On the Wing

Let’s have some fun today! This is a quiz for all my relatives with Porter County, Indiana roots. When you’re finished, leave a comment at the end and let me know how you did. I hope others will enjoy as well.

In 1956, the book This is Porter County, by John Drury, was published by the Inland Photo Company, of Chicago, Illinois.[1] The book contained historical information and maps, but its unique feature was the use of aerial photographs of the cities, towns, villages, and farmsteads in the county. The photographs were black and white, and low-resolution by today’s standards. They were printed using the half-tone (dots) technique. Like the earlier county histories that contained biographical sketches of many citizens, I can imagine that this book had a popular following with local residents, who could find photographs of their homes, along with those of their friends and neighbors, in its pages. The photographs from the book have been reproduced on the Porter County GenWeb website, Porter County, Indiana.[2]

Now, onto the quiz! Match the following names with the lettered photographs of their farms. Remember – these were their farms in 1956. Don’t go to the answers until you’ve made your selections.

Amos James Casbon
Floyd Sylvester Casbon
Harry James Casbon
Herbert Aylesworth Casbon
Loring Peter Casbon
Lynnet Marquart Casbon

Photos from This is Porter County, courtesy of Porter County, Indiana website (http://www.inportercounty.org/photos.html). The scanned images are copyright © property,
and cannot be used for commercial purposes. (Click on images to enlarge)

Before revealing the answers, I’ll say a little more about the author of This is Porter County. John Drury (1898–1972) was a journalist and author from Chicago. After starting his career in Los Angeles, he moved to back to Chicago, where he wrote for the Chicago Daily News. He specialized in historical writing, and wrote many articles about historic houses. He moved to Chesterton, Indiana, in the 1940s.[3] There he became a founding member, and honorary president, of the Chesterton-Duneland Historical Society.[4]

Click on Page 2 for the answers. (Click on back arrow if you need to go back.)


Creole Casbons

In an earlier post I introduced a large clan of Casbons who presently live, or whose ancestors lived in Louisiana. They were living in Louisiana by the late 1700s, well before any of my English ancestors. In that post, I speculated about their origins and made the statement, “hopefully a member of that family is doing research or will be motivated to do so.”[1]

Well, I’m happy to say that somebody has been doing research on that family. I was gathering data on the Louisiana Casbons in early February when I came across a book, titled Casborn Creoles of Lousiana: Legally Divided in Black and White, by Anisa Faciane Watts, MLIS, first published in 2017. A preview of the book was available on Google Books, and after reading the preview, I knew that I had to get a copy.[2] After a little more searching, I learned that it could be purchased from Lulu.com, an online self-publishing website. The website can be accessed here.

I received my copy of the book a little over a week ago. Since then, I’ve corresponded with the author several times. Here’s the cover.

Book cover
(Click on image to enlarge)

I’m really excited about this book and want to tell you more about it. Ms. Watts was born in Louisiana and now resides in Detroit. The book’s title is based on her mother’s maiden name, Casborn, and it traces the genealogy of that surname. Although, the spelling is slightly different, the surnames Casbon and Casborn have common origins in Louisiana, and should be considered as part of the same extended family. Both spellings of the name appear in the book.

Using a combination of traditional genealogical research and DNA test results, Ms. Watts has done some amazing work on her family’s origins. The fascinating result is that the Casbon/Casborn surname in Louisiana has origins from both Spain and France. Ms. Watts has traced one line of the family to Juan Casabon, born in Spain about 1690 (her eighth great grandfather).[3] One of her third great grandmothers is descended from this line. On the other hand, a man named Jean or John Marie Cazaubon emigrated to Louisiana from France in the 1830s.[4] He is a third great grandfather.

Descendants of these men married others with mixed ethnic and racial origins, including various European countries, North and West Africa, and Haiti (a mixture of African & French). This mixing of cultures and races encompasses the definition of Creole. The term doesn’t seem to have an exact meaning, but various definitions include being descendants of French or Spanish settlers, or born in the West Indies of African descent, whether they identify as white or black.[5] This distinguishes the Creoles from the Cajuns, who have an unmixed ancestry from France or Acadia (present-day Nova Scotia).[6] According to Ms. Watts, many of her ancestors (even before the American Civil War) were free men and women “of color.” None of her ancestors are known to have been slaves or former slaves.

The descendants of Juan Casabon and John Marie Cazaubon eventually settled in Plaquemines Parish, where they intermarried. I’ve never been to Plaquemines Parish, but it looks like a fascinating place, and I would love to visit someday.

Plaquemines mapPlaquemines Parish, Louisiana (outlined in red; Google Maps). (Click on image to enlarge)

You can see from the map that the northern border of the parish begins just below New Orleans, and the parish then extends south and east into the Gulf of Mexico, divided in two by the main channel of the Mississippi River. On the map it appears fragile and delicate. Flooding and hurricanes are a perennial threat.

The Casborn spelling seems to be more common in the male lineage of John Marie Cazaubon (French), while Casbon is predominant in the Juan Casabon (Spanish) line. Ms. Watts has done extensive research into both lines and written detailed listings of descendants in the book. Everyone with these surnames and roots in Louisiana would benefit from having this book.

What is of greater interest to me is the introductory material in the book, which takes up about 30 pages. This contains some fascinating background information on the history of Louisiana, important migrations, slave laws, racial history and politics, and definitions of important terms.

One particular discussion is of the “one drop rule,” the idea that a person with any ancestor of sub-Saharan African ancestry (i.e., “one drop” of black blood) was (and still is) considered black.[7] In the American South, this idea became incorporated into laws that legalized racial discrimination (“Jim Crow laws”). However, the rule has also been applied by those who identify as black to define their own identity or that of their children.[8]

A side effect of the one-drop rule was that it became advantageous for white or light-skinned people of mixed descent to “pass” as white people. Ms. Watts explains how some of the Louisiana Casbon/Casborns were able to pass as white. This is evident in various censuses over the years, where related families are classified as mulatto, black, Negro, or white. This phenomenon accounts for the second part of the book’s title, Legally Divided in Black and White.[9]

As a member of the Guild of One-Name Studies, I’m interested in all instances of the Casbon surname, not just those of English origin. I have a much better understanding now of those Casbons who have Louisiana roots. All of our stories reveal a unique and rich heritage, that hopefully helps us to have a better appreciation for who and what we are today.

[1] Jon Casbon, “The French Connection,” 9 February 2017, Our Casbon Journey (https://casbonjourney.wordpress.com/2017/02/09/the-french-connection/ : accessed 3 March 2018).
[2] “Casborn Creoles of Louisiana: Legally Divided in Black and White”, online preview, Google Books (https://books.google.com/books/about/Casborn_Creoles_of_Louisiana_Legally_Div.html?id=MDpLDwAAQBAJ : accessed 3 February 2018).
[3] Anisa Faciane Watts, MLIS, Casborn Creoles of Louisiana: Legally Divided in Black and White, 2d ed. (ZAP Publishing, 2018), p. 32.
[4] Watts, Casborn Creoles of Louisiana, p. 81.
[5] Watts, Casborn Creoles of Louisiana, p. 81. p.28.
[6] Watts, Casborn Creoles of Louisiana, p. 81. p.29.
[7] “One-drop rule,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-drop_rule : accessed 4 March 2018), rev. 3 Mar 18, 13:31.
[8] Susan Donaldson James, “Halle Berry Cites ‘One-Drop’ Rule in Battle Over Whether Her Daughter Is Black or White,” 9 Feb 2011, ABC News (http://abcnews.go.com/Health/halle-berry-cites-drop-rule-daughter-black-white/story?id=12869789 : accessed 4 March 2018).
[9] Watts, Casborn Creoles of Louisiana, p. 81. p.29.

An Incident in Greenwich

This piece appeared in The (London) Standard of April 12, 1871.[1]

London Std 12Apr1871
(Click on image to enlarge)

For the sake of easier reading, here’s a transcription:


Charges of Attempted Suicide.Thomas Casbon, a young man, describing himself as a nurseryman at Peterborough, was charged with attempting to commit suicide by throwing himself into the River Thames opposite Greenwich Hospital.
From the evidence of Police-serjeant 16 R, it appeared that on Saturday afternoon, between four and five o’clock, he found the prisoner near the Ship Tavern, Greenwich, water running from the leggings of his trousers, he having just been rescued from the river by a waterman, after jumping into it at high water. The prisoner was stupefied and benumbed by cold, and was conveyed to the Greenwich Union, where he was stripped and rubbed with warm cloth, and had remained there until that morning, when he was taken into custody and charged. On recovering consciousness the prisoner said he had looked at the river before plunging in, thinking he could swim across it.
The Prisoner, who appeared in a very weak condition, said, in reply to the charge, that he had no intention whatever of taking his own life. He had come by an excursion train from Peterborough to visit the Crystal Palace on Good Friday, and had there lost a friend who was with him. Owing to broken rest in attending to business previously and excitement occasioned by taking too much drink, he supposed he must have awoke on Saturday morning, wherever he slept, and wandered to Greenwich, not knowing where he was or what he was doing.
Mr. Maude inquired of the prisoner whether he had on any previous occasion become so suddenly bereft of reason, and also whether he had sufficient means to get back to Peterborough.
The Prisoner replied that his mind had never before been so affected. He had not sufficient money to pay his fare to Peterborough, but he had property of value about him sufficient to obtain it, and he was most anxious to get home.
Mr. Maude said he would take the prisoner’s assurance that he had no intention to drown himself, and ordered his discharge, but he advised him in future to abstain from too much intoxicating liquor.

This story obviously describes a disturbing incident in the life of Thomas Casbon. Who was Thomas? The story describes him as a young man and a nurseryman from Peterborough. There were two men named Thomas Casbon who might have fit this description in 1871; one was born in 1840 and the other in 1854. Fortunately, additional records pertaining to this incident exist – the admission and discharge register from the Greenwich Union, where Thomas was taken after being pulled out of the Thames.[2], [3]

Thomas C b1840 Pboro workhouse admission 1871  Greenwich Union discharge 11Apr1871
Detail from Greenwich Union admission & discharge register, April 1871. (Click on images to enlarge)

These records tell the same story as the news article, in abbreviated format. We can see that he was admitted on Saturday, April 8th at 4:50 p.m. His age is recorded as 32. He was admitted from G[reenwich] parish. The order to admit him was given by someone named Master. The Cause of Admission is Attempt to Drown Supposed Insane. His religious persuasion is Church [of England]. The remarks state that he was Brought by Police 16R from Dr. Forsyth. The discharge record only tells us that he was discharged on Tuesday, April 11th, one day before the news article appeared.

From the given age of 32 we can tell that this was the Thomas Casbon born in 1840.[4] It’s one year off from the birth year in my records, but there is no one else who could match this description. Thomas was the third child and second son of Thomas Casbon (~1807–1863), and the third generation of gardeners/nurserymen who eventually settled in Peterborough.

Thomas was married to Emily Cantrill, of London, in 1865.[5] They had two children: Charles T, born in 1866, and Edith Emily, born in 1868.[6], [7] Emily filed for divorce. alleging cruelty, in 1868.[8] Thomas was ordered to pay alimony and the judge ordered that the case be tried before a jury. I don’t know if the trial ever took place of if the divorce was finalized, but it is clear that the marriage was over. In the 1871 census, Emily and the two children were living with her parents in London.[9] Could the “broken rest in attending to business,” referred to in the newspaper article, have had something to do with his divorce? Might his “excitement occasioned by taking too much drink” have been the aftermath of an unsuccessful encounter with his estranged wife and children? Obviously, this is speculation on my part, but I think it could explain the events that followed.

Going back to the article, there are interesting tidbits of information that would have been common knowledge to the readers of the newspaper, but might be unfamiliar to us today.

First, we see from the title and other content that Thomas was brought up on charges of attempted suicide. The fact is, suicide was considered a crime in England until 1961.[10] Those who attempted suicide could be prosecuted and imprisoned. Under old English laws, a suicide victim would be buried at a crossroads (not in a church yard), and their property declared forfeited to the crown.[11] However, prosecutions were rare, and juries frequently brought in a verdict of “temporary insanity” as a means of avoiding punishment.[12], [13] Rather than considering him insane, it appears that the judge took Thomas’ word that he had not intended to kill himself.

I thought it was interesting that the police sergeant was referred to by the number “16R.” It turns out that this was his collar number, with the “R” designating the Greenwich police division.[14], [15]

A number of places are mentioned in the article. These include the River Thames, the Greenwich Hospital, the Ship Tavern, and the Greenwich Union. I’ve marked some of these on an old map of London (you’ll need to click on it to see it clearly).[16]

Greenwich detail map 1869 w markings
Detail of Ordnance Survey Map Essex LXXIII. Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (https://maps.nls.uk/index.html) under Creative Commons license. (Click on image to enlarge)

Since the story says Thomas threw “himself into the River Thames opposite Greenwich Hospital,” I’ve marked the north side of the Thames with a star, across from the “Royal Hospital,” shown on the map. The Thames must have been very cold in early April. The Ship Tavern, where the police sergeant found Thomas, is circled, just west of the hospital. The tavern was well known because it was the site of many “whitebait ministerial dinners” held at the end of Parliamentary sessions.[17]

The Greenwich Union, where Thomas was admitted for three days, was a large institution, supported by local taxes, to house the poor, infirm, and elderly.[18] This was located about 8/10ths of a mile east of the Ship Tavern. Thomas was probably admitted to the infirmary, which included wards for the insane.[19]

Thomas related that he had come to London to visit the Crystal Palace. This location would have been well-known to every Londoner. The Crystal Palace was originally built in Hyde Park to house the Great Exhibition of 1851.[20] The structure contained “the greatest area of glass ever seen in a building, and astonished visitors with its clear walls and ceilings that did not require interior lights.”[21] After the exhibition, the Crystal Palace was relocated to Sydenham Hill in South London, where it became a major attraction, featuring fountains, exhibits, entertainment, an amusement park, and sporting events.[22] It was finally destroyed by fire in 1936.[23]

Crystal Palace litho1852
The Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, 1851, from Dickinson’s Comprehensive Pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851 (London: Dickinson Brothers, 1852); online image, Internet Archive (https://archive.org/details/Dickinsonscompr1 : accessed 24 February 2018). (Click on image to enlarge)

Crystal Palace was located some five miles southwest of where Thomas was found in Greenwich. This makes me wonder how he got from there to the bank of the Thames opposite the Royal Hospital. It seems unlikely that he could have done this in his drunken state, so I suspect that the business he had attended to before he started drinking took place on the north side of the Thames.

What happened to Thomas after this incident? I’m afraid that is a mystery. It turns out that the 1871 newspaper article is the last mention of Thomas being alive that I have been able to locate. His name does not appear in Peterborough directories of 1876 or 1877. He is absent from the 1881 or later censuses (by coincidence, the 1871 census was taken just a few days before his trip to London). His death is not registered.

The only record I have been able to find is the National Calendar of Probates from 1900. This states that Thomas Casbon “of the Cathedral-precincts Peterborough nurseryman died in or since May 1887” (my emphasis), and names his son, Charles Wheeley Casbon, as administrator of the estate. His estate was valued at 67 pounds, 3 shillings – a paltry sum.[24] The fact that an exact date of death is not given and that Thomas’ estate was not probated until 13 years after the presumed year of his death is unusual, and leads me to believe that his whereabouts were known until May 1887; but then he either disappeared without a trace, or his body was not found until a later date. Interestingly, his wife, Emily, is listed as married in the 1881 census, and widowed in 1891.[25], [26]

Maybe one of his descendants, if there are any, knows the rest of the story. I would love to hear it!

[1] “Greenwich,” The (London) Standard, 12 April 1871, p. 7, col. 5; online image, The British Newspaper Archive (https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/BL/0000183/18710412/053/0007 : accessed 24 September 2016).
[2] “London, England, Workhouse Admission and Discharge Records, 1659-1930,” database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/60391/31537_214606-00154 : accessed 20 February 2018), images 155-6 of 388, Thomas Casbon, admitted 8 Apr 1871, Greenwich Union; citing Board of Guardians records held by the London Metropolitan Archives.
[3] “London, England, Workhouse Admission and Discharge Records, 1659-1930,” (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/60391/31537_214606-00157 : accessed 20 February 2018), image 158 of 388, Thomas Casbon, discharged 11 Apr 1871, Greenwich Union; citing London Metropolitan Archives.
[4] “England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008”, database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2NS3-95C : accessed 5 August 2016), Thomas Casbon, 1st qtr, 1840, St Ives (Huntingdonshire), vol. 14/211, line 9; citing findmypast (http://www.findmypast.com : 2012); citing General Register Office, Southport.
[5] “England and Wales Marriage Registration Index, 1837-2005,” database, FamilySearch https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2D7G-RM1 : accessed 22 September 2016), Thomas Casbon, 2d qtr, 1865, Pancras, London. 1865, quarter 2, vol. 1B, p. 11; from “England & Wales Marriages, 1837-2005,” database, findmypast; citing General Register Office.
[6] “England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2X9G-QWX : accessed 24 February 2018), Charles W Casbon, 3d qtr, 1866, Peterborough, Northampton, vol. 3B/211, line 314; from “England & Wales Births, 1837-2006,” database, findmypast; citing General Register Office.
[7] “England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2XQ9-1PP : accessed 24 February 2018), Edith Emily Casbon, 2d qtr, 1868, Pancras, London, vol. 1B/168, line 327; from “England & Wales Births, 1837-2006,” database, findmypast; citing General Register Office.
[8] “England & Wales, Civil Divorce Records, 1858-1916,” database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/2465/40243_612057_1776-00000 : accessed 24 February 2018), wife’s petition, Emily Casbon, 1868; citing The National Archives, J77/84/787, Kew.
[9] “1871 Census of England, Wales & Scotland,” database with images, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1871%2f0001569724 : accessed 31 March 2017), Emily Casbone (age 25) in household of Samuel W Cantrill, London, St. Pancras Crescent; citing [The National Archives], RG 10, piece 235, folio 15, p. 23.
[10] “Suicide Act 1961,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_Act_1961 : accessed 20 February 2018), rev. 11 Feb 18, 12:57.
[11] Ernest Hart, ed., “‘Unsound Mind’ Verdicts on Suicide,” British Medical Journal, 1892, Vol. 2, 22 Oct, pp. 909-10; online image, Google Books (https://books.google.com/books?id=VIpMAQAAMAAJ : accessed 24 February 2018).
[12] Gerry Holt, “When suicide was illegal,” 3 Aug 2011, BBC News (http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-14374296 : accessed 21 February 2018).
[13] Hart, ed., “’Unsound Mind’ Verdicts on Suicide,” British Medical Journal,” 1892; Google Books.
[14] “London Police – Family History Inquiries,” History by the Yard (http://www.historybytheyard.co.uk/family_history.htm : accessed 20 February 2018).
[15] “History of the Metropolitan Police Service,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Metropolitan_Police_Service : accessed 20 February 2018), rev. 18 Feb 18, 17:47.
[16] Map, Essex LXXIII (Southampton: Ordnance Survey Office, 1870-82, six-inch to the mile; online image, National Library of Scotland (http://maps.nls.uk/view/102342032# : accessed 19 February 2018).
[17] “Ship Tavern, River Front, Greenwich, c. 1860,” Ideal Homes:a History of South-East London Suburbs (http://www.ideal-homes.org.uk/greenwich/assets/galleries/central-greenwich/ship-tavern-1860 : accessed 19 February 2018).
[18] “Workhouse,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workhouse : accessed 21 February 2018), rev. 21 Feb 18, 12:15.
[19] “Greenwich, Kent, London,” The Workhouse: The story of an institution (http://www.workhouses.org.uk/Greenwich : accessed 20 February 2018).
[20] “The Crystal Palace,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Crystal_Palace#Relocation_and_redesign : accessed 20 February 2018), rev. 18 Feb 2018, 03:11.
[21] “The Crystal Palace,” Wikipedia.
[22] Gary Holland, “Crystal Palace: A History,” 24 Sep 14, BBC Home (http://www.bbc.co.uk/london/content/articles/2004/07/27/history_feature.shtml : accessed 21 February 2018).
[23] “The Crystal Palace,” Wikipedia.
[24] “England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966”, database with images, Ancestry Library Edition (accessed through participating libraries: accessed 27 September 2016), Casbon, Thomas, 1900, died in or since May 1887; citing Principal Probate Registry, London.
[25] “1881 Census of England, Wales & Scotland,” database with images, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1881%2f0006540493 : accessed 31 March 2017), E Casbon in household of S W Cantrill, Middlesex, Hornsey, 17 Ravenstone Rd; citing [The National Archives], RG 11, piece 1374, folio 17, p. 28.
[26] “1891 Census of England Wales & Scotland,” database with images, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1891%2f0008037559 : accessed 31 March 2017), Emily Casbon in household of Charles Casbon, Hornsey, Middlesex, 6 Alexandra Rd; citing [The National Archives], RG 12, piece 1059, folio 130, p. 51.

A Poet in the Family

Most of the books that were in our house when I was growing up seem to have ended up at my father’s mountain retreat. I was there (via snowshoes!) earlier this month, and came upon a book that I had not seen in a number of years. I remember seeing this book as a child and thinking that we had a famous author in the family.

book cover
(Click on image to enlarge)

The book was published by Vantage Press, New York, in 1956. Vantage, founded in 1949, was described as the largest vanity press in the U.S., until they went out of business in 2012.[1], [2] A vanity press is “a printing house that specializes in publishing books for which the authors pay all or most of the cost.”[3] So, maybe the author wasn’t famous, but I still think it’s pretty neat that one of my relatives published a book of poetry.

At the time, I didn’t realize that she was my great aunt, Alice “Belle” (Fryar, 1903–1986) Casbon.  In researching this post, I wanted more details, so I contacted Belle’s son, Dave (my 1st cousin, once removed), to see what he remembered about it. Dave was a teenager when the book came out. He says he remembers it well. “She did most of the promoting herself with help of friend Mrs. Carroll Sievers,” recalls Dave. She arranged appearances with women’s groups; Mrs Sievers would recite the poems, and slides taken by a friend and amateur photographer would be shown as illustrations. Here are a couple of news articles I found about her book promotion events.[4], [5]

combined Vidette articles top
(Click on image to enlarge)

Dave believes that she sold 1000–1200 copies of the book (at $2.00 each), “which wasn’t all that bad for poetry in the 50s.” Belle made the front page of the local newspaper when the book came out.[6] It must have been quite a moment for her!

Casbon Belle Fryar Vidette 12 Oct 1956b
(Click on image to enlarge)

Here are a couple of the poems from the book:

I view
Mountains lofty,
And myriad of hue;
Misty purple summits
Of hope,
A golden slope
Of courage,
And the good green earth
Of faith.
What grandeur
The days bring,
When I can
See at any time
The royal colors
Of a king.

Life is a symphony,
Music written by a Master.
Learn to play it skillfully
Each day;
Let no harsh dissonance
Mar the exquisite melody;
Play a gay tune, a sweet tune,
Play a happy roundelay.
If you take the high notes
Or the low notes,
Strike the chords tenderly
Every day

 The inside flap (probably written by the publisher) describes the book in this way.

Here is a poet who truly sees life as a symphony-“music written by a Master.” For Alice B. Casbon’s ear is attuned to the hush at dawn, the melody of bird voices, the rustle of trees, the whisper of the wind, and the lovely organ notes of faith. Loved familiar topics: company for dinner, a violet’s winsome appeal, Autumn’s blaze of color, Christmas lights, a daughter’s graduation—all are sung with a lilt, a gentle, pleasing, heart-whole warmth, and with bright-hued imagery. These little poems express the author’s inmost thoughts: a very real faith in God as Comforter, as Guide, whose “Lo, I am with you always,” attests to His ever-present love; reflections upon country, home, family, friends; upon the beauty and wonder of nature-and an abiding gratitude for all. So Much of Beauty will bring you a new awareness, a new joy in simple, ordinary things. With Mrs. Casbon you will agree that “there’s good all around us, if we just think that way.”

Belle was born as Alice Belle Fryar, 1903, in Wanatah, Indiana, to Robert Dallas and Belvia (Carpenter) Fryar.[9] She received a two-year teaching degree from Valparaiso University in 1921 or 1922 and then taught school in Wanatah until her marriage to Lynnet Casbon in 1934.[10] Lynnet (1899–1983) was the youngest son of my great-grandfather, Lawrence L. (1865–1950) and Kate (Marquardt, 1868–1959) Casbon.

According to Dave, this was the only book she published. Now it is a treasured item that gives us an insight into her outlook on life. I’ll close this salute to Belle with her photo from the back cover of the book.

back cover photo

[1] Edwin McDowell, “More Authors Turn to Vanity Presses,” New York Times, 26 May 1982; html edition (http://www.nytimes.com/1982/05/26/garden/more-authors-turn-to-vanity-presses.html : accessed 11 February 2018).
[2] Jim Milliot, “Vantage Press Closes,” Publishers Weekly, 19 Dec 2012; html edition (https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/financial-reporting/article/55199-vantage-press-closes.html : accessed 11 February 2018).
[3] “vanity press,” n.d., Dictionary.com Unabridged (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/vanity-press : accessed 13 February 2018).
[4] “Author of Poetry Book Addresses C.H.I. Club,” The (Valparaiso, Indiana) Vidette-Messenger, 19 Aug 1957, p. 3, col. 5; online image, Newspaper Archive (accessed through participating libraries: accessed 11 February 2018).
[5] “Local Poetess to Have Radio Interview,” The Vidette-Messenger, 20 Nov 1956; Newspaper Archive (accessed 11 February 2018).
[6] Betsy MacFie, “Book of Poetry Will Be Published in Week,” The Vidette-Messenger, 12 October 1956, p. 1, col. 4; Newspaper Archive (accessed 11 February 2018).
[7] Alice B Casbon, so much of beauty (New York: Vantage Press, 1956), p. 40.
[8] Casbon, so much of beauty, p. 47.
[9] Indiana, Department of Health, death certificate no. 86-815427, Alice Belle Casbon, 30 Apr 1986, Valparaiso, Porter County; imaged as ” Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899-2011,” database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/60716/44494_351920-00433 : accessed 11 February 2018); citing Indiana Archives and Records Administration; Indianapolis, death certificates, 1986, microfilm roll 06.
[10] Personal communication, email from Dave Casbon [e-address for private use], 6 Feb 18, to Jon Casbon [e-address for private use].

Four Generations Together, 1955

After some fairly heavy-duty research and blogging about the Chatteris Casbons, I’m ready for something a bit lighter.

Thanks to cousin (fourth, once removed) Mark Casbon, for contributing these photos and allowing me to share them with you.

Baby Mark V Casbon 1956 Left to right: James C Casbon, Mark Casbon, Amos J Casbon, Vernon L Casbon.
Photo courtesy of Mark Casbon. (Click on image to enlarge)

This photo is a treasure! It shows four generations, beginning with Amos James Casbon (1869–1956), Vernon Lloyd Casbon (1904–1980), James Carroll Casbon (1930–1994), and baby Mark Casbon (b. 1955). Vernon was Amos and Carrie (Aylesworth, 1873–1958) Casbon’s third child and second son. James was Vernon’s third child and second son from his first marriage, to Lucille Frame (1902–1935). James was married to Shirley (Rust), and Mark was their second child.

We can tell that the photo was taken only a few months after Mark’s birth. I think I’ve been able to date it precisely, thanks to this social news column in the Valparaiso Vidette-Messenger that kept track of all the comings and goings in Boone Grove, Indiana.[1]

Vidette 25 Nov 1955 p10 col 3
(Click on image to enlarge)

The article is dated Friday, November 25, 1955 (about 2 months after Mark was born). It tells us that Amos, Vernon, James and his son (presumably Mark), along with a number of other family members, were all present at Amos’ home the preceding Sunday, which would have been November 20th. The “Boone Grove and Vicinity” column was a regular feature in the Vidette-Messenger. There are many issues of the column that show either Vernon or James visiting at Amos’ home, but this is the only one I found that shows them all together. I wonder if everyone was there to see the new baby? What do you think – does Mark look like he could be about two months old? How about that hair!

Amos looks very relaxed, like he might have just come in from doing chores. Vernon looks relaxed as well – a proud grandfather! He’s dressed like the businessman he was. His 1980 obituary reports that “he was vice-president and general manager of Coca-Cola Bottling Co. here [Plymouth, Indiana] and was associated with the company for 53 years.”[2] James looks pretty serious, or maybe just tired and dazed with a newborn in the house.

The photo looks like it might have been professionally processed, with the periphery faded out. I really like the wallpaper. Do any family members recognize it?

Here is another photo from Mark, showing Vernon on horseback, firing a pistol. Vernon is on the right. The other man is unidentified.

Casbon Vernon L on R horseback N Dakota date unknown
Photo courtesy of Mark Casbon. (Click on image to enlarge)

The date and location of the photograph are unknown, but Mark thinks it was taken in North Dakota. Vernon looks like he might be in his late teens or early twenties, so it was probably taken in the early 1920s. The horses look like they’re not too happy about the shooting!

Thanks again to Mark. I welcome the gift of old photos. They help to bring Our Casbon Journey to life.

UPDATE: I’ve written about George Casbon of Canada in two posts: “George Casbon – A Canadian Mystery,” and “New Document Breaks through a Brick Wall.” George was one of some 130,000 children sent to British Commonwealth countries for resettlement, beginning in the 1850s and lasting into the 1970s.[3],[4] An effort to recognize the contributions of these children to Canada’s heritage culminated last week (Wednesday, February 7, 2018) in a unanimous vote by the Canadian Parliament to declare September 28th of every year as British Home Child Day.[5] It’s nice to know that George’s life will be commemorated in this way.

[1] Mrs. Arthur Rampke, “Boone Grove and Vicinity,” Valparaiso (Indiana) Vidette-Messenger, 25 Nov 1955, p. 10, col. 3; online image, Newspaper Archive (accessed through participating libraries : 10 February 2018).
[2] “Obituaries – Vernon L Casbon,” Kokomo (Indiana) Tribune, 12 Dec 1980, p. 7, col. 3; online image, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/2673086/ : accessed 10 February 2018).
[3] “Child Migration History,” Child Migrants Trust (http://www.childmigrantstrust.com/our-work/child-migration-history/ : accessed 17 April 2017).
[4] “Barnardo’s Children,” p. 8, PDF download, Barnardo’s (http://www.barnardos.org.uk/barnardo_s_children_v2.pdf : accessed 17 April 2017).
[5] “British Home Child Day, Sept. 28, enshrined nationally,” Nation Valley News (Chesterville, Ontario, Canada), 9 Feb 2018 (https://nationvalleynews.com/2018/02/09/british-home-child-day-sept-28-enshrined-nationally/ : accessed 10 February 2018).

“Gay Girl,” the Story of Harry and Kate

This story doesn’t have a happy ending.

In my last post, introducing the “Chatteris Casbons,” I made brief mention of 13-year old Harry Casbon in the home of his grandmother, Emma Allpress, in 1881.[1]

Copy of Emma Harry detail 1881
Detail from 1881 census, Chatteris, Cambridgeshire. (Click on image to enlarge)

After considerable effort, I found Harry in the 1871 census, also living with his grandmother Emma. The “considerable effort” comes from the fact that the census entry is among the most badly misspelled that I have ever seen.[2]

Emma Allpress b abt 1825 Somersham 1871 census Chatteris
Detail from 1871 census, Chatteris. (Click on image to enlarge)

This record was transcribed as “Emma Trep,” with daughter Emma, son John, grandson Henry Skele, and son Lester Seklen.” I interpret the spelling of Emma’s surname as “Press,” with the last two letters “fs” being the typical way to write “ss” at the time. The census enumerator has left off “All” from Allpress. How he got Skele and Seklen out of Casbon is a mystery. (Hint to fellow researchers: when a surname search fails to find someone, try searching again with pertinent facts but leave out the surname. In this case, a search for “Harry,” born 1866-1867 in York, residing in Chatteris, yielded the 1871 census for Henry Skele)

As in the 1881 census, “Henry’s” birthplace is listed as York. The names Harry and Henry tend to be used interchangeably in records. There is little doubt that Harry and Henry in these two records are the same person.

I wanted to know more about Harry. Since he was with his grandmother in both censuses, it seems likely that she was raising him. If so, why? Based on his age in both censuses, he would have been born in 1867 or 68. Who were his parents? Emma had three children from her first marriage to John Casbon (~1818­–1848): Lester (1841­–1921), Sarah Ann (1844­–?), and John (1846­–1931).[3]  I could not find a record of Harry (or Henry) born to any of them in the 1860s.

Harry’s birthplace only added to the mystery. York (in North Yorkshire) is some 113 miles away from Chatteris. None of my records placed any of Emma’s children in Yorkshire. On the other hand, my records are incomplete. Any of the three could have been in York in about 1867.

I needed to find some kind of records of Harry’s birth. An initial search told me that a birth was registered for Harry Casboine in York, 1867.[4] This was a promising lead. Then I was able to find Harry’s baptismal record.[5]

Casbon Harry bp 1867 York Detail from baptismal records, 1867, parish of Holy Trinity Micklegate, York, Yorkshire.
(Click on image to enlarge)

We can see that Harry Casbon was baptized on July 20, 1867. His mother’s name was Kate Casbon, single woman. No father’s name is given. Who was Kate Casbon? If Emma Allpress was Harry’s grandmother, then Kate must have been Emma’s daughter. But, there is no record of a daughter named Kate being born to John and Emma Casbon. The only daughter on record is Sarah Ann, who disappears from census records after 1861.

A search for Kate in census records turned up a startling discovery. I found this entry in the 1871 census of Bradford, Yorkshire.[6]

Kate C 1871 census Bradford
Detail from 1871 census, Bradford, Yorkshire. (Click on image to enlarge)

We see Kate Casborne, living in the home of Clara Brandon on Wharf Street in Bradford, Yorkshire. Kate is 25 years old and unmarried. Her birthplace is recorded as Chatteris, Cambridgeshire. Clara Brandon’s occupation is “Gay Girl,” and Kate’s is written as “do,” meaning ditto. You’ll also notice that two men, “NK” – names not known – were present in the house. If you haven’t already guessed, Gay Girl was a euphemism for prostitute.[7]

Is she Harry’s mother and Emma’s daughter? This record would explain why Harry was born in York. In the 4 years between Harry’s birth and the 1871 census, his mother could have easily moved from York to Bradford, a distance of about 30 miles. Kate’s birthplace of Chatteris doesn’t quite make sense, because Emma’s children were born in Colne, and she didn’t move to Chatteris until sometime between 1851 and 1861. But Colne is quite close to Chatteris (about 6 miles), and Kate could have easily listed her “home town” instead of her birth town on the census. Kate’s age of 25 in the census would give her a birth year of 1845 or 1846. Why can’t I find birth records for her, in Colne, Chatteris, or anywhere else in England? Is Kate her real name?

My questions were answered a few days ago, when I received an email containing additional information about Harry. I had been unable to trace Harry in any census records beyond the 1881 census, so I looked for death records instead. An online search told me that the death of Henry Casburn, age 14, had been recorded in the North Witchford registration district in 1881.[8] The North Witchford district includes Chatteris, along with other nearby parishes. Was this our Harry? I ordered a copy of the actual death registration, and this is what arrived in my email.[9]

Casburn Henry death reg 1881 Chatteris
Death registration for Henry Casburn, 18 Jun 1881, Chatteris, Cambridgeshire. (Click on image to enlarge)

This shows that Henry Casburn, 14 years old, died at Slade End, Chatteris, on June 18, 1881. Henry was the “son of Sarah Ann Casburn, domestic servant.” Cause of death was “Tabes Mesenterica.” The informant was “Emma Allpress Grandmother.” Although not shown, he died on his birthday.[10]

It all came together. Harry was Sarah Ann’s son, and Sarah Ann was Kate. Emma raised Harry because Sarah Ann/”Kate,” an unwed mother, was working the streets as a prostitute.

As satisfying as it is to solve the puzzle of Harry’s birth, the underlying story is a very sad reflection of the times. Why did this happen? Although we can’t know the exact reasons, we can make some reasonable guesses.

The Casbon/Allpress household must have been under constant financial strain. 23-year old Emma (Taylor) Casbon became a widow, with 3 small children, ages 2, 4, and 6, in 1848.[11] She married John Allpress, an agricultural labourer, in 1850.[12] By 1861, she had four new daughters, the oldest being 10 years old and already working as an agricultural labourer herself.[13] Emma’s husband ,John, was not in the house in 1861; he was working on a farm in Somersham, about 5 miles from Chatteris.[14] The household could probably not support the three older children from Emma’s first marriage. They were not in the home in 1861, and were presumably working elsewhere.

What happened to Sarah Ann? Her 1861 census entry only lists her as a “spinster” (an unmarried woman), and a visitor in another household.[15] She might have become a domestic servant – that was very common for lower class girls. But if she was working as a servant and became pregnant, she almost certainly would have been sacked, and left with few options. Like the servant Ethel Parks in Downton Abbey, her dire situation could have driven her to work as a prostitute.[16]

On the other hand, the scenario above might reflect a stereotypical view of Victorian life and morals, and may not be the only possibility. It’s also possible that Sarah Ann chose this life as a better alternative compared to the harsh working conditions of the time. One author writes, “In actuality, the seldom-voiced truth was that in comparison to other occupations, prostitution was a leisured and profitable trade, by which women improved their circumstances.”[17] There is simply not enough information to know what led to Sarah Ann’s situation.

I don’t know what ultimately happened to Sarah Ann. After the 1871 “Gay Girl” census, I have lost track of her. I haven’t been able to find definitive census, marriage, or death records. We can only hope that things went well for her.

But we already know that things didn’t go well for Harry. He died from tabes mesenterica,  or “tuberculosis of the mesenteric and retroperitoneal lymph nodes” (from Latin tabes, a wasting away).[18] “Until the latter part of the 19th century it was a diagnosis frequently employed to cover a group of cases in children characterized by malnutrition, swelling of the abdomen, and frequent copious stools.”[19] Tuberculosis was common and generally incurable in the 19th century. Whether Harry’s condition was tied to his living situation, or just bad luck, is impossible to say.

I don’t have a good way to wrap up this story, other than to say that life wasn’t easy for many in Our Casbon Journey. I hope by telling the story we can have a better understanding of our heritage and of the struggles endured by our ancestors.

[1] “1881 Census of England,” database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7572/CAMRG11_1686_1691-0638 : accessed 25 January 2018), Harry Casbon in household of Emma Allpress, Cambridgeshire, Chatteris, Bridge St. schedule 35; citing The National Archives RG 11/1689/35/7.
[2] “1871 Census of England,” database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7619/CAMRG10_1608_1610-0230 : accessed 25 January 2018), Emma Trep (age 48), Cambridgeshire, Chatteris, Slade End, schedule 52; citing The National Archives, RG 10/1609/34/8.
[3] Jon Casbon, “Chatteris,” 31 Jan 2018, Our Casbon Journey (https://casbonjourney.wordpress.com/2018/01/31/chatteris/ : accessed 4 February 2018).
[4] “England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2X3J-DZS : accessed 20 January 2018), Harry Casboine, 1867; from “England & Wales Births, 1837-2006,” database, findmypast (http://www.findmypast.com : 2012); citing Birth Registration, York, Yorkshire, England, citing General Register Office, Southport, England.
[5] “Yorkshire Baptisms,” database with images, findmypast (https://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbprs%2fyorkshire%2f007569090%2f00240 : accessed 20 January 2018), image 109 of 117, Harry Casbon, 20 Jul 1867, Yorkshire, York, Holy Trinity Micklegate, p. 189, no. 1506; citing parish records; citing Borthwick Institute for Archives, University of York.
[6] “1871 England Census,” Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7619/WRYRG10_4460_4463-0520?pid=25975371 : accessed 20 January 2018), entry for Kate Casborne in household of Clara Brandon, Yorkshire, Bradford, Wharf St, schedule 133; citing The National Archives, RG 10/4462/83/23.
[7] “Ex-French Emperor in 1871 Census,” 21 Mar 2005, para. 10; online archive, BBC News (http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/uk_news/4367997.stm : accessed 31 January 2018).
[8] “England & Wales Deaths 1837-2007”, database, findmypast (https://search.findmypast.com/record?id=bmd%2fd%2f1881%2f2%2faz%2f000054%2f281 : accessed 25 January 2018), Henry Casburn, 2d qtr, 1881, North Witchford, vol. 3B/840.
[9] England, death registration (photocopy) for Henry Casburn, died 18 Jun 1881; registered 18 Jun 1881, North Witchford district 9D/15/59, Chatteris sub-district, Cambridgeshire; General Registry Office, Southport.
[10] England, birth registration (photocopy) for Harry Casboine, born 18 Jun 1867; registered 20 Jul 1867, York registration district 9D/15/332, Micklegate sub-district, Yorkshire; General Register Office, Southport.
[11] “England and Wales Death Registration Index 1837-2007,” database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2NTN-CPR : accessed 4 January 2018), John Casborn, 1848, 1st quarter, St Ives, Huntingdonshire, vol. 14:178, line 148.
[12] “England and Wales Marriage Registration Index, 1837-2005,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2CHM-XGY : 13 December 2014), Emma Caseby, 1850; from “England & Wales Marriages, 1837-2005,” database, findmypast (http://www.findmypast.com : 2012); citing 1850, 2d qtr, vol. 14/ 303, St. Ives, Huntingdonshire, England, General Register Office, Southport, England.
[13] “1861 Census of England,” database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/8767/camrg9_1038_1044-0896 : accessed 25 January 2018), Emma Allpress, Cambridgeshire, Chatteris, Slade End, schedule 51; citing The National Archives, RG 9/1043/34/8.
[14] “1861 Census of England,” Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/8767/HUNRG9_974_977-0728 : accessed 20 January 2017), John Allpress in the household of Frederick Watson, Huntingdonshire, Somersham, Margett’s Farm, line 5, schedule 193; citing The National Archives, RG 9/ 977/40/35.
[15] “1861 Census of Engand, Wales & Scotland,” database with images, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1861%2f0012553059 : accessed 11 November 2016), entry for Sarah Ann Casborn in household of Martha Ann Moor, Cambridgeshire, Grantham, Spittlegate, Back Street, schedule no. 90; citing [The National Archives], RG 09/2351/90/17.
[16] Dr Brooke Magnanti, “Downton Abbey’s treatment of sex workers rings true today,” 5 Nov 2012, The Telegraph, html edition (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/sex/9652123/Downton-Abbeys-treatment-of-sex-workers-rings-true-today.html : accessed 8 February 2018).
[17] Jan Marsh, “Sex & Sexuality in the 19th Century,” n.d., para. 6, The Victoria and Albert Museum (http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/s/sex-and-sexuality-19th-century/ : accessed 9 February 2018).
[18] Stedman’s Medical Dictionary Illustrated, 23d edition (Baltimore: William & Wilkins, 1976), 1399, “t. mesenter’ica.”
[19] Jerome R. Head, M.D., “Tuberculosis of the Mesenteric Lymph-Glands,” Annals of Surgery 83 (May 1926), 622-33; image copy, U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, PubMed Central (PMC) (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1399041/ : accessed 9 February 2018).


CHATTERIS, a parish and market town in the hundred of North Witchford, in the county of Cambridge, 26 miles N.W. of Cambridge, and 7 S. of March. It is a station on the Ely and Peterborough railway, and is situated on the river Ouse. Alwina, wife of Athelstan, and niece of King Edgar, founded a convent of Benedictines about a.D. 980, which was in Henry VIII’s. reign wholly suppressed. The place is mentioned in Domesday Survey under the name of Cateriz, or Cetriz. Tho living is a vicarage in the diocese of Ely, val. £1,500, in the patron. of W. Hawkins, Esq. The church, dedicated to SS. Peter and Paul, is a handsome edifice. … The town was made a market town in 1834; and a court-leet and petty sessions are held here. The Bishop of Ely is lord of the manor. A large number of Roman coins and curious relics have been found at various times, and not many years since part of the skeleton of an elephant.[1]
OS map 16 1903 Detail from Ordnance Survey of England and Wales, Sheet 16, 1:253,440, 1903. Chatteris is near the top of the map. This work incorporates historical material provided by the Great Britain Historical GIS Project and the University of Portsmouth through their web site A Vision of Britain through Time (http://www.VisionofBritain.org.uk). (Click on image to enlarge)
context map
Partial map of England showing approximate area encompassed by detail map, above. Adapted from Google Maps (https://maps.google.com)

In my wanderings through various online archives, I discovered a number of Casbon entries from the parish of Chatteris. The name first appears in the 1851 census with an entry for Sarah Casbon, age 30, and her four children.[2] It turns out that this is a misspelling of their correct surname, Casburn, which appears in almost every other available record. The Casburn spelling is strongly associated with the parish of Burwell in Cambridgeshire. It turns out that Sarah’s husband, John Thomas Casburn, was born in Burwell.[3] He served as the butler to the principal landowner and member of Parliament for Chatteris.[4] I have not found any connection between the Casburns of Burwell and modern-day Casbons.

But then, the Casbon spelling pops up again in three separate entries in the 1881 England census.[5],[6],[7]

Lester 1881 composite Harriet 1881 detail
Emma Harry detail 1881
Details from 1881 England Census, Chatteris, Cambridgeshire. (Click on images to enlarge)

These 3 entries show respectively: Lester (misspelled) Casbon and his family; Harriet Casbon and her children, Rosa, Mary A, Harriet and Arthur, in the home of Ann Weaton; and Harry Casbon in the home of Emma Allpress. We can see that Lester is listed as the head of his household. Harriet is Ann Weaton’s daughter, and Harry is Emma Allpress’ grandson. It will take some backtracking to show how they are related.

It starts with a man named John Casbon, who married Emma Taylor in 1841.[8] John was a cordwainer, or shoemaker.[9] John and Emma had three children: Lester, born in 1842;[10] Sarah Ann, in 1844;[11] and John, in 1846.[12] Later census records tell us that all three children were born in Colne, Huntingdonshire (see map above). John, the father’s, death at age 30, was registered in 1848.[13] I haven’t found any record of John’s birth or birthplace, so the trail goes cold there.

After John’s death, Emma married a man named John Allpress.[14] The expanded family appears in the 1851 census, living in Somersham, Huntingdonshire (see map above).[15]

John Allpress 1851 census Somersham
Detail from 1851 census, Somersham, Huntingdonshire. (Click on image to enlarge)

Lester, Sarah Ann, and John are all shown with their surname spelled Casbey.

Sometime before 1861, John and Emma Allpress moved from Somersham to Chatteris.[16] Emma’s sons, Lester and John, raised their families and remained in Chatteris the rest of their lives. Daughter Sarah Ann is lost to follow up after 1861, although I have an intriguing theory about her fate (teaser for a future post!).

Lester married Julia Ann Mould, a Chatteris native, in 1871.[17] Lester and Julia had the following children:

Elizabeth Ann, born 29 Jan 1872[18]
Charles William, born 1 Sep 1873[19]
Emma, born 14 August 1873[20]
Alfred Lester, born 1880, died 1880[21],[22]

Lester and his entire family are seen in the 1881 census entry, above. Lester died in the Chatteris area in 1925; his wife Julia had died one year earlier.[23]

John married Harriet Davis, also a Chatteris native, in 1868.[24] They had the following children:

Rose Ann, born 1868[25]
Mary, born 1871[26]
Harriet, born 1874[26]
Arthur, born 1878[27]
Harry, born 1882[28]
William, born 1887[29]

John’s wife, Harriet, is seen in the 1881 census, above. John’s whereabouts in the 1881 census are unknown, but he is present with the rest of the family in subsequent censuses. John and his wife Harriet both died (probably) in 1931.[30],[31]

To the best of my knowledge, none of the male descendants had children of their own, so there are no living Casbon-surname descendants of this branch of the family. However, there are likely many descendants from Lester and John’s married daughters. My father corresponded with a descendant of Rose Ann (Casbon) Foster, 20+ years ago. If any descendants are reading this post, I hope they will contact me.

Since I haven’t been able to trace the origins of Lester and John’s father, I don’t know whether or how this branch of the Casbon-surname family is connected to other branches of the family. Burwell is a potential point of origin, considering that many records use the Casburn spelling. There is also a strong geographic connection to the Peterborough Casbons. Thomas Casbon (~1776–1855), was living about 5 miles from Chatteris in 1812, and was living in Colne, Huntingdonshire (where Lester, John, and Sarah Ann were born in the 1840s) in 1851.[32],[33] His son, Thomas (1807–1863), lived in Warboys, about 5 miles from Colne, in 1841, before moving to Peterborough.[34] His wife, Jane, was born in Chatteris.[35] DNA testing would be necessary to determine whether the Chatteris and Peterborough branches are related.

The observant reader will note that I have not discussed Harry Casbon, shown in the 1881 census, above, with his grandmother Emma (Casbon) Allpress. He is not the son of either Lester or John. Who does that leave? I will save his story for a future post.

[1] Adapted from: N.E.S.A. Hamilton, ed., The National Gazeteer of Great Britain and Ireland; or, Topographical Dictionary of the British Isles (London: James S. Virtue, 1868), vol. 3: 541; online image, Hathi Trust Digital Library (https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uiug.30112053400526;view=1up;seq=91 : accessed 28 January 2018).
[2] “1851 Census of England,” database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/8860/CAMHO107_1765_1765-0640 : accessed 25 January 2018), Sarah Casbon (age 30), Cambridgeshire, Chatteris, Wenney(?) End, schedule 65; citing The National Archives, HO 107, HO 107, piece 1765/337, p. 17.
[3] “1861 Census of England,” database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/8767/MDXRG9_44_46-0162?pid=231640 : accessed 26 January 2018), John Casburn in household of John Dunn Gardner, Middlesex, St George Hanover Square, schedule 152, 122 Park St; citing The National Archives, RG 9/45/76/30.
[4] “1861 Census of England,” Ancestry, John Casburn in household of John Dunn Gardner.
[5] 1881 Census of England, population schedule, database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7572/CAMRG11_1686_1691-0636 : accessed 25 January 2018), Lecester Casbon, Cambridgeshire, Chatteris, Bridge St, schedule 23; citing The National Archives, RG 11/1689/34/5.
[6] “1881 Census of England,” Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7572/CAMRG11_1686_1691-0638?pid=941225 : accessed 27 January 2018), Harriet Casbon in household of Ann Weaton, Cambridgeshire, Chatteris, Bridge St., schedule 36; citing The National Archives, RG 11/1689/35/7.
[7] 1881 Census of England, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7572/CAMRG11_1686_1691-0638 : accessed 25 January 2018), Harry Casbon in household of Emma Allpress, Cambridgeshire, Chatteris, Bridge St. schedule 35; citing The National Archives RG 11/1689/35/7.
[8] “England & Wales Marriages 1837-2008,” database, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=bmd%2fm%2f1841%2f3%2faz%2f000083%2f018 : accessed 13 Feb 2017), John Casbon & Emma Taylor, 3d quarter, 1841, St. Ives, Huntingdonshire, vol. 14/263.
[9] “Cambridgeshire Marriages,”database, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbprs%2fm%2f324090846%2f1 : accessed 13 February 2017), John Casburn, father, in marriage of John Casburn & Harriet Davis, 19 Jul 1868, Chatteris, Cambridgeshire; citing transcription by Cambridge Family History Society.
[10] “Search the GRO [General Register Office] Online Index,” database, HM Passport Office (https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/indexes_search.asp : accessed 3 January 2018), birth, search terms: “Casbon” (or similar) “1842 +/- 2 years,” Lester Carbon, S[ep] qtr, 1841, mother’s maiden name Taylor, St Ives Union, vol. 14/197.
[11] “Search the GRO Online Index,” HM Passport Office (accessed 24 Jan 2018),birth, search terms: “Casbon” (or similar) “1844 +/- 2 yrs,” Sarah Ann Caston, S qtr, 1844, mother’s maiden name Taylor, St Ives Union, vol. 14/8.
[12] “Search the GRO Online Index” (accessed 24 January 2018),birth, search terms: “Casbon” “1846 +/- 2 yrs,” Casbon John, J[un] qtr, 1846, mother’s maiden name Taylor, St Ives Union, vol. 14/239.
[13] “Search the GRO Online Index” (accessed 4 January 2018), death, search terms: “Casborn” “John” “1848,” Casborn, John (age 30), M[arch] quarter, 1848, St Ives, vol. 14:178.
[14] “England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1837-1915,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/ : accessed 29 January 2018), search terms: “Emma” “Cas*” “1850,” Emma Caseby, 2nd qtr, 1850, St. Ives, Huntingdonshire; citing General Register Office, London.
[15] “1851 Census of England, Wales & Scotland,” database with images, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1851%2f0007382478 : accessed 11 November 2016).
[16] 1861 Census of England, population schedule, database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/8767/camrg9_1038_1044-0896 : accessed 25 January 2018), Emma Allpress, Cambridgeshire, Chatteris, Slade End, schedule 51; citing The National Archives, RG 9/1043/34/8.
[17] “Cambridgeshire Marriages,” database, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbprs%2fm%2f324090915%2f1 : accessed 13 February 2017), Lester Casburn (signs Casban) & Julia Ann Mould, 5 Jul 1871, Chatteris, Cambridgeshire.
[18] “Cambridgeshire Baptisms,” database/transcriptions, findmypast (https://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbprs%2fb%2f323316744%2f1 : accessed 30 January 2018), Elizabeth Ann Casburn, born 29 Jan 1872, baptized 25 Feb 1872, Chatteris, Cambridgeshire; citing transcriptions of parish records by Cambridge Family History Society.
[19] “Chatteris Baptisms 1600-1955,” database with transcriptions, accessed via “Ancestry Finder,” on Cambridgshire Family History Society (https://www.cfhs.org.uk/tokens/tokpub.cfm : accessed 30 January 2018), search terms: “Casburn” “Chatteris” “Chatteris Baptisms 1600-1955, additional search terms: “Charles” “1873,” Casburn, Charles William, b. 1 Sep 1873, baptized 17 Apr 1878; citing parish records. This is a subscription web site that provides transcriptions of parish records in exchange for tokens which can be purchased.
[20] “Chatteris Baptisms 1600-1955,” accessed via “Ancestry Finder,” on Cambridgshire Family History Society (https://www.cfhs.org.uk/tokens/tokpub.cfm : accessed 30 January 2018), search terms: “Casburn” “Chatteris” “Chatteris Baptisms 1600-1955, additional search terms: “Emma” “1878,” Casburn, Emma, b. 14 Aug 1877, baptized 17 Apr 1878.
[21] “Search the GRO Online Index” (accessed 20 January 2018), birth, search terms: “Casburn” “male” “1880,” Casburn, Alfred Lester, D[ec] qtr, 1880, N. Witchford, vol. 3B/544.
[22] “Search the GRO Online Index” (accessed 20 January 2018), death, search terms: “Casburn” “1880,” Casburn Alfred Lester D[ec] qtr, 1880, North Witchford, vol 3B/374.
[23] “Chatteris Burials 1600-1946,” accessed via “Ancestry Finder,” on Cambridgshire Family History Society (https://www.cfhs.org.uk/tokens/tokpub.cfm : accessed 31 January 2018), search terms: “Casbon” “Chatteris” “Chatteris Burials 1600-1946,” Casbon Julia Ann (age 74), 12 Feb 1924, and Casbon, Lester (age 84), 13 Aug 1925; citing transcriptions of parish records by Cambridge Family History Society.
[24] “Cambridgeshire Marriages,”database, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbprs%2fm%2f324090846%2f1 : accessed 13 February 2017), John Casburn & Harriet Davis, 19 Jul 1868, Chatteris.
[25] “Search the GRO Online Index” (accessed 25 January 2018), birth, search terms: “Davis” “Rose” “female” “1868,” Davis, Rose Ann, M[ar] qtr, 1868, North Witchford, mother’s maiden name (blank).
[26] “Search the GRO Online Index” (accessed 25 January 2018), birth, search terms: “Casbon” “female” “1872 +/- 2 yrs,” Casbon, Mary Ann, S[ep] qtr 1871 and Casbon, Harriet, M[ar] qtr 1874, North Witchford, mother’s maiden name Davis.
[27] “Search the GRO Online Index” (accessed 25 January 2018), birth, search terms: “Casbon” “male” (mother’s maiden name)“Davis” “1876 +/- 2 yrs,” Casbon, Arthur, S[ep] qtr, 1878, North Witchford.
[28] “Search the GRO Online Index” (accessed 25 January 2018), birth, search terms: “Casburn” “male” “1882 +/- 2 yrs,” Casburn, Harry, J[un] qtr, 1882, North Witchford, mother’s maiden name Davis.
[29] “Search the GRO Online Index” (accessed 25 January 2018), birth, search terms: “Casburn” “male” “1886 +/- 2 yrs,” Casburn, William, M[ar] qtr, 1887, North Witchford, mother’s maiden name Davis.
[30] “Search the GRO Online Index” (accessed 27 January 2018), death, search terms: “Casbon” “male” “1931,” John Casbon (age 88), M[ar] qtr, 1931, Peterborough, vol. 3B/286.
[31] “Search the GRO Online Index” (accessed 27 January 2018), death, search terms: “Casbon” “female” “1931,” Harriet Casbon (age 87), M[ar] qtr, 1931, Peterborough, vol. 3B/286.
[32] “England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JWMM-C8X : accessed 15 Dec 2016), Sarah Caseben, 1812, Bluntisham cum Earith, Huntingdonshire; citing , index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City, FHL microfilm 1,040,598.
[33] “1851 Census of England,” population schedule, database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/8860/HUNHO107_1749_1749-0468?pid=6187710 : accessed 31 January 2018), Thomas Casbon in household of William Harrop, Huntingdonshire, Colne, Church Lane, schedule 85; citing The National Archives, HO 107, piece 1749, folio 233, p. 20.
[34] “1841 Census of England, Wales & Scotland,” database with images, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1841%2f0005809053 : accessed 31 March 2017), entry for Thomas Casbourn, Huntingdonshire, Warboys, Mill Green, line 1; citing [The National Archives], HO 107, piece 449, book 5, folio 25, p. 6.
[35] “1861 Census of Engand, Wales & Scotland,” database with images, findmypast (https://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1861%2f0966%2f00574a&parentid=gbc%2f1861%2f0005725932&highlights=%22%22 : accessed 5 August 2016), entry for Jane Casbon in household of Thomas Casbon, Northamptonshire, Peterborough, Marquis Grandby, schedule 187; citing [The National Archives], enumeration district 12, RG 09, piece 966, folio 21, p. 35.

Leslie Casbon, Valparaiso High School Class of 1914

Getting distracted by “bright shiny objects” or BSOs is generally considered a bad habit in genealogy research. Such distractions can interrupt an organized plan of research, wasting valuable time and resulting in a disorganized mess of unrelated facts. While I generally agree with this view, I think a case can be made that pursuing BSOs can occasionally lead to serendipitous (there’s that word again!) discoveries and open up new lines of inquiry.

At least that’s my justification for today’s post. While looking through my archives for an unrelated item, I came upon my paternal grandfather’s high school yearbook, the Valparaiso (Indiana) High School Annual of 1914, the year he graduated.

Valpo HS 1914 yearbook cover
Grandpa’s yearbook. (Click on image to enlarge)

Browsing through his yearbook gave me a glimpse of life in Valparaiso at the time and a few tantalizing hints into my grandfather’s life as he was emerging into adulthood.

I haven’t really written about my grandfather or his generation, so I’ll briefly put him into context. Leslie Christy Casbon was born December 24, 1894 in Porter County, Indiana.[1] He was the eldest son of Lawrence (1865–1950) and Kate (Marquardt, 1868–1959) Casbon. Lawrence was the eldest son of Sylvester V (1837–1927) and Mary Adaline (Aylesworth, 1842–1868) Casbon; and Sylvester was the eldest son of Thomas (1803–1888) and Emma (Scruby, 1811–1870) Casbon, who emigrated from England first to Ohio in 1846, and then to Indiana in the 1860s. Thus, Leslie was in the fourth generation of Casbons living in Indiana.

Here is his class photograph and entry in the 1914 yearbook.[2]

Casbon Les 1914 yearbook entry
(Click on image to enlarge)

Of the 30 graduating seniors, his written entry was among the shortest (the shortest was for a girl: “She had her troubles but she kept them to herself and was a ray of sunshine to all”). From this description I’m led to believe that he wasn’t the most outgoing member of the class, but neither was he considered an outsider, and he seems to have been appreciated by his classmates.

The yearbook has a section called “Class Will,” in which members of the class make humorous bequests to underclassman. Here is the section containing Grandpa Les’ bequest.[3]

Class will

I had to puzzle out what this meant. I finally figured out that he’s saying he is able to walk down the stairs without engaging in conversation with Gail, and he’s bequeathing that ability to Howard. Does this mean that everyone else does talk to Gail Fehrman? Or is he making a jab at Howard, who perhaps can’t resist talking to Gail? I couldn’t find out anything more about Gail other than she had notable dimples. Howard seems to have been a class cutup. At any rate, it reinforces my thought that young Les took pride in his self-control.

The only other mention of Les in the yearbook is in a section titled “Calendar,” in which daily events throughout the school year are described.[4]

March calendar

Overall, Grandpa Les comes across as good-natured and generous, at least with his father’s horses and maybe a wagon too. It seems like there was a good sense of camaraderie among his classmates – a good thing with only 30 students in the class.

Unlike modern school yearbooks, this one seems to have been produced solely by the graduating class, with only a few contributions from underclassmen. The lower classes each have a page or two and a group photo, but class members are not listed by name. Many of the graduating seniors wrote sections of the yearbook. Les’ contribution was a description of the Manual Training Department. His concluding paragraph reads:

The Manual Training Department is a very important part of a school and should be installed in all high schools, for it not only affords a change in work during the day for the regular day pupil, but it gives him a training with tools. Since most men work with some kind of tools, it is a great advantage for a pupil to get his training while young.

The high school he attended was built in about 1904, so it was still a fairly new structure when Les attended.[5]

Postcards showing the Valparaiso High School (also known as Central School) in 1913. The building was located at 305 Franklin Street. This building burned down in 1938, but a new school was built, on the same foundation (as seen on Google Street View), and now houses the Central Elementary School.[6] I like the street car going down Franklin Street. (Click on images to enlarge)

As I was leafing through the yearbook I had another surprise. From out of the pages slipped a program for the commencement ceremony, held on May 19, 1914, in the Opera House.

Casbon Les 1914 HS graduation program
Cover and insert for 1914 Valparaiso High School commencement ceremony. Private collection of Jon Casbon. (Click on image to enlarge)

From this program, we learn that students could be enrolled in either a “Latin” or a “Scientific” course of study. Grandpa Les was enrolled in the latter. Although not described in detail in the yearbook, the Latin course, as the name implies, included in-depth study of the Latin language, grammar and literature throughout all four years of high school. The Scientific Course included a variety of science topics and allowed for Agriculture to be substituted for these classes in the second term of each year. The description also includes this interesting statement:

The boys in the scientific course are no longer compelled to take Manual Training and the girls are not compelled to take Domestic Art or Domestic Science, but any student, even in the Latin course, wishing to take this work may do so.… The girls are interested in Manual Training and the boy as well as the girls are learning how to cook.”[7]

What progressive thinking for the times!

As I mentioned, there were 30 students in the graduating class. The yearbook also listed 46 “ex-members of the class of 1914.” Compulsory education was only required up to age fourteen in Indiana at that time.[8] My grandfather was among the roughly 40 percent of his original classmates who completed their high school education.

It’s pretty impressive to me that he (and his two younger brothers, by the way) completed high school. He might have been the first Casbon to do so. The family was living on their farm in Morgan Township, about four miles from the school by road. How did he get there every day? How did he manage schoolwork in addition to the farm chores? I imagine most of his classmates were “city kids” who didn’t need to travel as far and could participate in extracurricular activities more easily.

For those interested, a nearly complete set of the Valparaiso High School yearbooks (known as The Valenian since 1917) from 1904–2012 has been digitized and is available for viewing on the Internet Archive at https://archive.org/details/valparaisohighschoolyearbooks&tab=collection.

[1] Indiana, delayed birth certificate no. 113-94-504260 (1954), Leslie Christy Casbon; Indiana State Board of Health, Division of Vital Records, Indianapolis.
[2] Valparaiso (Indiana) High School, Class of 1914, Annual (Privately printed, 1914), unnumbered p. 11 (beginning with title page).
[3] Valparaiso High School, Class of 1914, Annual, unnumbered p. 34.
[4] Valparaiso High School, Class of 1914, Annual, unnumbered p. 58.
[5] Steven Shook, “Historical Images of Porter County: High School Building Valparaiso, Indiana,” Porter County, Indiana (http://www.inportercounty.org/PhotoPages/Valparaiso/Schools/Valparaiso-Schools003.html : accessed 23 January 2018).
[6] Shook, “Historical Images of Porter County: High School Building Valparaiso, Indiana.”
[7] Valparaiso High School, Class of 1914, Annual, unnumbered p. 19.
[8] Frank A Horner, compiler, The Revised Statutes of the State of Indiana: Embracing All General Laws in Force October 1, 1901, with Digested Notes of Judicial Decisions Construing Or Illustrating Their Provisions, Vol. 1 (Rochester, N.Y.: The Lawyers Cooperative Publishing Company, 1901), chapter 52, “Education,” section 4541a; online image, Google Books (https://books.google.com/books?id=aUkwAQAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false : accessed 23 January 2018).

“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.