Nora the Great

Today, I’ll move into the next generation in the family history. My great-great grandmother, Honorah Connaughton, a native of Bookala, Ireland, settled in Ludlow, Kentucky, sometime before January 31, 1883. We found that date on her application for a license to marry Richard Joseph Dillon, an American born to Irish immigrants.

At the time of their marriage, Nora, as she was known, was 27 and Richard was 30. Together they had six children: Mary Theresa, Elizabeth “Lizzie”, Richard Joseph (my great grandfather), Nora, Thomas Xavier, and Ella. Honorah is pictured here with her children. We believe but don’t know for sure that the photograph was taken in front of the family home. We do not know the circumstances of the photograph being taken. Everyone seems dressed up.

Honorah died of pneumonia on August 10, 1914, when she was 58 years old. Her youngest child was 18. She is known in the family for making sure that all of her children were educated and played a musical instrument.

Her two sons graduated from Xavier College in Cincinnati, OH, and Tom became a lawyer. Later in his career, he farmed. Nora’s four daughters finished high school. One daughter, also named Nora, became a nun, and may have pursued education beyond high school.

I am calling my great-great grandmother, Nora the Great, because she left Ireland at 16 and made not only her living during her early years in the US, but sent money home to her family. At least some of her work was as a seamstress.

Honora and Richard’s oldest daughter, Mary Theresa, died in 1918 during the worldwide flu pandemic. She was 35.

Richard Joseph Dillon and ? DehoreRichard lived to be 83 years old. He is pictured here in an undated photograph with a grandson, John R. Dehore, who was born with special needs and with whom Richard had a special relationship. Richard’s daughter, Lizzie Dillon, had married John William Dehore sometime before 1917. They had five children; John R was the youngest and was born when his mother was 39 years old, a little over a year after the birth and death shortly thereafter of another John.

Richard Joseph Dillon married Clara Scholten (here’s where the Germans enter the family). They had three children: Dorothy Clare, Richard Thomas (my grandfather), and Jeanne Alice.

Thomas Xavier Dillon married Mary Sullivan. They had six children: Thomas Xavier Jr., John T., Maureen (Sister Colleen), Joseph, Lawrence, and Margaret “Peg”. Maureen and Peg became nuns and John T became a priest. Maureen earned a PhD in Linguistics from Cornell University.

Ella Dillon married Gregory Joseph Shipley. They had two children: Mary Ellen and Gregory Joseph Jr.

Sometime during the 1970s Ella Dillon Shipley visited Bookala, Ireland, and met Michael and Mary Connaughton, who were a nephew and niece of Honora. Michael and Mary walked Ella to a nearby plot of land that had been the birthplace and home of Honora’s mother, Mary Elizabeth “Bessie” Dillon.

One of the crazy things about sorting out all this family history is the fact that Honora’s mother’s maiden name was Dillon and Nora’s husband’s last name was Dillon. The Connaughtons also, like many Irish families, reused names in every generation so it is hard to keep from confusing fathers with sons, mothers with daughters, siblings with nieces and nephews, and grandchildren with everyone else.


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