“alias Baker”

This one has me stumped. I came upon this military record recently.[1]

Mil record p1
Short Service Attestation of Thomas Casbon, 3 Apr 1883. (Click on image to enlarge)

This is the first of seven pages documenting Thomas Casbon’s military history. The Short Service Attestation, Army Form B.265 is the equivalent of a military enlistment application. The applicant, or recruit, signs up for a term of 12 years, “for the first seven years in the Army Service, and for the remaining five years in the 1st Class of the Army Reserve” (item 19 on the form).

We can see from the form that Thomas was born in St. Mary’s Parish, Peterborough, Northamptonshire, and that he was 20 years, 2 months old. This would give him a birth date of about February, 1863. We can also see that he was working as a “Coach (or Couch?) Painter.” He was assigned to the Grenadier Guards in London.

So far so good. The problem is, I haven’t been able to find any other records for a Thomas Casbon born in the Peterborough area in or around 1863. There were plenty of Casbons in Peterborough at the time, and Thomas was the most common name (see “How doth your garden grow? Part 1”). I’ve searched through birth, baptism, marriage, death and census records to no avail.

Fortunately, the military record contains another clue to Thomas’ identity. Here is part of the third page.[2]

alias Baker
(Click on image to enlarge)

We see the curious entry “alias Baker” written in. What does that mean? Why would he be using an alias?

Actually, the surname Baker was already known to me. Sarah Casbon (~1834–1904), daughter of Thomas (~1807–1863) and Jane (Cooper, ~1803–1874) Casbon, married Richard Baker (~1835–1888) in 1857.[3] They had a son, Thomas, born in February 1863.[4]

TB birth record 1863 Birth registration of Thomas Casbon, Peterborough, 1863. (Click on image to enlarge)

The date and location of birth match the information given in Thomas Casbon’s attestation form almost perfectly, so this must be the same person, right? It certainly explains why he would be known as Thomas Baker.  I have plenty of records for this Thomas Baker, including a marriage in 1890; census records in 1891, 1901, and 1911; and a death registration in 1929.

But why would he sign up for the Army as Thomas Casbon? I have only one clue to offer, and a theory. Here’s the clue.[5]

(Click on image to enlarge)

This is the last page of Thomas’ military record. After item 2, Next of Kin, is written “Father Thomas Casbon.” This throws a monkey wrench into everything! If his father is Thomas Casbon, then why does he have the alias “Baker”? If he isn’t Thomas Baker, born in 1863, why can’t I find any other records for him?

OK, so here’s the theory: what if his real father is Thomas Casbon, but he was raised, and possibly adopted, by Richard and Sarah Baker? It turns out that Sarah had a brother named Thomas (1840–1887). This Thomas was married in 1865, two years after Thomas alias Baker’s birth. What if he had a child before he was married? I admit, this theory is pretty thin – it would be unusual for a child born out of wedlock to be adopted by the father’s relatives, but it wouldn’t be the first time. Maybe the mother died in childbirth or shortly thereafter. There had been a 5-year gap since the birth of Richard and Sarah’s first child, so maybe they were eager to adopt. This is the only theory I’ve come up with that explains what’s written in the military record. I’m afraid that’s as far as I can take it.

Why do I like to chase after stories like this? One reason is that I want to have as complete of an accounting as possible of our surname. I recently joined the organization Guild of One-Name Studies, which “provides its members with the means to share, exchange and publish information about one-name studies as well as encouraging and assisting all those interested in one-name studies.”[6] A one-name study is defined as “a project researching all occurrences of a surname, as opposed to a particular pedigree (ancestors of one person) or descendancy (descendants of one person or couple).[7] That’s essentially what I have been doing with this blog.

The other reason, of course, is that I just can’t help myself!

[1] Military records, Thomas Casbon alias Baker, 23 Apr 1883 – 29 Mar 1895, imaged as “UK, Royal Hospital Chelsea Pensioner Soldier Service Records,” database with images, Fold3 (https://www.fold3.com/image/587378752?terms=thomas%20casbon : accessed 19 January 2018); citing The National Archives, WO 97.
[2] Military records, Thomas Casbon alias Baker, 23 Apr 1883 – 29 Mar 1895, p. 3 of 7, Fold3.
[3] Marriage record of Richard Baker & Sarah Casbon, 22 Jun 1857, Northamptonshire, Peterborough, Parish church of Peterborough, imaged as “Northamptonshire, England, Church of England Marriages, 1754-1912,” database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/9199/42672_338731__0007-00040? : accessed 19 January 2018), image 41 of 66; citing Northamptonshire Record Office, Peterborough, St. John, 261P/70, “Marriages 1855–1866,” p. 76, 2nd entry.
[4] England, birth registration (PDF copy) of Thomas Casbon, born 8 Feb 1863; registered 26 Feb 1863, Peterborough District, no. 207, Counties of Northampton, Huntingdon & Cambridge; citing Peterborough registration district,  3B/235, General Registry Office, Southport.
[5] Military records, Thomas Casbon alias Baker, 23 Apr 1883 – 29 Mar 1895, p. 7 of 7, Fold3.
[6] “About the Guild,” Guild of One-Name Studies (http://one-name.org/about-the-guild/ : accessed 19 January 2018).
[7] “One-Name Studies,” Guild of One-Name Studies (http://one-name.org/one-name-studies/ : accessed 19 January 2018).

1905, Red Lake County, Minnesota

The word serendipity means “the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.”[1] I was browsing through various census results the other day, not looking for anything in particular. It was through serendipity that I chanced upon this entry in the 1905 Minnesota state census.

Casbon Lillian 1905 MN census Red Lake County Minnesota State Census, 1905, Red Lake Falls, entry for Lillian Casbon.[2] (Click on image to enlarge)

At first, I thought this might be a misspelling, because I was not aware of a Lillie Casbon living in Minnesota. The closest Lillian I knew of was the daughter of Jesse Casbon (1845­–1934). She was born and raised in Porter County, Indiana. I began to compare the details in the Minnesota census with Jesse’s daughter: she was born in February 1880, which would have made her 25 years old in June of 1905.[3] This doesn’t exactly match the age of 23 in the census, but it’s close. Her place of birth (Indiana) and those of her parents (father – England, mother – Minnesota) as written in the census match the information I have about Jesse’s daughter. So far, so good.

Then I noticed something else in the Minnesota entry: Lillian’s entry is sandwiched between those for Annie Kitchen and two children, Jessie and Steven. Annie, age 27, was also born in Indiana, and her parents were born in the same states as Lillian. It appears that Lillie is living in the same household as the Kitchens.

Now things started to snap into place. Lillian Casbon, of Indiana, had an older sister, Anna Mae, who was born in December 1876.[4] This would have made her 30 years old in 1905. Anna Mae Casbon married Newton Kitchel in 1898,[5] and had two children, Jesse John (b. 1898) and Steven (b. 1900).[6],[7] Anna divorced Newton Kitchel and eventually changed her surname back to Casbon. She was apparently still going by Kitchel when the Minnesota census was taken in 1905, but her name was misspelled as Kitchen.

The 1905 census has a little bit more information to give us. We can see that both Anna and Lillian were employed as bakers. Anna had been a resident of Minnesota for 1 year, 1 month and a resident of Red Lake County for 10 months. Lillian came to Minnesota after her sister; she had only lived there for 3 months. As we have seen, both women “fudged” a couple of years on their true ages.

It turns out, Anna and Lillian were not the only Casbons living in Red Lake County at the time. George W. Casbon and his stepmother/aunt Emma (Casbon) Rigg, were living in nearby St. Hilaire, as seen in this image.[8]

Casbon George Rigg Emma 1905 MN census St Hilaire Red Lake Co
Minnesota State Census, 1905, St Hilaire, entries for Emma Rigg and GW Casbon. (Click on image to enlarge)

I’ve written about George and Emma in the post “Introducing the Iowa Casbons! Part 1.” Anna and Lillian were George’s first cousins, and Emma was their aunt.

St Hilaire and Red Lake Falls are only about 8 miles apart. Is it a coincidence that these cousins were in such close proximity? It’s impossible to know for sure, but it seems unlikely. George’s occupation in the 1905 census was listed as “farming,” but his obituary tells us that he operated “a bakery (my emphasis) and farm in Minnesota for two years” before moving back to Iowa.[9] How interesting that Anna and Lillian were both listed as bakers!

We know that George and Emma maintained contact with their Indiana relatives.[10] We also know that when Emma died in 1910, she was staying with her brother Jesse, Anna and Lillian’s father, in Indiana.[11] Anna was living in the same household, and cared for Emma during her final illness.[12] Emma expressed her gratitude to Anna in her last will and testament with a bequest of 500 dollars.[13] So, it seems likely to me that Anna, Lillian, George, and Emma would have know of each other’s presence in Minnesota.

Why were they all in Minnesota? George might have been there to be close to his future bride, Maud Carpenter.[14] Other than that I don’t have any clues about their reasons for being there. From the residency information in the 1905 census, it looks like Anna arrived in Minnesota first, then George, then Emma, and finally Lillian. I know from the obituary quoted above that George, and presumably Emma, only stayed in Minnesota for two years, but I don’t know how long Anna and Lillian lived there.

It seems like their time in Minnesota was just a small footnote in their life stories. George and Emma returned to Iowa. Anna and Lillian returned to Indiana. Anna eventually remarried. Lillian never married, but eventually started a flower shop in Valparaiso, Indiana, with her other sister Edna. My father recalls them and their shop, located across the street from the Pioneer apartments, and just behind the present-day Porter County Library (now a vacant lot).

[1] “Serendipity,” Oxford English Living Dictionaries (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/serendipity : accessed 8 January 2018).
[2] “Minnesota State Census, 1905,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9Q97-YSB7-M72?cc=1503056&wc=M8SL-WT1%3A67006601%2C67115001 : 21 May 2014), Red Lake > Red Lake Falls, Ward 02 > image 8 of 10, entry for Lillian Casbon, schedule sheet 28 (versa), p. 344 (penned), no. 1080; citing State Library and Records Service, St. Paul.
[3] “United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MHS7-ZZV : accessed 8 January 2018), entry for Lilly E Casbon in household of Jesse Casbon, Center Township, Porter County, Indiana, enumeration district 141, sheet 516C, p. 39(penned), household 273, family 275; citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 305.
[4] “Deaths … Mrs. Anna Mae Fleming,” The (Valparaiso, Indiana) Vidette-Messenger, 21 Dec 1957, p. 2, col. 5; database with images, Newspaper Archive (accessed through participating libraries : accessed 31 May 2017).
[5] “Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9R15-4M4?i=253&cc=1410397 : accessed 18 June 2017), image 254 of 286, Newton Kitchell/Anna Casbon, 9 Jul 1898; citing Porter County Clerk, Marriages 1895–1899, vol. 11, p. 430.
[6] “United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MMKK-WJ6 : accessed 25 July 2017), Jesse Kitchel in household of Neuelan Kitchel, Cavour town, Forest, Wisconsin, enumeration district (ED) 39, sheet 5B, family 90; citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 1789.
[7] “United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K6Z8-GQZ : 12 December 2014) >Virginia > Warwick County no 1, A-C > image 1862 of 2615, Steven Casbon, 1917-1918; citing NARA microfilm publication M1509.
[8] “United States Census, 1880,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9Q97-YSBQ-11S?i=17&cc=1503056 : accessed 3 August 2017), G W Casbon, Saint Hilaire, River Falls township, Red Lake, schedule shhet 17, p. 173, line 677; citing State Library and Records Service, St.Paul.
[9] “Deaths – George W. Casbon,” Waterloo (Iowa) Daily Courier, 25 Feb 1944, p. 2, col. 5; online archive, Newspaper Archive (accessed through participating libraries: 16 January 2016).
[10] Jon Casbon,“Introducing the Iowa Casbons! Part 1,” Our Casbon Journey, 5 Oct 2017, para. 4 (https://casbonjourney.wordpress.com/2017/10/05/introducing-the-iowa-casbons-part-1/ : accessed 8 January 2018).
[11] “La Porte City Resident Dies,” Waterloo (Iowa) Evening Courier, 5 Aug 1910, p. 5, col. 5; online images, Newspaper Archive (accessed through participating libraries : accessed 29 June 2017).
[12] Jon Casbon, transcriber, letters written by Emma Casbon to George & Maude (Carpenter) Casbon in 1910, transcribed 2017; privately held by Casbon. The letters were provided to him by Claudia Vokoun, who received them from her mother, Emma Elizabeth (Casbon) Eldridge.
[13] Last will and testament of Emma E. Rigg, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana, 1909, photostatic copy in scrapbook compiled by Claudia Vokoun, Aug 2017; copy privately held by Jon Casbon.
[14] Casbon,“Introducing the Iowa Casbons! Part 1,” Our Casbon Journey, 5 Oct 2017, para. 6.

Christmas Wishes

From The (Valparaiso, Indiana) Vidette-Messenger, December 23, 1949:[1]

Santa letter

Larry, Roger, and Curtis are the sons of Delbert Keith (1916–2007) and May Dell (Ludington, 1918–2010) Casbon. Delbert Keith was the youngest son of Amos James Casbon (1869–1956).

I hope they got what they wished for!

Merry Christmas to all my readers! Our Casbon Journey looks forward to bringing you more in 2018.

[1] “Letters to Santa Claus,” The (Valparaiso, Indiana) Vidette-Messenger, 23 Dec 1949, p. 13, col. 4; online image, Library Archive (accessed through participating libraries: 5 July 2017).

Margaret Casbon, 1864–1903

The original title for this post was going to be “What Happened to Margaret?” I was going to write about how female ancestors can be more difficult to trace than males. However, in the course of writing, I came upon new (to me) data sources. With the new information, some more puzzle pieces have slid into place. So now, instead of my original purpose, I will use this post to summarize what I know about Margaret Casbon.

Before I had any records, I knew from word of mouth that James Casbon (~1814–1884) brought a daughter named Margaret with him when he came to Indiana from England in 1870. I was later able to confirm this when I found James’ entry in the 1880 U.S. census.[1]

James C 1880 Census Porter Co Detail from 1880 U.S. Census, Porter Township, Porter County, Indiana. (Click on image to enlarge)

The census lists James, his wife Mary, Margaret, age 16, Amos, age 10, and Alice, age 8. The careful reader will note that the birthplace for all three children is written as “Ind” for Indiana. In fact, only Alice was born in Indiana. Census reports frequently contain errors, and incorrect birth place is a common one.

In addition to the census, in time, I was able to locate the passenger list of the ship that carried James and his family to America.[2] This also showed that he traveled with Mary, Margaret, and Amos.

James C passenger list detail 1870 NY
Detail from passenger manifest of ship Great Western, upon arrival in New York from
Liverpool, England, dated December 27, 1870. (Click on image to enlarge)

You can see that their surname was misspelled as “Custon.” This made locating the passenger list especially challenging! You can also see that Margaret’s age is listed as six. This is consistent with the age given 10 years later in the 1880 census. Therefore, I knew that she was probably born within a year or so of 1864.

Unfortunately, when I tried to find a birth or baptismal record for Margaret, my searches kept coming up with no results. At that point in my research, I still did not know when or where James and Mary had been married, nor did I know Mary’s maiden name. Early this year (2017) I acquired transcripts of various parish records from Cambridgeshire. From these records I learned that James Casben married Mary Jackson in Stretham, Cambridgeshire, October 1866.[3]

But wait, that was two years after Margaret’s presumed birth date! Either the estimated birth year was wrong or Margaret was born before James and Mary became man and wife. This offered a possible explanation why I couldn’t find a birth record for Margaret Casbon. I searched again, this time looking for a birth record for Margaret Jackson. This time I was successful. I learned that Margaret’s birth had been recorded in Ely during the second quarter of 1864.[4]

But was this the right Margaret? To find out, I ordered a copy of the birth registration from the General Register Office (as described in two previous posts). Here is the record I received.[5]

Margaret birth record
Birth registration of Margaret Jackson. (Click on image to enlarge)

Margaret was born in Stretham on March 26, 1864 to Mary Jackson. The father’s name is not given, so presumably Margaret was born out of wedlock. The location, date and mother’s name are all consistent with the information I already had about Margaret and her mother, so I’m confident this is the right birth record.

Margaret was about 2 ½ years old when her mother married James Casbon. Was James her father? There isn’t enough evidence to know for sure. Regardless, she became part of the family. Her brother (or half-brother?) Amos was born when Margaret was 5 years old.

What happened to Margaret after she came to America? I’ll try to answer that with the rest of this post.

First, let’s return to the 1880 census. I need to point out that James’ wife Mary in that census was not Margaret’s mother. Mary (Jackson) Casbon died sometime after their arrival in America, date unknown. James remarried, this time to Mary Payne, in 1876.[6] Margaret lost her mother at a fairly early age. What impact did that have on future events?

It also turns out that the census record shown at the beginning of this post is not the only census entry for Margaret that year.

Casbon Maggie 1880 census Valpo Detail from 1880 U.S. Census, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana.[7] (Click on image to enlarge)

This entry shows “Maggie” Casbon, age 17, listed as “At School” and a boarder in the household of Lucinda Waub, in Valparaiso, Indiana. Maggie is a common diminutive of Margaret. The entry shows that she and her parents were born in England. The age is not quite correct for our Margaret (17 vs. 16), but all the other facts line up. There is no evidence to suggest there was another person with this name in Indiana at the time. Margaret and “Maggie” must be the same person; she was counted twice in the 1880 census.

How did this happen? It turns out that being counted twice in a census is not that uncommon. There are many possible reasons. Census enumerators were instructed to enter “the name of every person whose ‘usual place of abode’ on the 1st day of June, 1880, was in that family.”[8] This instruction created an opportunity for duplications to occur, especially when a person did not reside full-time with their own family. Margaret might have been boarding with Mrs. Waub, but she probably spent weekends and school vacations with her family. The two censuses were recorded by different enumerators, probably on different days. Whatever the reason, Margaret was reported twice.

It’s interesting to me that Margaret was a student and boarding with someone other than her family.  Why was she still a student at age 16, when most girls had no more than an eighth-grade education? My guess is that Margaret was “catching up” from the lack of formal education in England. I think it’s unlikely that James could afford to pay boarding fees. I suspect that he was getting financial support from his brother Thomas, or one of Thomas’ sons, all of whom were well-settled and better off than James.

The first information I had about Margaret’s whereabouts after the 1880 census was this intriguing snippet extracted from the February 9, 1882 Porter County Vidette: “Married – Joseph Quinn – Viola Beard (Baird penciled in); Mrs J. Meyer of Mo.; Died – Wm Dye; Married – Kimberlin – Vita Pennock; Died – Lena Wulf; Maggie Casbum living with Ben Woodard.”[9] What an interesting thing to print in the newspaper! It seems a bit scandalous. Margaret would have been just under 18 years old at the time.

Apparently, the relationship with Ben Woodard did not last long, as revealed by this marriage record from September of the same year.[10]

Margaret C marriage registration 1882
Marriage record of Samuel Bastel and Margaret Casbon, September 16, 1882, Porter County, Indiana.
Note that Margaret’s surname is spelled both as Casbon and Caswell in this record. At the bottom of the
page is Samuel Bastel’s sworn statement that he is over 21 years old and that Maggie is (just) over 18.
(Click on image to enlarge)

How long this marriage lasted is unknown. There is another marriage record of Samuel Bastel to Eva Sharp in 1887.[11] However, there is evidence that more than one man named Samuel Bastel was living in Porter County at the time, so it is unknown whether Margaret and Eva married the same man.

Regardless, it is certain that Margaret and Samuel Bastel did not remain married, since there is another marriage record, to William Biederstadt, dated July 22, 1899.[12]

Margaret C Wm Biederstadt marriage registration 1899
Marriage record of William Biederstadt and Maggie Casbon, July 22, 1899, Porter County, Indiana.
Note that the certificate of marriage section has not been completed. (Click on image to enlarge)

The fact that “Maggie’s” name was given as Casbon and not Bastel makes me think that her previous marriage was short lived. But, there is a gap of almost 17 years between the two marriages, and Margaret’s whereabouts during that time are a mystery. The 1890 census records were lost in a fire, so they cannot be used to locate her. There is a family story that she might have become a “mail-order bride” in Seattle, but I’ve found no evidence to support or deny that.

I should also point out that Margaret’s father (or step-father?), James, was murdered in 1884.[13] So, by the age of 20, she had lost both parents. It’s unknown what kind of relationship she had with her step-mother or with her brother Amos and sister Alice, both of whom were quite a few years younger.

At this point in my research, the information I had about Margaret was clouded in uncertainty. Because of the incomplete marriage certification, it was unclear to me whether Margaret and William Biederstadt had actually been married. My confusion was compounded by the fact that I could not find Margaret in the 1900 census. I found an entry for William Biederstadt in nearby Michigan City, but in that record, he is listed as being single, and living in his parents’ household.[14]

I should add that I also I had a possible death record for Margaret. The record was only a brief extract, showing that Maggie Biederstedt, age 31, died in Michigan City April 30, 1903.[15] The extract did not include the name of her husband or parents. Was this the same Maggie who married William? The age was wrong – Margaret would have been 39 in April 1903. I needed stronger evidence before I could say that Margaret Casbon and this Maggie Biederstedt were the same person.

The breakthrough came when I located the death certificate on Ancestry (when I was well into writing this post).[16]

Biederstadt Maggie Casbon death cert 1903
Image of Maggie Biederstedt’s death certificate, Michigan City, La Porte County, Indiana.
(Click on image to enlarge)

The certificate confirm’s that Maggie’s Biederstedt’s husband was named William. It gives her date of birth as January 1, 1872. This is significantly different than Margaret Casbon’s confirmed birth year of 1864. However, the birthplace is correctly shown as England. The incorrect birth date is puzzling, but given the fact that her father’s name is given as Casborn (also from England), there can be little doubt that this was Margaret Casbon. Note that William Biederstedt was the informant for the death certificate. “Don’t Know” is written for Margaret’s mother’s name. This isn’t surprising given that her mother had died more than twenty years earlier. The cause of death was “Uterine Carcinoma Duration Indefinite” (I’m not sure about the last word – doctors’ handwriting was no better then than it is now). The disease took her at a young age.

Given the knowledge that Margaret really was married to William Biederstadt, I decided to try to find her in the 1900 census one more time. Reasoning that the surname might have been misspelled or transcribed incorrectly, I searched in FamilySearch [link] for Maggie, no last name, born between 1862 and 1873 in England, residing in Indiana, with husband’s first name William. This search yielded 12 names, one of which caught my eye. It was for Maggie Reedlstead, born January 1873, and living in Michigan City.[17]

Biederstadt Wm and Maggie Casbon 1900 Census Michigan City IN
Detail from 1900 Census, Michigan City, La Porte County, Indiana. (Click on image to enlarge)

If you examine the census entry closely, you can see that the first letter of the surname is really a “B,” with an incomplete bottom loop (compare to “Peters” a few lines above). In addition, the spelling has been mangled pretty badly, looking something like “Beedlstear.” Census enumerators weren’t hired for the spelling ability (or handwriting!), and once that’s understood, it’s fairly easy to see that this is the correct census record for William and Maggie Biederstadt.

There are two discrepancies in Maggie’s entry: her birth date, January 1873, and her year of immigration, 1880. There may be an innocent reason why the birth date is wrong, but the fact that her husband also gave an incorrect birth date on the death certificate makes me wonder if Margaret led him to believe she was younger than her true age. Since the claimed year of birth was later than the actual year she immigrated (1870) to America, it would only make sense to change this date as well.

The census shows that William and Maggie Biederstadt were childless in 1900. I haven’t found any evidence that they had children before Maggie’s death. Nor have I found any records suggesting that Margaret had children while married to Samuel Bastel.

“What Happened to Margaret?” is still a valid question, but unless new records turn up or a distant cousin can help fill in the blanks, this is as close as I can come to an answer.

[1] 1880 U.S. Census, Porter County, Indiana, population schedule, Porter Township, enumeration district 144, p. 545 (stamped), sheet C, dwelling 187, family 191, Casbon, James; imaged as “United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9YYY-9KW6?i=18&cc=1417683 : accessed 4 July 2016); citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 305.
[2] Passenger manifest of ship Great Western, unnumbered p. 3, lines 27-30, James Custon (age 57) and family; imaged as “New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939V-51S2-X5?i=106&cc=1849782 : accessed 10 November 2016), image 107; citing NARA microfilm publication M237, Roll 338.
[3] “Stretham Marriages 1558 – 1952,” PDF extract, database,  Cambridge Family History Society (https://www.cfhs.org.uk/tokens/tokpub.cfm : downloaded 2 September 2017), >Casben >Stretham >Stretham Marriages 1558 – 1952, James Casben & Mary Jackson, 3 Nov 1866; citing Stretham (Cambridgeshire) parish records.
[4] “England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2XM7-VHC : 1 October 2014), Margaret Jackson, 2d qtr, 1864; from “England & Wales Births, 1837-2006,” database, findmypast (http://www.findmypast.com : 2012); citing Birth Registration, Ely, Cambridgeshire, vol. 3B: 551, line 124.
[5] England, birth registration (PDF copy) for Margaret Jackson, born 26 Mar 1864; registered April quarter 1864, Ely district 3B/551, Haddenham Sub-district, Cambridgeshire; General Register Office, Southport.
[6] Porter County, Indiana, Marriage Records, vol. 4: 348, James Casbon/Mary Payne, 15 Jan 1876; image copy, “Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007,” FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GTM4-RLH?i=241&cc=1410397 : accessed 24 October 2015); citing Porter County; FHL microfilm 1,686,156.
[7] 1880 U.S. Census, Porter County, Indiana, population schedule, Valparaiso, enumeration district 140, p. 486 (stamped), dwelling 649, family 663, Maggie Casbon in household of Lucinda Waub; imaged as “United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9YYY-92Q6?i=82&cc=1417683 : accessed 1 December 2017); citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 305.
[8] “1880 Census Instructions to Enumerators,” United States Census Bureau (https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/decennial-census/technical-documentation/questionnaires/1880/1880-instructions.html : accessed 5 December 2017).
[9] Kaye Griffiths, compiler, “Genealogical Notes from the Porter Vidette, April 7, 1881 – Sept. 14, 1882,” (typescript, 1983), listed as Volume 5 – 3 parts, no. G977.298; Genealogy Department, Porter County Public Library, Valparaiso.
[10] Porter County, Indiana, “Marriage Record 7, July 1882 – Oct 1885,” p. 39 (stamped), Samuel Bastel/Maggie Coswell ( also spelled “Casbon,” same document), 16 Sep 1882; “Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9TMB-J83?i=49&cc=1410397 : 21 January 2016), Porter > 1882-1885 Volume 7 > image 50 of 349; County clerk offices, Indiana.
[11] “Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KDHQ-3K8 : 4 November 2017), Samuel Bastel and Eva Sharp, 08 Jan 1887; citing Porter, Indiana, United States, various county clerk offices, Indiana; FHL microfilm 1,686,210.
[12] Porter County, Indiana, “Marriage Record 12, Nov. 1898 – Oct. 1901,” p. 103 (stamped), William Biederstadt/Maggie Casbon, 22 Jul 1899; “Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GR15-W5H?cc=1410397&wc=Q83F-4HT%3A963055701%2C963108501 : 21 January 2016), image 104 of 328; County clerk offices, Indiana.
[13] Jon Casbon, “James Casbon of Meldreth, England and Porter County, Indiana,” blog entry, Our Casbon Journey (https://casbonjourney.wordpress.com/2016/11/29/james-casbon-of-meldreth-england-and-porter-county-indiana/ : accessed 6 December 2017).
[14] “United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MM1Y-HRY : accessed 6 December 2017), William Biederstadt in household of John Biederstadt, Michigan Township, LaPorte, Indiana; citing enumeration district (ED) 55, sheet 14A, family 284, NARA microfilm publication T623.
[15] “Indiana Death Index, 1882-1920,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VZ77-2Y6 : 3 December 2014), Maggie Biederstedt, 30 Apr 1903, Mich City, Indiana; from “Indiana Deaths, 1882-1920,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : 2003); citing Indiana Works Progress Administration, book CSS-2, County Health Office, Laporte.
[16] “Death Certificates, 1899-2011,” database with images, Ancestry Library Edition (accessed through participating libraries : 5 December 2017), certificate image, Maggie Biederstedt, 30 Apr 1903, La Porte County, Indiana, record no. 54; imaged from Indiana Archives and Records Administration, Death Certificates, 1903, roll 06.
[17] 1900 U.S. census, La Porte County, Indiana, population schedule, MIchigan City, enumeration district 65, p. 314 (stamped on preceding page), sheet 4B, 702 York, dwelling 71, family 74, William Reedlstead; imaged as”United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-D4L3-KG9?i=7&cc=1325221 : 5 August 2014); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 384

The Birth Record of Amos James Casbon

A short while ago I wrote about a birth record I had obtained from the General Register Office (GRO) in England.[1] I actually received three birth records from the GRO in the same order. In addition to that of George Casbon, I received the records from Amos James Casbon and his sister Margaret. I’ll write about Amos today and save Margaret for a later post.

Here’s the record.

birth record Birth registration of Amos James Casbon.[2] (Click on image to enlarge)

What is the significance of this record? First of all, it gives Amos’ correct birth date – July 6, 1869 – and location – Chair Fen, Cottenham (Cambridgeshire). This differs from Amos’ obituary, which gives his birthday as July 2, and the location as Meldreth. The birth registration should be considered more likely to have accurate information, since it was completed nearer in time to the actual event. Although it might come as a surprise to some, it’s quite possible that Amos did not know his correct birthdate because his parents were semiliterate at best and did not know or remember the exact date. I have no idea why his obituary gave the birthplace as Meldreth, except that it was the birthplace of his father James and his uncle Thomas, so others might have assumed Amos came from there as well.

Previously, the only birth record I had was from an online birth registration index. The index gives the year and quarter of birth, and the name of the district where the birth was registered. Each registration district includes a number of different civil parishes (villages or towns). In Amos’ case, the index showed that his birth was registered at Chesterton during the third quarter of 1869. [3] The Chesterton district encompassed a large area surrounding the city of Cambridge and composed of 38 civil parishes.[4] So, the registration index alone did not give precise information about where or when Amos was born.

I also knew that Amos was baptized in the town of Stretham on August 3, 1869.[5] To be more accurate, his baptism was recorded in Stretham, but the baptism was performed “privately,” meaning it was not performed in the church. The baptismal record also gives the location of his parents’ abode as Cottenham.[6] The birth record narrows the location down further to a place known as Chair Fen.

I think Chair Fen must be a misspelling of Chear Fen, which can be found on maps of the Cottenham area. These two maps show the location of Chear Fen in relation to Cottenham, and a more detailed map of the fen area itself.

Cottenham map
Detail from 1898 Ordnance Survey map of Cambridge (Hills), showing Cottonham.[7]
Chear Fen is outlined in red. Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of
Scotland (http://maps.nls.uk/index.html) under the terms of the CC-BY-NC-SA licence 4.0
(https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/legalcode) (Click on image to enlarge)


Chear Fen detail map
Detail from 1887 Ordnance Survey map of  Cambridgeshire, Sheet XXXIV.NE, showing Chear Fen,
just south of the Old West (Great Ouse) River.[8] Reproduced with the permission of the National
Library of Scotland (http://maps.nls.uk/index.html) under the terms of the CC-BY-NC-SA licence 4.0  (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/legalcode) (Click on image to enlarge)

Chear Fen is located about 3 miles northeast of Cottenham, roughly midway between Cottenham and Stretham. The proximity to Stretham may explain why Amos was baptized in Stretham rather than Cottenham. In addition, Amos’ mother, Mary (Jackson), was from Stretham, so they might have considered this their home parish.

Cottenham and Chear Fen are located within a large area in eastern England known as the Fenlands. Fens are low-lying wetlands that were historically prone to periodic flooding.[9] They were drained several centuries ago and are now maintained by a system of dikes, drains , and pumping stations.[10]

The River Great Ouse at Chear Fen.[11] Photo by Bob Jones [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0 )], via Wikimedia Commons.

The remainder of the information in Amos’ birth registration confirms facts already known from other sources: his father’s name was James; his mother was Mary née Jackson; and James worked as a farm labourer. Given their residence on Chear Fen, it’s likely that James lived where he worked, on one of the farms shown on the map.

Now that we know where and when Amos’ life began, I’ll end with this timeline of his life.

Amos timeline
(Click on image to enlarge)
[1] Jon Casbon, “New Document Breaks through a Brick Wall,” 29 Oct 2017, Our Casbon Journey (https://casbonjourney.wordpress.com/2017/10/29/new-document-breaks-through-a-brick-wall/ : accessed 26 November 2017).
[2] England, birth registration (PDF copy), Amos James Casburn, born 6 Jul 1869; registered 9 Aug 1869, Chesterton District 3b/452, Willingham Sub-district, Cambridgeshire; General Registry Office, Southport.
[3] “England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2X7G-YF3 : accessed 12 September 2015), Amos James Casburn, 3d quarter,1869; from “England & Wales Births, 1837-2006,” database, findmypast (http://www.findmypast.com : 2012); citing Birth Registration, Chesterton, Cambridgeshire, vol. 3B:452; citing General Register Office, Southport, England.
[4] “Chesterton Registration District,” UK BMD (https://www.ukbmd.org.uk/reg/districts/chesterton.html : accessed 26 November 2017).
[5] “Cambridgeshire Baptisms,” database, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbprs%2fb%2f323728303%2f1 : accessed 30 January 2017), Amos James Casburn, 3 Aug 1869; citing Cambridgeshire parish records (transcribed by Cambridgeshire Family History Society).
[6] “Cambridgeshire Baptisms,” Amos James Casburn.
[7] “One-Inch to the mile, England and Wales, Revised New Series, Cambridge (Hills), Sheet 188,” 1898; online image, National Library of Scotland (http://maps.nls.uk/view/101168159 : accessed 27 November 2017); citing Ordnance Survey Office, Southampton.
[8] “Six-Inch to the mile, England and Wales, Cambridgeshire XXXIV.NE (includes: Cottenham; Landbeach; Stretham; Waterbeach; Wilburton),” 1887; online image, National Library of Scotland (http://maps.nls.uk/view/101571604 : accessed 26 November 2017); citing Ordnance Survey Office, Southampton.
[9] “The Fens,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fens : accessed 26 November 2017), rev. 08:07, 24 Nov 2017.
[10] “The Fens,” Wikipedia.
[11] “File:River Great Ouse at Chear Fen – geograph.org.uk – 271786.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:River_Great_Ouse_at_Chear_Fen_-_geograph.org.uk_-_271786.jpg : accessed 26 November 2017).

“Public Sale!”

Thanks to Ilaine Church for sending me a copy of this flyer.

Casbon Charles public sale flyer 1893
Scanned image courtesy of Ilaine Church. (Click on image to enlarge)

Ilaine is the wife of my third cousin, once removed, and shares my love of family history. The Church and Casbon families are related through the marriage of Thomas Hiram Church, Jr. (1866–1951) to Lodema Evaline Casbon (1871–1938) in 1890.[1] Lodema was the daughter of Charles Casbon (1840–1915), the man named at the bottom of the sale flyer. Charles was the brother of Sylvester Casbon, my second great-grandfather.

Casbon reunion 1901
The tie between the Church and Casbon families is illustrated in this photograph of the 1901 Casbon family reunion. The photo was taken in front of the home of Hiram and Lodema Church at what was then no. 5 Elm Street, Valparaiso, Indiana. Charles (left), Lodema (center), and Hiram (right) are circled.
(Click on image to enlarge)

The sale flyer provides us with some interesting information, and raises questions as well. It tells us the location of Charles’ residence and names it the Russel Johnson farm. It tells us that Charles had quite a few valuable livestock, farm equipment, and personal possessions to sell. Some of my questions are: “Who was Russel Johnson?”, “Why was Charles holding the sale?”, and “What were all those items listed for sale?”

It took a bit of digging, but I learned that Russel Johnson bought the property (located in Morgan township) in a series of transactions in the 1850s. He owned it until 1876 when he sold it to a man named Davison. Davison sold it to Stephen Martin in 1884, and Stephen Martin sold it to Charles Casbon in 1888.[2] So even though Russel Johnson had not owned the property since 1876, his name was still associated with the farm in 1893, probably because he developed and farmed it for twenty years.[3]

PC 42_449 Martin S to Casbon C 24Sep1888
Copy of deed record showing Charles Casbon’s purchase from Stephen Martin, September 24, 1888. The land is described as “the South three fourths (S ¾) of the North East quarter and the North west quarter of the South East quarter, All in Section one (1) in Township thirty four (34) North Range six (6) west containing one hundred fifty six (15656) acres more or less.”[4] (Click on image to enlarge)

This 1895 plat map shows Charles’ farm, as described in the legal description of
the deed.[5]

C Casbon land Morgan twp 1895
Detail of 1895 plat map, Morgan Township, Porter County, Indiana.
(Click on image to enlarge)

This brings me back to the question, “Why was Charles holding the sale?” I wish I knew the answer to this. The extent of the sale would make me think that Charles was liquidating his holdings and selling the farm, but this is not supported by other records. Porter County land records show that Charles didn’t sell the property until 1903.[6] That is the same year he bought property in Valparaiso,[7] and according to The History of Porter County, was “now living retired in a comfortable home on Monroe street in Valparaiso.”[8] Charles’ biography glosses over his life as a farmer and provides no information relevant to the farm sale of 1893. Charles owned several different properties in the county, so maybe he was just “downsizing” and getting rid of excess inventory. Or was he in debt? The best source of information would probably be a contemporary newspaper article, but I don’t have access to the newspapers from that timeframe (they are on microfilm at the Valparaiso Public Library, about 1,000 miles away from me!).

What are all those things he’s selling? Here are some definitions of things that were unfamiliar to me:

“fresh” cows: “cows recently calved and still in their first flush of lactation, that is within 2 weeks, possibly 4 weeks since calving.”[9]

shoat: “a piglet that has recently been weaned”[10]

road cart: “a light 2-wheeled vehicle often with a back”[11]

road cart
A road cart. Image available from The Florida Center for Instructional Technology at https://etc.usf.edu/clipart/76200/76249/76249_road-cart.htm

hog rack: I’m not sure, but I found this in the California Hog Book (1915): “on every hog farm there should be one or more solid substantial wagon racks that can be used for hauling hogs safely without fear of the animals breaking out and getting away.”[12]

2-horse rake: Used to rake hay after mowing. I couldn’t find a picture of one with two horses, but this should give you the idea

Image downloaded from “Rake Development Spurred by Mower Technology,”
Farm Collector (https://www.farmcollector.com/implements/rake-development-
: accessed 11 November 2017) (Click on image to enlarge)

spring tooth drag: I think this is also called a spring tooth drag harrow, a tool that smooths and loosens the ground after plowing, described as “a largely outdated piece of farm equipment.”[13]

spring tooth harrow
Modern version of a spring-tooth drag harrow. Image adapted from Working Horse Tack

Fairbanks scales: Fairbanks was and still is a major manufacturer of scales.[14] How would a 600 lb. capacity scale be used on a farm? To weigh grain?

This simple farm sale flyer doesn’t provide much in the way of genealogical information, but it is still a valuable part of Our Casbon Journey since it connects us to Charles Casbon and gives us a glimpse into the life and times of an American farmer in the late 19th century.

[1] Porter County, Indiana, Marriage Records, vol. 9:149, Hiram Church–Lodema Casbon, 26 Feb 1890; image, “Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GTML-57?i=111&cc=1410397 : accessed 22 August 2016); citing “Porter County; FHL microfilm 1,686,210.”
[2] Porter County, Indiana, Deed Record 42: Jun 1887-Feb 1889, p. 449, Stephen C Martin to Charles Casbon, 24 Sep 1888; imaged as “Deed records, 1836-1901,” browsable images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSNW-T9J8-6?i=462&cat=609009 : accessed 26 September 2017), image 463; citing FHL microfilm 1,703,902, item 2.
[3] Weston A. Goodspeed and Charles Blanchard, Counties of Porter and Lake Indiana. Historical and Biographical (Chicago: F.A. Battey & Co., 1882), p. 344 (“S.R. Johnson”); online image, Internet Archive (https://archive.org/details/countiesofporter00good : accessed 12 November 2017).
[4] Porter County, Indiana, Deed Record 42, Stephen C Martin to Charles Casbon.
[5]  Plat map, Morgan Township, 1895; online image, Porter County, Indiana (http://www.inportercounty.org/Data/Maps/1895Plats/Morgan-1895.jpg : accessed 11 November 2017).
[6] Porter County, Indiana, Deed Index Grantee 9 (mislabeled as Grantor on ID film), Apr 1900 Apr 1906, 7th page of letter C, line 27, Carson John From Casbon Charles, 7 Mar 1903; imaged as “Deed records, 1836-1901,” browsable images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/film/007665027?cat=609009 : accessed 27 September 2017), image 270; citing FHL microfilm 1,703,941, item 2.
[7] Porter County, Indiana, Deed Index Grantee 9 (mislabeled as Grantor on ID film), 7th page of letter C, line 28, Casbon Charles from Carson John, 7 Mar 1903.
[8] History of Porter County Indiana, A Narrative Account of its Historical Progress, its People and its Principal Interests (Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1912), vol. 2, p. 461; image copy, Google Books (https://books.google.com/books?id=Nk00AQAAMAAJ : accessed 11 November 2017).
[9] “fresh cows,” The Free Dictionary (Medical Dictionary tab) (https://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/fresh+cows : accessed 11 November 2017).
[10] “shoat,” The Free Dictionary (https://www.thefreedictionary.com/shoat : accessed 11 November 2017).
[11] “road cart,” Merriam-Webster (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/road%20cart : accessed 11 November 2017).
[12] W.S. Guilford, California Hog Book: A Compilation of Information about Hogs Applied to California Conditions (San Francisco: Pacific Rural Press, 1915); image copy, Google Books (https://books.google.com/books?id=fDQwAAAAYAAJ&source=gbs_navlinks_s : accessed 11 November 2017).
[13] “Spring-tooth harrow,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spring-tooth_harrow : accessed 11 November 2017), rev. 20:18, 3 Jan 2016.
[14] “Fairbanks History,” Fairbanks Scales (http://www.fairbanks.com/company/history.cfm : accessed 12 November 2017).

Honoring Our Veterans: Leonard Casban (1887–1917)

This article appeared in the July 6, 1916 edition of the Banbury Guardian newspaper.[1]

l casban prisoner
(Click on image to enlarge)

“Private L. Casban” refers to Leonard Casban, son of Samuel Clark (1851–1922) and Lydia (Harrup, ~1852–1924) Casban. Readers may recall that Samuel once worked in Meldreth as a Coprolite Digger, and Lydia worked in a worsted woolen mill when she was 8 years old.[2] Sometime before starting a family, Samuel adopted the Casban spelling of the surname.

Leonard was born November 6, 1887, in Croydon, Surrey, his family having moved there in 1879 or 1880. We know nothing of his childhood, except that in 1899 he was registered at the Beulah Road Boys’ School in Croydon.[3]

He enlisted in the British Army in 1907 for a six-year term.[4]

Enlistment 1907 p1
Leonard’s application for enlistment in the militia, August, 1907. (Click on image to enlarge)

The enlistment form shows that Leonard was initially accepted into the East Surrey Regiment, and was later assigned to the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (penciled onto the enlistment form as “Oxford Lt Infy 12-2-08”). It is with this latter unit that we find Private Casbon in the 1911 census, now stationed at Wellington Barracks in the Nilgiris district of India.[5]

Leonard Casban b1887 Detail of 1911 census, showing military personnel of the 1st Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry stationed at Wellington Barracks, NIlgiris district. (Click on image to enlarge)

With the onset of the first World War, the 1st Battalion of the “Ox and Bucks” was transferred from India to Mesopotamia (Iraq) in late 1914.[6] The British forces were quickly able to seize the city of Basra.[7] In 1915, the British forces began an advance towards Baghdad. After approaching within 25 miles of Baghdad, they were forced to retreat to Kut-al-Amara, and were then surrounded by Ottoman (Turkish) forces.[8]

The siege of Kut-al-Amara began in December, 1915. Unable to resupply, with food running out and weakened by disease, the British were forced to surrender on April 29, 1916.[9] Over 13,000 soldiers were taken prisoner, a humiliating defeat.[10]

Evening World 29Apr1916
Front page of The (New York) Evening World, 29 Apr 1916, describing the fall of Kut.[11] (Click on image to enlarge)

The prisoners were marched to captivity elsewhere in Iraq or Turkey. Thousands died during the march or while in captivity.[12] Private Casban was taken to Angora (now Ankara), Turkey.[13] Sadly, he did not survive, and he died on or about April 1, 1917.[14]

Leonard Casban b1887 Croydon POW report WWI
Unofficial report of Private Leonard Casban’s death in Angora (Ankara), Turkey. (Click on image to enlarge)

On this Veteran’s Day (Armistice Day or Remembrance Day in U.K. and other Commonwealth countries) we honor Leonard Casban’s service and sacrifice. Leonard was unmarried and left no descendants. However, at least five of his siblings survived to have children, so there are many descendants from his branch of the family today.

[1] “The Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry. Prisoners at Kut,” Banbury (Oxfordshire, England) Guardian, 6 Jul 1916, p. col. 3; online image, “British Newspapers,” findmypast (https://search.findmypast.com/bna/viewarticle?id=bl%2f0001523%2f19160706%2f026 : accessed 19 Nov 2016).
[2] Jon Casbon, “Give me an ‘a’ …,” 25 Nov 2016, blog post, Our Casbon Journey (https://casbonjourney.wordpress.com/2016/11/25/give-me-an-a/ : accessed 7 November 2017).
[3] School Admission Register, Beulah Road, Boys Department, p. 39 (penned), admission no. 2839, Casbon, Leonard, 1 Mar 1899; imaged as “National School Admission Registers & Log-Books 1870-1914”, database with images, findmypast (https://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbor%2fschoool%2fp3%2fgbor%2fschoool%2fp3%2f6734562 : accessed 7 November 2017) >image 49 of 78; citing Croydon Archives, ref. no. SCH15_2_4.
[4] “Attestation for the Militia or Reserve Division of the Militia,” Army form E. 504, no. 5496, L. Casban, 4th Bn East Surrey Regt, 14 Aug 1907; imaged as “British Army Service Records 1760-1915”, database with images, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbm%2fwo96%2f575%2f1336162 : accessed 18 November 2016); citing The National Archives, WO 96, box 575, record no. 297.
[5] 1911 England Census, Overseas Military, unnumbered page, line 27, Casban, Leonard (age 23), 1st Oxf & Bucks Lt Infty; imaged as “1911 Census of England and Wales,” database with images, findmypast (https://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1911%2frg14%2f34987%2f0551&parentid=gbc%2f1911%2frg14%2f34987%2f0551%2f27 : accessed 7 November 2017); citing [The National Archives], reference RG14PN34987 RD641 SD12 ED13 SN9999.
[6] “Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxfordshire_and_Buckinghamshire_Light_Infantry#cite_note-nam-4 : accessed 7 November 2017), rev. 16:07, 3 Nov 2017.
[7] “Mesopotamian campaign,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesopotamian_campaign : accessed 7 November 2017), rev. 14:56, 31 Oct 2017.
[8] “Mesopotamian campaign,” Wikipedia.
[9] “Mesopotamian campaign,” Wikipedia.
[10] Ross Davies, “The tragedy of Kut,” The Guardian, 19 Nov 2002; online archive (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/nov/20/iraq.features11 : accessed 7 November 2017).
[11] “Gen. Townshend Gives up his Force to Turkish Army after Siege of 5 Months,” The (New York) Evening World, 29 Apr 1916, p. 1; online image, Newspaper Archive (accessed through participating libraries: 7 November 2017).
[12] Davies, “The tragedy of Kut.”
[13] Report of prisoners’ deaths in Turkey, unnumbered page, List A., no. 8759, Pte. L. Casban; imaged as “Prisoners of War 1715-1945”, database with images, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbm%2fpow-galip%2f02125 : accessed 18 November 2016); citing The National Archives, ref. FO 383/336.
[14] “Soldiers died in the Great War 1914-1919,” database, findmypast (https://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbm%2fwwisd%2f0212097 : accessed 11 November 2016); citing The Naval and Military Press Ltd.

New Document Breaks through a Brick Wall

Earlier this year, I wrote a blog post about George Casbon, an orphan who was sent from England to Canada to live and work when he was 15 years old, under the auspices of Doctor Barnardo’s Homes.[1] I knew that George was born June 11, 1914, that his birth was registered in Croydon, Surrey, and that his mother’s maiden name was given as Casbon. This told me that George was probably born out of wedlock.

However, I was unable to connect George to the rest of the family tree, because I didn’t know his mother’s given name. I needed the actual birth registration to get that. Fortunately, the General Register Office (GRO), which is the central registry for all births, marriages and deaths in England, recently began a trial program in which portable document format (PDF) copies of original records can be purchased for a reasonable price. As an aside, anyone with British ancestors born between 1837 and 1916 or who died between 1837 and 1957, can look up the records on the GRO website at https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/indexes_search.asp, and can order copies of the records.

I ordered George’s birth record, and 5 days later, I received an email telling me that the PDF file was ready to download. Here’s what I received.

George C birth 1914
(Click on image to enlarge)

This document provides a wealth of information. Besides giving the date and location of George’s birth, it tells us that his mother’s name was Hilda Mary Casbon, that she was “a Domestic Servant of 140 Beckenham Road, Penge, U.D.[Urban District],” and that she lived at Y6 Eridge Road in Thornton Heath. The birth was registered June 24, 1914, at the West Croydon sub-district of the Croydon registration district. Since no father’s name is given, and George was given his mother’s surname, it is almost certain that George was born out of wedlock.

Hilda Mary Casbon is in my database, and this new information allows me to fill in some gaps in her life. Hilda Mary was baptized in Fowlmere, Cambridgeshire on October 9, 1887, the daughter of George (1846–1897) and Sarah (Pearse, abt. 1847–1912) Casbon.[2] George was the third son of my fourth great-uncle James Casbon, about whom I have written many posts.

Hilda’s early life was spent in Fowlmere, a small village and parish in southwestern Cambridgeshire, about 3 miles east of Meldreth. In the 1891 census, we see Hilda, along with her father, mother, brother Henry, sisters Olive, Maud, and Elsie, and a cousin, Lucy Pearce.[3]

George C b1847 Meld 1891 census foulmire
Detail from 1891 Census, Fowlmere, Cambridgeshire. (Click on image to enlarge)

In 1901 Hilda was living in  Fowlmere with her widowed mother, brother Henry, and two sisters.[4] Her mother’s occupation was listed as “charwoman,” suggesting that the family was living in reduced circumstances following their father George’s death.[5] Brother Henry was supplementing the family income as stockman on a farm.[6]

In the 1911 census, only Sarah and Hilda were living together, at the same address in Fowlmere, with Sarah still listed as a charwoman and Hilda’s occupation listed as “General (domestic).”[7] I believe this means Sarah was doing domestic work outside the home.

Based on George’s birth record, we now know that Hilda left Fowlmere sometime between 1911 and 1914 to work as a domestic servant in Penge, a suburb of south-east London. Perhaps she needed to leave Fowlmere to find a better source of income following her mother’s death in 1912. George’s birth is the last record I have of Hilda until her death in 1921 at the age of 33.[8] George would have been about seven years old when his mother died.

As is often the case, new answers lead to new questions. Did Hilda give George up for adoption soon after his birth, or were they only separated after her death? Was Hilda able to continue her work as a servant after George’s birth? Why did Hilda die? I could probably find records to answer some of these questions, but for now they will remain unanswered. At least we now know how George became an orphan, leading to his entry into Dr. Barnardo’s home and eventual emigration to Canada.

I’m happy that I was able to find George’s family, and to find that he is distantly related to me (third cousin, twice removed), as well as many of today’s living Casbons—especially the descendants of Hilda’s brothers and sisters. One brick wall down, many more to go!

[1] Jon Casbon, “George Casbon – A Canadian Mystery,” 18 Apr 2017, blog post, Our Casbon Journey (https://casbonjourney.wordpress.com/2017/04/18/george-casbon-a-canadian-mystery/ : accessed 26 October 2017).
[2] “Fowlmere Baptisms 1561 – 1994,” PDF extract, accessed through “Ancestor Finder,” Cambridge Family History Society (https://www.cfhs.org.uk/tokens/tokpub.cfm : accessed 26 October 2017) >Surname Casbon/Parish Fowlmere > Forename Hilda/Year 1887, baptism of Hilda Mary Casbon, 9 Oct 1887; citing Fowlmere parish registers.
[3] 1891 England Census, Hertfordshire, population schedule, Foulmere, p. 14, schedule 86, George Casbon; imaged as “1891 England, Wales & Scotland Census,” database with images, findmypast (https://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1891%2f1103%2f0153&parentid=gbc%2f1891%2f0008356302 : accessed 26 October 2017); citing [The National Archives], RG 12, piece 1103, folio 72.
[4] “1901 Census of England, Wales & Scotland,” database, findmypast (https://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1901%2f0009841671 : accessed 26 October 2017), entry for Sarah Casbon (age 53), HIgh St., Fowlmere, Hertfordshire; citing [The National Archives], RG 13, piece 1295, folio 53, p. 3; Royston registration district.
[5] “1901 Census of England, Wales & Scotland,”findmypast, database entry for Sarah Casbon, HIgh St., Fowlmere, Hertfordshire.
[6] “1901 Census of England, Wales & Scotland,”findmypast, database entry for George Casbon in household of Sarah Casbon, HIgh St., Fowlmere, Hertfordshire.
[7] 1911 England Census, Hertfordshire, population schedule, Fowlmere, High Street, schedule 26, Sarah Casbon; imaged as “1911 England, Wales & Scotland Census,” database with images, findmypast (https://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1911%2frg14%2f07557%2f0051&parentid=gbc%2f1911%2frg14%2f07557%2f0051%2f2 : accessed 6 October 2017); citing [The National Archives], census reference, RG14PN7557 RG78PN370 RD135 SD3 ED5 SN26.
[8] “Search the GRO [General Register Office] Online Index,” database, HM Passport Office (https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/indexes_search.asp : accessed 26 October 2017) >Casbon >Hilda >female >1921, Hilda Casbon (age 33), June quarter, 1921; Croydon registration district 2A/312.


New Documents: William of Littleport (d. 1699)

Today’s post is simply an announcement that I have attached a new document showing the descendants of William Caseborne of Littleport, who died in 1699. William is the common ancestor of the family I have called the “Peterborough Casbons,” as that is where many of William’s descendants settled in the 19th century. You will find a link to this report in the Documents section of the blog.

I have written a number of posts about this branch of the family: “How doth your garden grow?,” “Pleasure Gardens and the Temperence Movement,” “Stepping Back: Thomas Casborn of Littleport (~1732-1780),” “Two Children Drowned,” “A Family Outing,” “Origins: The Earliest Ancestors from Littleport,” and “Financial Difficulties.”

The report is privatized, meaning I have attempted to block the identities and personal information of living people, who are simply listed as “Living”_[Last Name]. Family members may contact me through this blog if they would like a non-privatized version of the report.


Littleport drawing
Littleport, Cambridgeshire street scene. Adapted from “Littleport Town Team,” Littleport Life

Introducing the Iowa Casbons! Part 2

Part 1 of this series brought us through the early years of George and Maud (Carpenter) Casbon’s marriage, and culminated with two major events: a fire that destroyed their home, and the death of George’s aunt, Emma (Casbon) Rigg.[1] Through the inheritance of Emma’s estate, George now owned his own farm in Geneseo Township, Tama County, Iowa.

The next decade in their lives saw the continued growth of their family and the rebuilding of their home. The children were born in this order: Robert Newell, August 16, 1911; Vilah, July 29, 1913; Josephine Esther (“Jo”), July 11, 1915; Genevieve Ruth (“Jen”), October 15, 1917; and their last child, Catherine Cleo (“Kate”), September 12, 1920.[2],[3],[4],[5],[6] With the three older children, Sylvester, Ira Raymond (“Buddy”) and Emma Elizabeth, there were eight children, ranging in age from newborn to fourteen years old.

Casbon George W and 4 kids
George with children, left to right: Sylvester, Emma, Robert, Buddy. Photo was probably
taken summer 1912. This must be the temporary home George built after Emma (Casbon)
Rigg’s home burned down January 1, 2010. Scanned image courtesy of Claudia Vokoun.

As to the new home, this article appeared in the Waterloo Evening Courier of November 11, 1915.[7]

Casbon G housewarming Waterloo Eve Courier 11 Nov 1915
(Click on image to enlarge)

George’s aunt Emma (Casbon) Riggs had a lot to say about how the new house should be built before she died in 1910. I might have more to say about this in a future post. The house is still standing. Here are current views of the house, from the Tama County Assessor’s office.[8]

House composite view (Click on photo to enlarge)

And here is a photograph of George, Maud and family, in front of the house, probably taken in the summer of 1918.

Casbon George and family in front of house
L to R: Sylvester, George, Robert, Emma, Genevieve, Maud, Vilah, Josephine.
Scanned image courtesy of Claudia Vokoun.

Absent from the photo is their second son, Ira Raymond (“Buddy”). Buddy died in December, 1918. He had a congenital heart condition, and succumbed to influenza, most likely the deadly flu pandemic that ravaged the world in 1918.[9] Given that he died in December, I can’t explain his absence from the photo; but I’m pretty sure I’ve dated the photo correctly based on the apparent age of the youngest child (Genevieve).

Tragedy struck the family once more when George and Maud’s third son, Robert Newell (named for George’s uncle Robert Rigg), was killed in a motorcycle accident October 2, 1936. He was on a cross-country motorcycle trip to the west coast when the fatal accident occurred in Nebraska.[10]

According to Claudia Vokoun, the economic depression of the 1930s was hard on the family, and they were forced to leave the farm.[11] By the mid-1930s most of the children were grown and/or married. George retired and sold the farm in 1935.[12]

Casbon George farm sale Creston News Advertiser 2Sep1935
(Click on image to enlarge)

Although George was reported to have spent the last 10 years of his life in Waterloo (see obituary, below), this is contradicted by the 1940 census, where we find him in Bremer County, Iowa, with Maud and youngest daughter Catherine.[13]

Casbon George 1940 US census Bremer Co IA
Detail of 1940 U.S. Census, Franklin Township, Bremer County, Iowa. (Click on image to enlarge)

The census also says that George was residing at the same place in 1935 (column 17). This must be where they relocated after selling the farm. The “U” in column 24 indicates that he was unable to work. According to the enumerators’ instructions, this code is only supposed to be used “for persons unable to work because of permanent disability, old age, or chronic illness.”[14] George was 65 at this point, so the reason was likely old age. The “H” in this column for Maud and Catherine indicate that they were engaged in housework.[15]

George died on February 24, 1944 in Waterloo, Iowa.[16]

George W Casbon death Iowa 1944
Obituary from the Waterloo Daily Courier, 25 Feb 1944. (Click on image to enlarge)

We learn from the obituary that he died from complications of a fall, and that he had been weakened previously by influenza. We also learn that George and Maud had been living at the home of their married daughter Josephine (Casbon) Kraft, along with daughters Genevieve and Catherine. Was this an indication of fiscal belt-tightening during World War 2?

After Genevieve was married in 1951, Catherine and Maud “became roommates in a little house over by Byrnes Park, Waterloo.”[17] Catherine later bought a small house on the outskirts of Waterloo, where she and Maud lived, and where Maud died on June 3, 1972.[18],[19]

Casbon Maude B Carpenter obit 1972 Waterloo Daily Courier
Obituary from the Waterloo Daily Courier, 5 Jun 1972.[20] (Click on image to enlarge)

Claudia Vokoun has many fond memories of Maud, and states, “I loved my Grandma. She was the only one that got excited with on Christmas mornings to see what Santa brought me.”[21]

Casbon GW family 1940s
Undated photo (late 1930s or early 1940s) of a family gathering. Maud & George
are sitting. Standing, left to right: Katie, Josephine, Vilah, Emma, Genevieve, Sylvester.
Scanned image courtesy of Claudia Vokoun.

We will hear more about the Iowa Casbons in future posts. Thanks again to Claudia for a wealth of information!

[1] Jon Casbon, “Introducing the Iowa Casbons! Part 1,” 5 Oct 17, Our Casbon Journey (https://casbonjourney.wordpress.com/2017/10/05/introducing-the-iowa-casbons-part-1/ : accessed 10 October 2017).
[2] “One Killed One Injured: Robert Casbon Meets Death in Motorcycle Accident and Glenn Clark Suffers Crushed Leg Last Friday,” (La Porte City, Iowa) Progress Review, 8 Oct 1936, p. 1, col. 6; online image, Newspaper Archive (accessed through participating libraries: 17 August 2017).
[3] “United States Social Security Death Index,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J1PD-NP6 : 20 May 2014), Vilah Casbon, 18 Mar 1996; citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, National Technical Information Service.
[4] “United States Social Security Death Index,” FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VS4X-TTL : 19 May 2014), Josephine E Gray, 05 Aug 2010.
[5] “Iowa, County Births, 1880-1935,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VRZB-VWW : 20 May 2016), Genevieve Casbon, 15 Oct 1917; citing Geneseo Township, Tama, Iowa, United States; county district courts, Iowa; FHL microfilm 1,763,983.
[6] “Iowa, County Births, 1880-1935,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:V4XH-YP4 : 20 May 2016), Catherine Cleo Casbon, 12 Sep 1920; citing Waterloo, Iowa, United States; county district courts, Iowa; FHL microfilm 1,561,083.
[7] “News and Notes of La Porte City,” Waterloo (Iowa) Evening Courier, 11 Nov 1915, p. 10, col. 1; online archive, Newspaper Archive (accessed through participating libraries: 4 October 2017).
[8] “Parcel no.,” Tama County Assessor (http://tama.iowaassessors.com/parcel.php?gid=177932 : accessed 10 October 2017).
[9] Tama County, Iowa, death certificate no. 86-01683, Ira R. Casbon, 18 Dec 1918; imaged as “Iowa, Tama County, death records, 1904-1929,” online images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS6V-LSMY-9?i=2874&cat=2558535 : accessed 10 October 2017), image 2875 of 3354; citing FHL microfilm 102,902,999; citing Iowa, Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics.
[10] “One Killed One Injured: Robert Casbon Meets Death in Motorcycle Accident and Glenn Clark Suffers Crushed Leg Last Friday.”
[11] Claudia Vokoun, “Notes: Bertha Maude Carpenter,” scanned page from a scrapbook compiled by Claudia Vokoun, August 2017; copy privately held by Jon Casbon.
[12] “14 Iowa Farms Change Hands,” Creston (iowa) News Advertiser, 2 Sep 1935, p. 6, col. 1; online image, Newspaper Archive (accessed through participating libraries: 10 October 2017).
[13] 1940 U.S. Census, Bremer County, population schedule, Franklin Township, p. 21 (stamped), enumeration district 9-3, sheet 1-A, household 3, Carbon George; imaged as “United States Census, 1940,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89M1-XNSZ?cc=2000219 : accessed 2 October 2017), image 1 of 19; NARA digital publication T627, RG 29, roll 1142.
[14] U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Abridged Instructions to Enumerators: Population (U.S. Government Printing Office, 1940); PDF download at “1940 Census Records,” National Archives (https://www.archives.gov/research/census/1940/instructions-to-enumerators.pdf : accessed 12 October 2017).
[15] U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Abridged Instructions to Enumerators.
[16] “Deaths – George W. Casbon.”
[17] Vokoun, Claudia, “Notes: Bertha Maude Carpenter.”
[18] Vokoun, Claudia, “Notes: Bertha Maude Carpenter.”
[19] “Metropolitan Deaths … Mrs. Maude B. Casbon,” Waterloo (Iowa) Daily Courier, 5 Jun 1972, p. 5, col. 1; online image, Newspaper Archive (accessed through participating newspapers: 16 August 2017).
[20] “Metropolitan Deaths … Mrs. Maude B. Casbon.”
[21] Vokoun, Claudia, “Notes: Bertha Maude Carpenter.”