What’s the Buzz?

It’s often difficult to learn more about our ancestors than the basic facts of their lives: when they were born and died, who they married, where they lived, and who were their children. I’m always happy when I find something that tells me more about what someone did with their life. Such is the case with Emily (Price) Casbon. Her story gives us insight into an activity that brought her joy and fulfillment.

Emily Price was born about 1855 in Benton County, Minnesota, the daughter of William and Mary (Rose) Price.[1] In the 1860 census, she was living with her mother and siblings in her maternal grandparents’ home in Pleasant Township, Porter County, Indiana.[2] Her father died in 1863.[3] The date of her mother’s death is unknown, but it appears that Emily was an orphan by 1870, when she and two younger sisters were living with another family.[4]

Emily’s life took a positive turn when she married Civil War veteran Jesse Casbon on April 23, 1872.[5] Every indication is that their marriage was a happy one, blessed with the birth of four daughters: Maude, Anna, Lillian, and Edna. They lived on a farm of 160 acres, about one mile southwest of Valparaiso. She was active in her church and community.

Emily had a somewhat unusual hobby—beekeeping! I learned of her interest in bees when I found articles that she had written for The American Bee Journal. In the first article, she describes her early experiences with, and enjoyment of, beekeeping.

Source: The American Bee Journal, vol. 24, no. 47 (21 Nov 1888), pp. 762-3; MyHeritage (https://records.myheritagelibraryedition.com/research/record-90100-32622591/american-bee-journal-vol-24-january : accessed 10 September 2018), image 590 of 660 (Click on image to enlarge)

In her next report, written a little more than one year after the first, she writes with confidence about her success with the bees.

American Bee Journal, Vol. 26, January 1890, page 44 (Hamilton, Illinois: Dadant Sons); imaged at My Heritage (https://www.myheritage.com/research/collection-90100/american-bee-journal-vol-26-january-1890?itemId=32615041&action=showRecord : accessed 12 Aug 2016)

Besides being a contributor, it’s clear that Emily was an avid reader of the Journal. She must have eagerly awaited each week’s edition in the mail, and then savored the articles, with their expert advice, reports on new developments, letters from other readers, and advertisements for beekeeping supplies.

It’s refreshing to see that beekeeping was an acceptable avocation for women in Emily’s day. Although not as frequent as men, several women wrote articles and correspondence for the Journal. Miss Marcia A Douglass, speaking at a beekeepers’ convention held at Burlington, Vermont in January 1888, read an essay on the question: “Should Women Keep Bees and Join the Bee-Keepers’ Association?” A summary of the convention proceedings reported that:

She could speak from experience, that while there was much hard labor in connection with the business, she saw no reason why a woman could not keep bees, to a greater or less extent, as successfully as the sterner sex, provided that she was adapted to the calling, and in love with it. If men were benefited by associations and interchanging of ideas and methods of work, why not women?[6]

Emily was obviously “adapted to the calling, and in love with” beekeeping. She sounds like a delightful person to me. Unfortunately, death took her at the age of thirty-eight, in April 1893.[7] It’s too bad that her obituary makes no mention of her interest in bees, since it obviously made her life more fulfilling. I wonder what happened to the bees after she was gone?

I found this entertaining about bees and honey on YouTube: enjoy!

Title page of The American Bee Journal, vol. 24, no. 1. (https://records.myheritagelibraryedition.com/research/record-90100-32622541/american-bee-journal-vol-24-january : accessed 11 September 2018), image 7 of 660

[1] Minnesota Territorial Census, 1857, Benton County, population schedule, township 38, range 31, p. 27 (stamped), dwelling & family 20, William Price: online image, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939Z-YG9X-6F?cc=1503055 : accessed 14 Jun 2017), Benton > Township 38, Range 31 > image 1 of 1; citing NARA microfilm publication T1175, roll 1.
[2] 1860 U.S. Census, Porter County, Indiana, population schedule, Pleasant Township, p. 110, dwelling 838, family 818, Henry M Rose; imaged as “United States Census, 1860,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GB9J-S8M2?i=7&cc=1473181 : accessed 24 March 2017), Indiana > Porter > Pleasant Township > image 8 of 12; citing NARA microfilm publication M653, roll 289.
[3] Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=70625904 : accessed 17 June 2017), memorial page for William W. Price (1822–1863), no. 70625904, created by “Jackie & Ralph”; citing Spencer Cemetery, Kouts, Porter, Indiana.
[4] 1870 U.S. Census, Porter County, Indiana, population schedule, Pleasant Township, p. 14, dwelling 103, family 102, Emely Price in household of William Carr; imaged as “United States Census, 1870,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-D5GG-RL?i=13&cc=1438024 : accessed 11 September 2018), Indiana > Porter > Pleasant > image 14 of 16; citing NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 351.
[5] Porter County, Indiana, Marriage Record no. 4 (Sep 1871-Jan 1875), p. 88, no. 173, 23 Apr 1872, Jesse Casbon & Emma Price; imaged as “Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9TM4-RD8?i=78&cc=1410397 : accessed 11 September 2018), Porter > 1871-1875 Volume 4 > image 79 of 246; citing Porter County Clerk.
[6] The American Bee Journal, vol. 24, no. 6 (8 Feb 1888), p. 91; online image, MyHeritage (https://records.myheritagelibraryedition.com/research/record-90100-32622541/american-bee-journal-vol-24-january : accessed 10 September 2018), image 79 of 660.
[7] “Death of Mrs. Jesse Casbon,” photocopy of clipping from The (Valparaiso, Indiana) Porter County Vidette, 4 May 1893; privately held by Jon Casbon, 2018. (Handwritten note gives publication and date).

6 thoughts on “What’s the Buzz?”

  1. What a fun post! Emily’s personality comes through so clearly in the two articles she wrote. And what a difference between the first article and the second. She certainly learned the art of beekeeping well. I was particularly struck by the detail she included about not getting stung, even though she didn’t wear gloves and sometimes didn’t wear a veil. I wonder what recipes she would have used the honey for. I did enjoy the educational video. I’ve always had an idle curiosity about how bees make honey–and now I know.

    1. I had intended to leave a comment about your post, but apparently didn’t. Quite a coincidence. BTW, I searched for “Gilman” in the American Bee Journal (I have free access through my library) but did not find Augustus. That doesn’t mean he didn’t get the Journal – he just didn’t write any articles or correspondence. Thanks for your comment and your post!

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