Amos and Sina Casbon
Portrait of Amos James Casbon (1869–1956) and Sina Jane Casbon (1874–1952);
undated photo.

Thanks to Ron Casbon for contributing this portrait of Amos James and Sina Jane Casbon. Isn’t it lovely?

You would think from the photograph that they are either siblings or perhaps even engaged. Neither of these assumptions would be correct. They are first cousins, once removed. Amos was the son of James Casbon (about 1813–1884), while Sina Jane was the daughter of Charles Thomas Casbon (1840–1915). Their common ancestor was Isaac Casbon (about 1773–1825), who was the father of James and the grandfather of Charles Thomas. These relationships are illustrated in the diagram below.

Descendant Chart for Isaac Casbon

Although undated, based on their apparent ages, I would estimate that the photograph was taken in the late 1880s or early 1890s, when Amos would have been in his early twenties and Sina in her late teens. They are wearing their best clothing. It is clearly a studio portrait, and was probably photographed in Valparaiso, Indiana.

This portrait intrigues me because it suggests a certain level of friendship or intimacy between the two subjects. Aside from this photograph, there is no documentation that I know of that suggests any kind of relationship between them, other than their shared ancestry and location (Porter County). What is the significance of this portrait? Is it merely the commemoration of two cousins who were also friends? Might there have been an engagement? Perhaps I’m reading too much into this. If any of my readers know more, I hope they will comment.

These questions highlight a huge gap in the information available to me. The 1890 United States census records were destroyed in a fire. This means I have no information on Amos from the time he was 11 years old (1880) until he was 31 (1900). Likewise, I don’t know anything about Sina or her whereabouts between 1880 and 1910. I haven’t been able to locate an entry for her in the 1900 census; her parents are listed, but she is not with them. However, she was living with them in the 1910 census.[1]

Amos lost his father when he was 15 years old.[2] He and his stepmother probably received assistance from other family members, including Charles Thomas Casbon. Since he and Sina were fairly close in age, it’s not surprising that they would be friends. Amos went on to marry Carrie Belle Aylesworth in 1900, and they had a long and happy (as far as I know) marriage.[3] Sina Jane married Alfred Urbahns in 1915.[4]

So, what is a first cousin, once removed? I’ve always been confused by this terminology. Thankfully, my genealogy software (Family Tree Maker) tells me the relationships between any two people. Even so, it’s interesting to try to figure out.

Aside from siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, great grandparents or great aunts/uncles, etc., all of our other relatives are cousins of one kind or another. Therefore, many of the readers of this blog are my cousins, even if I’ve never met you.

Here are some definitions, from the Ancestor Search website:[5]

First Cousin. Your first cousin is a child of your aunt or uncle. You share one set of grandparents with your first cousin, but you do not have the same parents.

Second Cousin. Your second cousin is the grandchild of your great-aunt or great-uncle. You share one set of great-grandparents with your second cousin, but you do not have the same grandparents.

Third, Fourth, and Fifth Cousins. Your third cousin is the great-grandchild of your great-great-aunt or great-great-uncle. You share a set of great-great-grandparents with your third cousin, but do not have the same great-grandparents. Fourth cousins have one set of great-great-great-grandparents, but not the same great-great-grandparents. And so on.

Double Cousins. If two siblings in one family marry two siblings from another family and each couple has a child, the children are double first cousins. The word double in addition to the first cousin term is because they share the same four grandparents. Regular first cousins share only one set of common grandparents, while double first cousins share both sets of grandparents plus all lineal and collateral relatives.

Removed. The relationships of cousins of different generations are explained by using the word “removed”. Cousins who are “once removed” have a one-generation difference. For example, the first cousin of your father is your first cousin, once removed. In that case, your father’s first cousin is one generation younger than your grandparents and you are two generations younger than your grandparents. This one-generation difference is explained by saying that you are cousins “once removed.”. Removed cousin relationships is never measured by age, but only by generation differences.

Twice removed means that there is a two-generation difference between cousins. If you are two generations younger than the first cousin of your grandparent, then the relationship between you and your grandparent’s first cousin are first cousins, twice removed.

Cousin relationships can be any combination of first, second, third and so on, with once removed, twice removed, and so on.

Looking back at the diagram earlier in this post, you can see that Amos James and Sina’s father, Charles Thomas, were first cousins, i.e., they had a shared set of grandparents (Isaac and his wife Susanna [not shown]). Sina is one generation farther away from Isaac, hence she is Amos’ first cousin, once removed.

Incidentally, since I also share Isaac as a common ancestor with Amos and Sina, that makes me a first cousin, four times removed, to Amos; and first cousin, three times removed, to Sina.

[1] “United States Census, 1910,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 30 October 2016), entry for Sina Casbon (age 35) in household of Charles Casbon; citing enumeration district 141, sheet 10A, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
[2] “Murder! That is What is Made out of the Case of Old Man Casbon,” The Porter County (Indiana) Vidette, 28 August 1884; photocopy of newspaper clipping, privately held by Ron D Casbon [Address for private use].
[3] “Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 21 January 2016), Amos J Casbon and Carrie B Aylesworth, 28 Nov 1900; citing Porter, Indiana, United States, various county clerk offices, Indiana; FHL microfilm 1,686,211.
[4] “Michigan Marriages, 1822-1995,” database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 13 April 2017), Alfred W. Urbahns & Sina Casbon, 14 Oct 1915; citing reference it 1, p. 318, no. 9890; FHL microfilm 1,320,183.
[5] “Cousin Calculator, Relationship Chart & Relationship Definitions,” Ancestor Search ( : accessed 13 April 2017).

9 thoughts on “Cousins

    1. I often wonder about that when trying to date photos from clothing styles. Given Sina’s youth, judging the time period from the style of her dress is probably a safe bet, but how long might someone have continued to wear clothing after it had gone out of style?

      Liked by 1 person

  1. For a studio portrait, I suspect they would want to be in style. But you’re right, someone in “reduced circumstances” might have to wear outdated clothing. As a result of this discussion, I did a little digging and found this website from the University of Vermont that gives a number of tips on dating historic photographs, not only based on style, but on any number of features that might be seen in the photograph.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YOWZA–what a find!! In addition to a resource for dating photographs,this is perfect for finding those small details of daily life for writing fiction with historical settings. (And as luck would have it, much of my fiction is set in Vermont.) Many thanks for taking the time to find it!

      Liked by 1 person

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