The Family Bible of Charles and Mary Casbon

My pursuit of family history began in the early 1990s as a collaborative effort with my father. He had received an offer in the mail to purchase The World Book of Casbons, published by Halbert’s Family Heritage.  We didn’t know it at the time, but this company was named as a purveyor of “scam” genealogy books, and had several cease-and-desist orders placed against it by the U.S. Postal Service.[1]

Regardless, he ordered the book, and I think was quite pleased with what he received. It contained several chapters containing generic information: “The Great Migrations of Man: Early Origins, Settlement and Development,” “The Origin and Meaning of Names,” “How Early Coats of Arms Were Granted,” and “How to Discover Your Ancestors.” One chapter was titled “Early Casbon Immigrants to North America.” This indicated (correctly) that Thomas Casbon had arrived in America in 1846 and (incorrectly) that he had arrived in Ohio in 1854. This was the only family-specific genealogical information found in the book.

The final chapter was titled “The Casbon International Registry.” This chapter explained that, “using a highly sophisticated network of computer sources in Europe, North America, and Australasia, over 220 million names and address records have been searched to locate Casbon family members.” The registry identified 65 households in the United States, 41 in Great Britain, and 1 in Germany (that was me – I was stationed there at the time!), and included names and mailing addresses. You may recall, that in those relatively early days of home computers, you could purchase CDs containing millions of phone and address listings for various countries. I suspect that was the “sophisticated network” used by the publisher to come up with the list.

The cover and title pages of The World Book of Casbons (Click on image to enlarge)

Scam or no, I have to say that my father got his money’s worth out of that book. He took those mailing addresses to heart and started writing dozens of letters to other Casbons. Many sent replies and shared information about their families. I suspect that at least of few readers of Our Casbon Journey were recipients of those letters (feel free to leave a comment if you did!). He was able to meet a number of these people, including quite a few in England. He somehow learned about the Casbens of Australia and contacted them as well.

In the course of all of this, he learned that others had been researching the Casbon family origins and were willing to share their research.

My role in all of this was pretty minor at the time. I bought some genealogy software and started to input names and connections. I would print out reports and my dad would send them out with his letters. He would get replies with corrections and additions. Eventually I started doing more of the research on my own and later took over the enterprise.

I thought my father had given me all of his old genealogy papers several years ago, but a couple of months ago he sorted through some boxes and presented me with another box containing various reports, notes, photocopies and photographs. These included much of his original correspondence along with The World Book of Casbons pictured above.

There was a thick pile of photocopies that looked like they had all come from the same person. After some investigation I discovered that the source was Ilaine Church, who had done quite a bit of local research in Valparaiso, Indiana. Ilaine, with whom I occasionally correspond, is married to a descendant of Hiram and Lodema (Casbon) Church. She went with my dad to the local copy center in Valparaiso, where he copied a great quantity of her genealogy research findings.

Which finally brings me to the topic of today’s post. Among the materials from Ilaine were several photocopied pages from a family Bible.

Title and first family history pages from the family Bible of Charles and Mary Casbon
(Click on images to enlarge)

This was the family Bible of Charles Thomas (1840­–1915) and Mary Elizabeth (Marrell, 1844–1928) Casbon. Charles was the second son of Thomas (1803–1888) and Emma (Scruby, 1811–1870) Casbon, and is my third great uncle.

The title page tells us that this Bible was published in Philadelphia by the A.J. Holman company in 1882. A.J. Holman was a well-known Bible publisher. His firm was established in 1872.[2] Holman Bibles were quite popular in the 1880s and 90s, and usually sold door-to-door.[3]

The exhibit of the A. J. Holman publishing company at the 1876 United States Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia[4]
Family Bibles are wonderful heirlooms, and can be a treasure trove of family history information. “Prior to easily retrievable birth certificates, marriage licenses, death certificates, and digitized record keeping in general, the family Bible held the ultimate narrative of ancestral history.”[5]  Official records of births and deaths were not required in Indiana until 1900 or later, so the records in this Bible are a valuable substitute for vital records.

The family history section of the Bible begins with the marriage of Charles and Mary:

This Certifies
That the Rite of
Holy Matrimony
Was Celebrated Between
Charles T. Casbon of Valparaiso Indiana
and Mary E Marrell of Lakevill Ohio
on December 30th 1868 at L. Marrell’s
by Rev. Winbigler of Ashland Ohio
Witness: J. Crotz/E. Joyce

Subsequent pages are for births, marriages, and deaths.

Pages from the family Bible for births, marriages, and deaths (Click on images to enlarge)


Charles Thomas Casbon
Was born at
Meldreth Near Royston
England on the 6th
day of November 1840.

Mary Elizabeth (Marrell) Casbon
Was born in Wayne
County Ohio on the
10th day of December 1844

Lillie May Casbon
was born in Porter
County Indiana on the
17th of June 1870

Lodema Evaline Casbon
was born in Porter
County Indiana
on the 24th day of
October 1871

Sina Jane Casbon
was born in Porter
County Indiana
on the 27th day of
March 1873

Lawrence John Casbon
was born in Porter
County Indiana
on the 26th day of
August 1875


Mr Hiram Church
Miss Lodema E. Casbon
Were united in holy
Matrimony. Elder Utz
did the ministrial tying
on February 26th 1890

Lawrence J. Casbon
Lyda May Pouter
was married. January
23rd 1899 at Adrian
Michigan by Rev.
C. L. Adams

Mr Alfred Urbahns
Miss Sina J. Casbon
was married Oct 15th 1915
at Muskegan Michigan
by Elick Scott


Lillie May Casbon
Departed this life
September 10th 1871
one year 2 months old

Charles T. Casbon
Departed this life
on the 26th of October
1915 at 9 o.clock in the
Morning. Aged
74 year and 11 days

Lawrence J. Casbon
Died peacefully in his
home 309 W 42 street in
Los Angeles California
on Tuesday morning
October 9th 1923. Age 48
years one month and
12 days

Mary Elizabeth (Merrell)
Casbon departed this
life Febuary [sic] 26, 1928
83 years 2 months &
6 days

Alfred Urbahns Departed
this life January 3 1930.
age 56 years. Brother in Law

To my eye, it appears that all of the family events that occurred prior to the purchase of the Bible were written by the same hand, probably in one sitting. These include the marriage of Charles and Mary, all the births, and the death of infant daughter Lillie May Casbon in 1871. The handwriting is elegant and neat, reflecting the importance of the events that were recorded. All the marriages, as well as the deaths of Charles and Lawrence are written in a nearly identical hand as the earlier entries.

I’m almost certain that all of these entries were made by Mary. What feelings did she have as she entered the deaths of her infant daughter, husband, and son into the Bible. Was she in the depths of despair, or did the Bible bring her comfort and solace? Or both?

The handwriting changes with the last two entries – the deaths of Mary and Alfred Urbahns. These must have been written by Mary’s daughter, Lodema – note the reference to Alfred Urbahns as brother in law. She must have ended up with the Bible after her parents’ deaths. Also note that Lodema’s death in 1938 was not recorded. You can see on the title page that it was in the possession of Bud (Merritt) Church, one of Lodema’s grandsons, as of 1994.

It’s too bad no one continued the tradition of recording important dates after Lodema was gone. Sadly, family Bibles have fallen out of favor as a means of transmitting and preserving significant family events.

I can’t say that I gleaned new information about the people listed in these pages, but this Bible is still a valuable genealogical source, and it validates the information I have gathered from other sources. I’m glad it has stayed in the family. Thanks to Ilaine, who allowed my dad to copy these pages so many years ago!

[1] “Beware of this scam!,” Goldstraw & Goostrey Geneaology ( : accessed 1 October 2018).
[2] “A.J. Holman Dead,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, 15 Oct 1891, p. 5, col. 3; online image, Newspaper Archive (accessed through participating libraries: 1 October 2018).
[3] “Salesman Bible Samplers – How the Antique Family Bibles were sold ‘door-to-door’,” ( : accessed 1 October 2018).
[4] Centennial Photographic Co., A.J. Holman & Co.’s exhibit–Main Building [Albumen print]; online image, Free Library of Philadelphia ( : accessed 2 October 2018).
[5] Dave Tabler, “The Family Bible,” Appalachian History: Stories, quotes and anecdotes ( : accessed 2 October 2018).

2 thoughts on “The Family Bible of Charles and Mary Casbon”

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed the story of how “The Casbon Journey Began”! I remember seeing those family genealogy books advertised. Good for your dad for getting his money’s worth, scam or no scam!

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