six decades of the Casbon family’s presence in Porter County. Many of the earlier Porter County newspapers are available on microfilm at the Valparaiso, Indiana, Public Library. Unfortunately, I live almost a thousand miles from Valparaiso, so I don’t have ready access. Therefore, it was a real treat for me to spend several hours in Valparaiso planted in front of the microfilm reader last May. I collected many articles about my early Casbon relatives and plan to feature many of these in upcoming posts.

In this post, I am highlighting three articles printed about the death of my third great-grandfather Thomas Casbon and his second wife, Hannah.

The brief announcement of Thomas Casbon’s death appeared in The Valparaiso Messenger on 9 February 1888. Thomas died on 7 February.

“Local News,” The Valparaiso Messenger, 9 Feb 1888

I haven’t found other contemporary accounts that describe Thomas. The statement that he was “an old and highly respected citizens [sic]” tells us very little about him but reflects that he was regarded in a positive light.

The following article was printed in the 16 February 1888 Porter County Vidette. It includes a poem written by Thomas’s daughter, Emma.

“In Memorium,” The Porter County Vidette, 16 Feb 1888

Emma’s poem is sweet and sentimental. Her words, “Now our mother and brother, will lead you in a better land” refer to the deaths of Thomas’s first wife, Emma (Scruby), who died in in 1870, and their first son, Sell, who died in infancy while the family was still living in England. Emma—the daughter—was living in Iowa at the time of Thomas’s death, but it’s quite likely that she returned to Valparaiso during his final days or shortly after his death.

Hannah’s obituary appeared in The Porter County Vidette on 5 April 1888. She died in late March, six weeks after Thomas’s death.

“Mrs. Hannah Casbon,” The Porter County Vidette, 5 April 1888

It’s interesting that Hannah’s obituary contains so much more information than the brief paragraphs announcing Thomas’s death. It includes a rather nice biography as well as a testimony to her Christian faith.

Thomas and Hannah died before death registration was required in Indiana. Consequently, we don’t know anything about the circumstances or causes of their deaths. Thomas was buried in Merriman Cemetery with his first wife, Emma. As far as I know, he died intestate, and I haven’t located any probate papers.

I haven’t been able to locate Hannah’s grave. It is not listed on FindAGrave.com under any of her surnames and does not appear with her first husband’s FindAGrave entry. Her will was signed 3 August 1887 and was probated in the Porter County Circuit Court on 4 April 1888. She bequeathed ten dollars each to a granddaughter and grandson and the rest of her estate to her two daughters by her first marriage. It isn’t surprising that Thomas’s four children were not mentioned, as they were all adults when Thomas married Hannah, and she was not involved in raising them.

As I was writing this post I realized that I have not written a single post summarizing Thomas’s life. However, many details of his life are described in the following posts: “A Christmas Baptism”; “From England to Indiana” Parts 2, 3, and 4; “Why Indiana?”; “From Labourer to Landowner”; “Pursuing the Parkfield”; “Was my Third Great Grandfather a Convicted Thief?”; “A Practical Guide for Emigrants”; and “The Appeal.” I guess there is too much information to contain in a single post!