Where did the baby name Nellora come from in 1919?

Nellora Powell (1895-1919)

The name Nellora appeared in the U.S. baby name data for the first and only time in 1919. Notably, all of those baby girls were born in Kansas, which was the 24th-most-populated U.S. state at that time (roughly).

  • 1921: unlisted
  • 1920: unlisted
  • 1919: 5 baby girls named Nellora
    • All 5 born in Kansas
  • 1918: unlisted
  • 1917: unlisted

Where did the name come from?

The influence was the accidental suicide (!) of a popular Wichita society girl named Nellora Powell.

She was the energetic, outdoorsy, and “public spirited” daughter of John L. Powell, who was both the mayor of Wichita and the also president of the Wichita Wholesale Grocery Company.

On November 4, 1919 — having recently returned from a trip to Honolulu, and just weeks away from her 24th birthday — Nellora spent the day volunteering for the Red Cross.

When she got home that evening, she had a headache. The pain was bad enough that she couldn’t finish dinner, so she excused herself and headed to her bedroom to lie down. Along the way, she stopped to take some medicine.

Miss Powell had gone upstairs to an unlighted bath room and, believing that she knew just where the medicine she desired was located in the medicine closet, she reached for the bottle and swallowed some of its contents without turning on a light. She quickly discovered that she had taken carbolic acid.

She hurried back to the dining room, where her parents were still seated at the table, and said something along the lines of: “I have taken the wrong medicine; call the doctor!”

Her family started administering first aid, but by the time the doctor arrived fifteen minutes later, she’d lapsed into unconsciousness. Not long after that (at 7:40 p.m.) she was declared dead.

Her sudden death from poisoning was front-page news in Wichita the next day, and her name stayed in the Kansas papers for days to come.

Nellora’s name — which reminds me a lot of various names in the “Eleanor” family (e.g., Nell, Nora, Lenore, Lenora) — had come from her mother’s side of the family. It was the name of her maternal grandmother (b. New York, 1826) and also one of her aunts (b. Illinois, 1867).

What are your thoughts on the baby name Nellora? Would you use it?


2 thoughts on “Where did the baby name Nellora come from in 1919?

  1. It’s too fakey-sounding kre8tiv for me, but I like Lenora, Eleanor, and Nell.

    What a horrible tragedy. It sounds like a nightmare, like a real nightmare I would have when I had a migraine and had finally gotten some much-needed REM sleep.

  2. I like it. Because there are so many similar names, it doesn’t sound particularly kre8ive to me.

    Yes, an especially horrible tragedy. Things like this make life seem fundamentally random and chaotic.

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