Children of Thomas Casbon (1803–1888): Charles Thomas

Charles Thomas Casbon was the third surviving child and second surviving son of Thomas and and Emma (Scruby) Casbon. He is the first Casbon family member in my records to bear the name Charles. Like his brother Sylvester, his life is relatively well documented, thanks both to his long life and his biography, published in History of Porter County, Indiana (1912).[1]

Here is an image of Charles’ baptismal record of December 20, 1840.[2]

Meldreth baptism 1840
Detail from Meldreth (Cambridgeshire) parish register, baptisms 1840. (Click on image to enlarge)

The biography says this about Charles’ earliest days:

Mr. Casbon was born November 6, 1840, in Cambridgeshire, England, twenty-two miles from London, the son of an English farmer, Thomas Casbon and wife, Emma (Scruby) Casbon. When the son was five years old his father determined to bring his family to America, which was then a land of opportunities and almost undeveloped resources.[3]

To my modern eyes the description of Charles’ father Thomas as “an English farmer” overstates Thomas’ social standing in England, and diminishes the social and economic conditions that must have influenced his decision to leave England. In fact, Thomas was described in the census as an Agricultural Labourer.[4] As such, he would have been a wage earner and low in the social order; he did not own land and did not have the right to vote.[5],[6]

Being only 5 years old when he left England, Charles probably had only dim memories of his life there. He came of age while the family was living in Ohio. The History of Porter County, with a mix of fact and fabrication, tells us,

Throughout the years of his boyhood Charles Casbon was familiar with that old and trusted periodical journal, the New York Tribune, which regularly found its way to the home and was read more or less by all members of the household. Its great editor of the time, Horace Greeley, the author of the exhortation, “Go west, young man, and grow up with the country,” frequently wrote and edited the news with that sentence as his text.

It was partly with the inspiration derived from the Tribune, and also from the spirit of pioneering which had possessed his father before him, that caused Charles Casbon on arriving at his majority to start for the west. In company with a friend, George Bittner, in March, 1862, he arrived at Valparaiso, a small place at that time, where he paused in his journey and in this vicinity has remained ever since, to his own profit and to the benefit of the community.[7]

In this rosy description, the facts that are most likely accurate are the name of his travel companion and the approximate date of his travel to Indiana (see “Why Indiana?”). The author/editor of the biography likely embellished the story to make it more interesting for readers.

We are told that “on December 31, 1868, he returned to his Ohio home and there married Miss Mary E. [Mc]Marrell, who has been his companion on the road of life for nearly forty-five years.”[8]

Charles C Mary McMarrell marriage
Marriage record of Charles and Mary McMarrell, Holmes County, Ohio, 30 December, 1868.[9]
(Click on image to enlarge)

Mary was 4 years Charles’ junior. They grew up on nearby farms, both being listed in Washington Township, Holmes County, Ohio, in the 1860 census.[10],[11] Were they sweethearts before he left for Indiana in 1862, Charles age 21 and Mary 17, or did they become close on subsequent family visits to Ohio? Before his marriage, Charles “worked among the farmers, then rented a farm and cultivated it on shares.”[12] After returning to Indiana with his bride,

Mr. Casbon bought a little farm of forty acres, paying a hundred and fifty dollars in cash and going in debt for the remainder. A little log cabin and a pole stable constituted the chief improvements, and in this humble home the young people, with willing industry and the hope and enthusiasm characteristic of youth, began their career in Porter county.[13]

This land purchase was probably the one recorded January 13, 1871, in which Charles bought the SW ¼ of the SW ¼ of Section 13, Township 34, range 6 from his father Thomas for $1,000.[14] Charles’ small farm can be seen in this 1876 plat map of Porter township.[15]

1876 Casbon land closeup Porter twp
Detail from 1876 plat map of Porter township, Porter county, Indiana,
showing property belonging to Thomas, Charles, and Jesse Casbon.
(Click on image to enlarge)

“Four children were born to them: Lillie, who died at the age of one year, Lodema, Sina and Lawrence.”[16] We have met Lawrence and Sina previously in this blog (see “Lawrence J Goes Transcontinental” and “Cousins”). Lillie May was born in 1870 and died September 9, 1871. [17] Lodema Evaline was born October 24, 1871; Sina Jane, March 27, 1873; and Lawrence John August 26, 1875.[18],[19],[20]

Charles T Casbon Mary Elizabeth Marrell Casbon Sin
Family portrait, probably taken mid- to late 1890s. Front, L to R: Charles & Mary;
Back, L to R: Lodema, Lawrence, and Sina. Photo courtesy of Ron Casbon.
(Click on image to enlarge)

Charles continued to expand his landholdings, apparently doing well enough at farming that he was able to retire and move into town (Valparaiso) in 1903.[21]

The History of Porter County includes this lovely detail about Mary’s travels:

From August to October [year not given] Mrs. Casbon visited the beautiful scenery of Yellowstone Park, also San Francisco, Los Angeles, Pasadena, Catalina Island, then Camp Meeker, Seattle, Washington, Spokane Falls, Salt Lake City (where she visited the great Mormon Temple) and finally Denver, Colorado.[22]

One wonders why Charles did not accompany her. Perhaps his health did not allow it at this point in his life. Charles biography also gives us this photograph of Charles and Mary (and probably Sina) in front of their Valparaiso home at 203 Monroe Street.[23]

Charles T Casbon House Valpraiso Indiana
L to R: Mary, Charles, and (probably) Sina, about 1912. The original home is no longer standing.
(Click on image to enlarge)

The final words about Charles in the Porter County history are these:

Though always a busy man during his residence in the country, he had the welfare of the community at heart, and for a number of years filled the office of supervisor of his township. In politics he is a Democrat, and takes a broad-minded view of the social and political problems both at home and at the nation at large. He and his wife are members and liberal supporters of the Christian church of Valparaiso.[24]

Charles passed away in Valparaiso October 26, 1915 at the age of 74.[25] Mary survived him by another 12 years, passing away February 26, 1928 at the age of 83.[26] Both are buried at Maplewood Cemetery, in Valparaiso. Their only living descendants are through their daughter Lodema, who married Hiram Church in 1890.[27]

[1] “Charles Thomas Casbon,” History of Porter County, Indiana : a narrative account of its historical progress, its people and its principal interests (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1912), 2: pp. 459–61; online image, Hathi Trust Digital Library (https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=wu.89067919191;view=1up;seq=115 : accessed 6 June 2017).
[2] “Parish registers for Meldreth (Cambridgeshire), 1681-1877,” Baptisms 1813-67, p. 54, Thomas Charles Casbon, 20 Dec 1840; digital images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/search/catalog/210742?availability=Family%20History%20Library : accessed 28 April 2017); citing Family HIstory Library (FHL) microfilm 1,040,542, item 5. (image viewable when using the site at a family history center)
[3] “Charles Thomas Casbon,” 2: p. 459.
[4] “England and Wales Census, 1841,” database with images, findmypast (http://search.findmypast.com/record?id=gbc%2f1841%2f0063%2f0285&parentid=gbc%2f1841%2f0000942060&highlights=%22%22 : accessed 13 May 2016), entry for Thomas Casbon (age 35), Meldreth, Cambridgeshire; citing The National Archives, HO 107, piece 63, book 18, folio 4, p. 3, lines 21-5.
[5] “Agriculture and the Labourer,” Cambridgeshire History (http://www.cambridgeshirehistory.com/People/agriculturallabourers.html : accessed 5 January 2017).
[6] “Elections in the United Kingdom,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elections_in_the_United_Kingdom#History : accessed 6 June 2017), rev. 20 May 17, 23:15.
[7] “Charles Thomas Casbon,” 2: p. 460.
[8] “Charles Thomas Casbon,” 2: p. 460.
[9] “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939K-BJ95-ZK?i=34&cc=1614804 : accessed 21 July 2016), Charles Casbon & Mary E. McMarrell, 30 Dec 1868; citing Holmes County Courthouse, “Marriage Record No. 5, p. 5.
[10] 1860 U.S. census, Holmes County, Ohio, population schedule, Washington township, p. 223, dwelling 1524, family 1526, Thomas Casbon; image, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9BSH-967D?cc=1473181&wc=7QGH-1SP%3A1589432777%2C1589423732%2C1589422406 : accessed 23 October 2015); citing NARA microfilm publication M653 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
[11] 1860 U.S. census, Holmes County, Ohio, population schedule, Washington township, pp. 225–6, dwelling 1569, family 1571, Laurence McMurrell; image, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9BSH-9DR5?cc=1473181&wc=7QGH-1SP%3A1589432777%2C1589423732%2C1589422406 : accessed 22 August 2016).
[12] “Charles Thomas Casbon,” 2: p. 460.
[13] “Charles Thomas Casbon,” 2: p. 460.
[14] Porter, Indiana “Deed Index 5 Grantor, Jul 1868–Feb 1876” Casbon Thos to Casbon Chas., 13 Jan 1871; FHL microfilm 1,703,896; citing Recorder’s Office, Porter, Indiana.
[15] “Porter,” Illustrated historical atlas of Porter County, Indiana (Valparaiso, Ind. : A.G. Hardesty, 1876), p. 39; online image, Library of Congress (https://www.loc.gov/resource/g4093pm.gla00036/?sp=28 : accessed 19 August 2016).
[16] “Charles Thomas Casbon,” 2: p. 460.
[17] “Find A Grave Index,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QVVV-2HRN : accessed 22 August 2016), Lillie May Casbon, 1871; Burial, , Porter, Indiana, United States of America, Merriman Cemetery; citing record ID 19252732, Find a Grave, http://www.findagrave.com.
[18] “Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899-2011,” Valparaiso, Porter, reg. 24673, Lodema E Church (b. 24 Oct 1871); database with images, Ancestry Library Edition (accessed through participating libraries : accessed 24 August 2016); citing Indiana State Board of Health, Death Certificates, 1900–2011, microfilm, Indiana Archives and Records Administration, Indianapolis, Indiana.
[19] “To Hold Rites for Mrs. Sina Smith Saturday Afternoon,” The (Valparaiso, Indiana) Vidette-Messenger, 10 Apr 1952, p. 6, col. 4; database and images, Newspaper Archive (accessed through participating libraries : accessed 12 April 2016).
[20] “World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards,” Lawrence John Casbon, 1917-1918; database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KZ2T-BTH : accessed 22 August 2016),; citing St. Joseph County, Indiana, United States, NARA microfilm publication M1509 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,653,193.
[21] “Charles Thomas Casbon,” 2: p. 461.
[22] “Charles Thomas Casbon,” 2: p. 461.
[23] “Residence of Mr. and Mrs. Charles T. Casbon,” History of Porter County, Indiana, 2: p. 458; online image, Hathi Trust Digital Library (https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=wu.89067919191;view=1up;seq=114 : accessed 6 June 2017).
[24] “Charles Thomas Casbon,” 2: p. 461.
[25] “Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899-2011,” Valparaiso, Porter, reg. 215, Charles T. Casbon (b. 6 Nov 1840); database with images, Ancestry Library Edition (accessed 24 August 2016).
[26] “Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899-2011,” Valparaiso, Porter, reg. 6509, Mary E. Casbon (b. 10 Dec 1844 database with images, Ancestry Library Edition (accessed 24 August 2016).
[27] “Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GTML-57?i=111&cc=1410397 : accesed 22 August 2016), Hiram Church & Lodema Casbon, 26 Feb 1890; citing Porter County Circuit Court Clerk, “Marriage Record 9, May 1889–Oct 1892,” p. 149.
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2 thoughts on “Children of Thomas Casbon (1803–1888): Charles Thomas

  1. It’s pretty apparent that the account of Charles’ move west involved a flight of fancy! I’m always fascinated by these nineteenth and early twentieth-century local histories because in some instances, the hyperbolic language serves to maintain a particular social and cultural narrative (whether consciously or unconsciously on the part of the author).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for your comment, LIz. I agree, there is a certain tone about these histories (at least the biographical sections) that tends to glorify the subject. Most of these books were published by subscription, so it was in the interest of the publisher to portray their subscribers in a positive light. The language reminds me of The Music Man (a personal favorite) where the smooth-talking salesman inspires hope & optimism while he cons them into buying the boys band.

    Liked by 1 person

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