The rare name Royalene appeared in the U.S. baby name data* for the first and only time in 1942:
- 1944: unlisted
- 1943: unlisted
- 1942: 5 baby girls named Royalene
- 1941: unlisted
- 1940: unlisted
What boosted Royalene into the data that year?
My guess is 26-year-old murder victim Royalene Hinkle of Watseka, Illinois. (Sorry about the watermarked image — it was the best photo of her that I could find.)
In March of 1941, Royalene and her boyfriend were found shot to death at the home of Royalene’s maternal uncle, Robert Feister (with whom she lived).
Feister went on trial for the two murders that summer. Notably, he had two heart attacks in the middle of the proceedings, but survived both. He was eventually found guilty — he’d been “hoping he would inherit her $11,000 estate” — and given a life sentence.
The crime and ensuing court case kept the name Royalene in the papers for several months, and this ongoing exposure had enough of an influence on expectant parents to make “Royalene” a one-hit wonder the following year.
What are your thoughts on the name Royalene?
- “Farmer Is Guilty Of Killing Niece Punishment Set As Life Term.” Clarion-Ledger 21 Jul. 1941: 1.
- “Fiester Suffers Attack While Testifying.” Daily Illini 17 Jul. 1941: 2.
- “Inquest in Lovers’ Deaths.” Alton Evening Telegraph 2 Apr. 1941: 12.
- Mystery Solved
*The SSA’s dataset only includes names given to five or more babies per year.