metaphor, thank you for your quick reply.
Yes, Kathryn SULLIVAN was her maiden name. The information about the Ursuline Convent came from my mother who remembers her grand mother (Kathryn) talking about being raised in an Ursuline Convent.
The story my mother remembers is that Kathryn's mother died when she was 3. Her father, a Civil War vet, raised the family but when he died Kathryn was sent to an Ursuline Convent.
I do not know her parents' names or exactly where in Iowa the family lived. Kathryn's description to my mother was that she had lived in a "little house on the prairie" type of setting until her father's death.
Kathryn had a sister who was about 10 years older named Nellie. I found a Nellie SULLIVAN, 20 yrs old living in Cedar Rapids, IA in the 1880 Census. I suspect this is the older sister but can't be certain. I have identified a Nellie SULLIVAN born in Iowa, married to Joseph BARLOW and having children Edna and Mabel in the 1900 Census living in Grand Forks, ND. Based on info from my mother, I am certain this is Kathryn's older sister. The 1900 Census shows Nellie's birth date as Oct 1965 but later Census' show calculated birth dates of 1862-1863.
The 1870 Census shows a Nellie and Catherine SULLIVAN in Elk, Clayton, Iowa. Nellie's age is about right but this Catherine seems a bit too old based on my mother's info. There's another 1870 entry of a Nellie and Katie SULLIVAN in Dubuque, IA. The ages fit better but it seems the family is being raised by mother alone which does not fit. My mother does remember that Kathryn was somewhat coy when it came to her age so a range for Kathryn's birth date would be appropriate.
Not knowing Kathryn's parents' names I've reached a dead end. I was hoping to find orphanage / convent records that I might be able to review.
I appreciate any advice or assistance you might be able to offer. I'm a bit new at this.