Figure 1: Obituary of Mary Carson Aston
Who is Mary Carson Aston? According to her obituary, Mary was “ever regarded as a lady of high moral worth and true womanly graces.” Mary Carson Aston demonstrated tremendous fortitude while living her life on the rough western frontier.
Mary Carson Aston was the widow of Richard Aston, a member of the Indiana Militia and a veteran of the War of 1812. Richard served in the Indiana Militia in 1812 and 1813.
Mary requested a widow’s pension in 1871 for the service rendered by her husband during the War of 1812. The pension was rejected 22 May 1872 due to Mary’s death on 2 August 1871 and the lack of declaration “oath” to support the Constitution not filed. In essence, Mary never had the chance to prove she did not remarry after her husband’s death, passing away herself before the application process was resolved.
The pension file included a newspaper listing her obituary from which I gleaned that “Mary Aston was born in Ireland Dec. 20th 1786…” The obituary further documents Mary’s migration from Ireland to Kentucky to New Albany, Indiana, where she would spend the remainder of her life.
With only a few hours available each week and limited resources at my disposal, I reviewed documentation gathered to examine the life of Mary Carson Aston. I was now restricted by the fact that I could only complete additional research online from my home in Utah. Knowing that this would constitute a partially “exhaustive search” in accordance with accepted Genealogical Proof Standards, I decided to push forward. I hoped that the research I completed would allow others to follow-up on my discoveries and pursue them to a logical conclusion.
In addition to the newspaper obituary, the pension file contained letters supporting Mary’s claim for a widow’s pension and the necessary government forms requesting that the pension be granted. With the information gleaned from this file, I searched online databases in the hope that I could find clues to help document Mary’s life. These databases gave me a rough outline of her family structure. I then expanded my research to include military service records, local histories, census records and other online resources.
From these records, I learned that Mary’s father was John Carson, born before 1766 and Mary had at least four siblings, who were named Jonathan, Jane, Sarah & Elizabeth.
I discovered that Mary Carson and Richard Aston were married in Indiana around 1807 and her obituary lists that the couple had thirteen children, but only two lived to adulthood: Nanina and John H. Aston.
Nanina Aston was born in 1810 and died in 1892. She married John Livingston. Mary’s obituary indicates that she died in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Livingston. Considering this and the fact that Nanina is referenced as a witness in the documents provided with the pension and bounty land warrant, and the unindexed Bounty Land Application files application, it seems likely that Mary and Nanina remained close to one another throughout their lives.
Richard, Mary, and John appear together in New Albany on the 1850 US Census, which was taken on 14 August 1850. Mary’s birthplace is listed as Ireland on this census, and it is noted that Mary could neither read nor write. According to this census, Richard had likely retired by the age of 64. According to the pension file, Richard died 16 August 1850 at his home in New Albany just two days after the census was recorded.
Figure 2: Aston family listed on the 1850 United States Federal Census
On 12 June 1860, Mary is listed as the head of household on the 1860 US Census. John H. Aston is listed in the household as well. Mary’s birthplace is again listed as Ireland and it is documented again that she can neither read nor write.
There is a great deal of additional research that should be completed to define Mary’s life as well as the lives of her closest family members but from the records I have compiled thus far, one thing is clear:
As an illiterate woman living on the edge of civilization, Mary Carson Aston was, indeed, a woman worthy of our respect and one of the many admirable pioneer women of our nation and the records that initiated this review of Mary’s life are a testament to the value of the War of 1812 pension files.
Written by Michael J. Hall & Toby L. Broderick
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 “War of 1812 Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files.” database and images, Fold3.com (http://www.fold3.com : accessed 17 March 2015), entry for Richard Aston and widow Mary, page 16, Indiana. http://www.fold3.com/image/247/274375508/
 “War of 1812 Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files, “database and images, Fold3.com http://www.fold3.com : entry for Richard Aston and widow Mary, page 5, Indiana. http://www.fold3.com/image/247/274375483/
 “War of 1812 Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files, “database and images, Fold3.com http://www.fold3.com : entry for Richard Aston and widow Mary, page 3, Indiana. http://www.fold3.com/image/247/274375479/
 L. A. Williams & Company History of the Ohio falls cities and their counties: Precincts of Jefferson County, Ky. General histories of Clarkand Floyd counties, Ind. New Albany and Floyd County. Clark County and Jeffersonville, (1882), pages 239-240; digital images, Google Books (https://books.google.com : accessed 17 March 2015).
 Findagrave.com. database and images (http://findagrave.com : accessed 17 March 2015), memorial page for Nanina Aston Livingston (1810-1892), Find A Grave memorial no. 90,548,528, citing Fairview Cemetery, New Albany, Floyd County, Indiana. http://findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=livingston&GSfn=nanina&GSbyrel=all&GSdyrel=all&GSob=n&GRid=90548528&df=all&
 Certificate no. 55-120-44965 in Richard Aston, Indiana Militia Capt Peacall, Indiana, War of 1812, Unindexed Bounty Land Application file; Records of the Bureau of Land management, Record Group 49, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
 “1850 United States Federal Census,” database, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 17 March 2015), entry for Richard Aston (age 64), New Albany, Indiana. https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-12069-52639-95?cc=1401638
 Findagrave.com.database and images (http://findagrave.com : accessed 17 March 2015), memorial page for Richard Aston (1786-1850), Find A Grave memorial no. 99,122,173, citing Fairview Cemetery, New Albany, Floyd County, Indiana. http://findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=aston&GSfn=richard&GSbyrel=all&GSdyrel=all&GSob=n&GRid=99122173&df=all&
 “1860 United States Federal Census,” database, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 17 March 2015), entry for Mary Aston (age 73), New Albany, Indiana. digital image: http://www.fold3.com/image/51360483/