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!

3 thoughts on “The Deaths of Thomas and Hannah Casbon”

    1. I agree–good observation! My guess about Hannah’s obituary is that one of her daughters or someone from her church (or possibly both, in a combined effort) wrote it.

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