Hello, Genealogy Insider readers! My name is Jamie Royce, the Family Tree Magazine intern. I’m currently a student at the University of Cincinnati, and I am a native to the area, with family strewn all across the Queen City. I’m also just embarking on my inaugural genealogical journey, which I’ll be sharing with you this summer.
On my first day, Diane showed me how to do an Ancestry.com search. We started off with my paternal grandfather because I knew the most information about him, and the 1930 Census popped up. My grandfather’s name was misspelled, of course, but something more interesting was found: My 5-year-old grandfather and his mother, who had her married name of Royce listed on the census, was living with her two sisters and their mother, no husband to be found.
Diane and I thought this was weird as there were no wars going on or anything during the time, but with no explanation my findings just slipped to the back of my mind.
A few days later I was talking to my mother and explaining to her the living situation of my Grandpa R. and his mother. She thought it was interesting as well, and then slipped in this bit of information: “Well you know, your Grandpa R.’s mother wasn’t married when she had him. Royce is her married name.”
No, actually, I didn’t know that, Mom. How would I?
Then I realized that my family gets its surname through marriage, as my Grandpa R. was not related to his mother’s husband biologically; so I’m only biologically related to people with the last name Royce that descend from Grandpa R. This was a bit shocking to learn.
I was left with so many questions. When did Grandpa R.’s mother get married? Why was she living in her mother’s house if she was already going by a married name? Where is her husband? What was his name?
Unfortunately, Hamilton County doesn’t have older marriage licenses or vital records digitized, so I’ll have to make a trip downtown to find Grandpa R.’s birth certificate and his mother’s marriage license. But the 1930 Census did indicate that Grandpa R.’s father is from Kentucky; whether that’s his birth father or his mother’s husband, I’m not sure.
I also wonder if the mystery Royce adopted Grandpa R. as a son. Grandpa R. did take the name Royce, but I’m not sure what is birth certificate says, if his name was ever legally changed, or if he was adopted by his mother’s husband. It clearly is, at the very least, a bit of an open secret that Grandpa R.’s father was not his mother’s husband. All of these questions will make my research harder.
Without a definitive original last name on my Grandpa R., I may never find his birth certificate. Does the record indicate his last name was his mother’s maiden name of Kiely? Does it now have Royce? Does it have his currently unknown biological father’s last name? I may have to scour all of the records around my Grandpa R.’s birth date to find what I am after.
I looked up the address listed on the census for my Grandpa R. and his family, and it turns out the house still stands and is exactly 200 years old. Next week I will tell you all about it, complete with pictures. You won’t believe how close I lived to my ancestor’s home this entire time without even knowing it.