Brand-new grandfather declares grandchild under the wrong name

Joseph Jean Laurent Roux was first called Joseph Jean Laurent Aymoz dit Payerne. Chances are he didn’t even realize this. Until he was called up for his army service.

It must have been a strange discovery. Exactly how this story unfolded is difficult to ascertain, but following the traces in archival documents I have recovered, I imagine it went as follows.

Military draw

Joseph Roux was 20 years old when he was drafted into mandatory army service in 1889 in his native village of Vizille (department of Isère, Rhône-Alpes, France). His winning lottery ticket was No. 130.

Since 1803 (law of 8 nivôse year XI), military service in France was organized by lot. This procedure continued until 1905, after which military service became generally mandatory.

personalia section of the military file of Joseph Jean Laurent Roux (b. Jan. 2, 1869) - illustration to 'Brand-new grandfather makes false birth declaration of grandchild' - Eva's Boom
personalia section of Joseph Roux’s military record

In military service, you have to deal with government documents. I imagine that when registering in the military recruitment office, you had to prove your identity with an extract of your birth certificate. An identity card as we know it today did not exist in 1889.


Picture this. A hypothetical scenario.

Mistaken name

Joseph Roux goes to the Vizille civil registry to get an extract of his birth certificate. He knows his date of birth: Jan. 2, 1869. The duty officer does not find a Joseph Jean Laurent Roux on this date in the birth certificates of that year, but does find Joseph Jean Laurent Aymoz dit Payerne. (What?!?)

Erroneous listing of parents

More to the point, the parents of the said child are Jules Joseph Aymoz dit Payerne and Marie Elisabeth Roux. (What?!? That’s his uncle and aunt!)


And to top it off, it turns out it was his grandfather who notified the municipality of the birth. (What?!?)

The birth certificate

Birth certificate of Joseph Jean Laurent Aymoz dit Payerne, corrected to birth certificate of Joseph Jean Laurent Roux (b. Jan. 2, 1869) - illustration to 'Brand-new grandpa makes false birth declaration of grandchild' - Eva's Boom
the birth certificate of Joseph Jean Laurent Aymoz dit Payerne Roux, born in Vizille on 2/1/1869

Still, back to the facts we know with certainty. According to the birth certificate of“Joseph Jean Laurent Aymoz dit Payerne,” the child was born in Vizille on Jan. 2, 1869, at 5 p.m. It is the grandfather, Jean Laurent Roux, who made the birth declaration. This is quite unusual. This sometimes happened when the father was absent (soldiers, workers working farther from home, etc.) or when it was a child of a single mother, a so-called illegitimate child. In the case of our Joseph Roux, two parents were indeed reported, with name, byname, age, occupation and place of residence. Only not his parents, Joseph Jean Laurent Roux (Sr.) and Alexandrine Adèle Aymoz, but rather those of his uncle and aunt, Jules Joseph Aymoz dit Payerne and Marie Elisabeth Roux.

The rectification

In the margin of this birth certificate we see that 20 years later, on December 20, 1889, a note was written correcting an error. This correction states that the parents of the child referred to in the birth certificate were named Jean Joseph Laurent Roux and Adèle Alexandrine Aymoz instead of Jules Joseph Aymoz dit Payerne and Marie Elisabeth Roux. With this rectification, Joseph is now officially called Joseph Jean Laurent Roux. That was already his name to family and friends, but now also to the government.

Correctie van geboorteakte Joseph Jean Laurent Roux - illustratie bij  'Kersverse opa doet verkeerde geboorteaangifte kleinkind' - Eva's Boom

Joseph Jean Laurent Roux

An error is corrected in the margin of the birth certificate.

“Par jugement du 6 Xbre 1889 l’article ci-contre a été rectifié en ce sens que le père de l’enfant qui en fait l’objet est nommé et prénommé Roux Joseph Jean Laurent et la mère Aymoz Adèle Alexandrine au lieu de Jules Joseph Aymoz dit Payerne et de Roux Marie Elisabeth.


That the correction happened 20 years after the date of Joseph Roux’s birth seems to me to be no coincidence. At that time, military conscripts were drawn from the group of 20-year-old young men who resided in the region of the military recruiting office. Joseph belonged to the“classe 1889” of the “bureau de recrutement de Grenoble,” the selected young men born in the year 1869. The year of the draw for Joseph, being 1889, corresponds to the date of the rectification in his birth certificate, being December 6, 1889.

Cause of erroneous birth certificate?

So why did the original birth certificate contain an incorrect set of parents? And why did the grandfather go to the congregation and not the father? There is no one or nothing left that could tell us as a direct source. I can only appeal to existing sources and my imagination to come up with a possible logical explanation of this incorrect birth declaration.

View of family tree Jean Laurent Roux - illustration to 'Brand-new grandfather files wrong birth declaration for grandchild' - Eva's Boom
A look at the family tree. Grandfather Jean Laurent Roux, son Joseph Jean Laurent Roux and grandson Joseph Jean Laurent Roux (b. 2/1/1869). A little further on daughter Marie Elisabeth Roux and grandson Julie Joseph Aymoz (b. 4/6/1869).

Possible explanations

Grandpa “over the moon”?

Our Joseph Roux was the first grandchild of Jean Laurent Roux (b. 1815), the man who misdeclared the birth. In 1869, however, he was expecting not one, but two grandchildren. Both his son, Joseph Jean Laurent Roux (b. 1841), and his daughter, Marie Elisabeth Roux (b. 1844), were expecting their first child in 1869. Was he so overcome with joy and enthusiasm that he mixed up his daughter’s child and his son’s child? And therefore passed on the names of his son-in-law Jules Joseph and daughter Marie Elisabeth as parents instead of those of his son Joseph Jean Laurent and daughter-in-law Adèle Alexandrine? Or dare we think that he had already celebrated in full and had one too many wines?

Confused official servant?

Admittedly, you would get confused from less with those recurring names: Jean Laurent Roux, Joseph Jean Laurent Roux, the child Joseph Jean Laurent, the parents Roux-Aymoz and the parents Aymoz-Roux. It is quite possible that the registrar on duty at the registry office was confused in the process. Moreover, if the man filing the report is not very clear, it does not help either.

Definitely a mistake

Anyone who thought Joseph Roux might be the biological son of Jules Joseph Aymoz dit Payerne and Marie Elisabeth Roux after all, is in for a treat and need only look at the birthdate of their first child. That is Jules Joseph Aymoz, born June 4, 1869. Joseph Roux’s date of birth, Jan. 2, 1869 is too close to this. These two children cannot possibly have the same parents (or at least the same mother).

Grandfather instead of father

Why the father did not report the birth is even more difficult to explain in this case. Was he not present at the birth? Or had he also celebrated too much? Joseph Roux’s father was not a soldier in action at the time, but a mason. Was he working in a yard further out, which meant he was away from home? It is possible. Or also celebrated too much with the birth of his first child?

Who knows.

All’s well that ends well

In any case, for Joseph Jean Laurent Roux the name issue straightened out. His official documents were in order from now on.