Royal Dewey was born in Poultney, New York in 1825. He came to Sandusky with his family, where his father Jeremiah Dewey was one of the first jewelers of the area. Jeremiah died in the 1849 cholera epidemic. Royal Dewey continued in the jewelry business, for a time with his brother Hiram, and later he was in business by himself. Royal Dewey died on September 1, 1859, at the age of 34. He left behind his widow, Mary Clemons Dewey, and two small children, a son Hiram Dewey, and a daughter Ella.
Mary Clemons was born in 1832 to Mr. and Mrs. Elijah Clemons. Elijah Clemons was a pioneer settler of Sandusky, which according to author Hewson Peeke in his STANDARD HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY, was "a village in the midst of the woods and its chief prosperity was as a lake port." After the death of her husband, Mary Clemons Dewey taught school in order to support her family. She continued in this occupation for over forty years. Eventually Mary Clemons Dewey moved to Cleveland, where she died in 1923. Royal and Mary Dewey are buried in Sandusky's Oakland Cemetery. A biographical sketch about Mary Clemons Dewey is found in Peeke's 1916 STANDARD HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTRY.