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Clarissa Freeland Kilbourn on her 71st birthday, March 9 1964.

Clarissa Freeland Kilbourn on her 71st birthday, March 9 1964.

Clarissa Clara Freeland was born to Francis R. Freeland and Jennie S. McIntyre on March 9, 1893 in Freeland, Saginaw County, Michigan. Clarissa was the fourth of eight children born to Francis and Jennie Freeland.

In 1900, Clarissa and her family lived at 425 Andre Street in Saginaw, Michigan. It is not clear whether it was North or South Andre Street. By 1910, the family had moved to Rich Township, Lapeer County, Michigan. Clarissa’s father, Frank, could not find work as a paper hanger, so he moved the family to Lapeer to find work doing “odd jobs.”

While living in Rich Township, the Freeland family lived near two brothers named Fred and Lee Kilbourn. I believe that at some point, Fred and Lee’s younger brother Blake came to live or visit with them and was introduced to Clarissa. On May 11, 1911, Clarissa Freeland married Blake Clarence Kilbourn in Vassar, Tuscola County, Michigan.

Clarissa & Blake Kilbourn had at least five children together: Irene May on December 9, 1911; Ora J on March 22, 1913, Lena Myrtle on January 29, 1915; Edmund C on October 8, 1917; and Lloyd in 1920. All of their children lived to adulthood.

Soon after Clarissa married and left home, two tragic events happened there. In 1912, her older sister Mabel Mae died from Peritonitis. Clarissa often spoke fondly about Mabel to her great-granddaughter (my mother), saying that she was very beautiful and sweet. In 1914, Clarissa’s mother Jennie Freeland was found dead on a neighbor’s doorstep after suffering from a heart valve failure. Jennie had been out searching for Clarissa’s younger sister Albertina, who had run away that morning.

Soon after she married and left home, two tragic events occurred there. First, her older sister Mabel Freeland Crankshaw died from peritonitis in 1912 at the age of 21. Clarissa often spoke fondly of her sister Mabel, saying that she was very beautiful and sweet. Two years later in 1914, Clarissa’s mother, Jennie, was found dead on her neighbor’s doorstep after suffering from a heart valve failure. Jennie had been out searching for Clarissa’s younger sister Albertina, who had run away that morning.

By 1920, Clarissa and Blake Kilbourn lived with their family at 2038 Hartshorn Street in Flint, Genesee County, Michigan. Blake’s brother Fred Kilbourn and his family also lived at this address. According to the 1920 Census, a total of 19 people lived at 2038 Hartshorn. Also living with Clarissa and Blake was Clarissa’s 14 year old sister Bernice Freeland, who worked as a housekeeper.

By 1930, Clarissa and Blake Kilbourn lived with their family at 1622 Utah Avenue in Flint, Michigan, a house they rented for $25 a month. Their oldest daughter Irene also lived with them with her husband Lewis C. Mathers and their two sons, Leland and Clarence.

Blake Kilbourn died on February 23, 1962. At that time, Blake and Clarissa lived at 2955 Henry Street, Flint, Genesee County, Michigan. In 1967, Clarissa Kilbourn married a man named Elmwood Nuttle. It is not clear whether it was coincidence or whether they knew each other from before, but in 1910 when 17 year old Clarissa lived in Rich Township, Lapeer County, Michigan, 21 year old Elmwood was a farm hand for a family living just down the street from the Freelands. According to my mother, Clarissa’s daughter Irene was very annoyed that her month would “make a fool of herself” by getting married at the age of nearly 75. My mother, who was ten years old at the time, remembers Clarissa being a very cute little old bride. They divorced shortly after they were married. Elmwood Nuttle died in 1970.

Clarissa Freeland Kilbourn died on January 31, 1979 at St. Joseph Hospital in Flint, Michigan. She was 85. Clarissa laid in state at her home at 2955 Henry Street, and then was laid to rest in Flint Memorial Park, Flint, Michigan.

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