Billy Ray Cyrus: Casto Descendant

The stories have circulated for years that county singing star Billy Ray Cyrus was a Casto descendent, that his mother’s maiden name, in fact, was Casto.  I will occasionally get requests for information regarding our famous cousin and finally set out to find out the facts.

Billy Ray was born on Aug. 25, 1961 in Flatwoods, Greenup Co., Kentucky.  His mother is Ruth Ann Casto and his father was Ronald Ray Cyrus, who passed away just two years ago in 2006.  Since we are focusing just on his Casto ancestry, we’ll ignore his notable Cyrus roots for the moment.   Researching through Kentucky records, I was able to determine that Ruth was the daughter of William Clayton Casto (1892-1972) and Mary Guilla Boggs.  For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the Casto family, “William” is by far the most common name, and most of the Castos of the 19th and 20th centuries either lived or descended from families from West Virginia.  There were other Casto families in other parts of the country but the numbers of them living in West Virginia were, and still are, vast in number.

Using census, birth, marriage, and death records from several counties in three states, I was able to put together the following tree:


Here are some of the records I used to trace this family:

1930 Greenup Co., KY Census – Russell – ED 17 – Sheet 6B:

Cyrus, E.L.        35       married age 21       KY-KY-KY

          Adaline   35       married age 21       KY-KY-KY

           Lurene    13

           Mary       11

           Molly S.    9

           Sarah         7               OH-KY-KY

           Nancy                        OH-KY-KY

           Junior        1 11/12    OH-KY-KY

1920 Lawrence Co., KY Census – Lower Louisa – ED 142 – Sheet 4B:

Cyrus, Lindsay       24

           Adeline       25

           Alva L.       2 4/12

(two doors down):

Hay, Martin A.       45

         Hattie            20  dau

         Blanche          17

         Rebecca          15

         Louvina          12

         Rufus               7

         Martin A. Jr.    3 6/12

         Walter F.         8/12

1930 Greenup Co., KY Census – Russell – ED 16 – Sheet 19A:

Casto, William C.       35      married age 21       WV-WV-WV

           Guila M.          33       married age 19       OH-OH-WV

           Carolyn G.      13                                    WV-WV-OH

            Clayton W.    10                                     KY-WV-OH

1920 Greenup Co., KY Census – Russell – ED 108 – Sheet 12B:

Casto, William           27        WV

            Guila               25        OH

            Carolyn          3 4/12   WV

            Wm. Jr.          2/12       KY

1910 Kanawha Co., WV Census – Jefferson – ED 81 – Sheet 11B:

Casto, James            40           m1, 20y

           Jessie             41           8/8

           William         18

            Bessie           16

            Harlen           14

            Loyd             13

            Artie              11

            Eva                 7

            Iva                  2

            Edward            4

1900 Kanawha Co., WV Census – Charleston Ward 1 – ED 45 – Sheet 4B:

Casto, Joseph J.         29        Sept., 1871     married 9 years

           Josie A.          28        Jan., 1872       5/5 children

           William C.       8         Mar., 1892

            Bessie B.         7         May, 1893

            James H.         5         April, 1895

            Perry F.          3          December, 1896

            Artie B.           1         May, 1899

1880 Jackson Co., WV Census – ED 43 – page 17:

Casto, Francis M.          31

          Livena                 28

          Joseph J.              10

          Chas. E.                7

          Virginia                 5

           Virgil H.               3

           unnamed son         1 month  May 1st

Now, I don’t want to make this seem like it only took looking at a couple of census records and viola, it was all solved!  It was crucial to sort through the correct records to make sure I had the right family.  For example:  for the 1910 census record I was looking at, I had to start with 68 different William Castos and narrow it down to the correct one.  How do I know it was the correct one?  Mainly by eliminating all the ones who were too old or too young, too far away or born in the wrong place.  Then I traced the remaining Williams until I was satisfied I had the correct one.  More definitive proof could be obtained through other means, such as obtaining William’s birth, marriage, and/or death certificates, talking with direct descendents who would certainly have more information that I would, or going to various courthouses to do the research the “old-fashioned” way.  But, since most of the people who write to me asking about Billy Ray Cyrus want to know HOW THEY’RE RELATED, not how I figured it out, I’ll just move along a little.

(At this point in the article, there’s a chart of common ancestors to demonstrate Danita’s relationship to Billy Ray. You can find that chart on this page.)

What confuses a lot of researchers, especially new ones, is how can I be two years YOUNGER than Billy Ray and yet be a generation older at the same time???  Well, as the chart demonstrates, not everyone had children at the same age.  In some of those larger families, for example, there could be 20 years difference just between siblings.  The brothers, Jonathan and Benjamin, were only 5 years apart, and their sons were even closer in age, only 2 years difference.  But Jonathan’s grandson, Isadore, was born when his father was 43.  Benjamin’s grandson, Francis, was born when his father was only 23.  Orville had his child, my mother, at age 32.  Joseph was 21 when William was born.  All those years add up and before you know it, that family had one more generation than we did. 

If you would like to know more about Billy Ray’s ancestors or help in figuring out your own connection, feel free to write me at and I’ll be glad to help you figure out your own Confusing Complicated County Casto Cyrus Connection!