Royce, William Kingsbury, merchant, was born at Lafayette Grove, Ogle County, Illinois, February 4, 1846. His father, Norton B. Royce, was a native of Ohio, and his mother, whose maiden name was Eunice Dexter, was born in Herkimer County, New York, a representative of the family of which Mrs. William J. Bryan is also a member. One of the paternal ancestors of Mr. Royce was one of the early Gorernors of the State of Vermont. Norton B. Royce began his business career as a merchant at Bucyrus, Ohio. While still a young man he removed with his wife to Illinois, settling in Ogle County, where for a time he operated a farm. About 1851 he moved to Janesville, Wisconsin, and engaged in farming. There he and his family remained for fifteen years. The education of the subject of this biography was begun in the public schools of Janesville,and there ended with a course
in the high school. During the last year of the Civil War the students of the Janesville high school, of whom he was one, organized a company which volunteered its services to the government. They elected one of their professors to the captaincy and soon the organization was mustered in as a part of the Fortieth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. They were assigned to service as a part of the Army of the Mississippi, and for about six months, or until the cessation of hostilities, were stationed at Memphis, Tennessee. Soon after his return from the war he removed with his parents to Austin, Cass County, Missouri, where he assisted his father in the establishment and management of a general store. When the business had become thoroughly organized Mr. Royce once more went to Chicago, where he concluded a course in Eastman's Business College. This was in 1867. Upon his return home he reached Pleasant Hill, but his money having given out at that point he walked the remainder of the way to his home, a distance of twenty- five miles. Until 1869 he continued to act as manager of his father's store, but in that year he bought out the business. His father then opened a hotel at Pleasant Hill, which he conducted until his death, a few years later. His mother died in 1868. For fifteen years the subject of this sketch remained in business at Austin, in the meantime purchasing land in that vicinity until he became the possessor of a fine farm of 900 acres. Upon retiring from the mercantile business he operated this farm for a year or two. In 1881 he was attracted to Rich Hill, then in its infancy, where for two years he made important investments in real estate. In 1883 he removed permanently to that city, where he established himself in the mercantile business and looked after his rapidly increasing real estate holdings. On the lots he had purchased he had erected stores or residences, according to their location, thus becoming one of the actual builders of the town. In 1895 his store was destroyed by fire between the hours of 2 and 4 a. m. While the ruins of the conflagration were still burning Mr. Royce dispatched a representative to Kansas City with instructions to purchase an entire new stock of goods. These were at once shipped to Rich Hill, arriving the following day. Securing a new location, he moved in with that portion of his stock which had been saved from the fire, and by his prompt action succeeded in continuing his business without the interruption of a single day. In 1883 Mr. Rogers established a branch store at Tucson, Arizona, under the firm name of H. B. Dodge & Co., with his father-in-law as a partner. This interest he held for about three years. To Mr. Royce is due the credit of active participation in the promotion of several of the railways of Missouri. Foreseeing the destiny of Rich Hill, and the necessity of increased railroad facilities to that and other points, he was the first to suggest the organization of what is now the Pittsburg & Gulf Railroad. Soon after locating in Rich Hill he went to Kansas City and interested several capitalists in a project for a railroad to run south to Rich Hill and Fort Scott. He paid the entire expense of the first engineering work over the line, and for the first two years of its history he was identified with it as a director. At this time the road was surveyed and the right of way had been secured as far south as Rich Hill. Upon the retirement of Mr. Royce from the directorate, the company, of which Samuel Scott, of Kansas City, was the first president, was reorganized as the Kansas City, Nevada & Fort Smith Railway Company, and afterward as the Pittsburg & Gulf. He was also interested in the organization of what was known as the Kansas City & Southern Railway Company, formed to take up the line of the Lexington & Southern at Blue Springs, thence to run south through Lafayette, Cass, Bates and Vernon Counties to Rich Hill and Fort Scott. The company secured the right of way over the grade of a road which had been projected some time before but never built; the road was surveyed, all the contracts for work had been let, the bonds printed and contracted for by English capitalists and a day set for their delivery in London through their agent there, when the news came that the St. Paul Railroad had defaulted on the payment of its interest. A general railroad panic followed, and before the country could recover from its effects the project in which Mr. Royce had been one of the prime movers went down. Had the failure of the St. Paul Road been averted for three or four weeks the road would have been built, for so successfully had the plans been pushed that all the necessary condemnation proceedings had been carried out, and even the men employed by the contractors were encamped along the route waiting for the material to arrive that they might begin the work. Besides the important part he took in these two ventures, Mr. Royce was interested in securing the right of way for the branch of the Missouri Pacific Railroad extending from Rich Hill to Fort Scott. In consideration of their services, Jay Gould, then owner of the road, gave to the Rich Hill committee, of which Mr. Royce was a member, all the town site privileges along the line. Mr. Royce bought the town site of Richards, laid out lots and within a short time sold sixty-seven of them to persons desiring to locate there. He still has large holdings there, besides his real estate possessions in Rich Hill. In January, 1900, he organized and incorporated the New Century Mining Company, which owns valuable zinc properties at Joplin, and of this company he is president. He is also the possessor of valuable silver and copper mines in Arizona. He was one of a company of three men who purchased 320 acres of rich coal lands located south of Rich Hill, eighty acres of which were sold to the Rich Hill Coal Mining Company. He is still a half owner of the 240 remaining acres in that tract. Fraternally Mr. Royce is identified with the Knights of Pythias and the Woodmen of the World. Though he has always been a Republican, since 1896 he has affiliated with the silver wing of that party, and was a supporter of William Jennings Bryan. He was married at Austin, Cass County, to Irene Nash, a native of Ohio. She died, leaving a son, Ira, who is now manager of one of the leading departments of the Jones Dry Goods Company at Kansas City. In June, 1872, Mr. Royce married Alice Moore, a native of Iowa. The children born to this union have been as follows: Blanche, who died in childhood; Edgar A., engaged in business with his father ; Victor, deceased; William D. and Ralph P., who were students in the graded schools of Rich Hill in 1900.
William,Royce died in Pulaski county Missouri