Monthly Archives: March 2015

Mary Carson Aston

Figure 1: Obituary of Mary Carson Aston

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.”[1] 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.[2]

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.[3]

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.[4]

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.[5] 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[6], 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.[7] According to the pension file, Richard died 16 August 1850 at his home in New Albany just two days after the census was recorded.[8]

Figure 2: Aston family listed on the 1850 United States Federal Census

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.[9]

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

Do you have a War of 1812 story to share? Connect with us on Facebook or Twitter and let us know! Be sure to donate today to preserve Mary’s story, along with thousands of others yet to be found.

[1] “War of 1812 Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files.” database and images, ( : accessed 17 March 2015), entry for Richard Aston and widow Mary, page 16, Indiana.

[2] “War of 1812 Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files, “database and images, : entry for Richard Aston and widow Mary, page 5, Indiana.

[3] “War of 1812 Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files, “database and images, : entry for Richard Aston and widow Mary, page 3, Indiana.

[4] 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 ( : accessed 17 March 2015).

[5] database and images ( : 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.

[6] 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.

[7] “1850 United States Federal Census,” database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 17 March 2015), entry for Richard Aston (age 64), New Albany, Indiana.

[8] and images ( : 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.

[9] “1860 United States Federal Census,” database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 17 March 2015), entry for Mary Aston (age 73), New Albany, Indiana. digital image:


Anchors Away!

I have started painting War of 1812 US Sailors. These will be a very limited edition. (One is already sold on a pleading pre-sale, which I could not refuse).

Seven of the sailors will be depicted on board ship with splashes of sand on the deck. Sand was spread on the deck whenever a ship was headed into direct contact with the enemy. The sand prevented the sailors from slipping on the wet deck.

Another five sailors will be depicted as having duty on shore such as at the Battle of Bladensburg. Thus, they will be depicted having muskets and on grass.

I am still waiting on 4 others that are on back order.

When these sailors are completed they will add to the “War of 1812” military personnel collection that fought during that conflict. The sailors are available to those who make a $100.00 donation and will be numbered and signed!

I am still looking for suitable US Marine figures to paint. However, being a Marine myself, I am a bit picky on the model to represent the US Marines.



All proceeds on these unique figurines benefit the War of 1812 Preserve the Pensions effort! Donate today to save these incredible historic documents.

The Challenge

As you may know, I have set a goal to swim, bike, and run 1812 miles by the end of 2015 on behalf of the “Preserve the Pensions” fundraiser. Some of our supporters have chosen to donate by pledging funds towards every mile that I complete. That is great, and I thank you very much.

I started on Monday, 16 February (President’s Day) and by the end of the month I completed the following:


Mike’s Tri-cycle

Swim:  1.25 miles
Bike:    80 miles
Run:    49 miles (many run while wearing a 10 lb. backpack)

TOTAL: 130.25 miles

Miles left to complete: 1,681.75


Now back to the 1812 mile challenge: While running to work this morning, it occurred to me that I could send out a challenge to the genealogical community as a whole, and especially societies, to complete the Preserve the Pensions fundraiser.

My challenge is: FINISH THE PROJECT before I finish 1812 miles!  
And yes, all donations associated with my miles completed will be counted toward beating me to the finish.

Well there you have it, the gauntlet has been thrown, WHO AND HOW MANY WILL PICK IT UP?!? WILL YOU?!?!   Your rallying cry could be “Beat Mike to 1812”!

With very little effort, and if every society got on the bandwagon, you could easily beat me to 1812! If at least half of the 600+ societies associated with FGS were to pledge $3K then the final $800K would be met and I would lose.

And to throw in an extra bonus: Not only will I swim, bike, and run 1812 miles before the end of the year, I will also bike 1812 miles total. There that gives you a little bit of extra time, but not much!

But that’s not all! One more incentive: If the donors to the Preserve the Pensions fundraiser beat me in my goal, I will spend 30 minutes at any society’s booth at an upcoming FGS and/or NGS conference to answer questions for your members.

Well, I think I have given you enough ammunition to “try” and beat me to 1812! The question is “WILL YOU DO IT?”