Amos Sees Something Amiss

This article from the August 21, 1913, Lake County (Hammond, Indiana) Times caught my eye.[1]

Lake Co Times Amos C arrests hunters 21Aug1913(Click on image to enlarge)

Amos is the grandfather, great grandfather, and even second and third great grandfather of many of today’s Casbon descendants. He came to the United States in 1870 when he was 1 year old, with his father James (abt 1813–1884), mother Mary, and sister Margaret (see “James Casbon of Meldreth, England and Porter County, Indiana“).[2] They settled in Porter County, Indiana.

Amos married Carrie Belle Aylesworth in 1900.[3] Amos and Carrie raised their family in Porter township, Porter County, not far from the town of Boone Grove. Amos would have been about 44 years old when this incident occurred.

Amos casbonPortrait of Amos Casbon, date unknown. Courtesy of Ron Casbon. (Click on image to enlarge)

This 1906 map shows the location of the Hankins farm, where the illegal hunting took place, near the town of Hurlburt. It also shows the location of Amos’ farm near Boone Grove.

Hurlburt detail mapDetail of 1906 plat map, Porter Township, Porter County, Indiana.[4] (Click on image to enlarge)

Hurlburt was little more than a post office and a train depot. In 1910 it had a population of over 100.[5]

As a side note, the Hankins farm was established in 1882 by Albert Hankins.[6] He owned a gambling house in Chicago and raised racing horses at his farm in Porter County. He died in 1897 in a bizarre manner, as described in the Westchester Tribune:  [7]

Albert Hankins Suffocates Before His Body is Extricated From The Folding Bed. Woman Who Could Have Saved Him Delays in Giving the Alarm and Mysteriously Disappears From The Scene
— Career of the Noted Gambler
“Farmer” Al Hankins, race horse man, speculator, philosopher, was a victim of the treacherous folding bed, having been smothered to death Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 25, at 1 o’clock in a room in the rear of his gambling place, 3908 Cottage Grove avenue, Chicago.
The sole witness of the accident, the only person who could, by timely warning, have prevented its fatal termination was a woman who rather than risk a confession of her identity, delayed in giving an alarm and mysteriously disappeared from the scene. The personality of the woman is shrouded behind a cloak of doubt and shielded by the care of a few who know who she is, and are familiar with the circumstances which brought here [sic?] within the scope of the tragedy.

You can read an extended version of this dramatic story and a summary of “Al” Hankins’ life in this Chicago Tribune article of August 26, 1897. This lovely illustration of his farm comes from the 1882 book, Counties of Porter and Lake, Indiana.[8]

Hankins farm Porter twp
(Click on image to enlarge)

I hope my readers will forgive this slight detour from the original subject of this post. Sometimes one interesting story leads to another. Genealogists refer to these as “BSOs” – bright shiny objects!

I’ll have more to say about Amos in the future. I was happy to see, as I’m sure are his descendants, that he did the right thing and refused the bribe.

[1] “Chicago Hunters Arrested,” The Lake County Times (Hammond, Indiana), 21 Aug 1913, p. 1, col. 3; image, Library of Congress, Chronicling America ( : accessed 1 Mar 2017).
[2] “New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891”, browsable images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 10 November 2016), image 107 of 341, line 27, James Custon; citing NARA microfilm publication M237.
[3] “Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007”, databased with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 February 2016), Amos J Casbon & Carrie B Aylesworth, 28 Nov 1900; citing citing Porter, Indiana, county clerk office; FHL microfilm 1,686,211.
[4] “Map of Porter Township”(N.p., n.p., 1906), image, Porter County, Indiana ( : accessed 2 March 2017).
[5] History of Porter County, Indiana: A Narrative Account of its Historical Progress, its People and its Principal Interests (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1912), vol 1, p.172.
[6] Weston A.Goodspeed & Charles Blanchard, Counties of Porter and Lake, Indiana: Historical and Biographical, Illustrated (Chicago, Illinois: F. A. Battey & Company, 1882), 383.
[7] “Death by Strangulation,” The (Porter, Indiana) Westchester Tribune, 4 Sep 1897, p. 1, col. 1; transcription, “Albert Hankins, Obituary/Death Notice,” Porter County, Indiana ( : accessed 2 March 2017).
[8] Goodspeed & Blanchard, Counties of Porter and Lake, Indiana, 135.

Joseph and Lydia (Burgess) Casbon

You might need the Kleenex® for this one.

One goal of genealogy, at least for me, is to keep lives from being forgotten. By writing about them, I hope to recognize, and give context and meaning to their existence, even if there are no living descendants to preserve their memory. Sometimes there is precious little to preserve when it comes to genealogical records.

Such is the case with Joseph Casbon and his wife Lydia. There is such a paucity of records, that I can only provide a bare outline of their lives. Unfortunately, those few records tell a depressing story

Until I was given a very old hand-written family history last year, I didn’t know if or how Joseph was related to the other Casbons. I wrote about this in a post titled “From England to Indiana, Part 2.” Joseph was listed as the son of Isaac Casbon (1773–1825), and brother to Thomas (1803–1888), William (1806–1875), and James (abt. 1813–1884). The only description given of Joseph was this: “dead he left no heirs.”[1]

Other than this family history, the only two records I have that mention Joseph by name are those documenting his marriage and his burial. The first of these records his marriage to Lydia Burgess in 1835.[2]

1835 Joseph Casbon Lydia Burgess M Royston Marriage record of Joseph Casbon and Lydia Burgess, October 17, 1835, Parish of Royston (Hertfordshire & Cambridgeshire, England). (Click on image to enlarge)

A little information can be gleaned from this record. We can see that Joseph was a resident of Melbourn parish (just outside of Meldreth) and a bachelor. Lydia was “of this parish” (Royston) and a spinster – meaning an unmarried woman. Both Joseph and Lydia signed with their marks, meaning they were not proficient at writing, and possibly could not read. I don’t recognize the names of either of the two witnesses (John Thurley & Phoebe Huggins).

The only other record I have of Joseph is his burial in Meldreth March 7, 1847.[3]

1847 Joseph Casbon Bu MeldDetail from Meldreth Parish register, burials 1847. (Click on image to enlarge)

The burial record tells us that Joseph was still a resident of Melbourn, and that he was 36 years old when he died. This is useful information, because I’ve never been able to find a record of his baptism. Assuming the age is correct, we can estimate that he was born in 1810 or 11, and that he was about 24 years old when he married Lydia.

For Lydia, in addition to the marriage record, I have two census entries, birth registrations for her children, and a burial record. The first of these is the 1841 England and Wales census.[4]

Lydia Burgess Casbon 1841 Census Melb Detail from 1841 census of England, Melbourn, Cambridgeshire. (Click on image to enlarge)

The census tells us that Lydia lived in Chiswick End, a street lies roughly in between Melbourn and Meldreth proper.

Meldreth ord surv map 1945 color detailMap detail showing location of Chiswick End, from Ordnance Survey of Great Britain New Popular Edition, Sheet 148 – Saffron Walden. This work is based on data provided through and uses historical material which is copyright of the Great Britain Historical GIS Project and the University of Portsmouth.

The 1841 census also shows that Lydia was 28 years old and was born outside of Cambridgeshire (the “No” in the right-hand column). Two children were in the home: Ann, age 2, born in Cambridgeshire; and Mary, 6 months, also born in Cambridgeshire.

For an unknown reason, Joseph is not recorded in this census. The census only recorded those who were physically present in the household at the time of the census. If a family member was visiting relatives or working elsewhere, they could be recorded at whichever location they occupied on the day of the census (more accurately the night of the census, but that’s another story). Some records have been lost or are too illegible to read. At any rate, I haven’t been able to find an entry for Joseph anywhere in England in the 1841 census. He must have been around, since Lydia continued bearing children (presumably his) through 1844.

In the 1851, Lydia was living in “M[elbourn] in Meldreth,” and listed as: head of household, widow, age 39.[5]

Lydia C 1851 meldreth census Detail from 1851 census of England, Melbourn, Hertfordshire. (Click on image to enlarge)

Her status is widow makes sense, given that Joseph died in 1847. In addition, she is described as a “Pauper,” meaning she was dependent on public support. Her birthplace is listed as Chrishall, Essex. Daughter Ann is not recorded, but Mary, now age 10, is there, along with a new daughter Emma, age 6. Both daughters were born in Meldreth. From these two censuses, we can estimate that Lydia was born in 1812 or 13. I’ve searched online for records of her birth in and around Chrishall, Essex, in this timeframe, without success.

Three children are mentioned in the two census records. I haven’t found baptismal records for any of them, but in the course of researching for this post, I was able to find civil registrations of their births. Birth registrations were required in England beginning in 1837. Births in Meldreth and Melbourn were registered in nearby Royston, Hertfordshire. The online birth registration index contains limited information – only name, year, quarter of birth, and mother’s maiden name. Individual birth records with complete information can be purchased from the General Register Office, but I haven’t done so.

In addition to the daughters listed in the census, I found a birth registration for a fourth child, also a daughter. Sadly, I also found burial records in Meldreth for three of these four children. Here is a summary of the four daughters’ lives:

  • Harriet Ann (“Ann” in the 1841 census): born 4th quarter, 1838;[6] buried August 15, 1850, age 11.[7] Her death explains her absence from the 1851 census.

  • Mary: born 1st quarter, 1841.[8] Orphaned at age 10, she survived to adulthood. Her immigration to the United States and subsequent marriage to William Slocum is described in “From England to America, Part 8.”

  • Hannah (not in either census record): born 4th quarter, 1842;[9] buried June 6, 1848, age 5.[10]

  • Emma: born 4th quarter, 1844;[11] buried April 9, 1852, age 7.[12]

Lydia was buried in June, 1851, just a couple months after the census was taken.[13]

Lydia C Burial 1851 MeldrethDetail from Parish of Meldreth, Bishop’s transcripts for Meldreth, 1599-1862, FamilySearch ( : accessed 28 February 2017) (Click on image to enlarge)

Her age on the burial record does not match her estimated year of birth from the census records, but this must be her. There was no one else in England with her name and the same approximate age.

What happened to this family? Five of six family members were buried within the span of five years. They could have died from a variety of causes, but my guess is that they suffered from what was then known as consumption (tuberculosis), a disease aggravated by conditions associated with poverty: living in close quarters, poor sanitation, and malnutrition.

On the other hand, after the loss of her husband and two daughters, and with another probably very sick at home, is it too much to believe that Lydia might have died from a broken heart?

[1] Author unknown, photocopy of untitled, undated, handwritten family tree describing descendants of Isaac and Thomas Casbon, 1890-92 (estimated), p. 1, line 5; privately held by Jon Casbon [Address for private use], 2017; photocopy was given to Jon Casbon by Donald A Casbon [Address for private use] in 2016; source and location of original is unknown.
[2] Parish of Royston (Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire, England), “Register of Marriages [1813–1837],” p. 89, Joseph Casbon & Lydia Burgess, 17 Oct 1835; database with images, “Hertfordshire Marriages,” findmypast ( : accessed 3 February 2017).
[3] Parish of Meldreth (Cambridgeshire, England), parish registers, 1681-1877, Joseph Casbon burial (1847); FHL microfilm 1,040,542.
[4] 1841 census of England, Cambridgeshire, Melbourn, p. 14 (stamped), Lydia Casbon; image, findmypast ( : accessed 21 July 2016); citing [The National Archives] HO 107, piece 63, book 15, folio 14, p. 22.
[5] 1851 census of England, Hertfordshire, Melbourn, p. 29 (stamped), Lydia Casbon; image, findmypast (accessed 21 July 2016); citing [The National Archives] HO 107, piece 1708, folio 206, p. 29.
[6] HM Passport Office, database, Search the [General Register Office] GRO Online Index ( : accessed 28 February 2017), birth of Harriet Ann Casbon (1838); citing Hertfordshire, December quarter 1838, Royston & Buntingford district, vol. 6: 463.
[7] Parish of Meldreth, parish registers, 1681-1877, Harriet Anne Casbon burial (1850); FHL microfilm 1,040,542.
[8] GRO Online Index (accessed 28 February 2017), birth of Mary Casbon (1841); citing Hertfordshire, March quarter 1841, Royston & Buntingford district, vol. 6:553.
[9] GRO Online Index (accessed 28 February 2017), birth of Hannah Casbon (1842); citing Hertfordshire, December quarter 1841, Royston & Buntingford district, vol. 6:530.
[10] Meldreth parish registers, Hannah Casbon burial (1848); FHL microfilm 1,040,542.
[11] GRO Online Index (accessed 28 February 2017), birth of Emma Casbon (1844); citing Hertfordshire, December quarter 1841, Royston & Buntingford district, vol. 6:540.
[12] Meldreth parish registers, Emma Casbon burial (1852); FHL microfilm 1,040,542.
[13] Meldreth parish registers, Lydia Casbourn burial (1851); FHL microfilm 1,040,542.

Deette Casbon—a Mystery

When I first started gathering information about our family history in the 1990s, there wasn’t much information available online and I didn’t have access to many sources. One source I did have was a privately printed volume entitled Aylesworth Family, Porter County, Indiana. The first printing of this book was 250 copies in March, 1946. I have the second printing – a run of 400 copies in July, 1984. This remarkable book was written by members of the Aylesworth family, initially building upon published works and family records. The 1984 edition was updated with information provided at Aylesworth family reunions, which were a regular occurrence in Porter County, Indiana, for many years. The 1984 printing contains more than 150 pages, and includes information on 13 generations of Aylesworth descendants, beginning in the 1600s.

Aylesworth book
The cover of my copy of the Aylesworth Family book

Why am I talking about the Aylesworth family in Our Casbon Journey? Well, it turns out there are close connections between the Aylesworths and the Casbons in the United States. When Thomas Casbon arrived in Wayne County, Ohio, in 1846, several members of the Aylesworth family were already there. Some of these families then moved westward to Porter County, Indiana. Sylvester Casbon (1837—1937), son of Thomas (1803—1888), married Adaline (or Mary Adaline) Aylesworth (1842—1868). She was the daughter of Giles Aylesworth, the first Aylesworth to migrate to Porter County. Amos James Casbon (1869—1956), the son of James (1813—1884), married Carrie Belle Aylesworth (1873—1958). So, there are important Aylesworth connections in both branches of the Indiana Casbon families.

This rather lengthy introduction provides the back story for the real subject of today’s post. The entry in the Aylesworth book for Adaline Aylesworth Casbon, wife of Sylvester, lists their first child as “Deette.”[1]

adaline family
Detail from the Aylesworth Family book, p. 13. (Click on image to enlarge)

I haven’t been able to locate birth records for Deette, but that’s not unusual, since birth registration wasn’t required at the time.

The subsequent Aylesworth Family entry on Deette says that she married Napoleon Lightfoot in 1872.

deete lightfoot
Detail from the Aylesworth Family book, p. 26. (Click on image to enlarge)

These innocuous looking entries are the basis of a mystery – who was Deette Casbon and who were her real parents? She couldn’t be the child of both Sylvester and Adaline. When Deette was born in 1856, Adaline Aylesworth and her family were living in Indiana.[2] Sylvester first came to Porter County in about 1859.[3] So, it’s highly unlikely that Sylvester even knew Adaline when Deette was born.

This doesn’t rule out Adaline as the mother. Although she was only 14 in 1856, it would be biologically possible for her to have a child.

In an effort to resolve the question, I took another look at the 1860 U.S. census to see if I could find any clues about Deette. I had seen these records before, but his time I noticed something interesting in the entry for Giles Aylesworth and his family.

Aylesworth 1860 census
Detail from 1860 U.S. Census, Boone Township, Porter County, Indiana. (Click on image to enlarge)

You can see the entry for Adaline, age 18. This was recorded about 1 month before she married Sylvester Casbon.[4] What I had previously overlooked was the entry for Deretta Ailsworth, age 4. Could Deette be a contraction of Deretta?

Notably, Deretta does not appear as one of Giles Aylesworth’s children in the Aylesworth Family book.[5] So what is she doing here in the 1860 census?

If she was part of Sylvester and Adaline’s family, you might expect her to appear under Sylvester’s name in the 1870 census. But when I look at Sylvester’s census entry, there is no listing for Deette or Deretta. Of note, Adaline died in 1868. By 1870, Sylvester had remarried and had a stepchild from his new wife in addition to his own children.

What about Giles Aylesworth in the 1870 census? Neither Deette nor Deretta appear. However, there is a curious entry for Cicelia Gray, age 13, Domestic Servant.

C Gray in 1870 census
Detail from 1870 U.S. Census, Boone Township, Porter County, Indiana. (Click on image to enlarge)

At first glance this name doesn’t appear to mean anything special. But let’s fast forward a few years to Deette’s marriage to Napoleon Lightfoot in 1873 (not 1872 as stated in the Aylesworth book).

Lightfoot Gray marriage]
Marriage record, Porter County, Indiana.[6]

Contrary to what’s listed in the Aylesworth Family book, Napoleon Lightfoot did not marry Deette Casbon – he married Cicley (a misspelling of Cicelia) Gray – the same name that appears in the 1870 census! So why does the Aylesworth book say he married Deette?

The solution is that Deette/Deretta and Cicelia/Cicley are the same person. This is confirmed by the 1880 census, in which her name is recorded as Deitt Lightfoot.[7] Different versions of her given name and surname can be seen in two other references. Napoleon Lightfoot’s obituary states that “he was married to Deepie Gray who preceded him in death August 13, 1886.”[8] Their daughter Stella Lightfoot’s 1912 marriage record gives her mother’s maiden name as Deta Ellsworth (Ellsworth is a variant of Aylesworth).[9]

Before I noticed the Deretta Aylesworth entry in the 1860 census, I thought that maybe Deette/Cicelia had been orphaned from a family named Gray, and that Sylvester and Adaline had adopted her, either formally or informally. But now I think that she must have been Adaline’s daughter, born out of wedlock.

Many questions remain. Was Gray her father’s surname? If so, who/where was he? I’ve searched the 1850 and 1860 Porter county censuses and there was no one in the county named Gray. Unless there are documents or letters in an archive or someone’s attic, we may never know.

Was she ever really known as Deette Casbon, i.e., was she part of Sylvester and Adaline’s household? It’s possible that they took her into their family after they were married in 1860. The fact that she is listed as their child in the Aylesworth book suggests that there was some basis for considering her part of the family. If so, why did she return to the Aylesworth household after her mother died? Was she turned out by Sylvester, or did she choose to return to her grandparents? Was she really a household servant in 1870? I hope she wasn’t treated like a servant in her grandparents’ house. Maybe that’s what they told the census man (and nosey neighbors!) as a convenient way to explain her surname. She must have held some affection for her grandparents, since she named one of her sons Giles.

When did she become known as Cicelia Gray? The fact that she was using the surname Gray in 1870 indicates that she learned the truth about her birth at some point. The middle initial “D” in her marriage record makes me think that Cicelia was her first name, and Deretta her middle – or the other way around. Maybe she used Gray as her legal name, and Casbon or Aylesworth socially. It seems like her preferred nickname was Deette, since versions of that name appear on many records.

It must have been confusing and difficult for this young girl, living first in her grandparents’ home, then (possibly) with Sylester and Adaline, then losing her mother at an early age and returning to her grandparents. Deette married Napoleon at the age of 16, and died before she turned 33. I hope she was able to find some happiness along the way.

[1] Aylesworth Family, Porter County, Indiana, 2d ed. (privately printed., 1984), pp. 13–14, Adaline Aylesworth Casbon.
[2] 1850 U.S. Census, Porter County, Indiana, population schedule, Boone Township, p. 242 (stamped), dwelling 573, family 573, Giles Ellsworth; image, FamilySearch ( : accessed 4 July 2016); citing National Archives & Records Administration microfilm publication M432, roll 165.
[3] Weston A Goodspeed & Charles Blanchard, eds., Counties of Porter and Lake, Indiana: Historical and Biographical, Illustrated (Chicago, F. A. Battey & Company,1882), p. 707; PDF image, Hathi Trust Digital Library ( : accessed 25 February 2017).
[4] “Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 4 July 2016), entry for Sylvester Casbon and Adeline Ellsworth, 30 Oct 1860; citing Porter, Indiana, county clerk office; FHL microfilm 1,686,155.
[5] Aylesworth Family (1984), pp.8–9, Giles Aylesworth.
[6] “Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007,” FamilySearch ( : accessed 11 July 2016), entry for Napoleon Lightfoot and Cicley Gray, 16 March 1873; citing Porter, Indiana, county clerk office; FHL microfilm 1,686,156.
[7] 1880 U.S. Census, Porter County, Indiana, population schedule, Boone Township, enumeration district ED 145, p. 10B, dwelling 94, family 94, N B Lightoot; database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 11 July 2016); citing NARA microfilm publication T9.
[8] “N.B. Lightfoot Funeral Held,” The (Valparaiso, Indiana) Vidette-Messenger, 3 Nov 1930, page 8; PDF image; Newspaper Archive (available through participating libraries : accessed 11 July 2016).
[9] “Montana, County Marriages, 1865-1950,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 February 2016), Deta Ellsworth in entry for Archie Mcdonald, 23 Sep 1912; citing Intended Marriage, Silver Bow county courthouse, Montana; FHL microfilm 1,906,803.

How Valparaiso Got Its Name

This will be a short post, because I am only writing it to inform my readers of a post in a different blog. Steve Shook’s excellent blog, Porter County’s Past: An Amateur Historian’s Perspective, features an article this week, titled “Fact or Folklore? The Naming of Valparaiso.” In this post he addresses a popular myth about how the Porter County seat got its name, and gives a well-documented explanation of the true story.

In the course of the discussion he mentions the Lewis Publishing Company, publisher of the 1912 History of Porter County, Indiana: A Narrative of its Historical Progress, its People and its Principal Interests. It turns out that the Lewis Publishing Company has a peripheral connection to Our Casbon Journey. The company was founded in Chicago by Benjamin Franklin Lewis and his brother Samuel Thompson Lewis. Their father was a physician named L’Mander Lewis, who settled in Porter County in 1849.[1]

LMander Lewis
Portrait of L’Mander Lewis, from L.B. Hill, Benjamin Franklin Lewis, 1842-1928 : the man and his business
(Chicago : Lewis Publishing Company, 1936). (Click on image to enlarge)

It turns out that L’Mander Lewis is my third great grandfather! His granddaughter, Florence Lewis, was the mother in law of my grandfather, Leslie Christy Casbon.

[1] History of Porter County, Indiana : a narrative account of its historical progress, its people and its principal interests (Chicago : Lewis Publishing Company, 1912), vol. 2, p. 409; online image, Hathi Trust Digital Library ( : accessed 22 February 2017).

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 ( : 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 ( : 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 ( : accessed 24 October 2015); citing Porter County; FHL microfilm 1,686,156.
[2] “1841 England, Scotland and Wales census,” database and images, findmypast ( : 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 ( : 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 ( : accessed 4 July 2016); citing NARA microfilm publication T623; FHL microfilm 1,240,398.
[5] “New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891,”images, FamilySearch ( : 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 ( : 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.

Stuck on John

Genealogists use the term brick wall to describe a situation where they cannot find the information needed to trace an ancestor. That’s where I’m at with John, the father of Thomas Casbon (1843—1799) of Meldreth. John is my sixth great grandfather.

John 4 gen chart
Summary diagram, descendants of John Casbon (Click on image to enlarge)

I’ve used charts like this before to show the relationships of people I’ve discussed. You’ll notice that I don’t have birth or death information for John on the far left. That’s the brick wall I’m talking about. I don’t know when or where John was born, and I’m not sure when he died.

To demonstrate how I’ve tried to solve the problem, I’ll start with the known and work back to the unknown. Here’s what I know about John. The Meldreth parish registers have baptismal records for five children born to John and his wife Ann:

“Thomas Son of John & Ann Casbel was Baptiz’d Dec.r ye 11th” [1743][1]
“James Son of John & Anne Casbell was baptized Jan.9th” [1747][2]
“Nov: 6. James Son of John & Anne Casbull” [1748][3]
“M[ar]ch ye Mary Daughter of John & Ann Casball” [1751][4]
“Sept.23 … Anna daug.r of John & Ann Casburn” [1754][5]

The first son named James must have died in infancy, since the next son was given the same name. Thomas was the subject of an earlier post. His descendants have been the subjects of many posts.

The next step in is to find a marriage record between John Casb(*) and Ann (? surname) within a few years preceding Thomas’ baptism in 1743. There are no such records in Meldreth or Melbourne. However, I was eventually able to locate this record in the parish register of Wimpole, a tiny village 2.7 miles northwest of Meldreth.[6]

John C Anne Chamberlain M Wimpole 1742
Detail of marriage record, 1742/3; Parish of Wimpole (Cambridgeshire), Bishop’s Transcripts. “John Casborn of the parish of Meldreth and Ann Chamberlain of this Parish were married by Banns January the 18.” (Click on image to enlarge)

This is almost certainly the right couple, given the proximity of the marriage date to the birth of their first child, and given the statement that John belongs to the parish of Meldreth. I could not find any marriage records that might contradict this evidence.

The next step is to try to find baptismal records for John and Ann. This turned out to be fairly easy for Ann. I could not find any records for Chamberlain in Wimpole, where John & Ann were married. On the other hand, there were many Chamberlain records in Meldreth, including this one.

Ann C baptism 1717_18
Detail of baptismal record, 1717/18; Parish of Meldreth (Cambridgeshire). “Anne daughter of William & Elizabeth was Baptized March 9th – 1717.”[7] (Click on image to enlarge)

The date of birth would have made Ann about 24 years old when she was married, and about 36 when she had her first child, so this fits in well with the available data. By the way, you may have noticed in the baptismal record that the dates for 1717 begin and end in March. That’s because at that time in England the legal new year began on March 25th (Lady Day).[8] In addition, England was using the old Julian calendar, which calculated leap years incorrectly.[9] This was corrected by the Calendar Act of 1750, which came into effect in 1752.[10]

To be fair, I also found two baptismal records for Ann Chamberlain in the village of Wrestlingworth, Bedfordshire, in the years 1710 and 1713, respectively. Wrestlingworth is about 5.6 miles west of Wimpole and 7.2 miles west of Meldreth. It is possible that one of these could have married John instead of Ann of Meldreth, but the latter is more likely. Also, there are no burial or marriage records to suggest that Ann of Meldreth died or was married to anyone else.

I don’t know why Ann was living in Wimpole at the time, but it was probably for employment. There was a very large estate at Wimpole (think Downton Abbey!) at the time, now part of the National Trust.[11] Such a large household would have required many servants – a good reason for Ann to be there.

Finding a baptismal record for John is where the brick wall comes into play. The problem is that there are too many candidates. Assuming that John was a bachelor when he was married in 1742/3 (likely but not certain), he was probably born sometime between 1700 and 1725. Meldreth parish registers list two baptisms for John Casb(*) in this time frame:

“June the 8th [1707] the two children of William Cassbell deceased and of Anne his wife were Baptized the eldest born October 1701 was Baptized John the youngest born March 6th 1702 was Bap. William”[12]
“John the Son of John Cassbell and of Anne his wife was Baptized May the 26th [1714]”[13]

To complicate matters further, in the nearby village of Orwell (2.5 miles north of Meldreth), the baptism of John Casborn, son of Thomas and Mary, was recorded on November 26, 1721.[14] If I extend the distance or age range a little bit, the list of candidates grows considerably. However, I think we can limit the list to these three.

How can we tell which one married Ann Chamberlain? I don’t have an answer, but there is information that might help us to narrow it down a bit.

The first John, born in October 1701 and baptized in 1707, became an orphan when his widowed mother died In 1718.[15] John would have needed to become self-sufficient pretty quickly if he wasn’t already. He seems a less likely candidate for Ann’s husband because of his age – 41 would have been pretty old to be getting married for the first time. It’s also possible he died at an early age. One of these two burials might have been him.

“John Cassbell Servant at Bassingbourn was buried in Woolen December the 3d [1724]”[16]
“John Cassbell, a poor shoemaker was buried in Woolen March the 26th 1727”[17]

Unfortunately, I just don’t have enough information to draw any firm conclusions.

Based on his date of birth, the second John, baptized in 1714, could be the one who married Ann. I think he would have been too young to be the servant who died in 1724 or the shoemaker in 1727. However, I’ve searched far and wide for any other records that might be related to him and have come up blank.

At first, John Casborn of Orwell might not seem a likely candidate because he was not baptized (or presumably born) in Meldreth. In addition, there is evidence that his parents continued to live in Orwell for the rest of their lives – well after John and Ann were married.

But there is even stronger evidence in favor of this being the right John. The first is this death record from 1796.[18]

John C burial Meld 1796 age 75
Detail of burial record, 1796, Meldreth Parish registers 1681-1877. “John Casborn, Parish Clerk, Aged 75 _____ Jan.y 4.” (Click on image to enlarge)

If you calculate the birth year from this record, John Casborn was born about 1721 – the same year as John Casborn of Orwell. There are no other baptisms recorded for John Casb(*) around this time in the local area, so this provides strong evidence that John, born in Orwell, became the parish clerk and lived in Meldreth. There is no indication of when he was appointed or how long he served in this capacity.

Another piece of evidence is the fact that he named his first-born son Thomas. It was common practice at the time to name first-born sons after their paternal grandfather.[19] John of Orwell’s father was named Thomas, while the fathers of John born 1701 and 1707 were named William and John, respectively. These naming conventions were not required, nor were they consistently followed. So while suggestive, the fact that John and Ann’s first son was named Thomas doesn’t prove anything. The fact that their first daughter was named Mary (John of Orwell’s mother’s name) is also suggestive, although the naming convention would have given her the name of Elizabeth (Ann’s mother).

Another piece of evidence, though weak, is geography. Orwell is less than 1 mile away from Wimpole. If John was living in Orwell at the time Ann came to Wimpole, they could have easily met. On the other hand, if John became the parish clerk of Meldreth at an early age, he could have met Ann while she was still living in Meldreth.

Map showing locations of Meldreth, Orwell, Wimpole, and Wimpole Estate (Google Maps)

So, to summarize, there are at least three candidates for John Casb(*), who married Ann Chamberlain in 1642. Of these, John born in 1701 seems the least likely. Of the remaining two, my money is on John, baptized in Orwell 1721. But without better evidence, I just can’t say for sure. So for now, this is where my family tree for the Meldreth Casbons comes to a dead end.

[1] Church of England, Meldreth Parish (Cambridgeshire, England), Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877, Thomas Casbel baptism (1743); FHL Film #1040542.
[2] Church of England, Meldreth Parish, James Casbell baptism (1746).
[3] Church of England, Meldreth Parish, James Casbull baptism (1748).
[4] Church of England, Meldreth Parish, Mary Casball baptism (1751).
[5] Church of England, Meldreth Parish, Anna Casburn baptism (1754).
[6] Church of England. Wimpole Parish (Cambridgeshire, England), Bishop’s transcripts for Wimpole, 1599-1857, Casborn–Chamberlain marriage (1742); digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 7 June 2016), image 122 of 799.
[7] Church of England, Meldreth Parish (Cambridgeshire, England), Bishop’s transcripts for Meldreth, 1599-1862, Anne Chamberlain baptism (1717/18); digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 February 2017), image 174 of 899.
[8] Wikipedia (, “Calendar (New Style) Act 1750,” rev. 13:33, 22 January 2017.
[9] FamilySearch Wiki (, “England Calendar Changes,” rev. 20:49, 25 December 2015.
[10] Wikipedia, “Calendar (New Style) Act 1750,” rev. 13:33, 22 January 2017.
[11] Caroline Norton, “Wimpole Hall—Upstairs and Downstairs,” The (Cambridge Family History Society) Journal 19 (April 2013): 12–16; PDF image, Cambridge Family History Society ( : accessed 16 February 2016).
[12] Church of England, Meldreth Parish (Cambridgeshire, England), Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877, John & William Cassbell baptism (1707); FHL Film #1040542.
[13] Church of England, Meldreth Parish, John Cassbell baptism (1714).
[14] “England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,” John Casborn, 26 Nov 1721, database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 6 November 2015); citing Orwell, Cambridge, England, reference items 9-10; FHL microfilm 1,040,543.
[15] Church of England, Meldreth Parish, Ann Cassbell burial (1718); FHL Film #1040542.
[16] Church of England, Meldreth Parish, John Cassbell burial (1724).
[17] Church of England, Meldreth Parish, John Cassbell burial (1727).
[18] Church of England, Meldreth Parish (Cambridgeshire, England), Bishop’s transcripts for Meldreth, 1599-1862, John Casborn burial (1796); digital images, FamilySearch. ( : accessed 16 Feb 2017), image 257 of 899.
[19] FamilySearch Wiki (, “British Naming Conventions,” rev. 06:29, 3 February 2016.

The French Connection


  1. In which U.S. State did the Casbons first settle and where did they come from?
  2. What year is the earliest U.S. Census with the surname Casbon?
  3. What is the first U.S. military conflict for which there are service records of a Casbon family member?


1. The U.S. State with the earliest records of the Casbon name is Louisiana. Today Louisiana has the second highest number of individuals with the Casbon surname after Indiana.[1] A few of Jesse Casbon’s (1843—1934; son of Thomas Casbon, 1803—1888) descendants now live in Louisiana. Otherwise, the remainder of the Louisiana Casbons are not related to the “Indiana Casbons,” and their ancestors almost certainly did not originate in England.

Many of the given names for this family, especially in early records, are French in origin. It is possible that the family migrated to Louisiana from Acadia, which was the name given to portions of the Canadian maritime provinces (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island) by French settlers in the 1600s.[2] In 1755, the British began to expel the Acadians from their homeland in Canada, and they were dispersed to a variety of locations, including France, Great Britain, the Caribbean, and the American east coast.[3] Gradually, many of them resettled in Louisiana, which had originally been a French Colony, and in 1763 became a possession of Spain following the Seven Years’ War.[4] This became part of the United States in 1803 with the signing of the Louisiana Purchase.[5] In Louisiana, the term Acadian was shortened to Cajun, referring to the descendants of the original Acadians.[6]

It’s also possible that the Louisiana Casbons have Creole origins, which refers to those who were native-born in Louisiana. This originally referred to descendants of French settlers but also “came to be applied to African-descended slaves and Native Americans who were born in Louisiana.”[7]

The 1900 U.S. Census has a record for Francois Casbon, born 1825 in Louisiana.[8] His father’s birthplace is recorded as France, so it’s also possible that some or all of the first Louisiana Casbons migrated directly from France in the late 18th or early 19th century.

I don’t know which of these origins best describes the Casbons of Louisiana. Hopefully this knowledge has been passed down through the generations for the benefit of present-day family members.

Like those of us with English roots, it’s possible that the name has changed over time. There are records for similar French surnames, such as Cassabon, Casabonne and Casbonne.

2. The 1820 U.S. Census has an entry for “Bte [Baptiste] Casbon,” whose age was between 16 and 25 years.[9] This is the earlies census record I have found with the Casbon surname.

Bte Casbon 1820 Louisiana census
Detail from 1820 U.S. Census, St. Jacques Parish, Louisiana. The “1” in the first numbered column denotes a free white male under age 10; the “1” in the 4th numbered column denotes a free white male age 16-25; the “1 in the 9th numbered column denotes a free white female age 16-25. The 16th through 19th numbered columns show numbers of males slaves of different ages; columns 20 through 23 show numbers of female slaves; these are followed by numbers for free male and female “colored persons.”[10] (Click on image to enlarge)

There may be earlier census records with variant spellings of the name, but without more information, such as birth and marriage records, I can’t tell if they are related.

3. Corporal Bte [Baptiste] Casbon is recorded as a member of Colonel Landry’s 6th Louisiana Militia regiment in the War of 1812.[11]

Bte Casbon War of 1812 index card
Index card of Corporal Bte Casbon, War of 1812. (Click on image to enlarge)

Corporal Casbon is listed in the rosters of those who fought in the New Orleans Campaign, and he very likely participated in the Battle of New Orleans, January 1815, led by Major General Andrew Jackson.[12]

Is this the same Bte Casbon as the 1820 census? He might be, depending on his age. Since the census only gives his age as 16-25, he could have been anywhere from 8 to 17 years old in 1812, and 11 to 20 when the war ended in 1815. If he was at the older end of this range, it might be possible, though unlikely, that he achieved the rank of Corporal by the age of 20.


This is only a brief introduction to the Louisiana Casbons. They have not been the focus of my research, but I wanted to mention them in the blog because they also have a story worth preserving. Hopefully a member of that family is doing research or will be motivated to do so.

[1] “Casbon Surname Meaning & Statistics,” United States, Forebears ( : accessed 8 February 2017).
[2] “History of the Acadians,” Wikipedia ( : accessed 8 February 2017), rev. 31 Jan 17, 23:42.
[3] “From Acadian to Cajun,” Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve Louisiana (n.d.), National Park Service ( : accessed 8 February 2017).
[4] “History of Louisiana,” Wikipedia (accessed 8 February 2017), rev. 8 Feb 2017, 12:28.
[5] “Louisiana Purchase, 1803,” Office of The Historian ( : accessed 9 February 2017).
[6] “Tracing Your Family’s Roots,” Ensemble Encore: The Acadian Memorial Archive ( : accessed 8 February 2017).
[7] “Louisiana Creole people,” Wikipedia (accessed 8 February 2017), rev. 9 Feb 2017, 00:22.
[8] 1900 United States Census, Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, Ward 3; p. 265 (stamped), side B, dwelling 328, family 321, Francois Casbon;database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 6 February 2017); citing NARA microfilm publication T623.
[9] “United States Census, 1820,” St Jacques Parish, Louisiana, p. 381 (stamped), line 6, Bte Casbon; database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 9 February 2017); citing p. 384, NARA microfilm publication M33, roll 30; FHL microfilm 181,356.
[10] “1820 United States Census,” Wikipedia (accessed 9 February 2017), rev. 15 Jan 2017, 21:05.
[11] United States War of 1812 Index to Service Records, 1812-1815, Bte Casban; database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 7 February 2017); citing NARA microfilm publication M602, roll 36; FHL microfilm 882,554.
[12], Battle of New Orleans, War of 1812 American Muster and Troop Roster List (N.p.: n.p., n.d.), unpaginated, 41st page, PDF brochure, National Park Service, Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve ( : accessed 9 February 2017).

“Two Children Drowned”

This article appeared in The Cambridge Independent Press, May 21, 1859.[1]

Camb Indep 21 May 1859
(Click on image to enlarge)

Sarah Casbon was the second child and first daughter born to John and Rebecca (Speechly) Casbon of Peterborough (see “How doth your garden grow? Part 2”). She was baptized November 11, 1855, and probably named after her maternal grandmother, Sarah (Delanoy) Speechly.[2]

Sarah baptism detail 1855
Baptismal record of Sarah Casbon, 1855 Peterborough (Northamptonshire). (Click on image to enlarge)

The news story gives the location of the incident as Boonfield. At the time, this was a mostly rural area on the northeastern outskirts of Peterborough.

Boonfields map
Map detail showing Peterborough and Boon Fields. Source: Ordnance Survey First Series, Sheet 64 (1856); online image, A Vision of Britain Through Time ( : accessed 1 February 2017). This work is based on data provided through and uses historical material which is copyright of the Great Britain Historical GIS Project and the University of Portsmouth. (Click on image to enlarge)

This is the kind of story you hate to see. Although death in childhood was a common occurrence in Victorian times, the loss of a child to drowning must have been an especially hard blow. We would like to think the major causes of death in childhood have been overcome. While that is largely true, there is a sad exception. Other than birth defects, drowning remains the most frequent cause of death in children 1-4 years old.[3]

[1] “Peterborough…Two Children Drowned,” The Cambridge (England) Independent Press, 21 May 1859, p. 7, col. 4; online images, Findmypast (, British Newspapers 1710-1953.
[2] “Northamptonshire, England, Church of England Baptisms, 1813-1912”, Sarah Casbon, 11 Nov 1855, images and transcripts, Ancestry ( : accessed 1 February 2017); citing Northamptonshire Anglican Parish Registers and Bishop’s Transcripts. Textual records. Northamptonshire Record Office, Northampton, England.
[3] “Water-Related Injuries,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( : accessed 1 February 2017).

Using GPS: James & Susanna

Buckle your seat belts, serious genealogy discussion ahead! If you’re not into that, feel free to sit this one out. It’s OK, I don’t mind.

In “James Casbon, Farmer and Carrier, 1806-1871, Part 1” I provided this marriage record for James Casbon and Susanna Hayden Sanders. [1]

James Casbon Susanna Sanders marriage 1834 small
Marriage record of James Casbon and Susanna Hayden Sanders, August 22, 1834, Church of Saint Martin-in-the-Fields, London. (Click on image to enlarge)

I raised the question, “how do I know this is the right James?” It might seem like a silly or trivial question. After all, who else would it be? But genealogy researchers know that mistaken identities are all too common and have led many down the wrong rabbit hole, resulting in incorrect and unsupportable family trees. I know there was at least one other James Casbon living in England at the time. There could have been others I don’t know about, or someone with a similar name that got misspelled on the marriage record.

In this case I raised the question because of the unusual location of the wedding. Up to this point in James’ life I was unaware of any connection with London. It was very unusual for any of the Meldreth Casbons to get married anyplace except Meldreth or one of the nearby parishes. And the marriage record in question says that James was “of this parish,” meaning he lived in London.

How do we resolve questions like this? Fortunately there is a navigational tool we all know as GPS—that’s right, the Genealogical Proof Standard! I introduced the GPS in an earlier post and gave an example of how it can be applied. I will do the same now to answer the question I posed about the marriage of James Casbon and Susanna Hayden Sanders. Here are the steps of the GPS.

GPS insert
Adapted from The Board for Certification of Genealogists

First, what research have I done? In this case, this means looking for as much evidence as possible to either prove or disprove that the James in the wedding record is the one who was born in Meldreth in 1806.

The marriage record doesn’t tell me when or where James was born. Unlike many marriage records, it doesn’t even say whether he was a bachelor or a widower. All it really tells me is the date, the location, and the names of the bride, officiating minister, and witnesses. That’s not a lot to go on, but it’s better than nothing.

The date is important. I knew that James’ first wife Ann was buried in October 1833.[2] I also knew from the 1841 census that he married a woman named Susanna, and that their first child (John) was born about 1835.[3] So, the marriage record of 1834 was consistent with these dates.

1841 census detail
 Detail from 1841 census, Meldreth (Cambridgeshire). (Click on image to enlarge)

The fact that the name of James’ wife in the marriage and census records was the same is helpful, but doesn’t prove they were the same person. Susanna was a very common name. However, the bride’s middle name, “Hayden,” is unique, and a good clue for further research. Using her name, and estimated birth year (1808) from the 1841 census, I did a search for birth or baptismal records, and found a record for “Susnah Hayden Sanders,” baptized February 25, 1808, in Braughing, Hertfordshire, to John and Ann Sanders.[4]

Susanna H Sanders bapt Braughing 1808
Detail from Braughing (Hertfordshire) parish registers, baptisms, 1808. (Click on image to enlarge)

This was a lucky break. There were many “Susanna Sanders” born in England during this timeframe, but this was the only one with the middle name “Hayden.” It didn’t prove she was the same person named on the marriage certificate, but it gave me enough information to dig deeper – namely a location and the names of her parents.

Next, I made a guess that Hayden might be Susanna’s mother’s maiden name. I looked for a marriage record between a John Sanders and Ann Hayden in the timeframe of about 1790—1810. I found two: one 1805 in Broxbourne (Hertfordshire), and the other 1806 in Braughing (Hertfordshire). The latter caught my attention, since it was the same location as “Susnah’s” birth record. John Sanders married Ann Hayden November 28, 1806 in Braughing.[5] Based on the date and location, I was confident these were the parents of “Susnah,” and that she was probably the same person in the 1834 marriage record. But I still wanted stronger evidence that she was the same Susanna who married James from Meldreth.

It took another lucky break to confirm the connection. When I reviewed the 1851 census records for James, I noticed that three of the daughters were not present in his household. I did a separate search for each of them and found the following record for daughter Sarah.[6]

Sarah C b1844 Meld 1851 census Royston
Detail from 1851 census for Royston (Hertfordshire). (Click on image to enlarge)

Sarah Casbon, age 7, was recorded in the household of her grandparents, John and Ann Sanders, now living in Royston (a few miles from Meldreth)! It’s possible she was there because of her mother’s recent death in 1850. The census shows that Sarah was from Meldreth, and that her grandmother Ann was from Braughing. This almost certainly meant they were the same John and Ann (Hayden) Sanders married in Braughing in 1806.

This census was the piece of evidence that tied it all together. If John and Ann (Hayden) Sanders were Sarah’s grandparents, then their daughter Susannah Hayden Sanders was the same person listed as the wife of James Casbon of Meldreth on the 1841 census. It would be extremely unlikely for two different men named James Casbon to have married two different women with the unusual name of Susannah Hayden Sanders, especially within such a narrow timeframe. So, the couple married at St. Martin-in-the-Fields in 1834 must be James from Meldreth and Susanna from Braughing.

What about contradictory evidence? There is some, but I think it can be dismissed fairly easily. First, in 1834 there were two men named James Casbon from Meldreth. The other was the son of Isaac Casbon, born about 1813 (see “James Casbon of Meldreth, England and Porter County, Indiana”). He married Elizabeth Waller in 1835.[7] There is no reason to believe he also married Susanna Hayden Sanders in 1834, especially since there are separate entries for each couple in the 1841 census.

As I said, there were two marriage records for John Sanders and Ann Hayden, one in Broxbourne and the other in Braughing. The two parishes are about 11 miles apart, with Braughing being nearer to Royston. Although it’s possible that Ann Hayden, born in Braughing, was married in Broxbourne, it’s much more likely that she married in her home town.

One other piece of contradictory evidence is that the 1841 Meldreth census says that Susanna was “born in the same County [Cambridgeshire].” This contradicts the birth record from Braughing (Hertfordshire). However, errors are quite common in census records, and this detail has little significance compared to the rest of the evidence.

In this discussion, I haven’t gone through the steps of the GPS sequentially, but I think I have covered all the steps.

This post may give the appearance that my research was done in an orderly fashion, that is anything but the truth. I first recorded the marriage of James and Susanna sometime in 2015. I didn’t consciously set out to apply the GPS until I started to firm up facts for the blog entries about James a few weeks ago. It wasn’t until I started to dig deeper into Susanna’s birth as well as looking at census entries for James and Susanna’s children that the evidence started to come together. Genealogical proof can be a tedious business. It frequently requires evidence gathered from a variety of sources over a considerable period of time. And sometimes, as in this instance, it requires quite a bit of luck!

[1] [4] “Westminster Marriages”, images and transriptions, Findmypast ( : accessed 17 January 2017), James Casbon – Susanna Hayden Sanders (1834); citing City of Westminster Archives Centre.
[2] Meldreth (Cambridgeshire, England), Parish registers,1681-1877, Anne Carsbourn burial, 4 Oct 1833; FHL microilm 1,040,542.
[3] “1841 England, Scotland and Wales census,” database and images, findmypast ( : accessed 4 August 2016), James Casbon; citing The National Archives PRO HO 107, piece 63, folio 9, p.12.
[4] “Hertfordshire Baptisms,” Susnah Hayden Sanders, 26 Feb 1808, images and transcriptions, Findmypast ( : accessed 17 January 2017).
[5] “England Marriages, 1538–1973”; database, FamilySearch ( accessed 19 January 2017), John Sanders and Ann Hayden, 23 Dec 1806; citing Braughing, Hertford, England, reference ; FHL microfilm 991,368.
[6] “1851 Census of England, Wales & Scotland,” Royston, Hertfordshire; images and transcriptions, Findmypast (accessed 13 January 2017), entry for John Sanders; citing The National Archives, PRO HO 107, piece 1,707, folio 423, p. 8, household 29.
[7] Meldreth (Cambridgeshire, England), Bishop’s transcripts for Meldreth, 1599-1862, James Casbon—Elizabeth Waller, 5 Jul 1835; browsable images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 20 May 2016).

Lawrence J Goes Transcontinental

It’s time for a little break from all that serious genealogy work. Here’s an article about one of the Indiana Casbons.[1]

Lawrence J Casbon Hudson article 1920
(Click on image to enlarge)

This article was featured in the November 9, 1920, edition of The Hudson Triangle, the newsletter of the Hudson Motor Care Company. L. J. Casbon was Lawrence John Casbon, the only son of Charles Thomas Casbon (1840—1915), and grandson of Thomas Casbon (1803-1888), my third great grandfather.

Lawrence was born August 26, 1875, probably at the family farm in Porter Township, Porter County, Indiana.[2] For those living in the area, it would have been on what is now the northeast corner of the intersection of S 300 W and W 300 S. My notes say that Lawrence lost his right hand in a mowing machine accident when he was about 14 years old. Rather than follow his father into farming, he entered into a number of apparently successful business ventures. He owned a number of pool halls, a cigar store, and a garage in a variety of cities and towns in northwest Indiana: Goshen, Elkhart, Fort Wayne, Mishawaka, and South Bend.

Lawrence married Lydia May Pauter January 23, 1899, in Adrian, Michigan.[3] They never had children.

Lawrence John Casbon  Lydia Pauter
Portrait (wedding?) of Lawrence J and L. May (Pauter) Casbon, undated. Photo courtesy of Ron Casbon. (Click on image to enlarge)

This slightly different version of the story of Lawrence’s cross-country drive tells us that he was moving to Los Angeles from Indiana.[4]

Lawrence J Casbon CA Hudson article Oct 1920
(Click on image to enlarge)

I don’t know why Lawrence and May decided to move to California. I suspect he had somewhat of a restless spirit. Once there, he entered into a real estate partnership, as evidenced by this entry in the 1923 Los Angeles City Directory.[5]

Lawrence J Casbon Los Angeles directory 1923
(Click on image to enlarge)

Sadly, he did not live long to enjoy the change in climate. Lawrence died October 9, 1923 in Los Angeles.[6] His wife May lived in Los Angeles for the rest of her long life. She died at the age of 98 on June 10, 1971.[7]

[1] “One-Armed Hudson Owner Makes Transcontinental,” The Hudson Triangle, newsletter of the Hudson Motor Care Company, vol. 9, no. 51 (6 Nov 1920), unnumbered p. 3; Google Books ( : accessed 25 Jan 17)
[2] “World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards,” Lawrence John Casbon, 1918; database with images, FamilySearch ( : 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.
[3] “Michigan Marriages, 1868-1925,” Lawrence Casbon—May Pauter, 23 Jan 1899; database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 28 January 2017); citing Adrian, Lenawee, Michigan, item 3 p 62 rn 16, Department of Vital Records, Lansing; FHL microfilm 2,342,512.
[4] “One Arm Enough to Handle Hudson,” The Bakersfield Californian, 30 Oct 1920, part 2, p. 4, col. 1; online images, Access Newspaper Archive (available through participating libraries : accessed 28 January 2017).
[5] Los Angeles (California) City Directory (The Los Angeles Directory Company: 1923), p. 2821, col. 2; online image, Los Angeles Public Library ( : accessed 28 January).
[6] “California, Death Index, 1905-1939”, Lawrence J Casbon, 9 Oct 1923; database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 28 January 2017); citing certificate no. 43379, Department of Health Services, Vital Statistics Department, Sacramento.
[7] “California Death Index, 1940-1997,” Lydia M Casbon, 10 Jun 1971; database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 28 January 2017); citing Department of Public Health Services, Sacramento.