James Casbon in the 1880 U.S. Census, Porter Township, Porter County, Indiana

James Casbon (abt. 1813—1884) was the subject of an earlier post. He is the common ancestor to many Casbon descendants, both in the United States and United Kingdom. Because of his relatively short time in America, there are relatively few records about his life here. He only appears in one U.S. Census, that of 1880, since he arrived to the U.S. in late 1870 (after the census was completed) and died in 1884.

1880 census porter twp 545C
Page from 1880 U.S. Census, Porter Township, Porter County, Indiana. Source: 1880 U.S. census, Porter County, Indiana, population schedule, enumeration district 144, p. 545 (stamped), p. 19C (penned), dwelling 187, family 191, James Casbon; database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 24 December 2015), Indiana > Porter > Porter > image 19 of 20; citing NARA microfilm publication T9; FHL microfilm 1,254,305.
(Click on image to enlarge)

What can we learn from this record? First it tells us that James was living in Porter township, one of thirteen townships in Porter County.

Porter county map 1876
1876 Map of Porter County showing townships. Porter township is outlined in red. Source: A.G. Hardesty, Illustrated historical atlas of Porter County, Indiana, Valparaiso, Ind.: A.G. Hardesty, 1876, p. 22; online images, Library of Congress (https://www.loc.gov/item/2007626934/ : accessed 2 March 2016). (Click on image to enlarge)

The census does not tell us exactly where in the township James was living. The other names on the census page show us who his neighbors were, but not where they were located. His brother Thomas Casbon, nephew Charles Casbon, and niece Mary Ann (Casbon) Priest were also living in Porter township, but apparently not in the same general area, based on their being several pages distant in the census record.

The members of James’ family include his wife Mary, daughter Margaret, son Amos, and daughter Alice. His wife was the former Mary Payne, whom he married January, 1876, in Porter County.[1] I’ve speculated that she might be the same Mary Payne who emigrated from England in 1856 with Mary Casbon (see “From England to Indiana, Part 8” [link]). If so, she would have been from James’ home town of Meldreth, Cambridgeshire, the niece of James’ sister in law, Emma (Scruby) Casbon. In favor of this possibility is the fact that Mary’s birthplace (and that of her parents) is recorded as England on the census form. Against it is her recorded age of 53, which would give her a birth year of about 1827. The Mary Payne from Meldreth was born about 1833, based on her ages recorded in the 1841 and 1851 England censuses.[2],[3] Ages in census records are notoriously inaccurate, so this discrepancy is not a big concern. Not only that, but Mary’s age in the 1900 U.S. census is listed as 68, with her month & year of birth listed as October 1832.[4] This jives very well with the data for Mary Payne of Meldreth.

James’ daughter Margaret is recorded as 16 years old. This would give her a birth year of about 1864. This matches her estimated age from the passenger list when she arrived in America in 1870.[5] Her place of birth is incorrectly recorded as Indiana. I haven’t been able to locate birth or baptismal records for Margaret in England. Margaret’s fate is a bit of a mystery: a family story suggests that she became a “mail-order bride” and went to Seattle, Washington.

Son Amos was 10 years old, also born in England. His birthplace is also incorrectly recorded. Of Amos I will have much to say in future posts. Likewise with daughter Alice, who was born in Porter County in 1871.[6]

Note James’ occupation of “Farm Laborer.” This indicates he did not own or farm his own land. As I mentioned in the earlier post about James, every indication is that he was a poor hard-working man. The newspaper articles describing his death indicate he was working as a ditch digger at the time.

Finally, note the marks on the census form under the column “Cannot write.” This is marked for both James and Mary (but not marked for “Cannot read”). This is a reminder of their humble backgrounds and the lack of educational opportunities for people in their class when they were growing up in England.

[1] Porter County, Indiana Marriage Records, vol. 4: 348, James Casbon–Mary Payne, 15 Jan 1876; image, “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.
[2] “1841 England, Scotland and Wales census,” database and images, findmypast (http://www.findmypast.com : accessed 14 August 2016), entry for Mary Pain (age 8), Chiswic End, Meldreth, Cambridgeshire, England; citing The National Archives, PRO HO 107, piece 63, folio 10, p. 15.
[3] “1851 England, Scotland and Wales census,” database and images, findmypast (http://www.findmypast.com : accessed 24 July 2016), entry for Mary Payne (age 18), M in Meldreth, Melbourn, Hertfordshire, England; citing The National Archives, PRO HO 107, piece 1708, folio 209, p. 34.
[4] 1900 U.S. census, Porter County, Indiana, population schedule, enumeration district 79, p. 13B, dwelling 315, family 316, Mary Casben; database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-6QNS-36R?i=25&cc=1325221 : accessed 4 July 2016); citing NARA microfilm publication T623; FHL microfilm 1,240,398.
[5] “New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891,”images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939V-51S2-X5?i=106&cc=1849782 : accessed 10 November 2016), manifest, Great Western, 27 Dec 1870, n.p., line 29, Margret Custon, age 6, > image 107 of 341; citing NARA microfilm publication M237.
[6] “Michigan Death Certificates, 1921-1952”, database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KF41-L5D : accessed 21 February 2017), Alice Edwards Hicks, 15 Mar 1950; citing Three Oaks, Berrien, Michigan, United States, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics, Lansing; FHL microfilm 1,973,189.
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