Gussie & Clifford Hillerman ~ Thelma's Parents

Thelma's father, Clifford R. Hillerman, was born on July 24, 1876 in Indiana. He worked in the railroad offices in Emporia, Kansas and played the clarinet in a local band. Clifford married Gussie Knittle on September 4, 1899 in Salt Lake City, Utah. They moved back to Emporia and lived in a house at 428 Neosho Street. Thelma was their only child. Clifford and Gussie were divorced in 1905. Gussie claimed he had left her for another woman and was not supporting her. Clifford married Cora Lawson and had two more children - Virginia in 1906 and James in 1910. The couple moved to Ottawa, Canada where Clifford worked as a laborer for a sand company. In September of 1914 he was involved in a serious accident and had his leg amputated. Clifford passed away a few months later at the age of thirty-eight. He was buried at Maplewood Memorial Lawn Cemetery in Emporia.

Thelma's mother, Augusta "Gussie" Knittle, was born on December 21, 1874 in New York City. Gussie's parents, Robert and Anna Knittle, were both from Germany and she was one of six children. The family moved to Emporia, Kansas in 1876. After divorcing Clifford in 1905 Gussie was given full custody of Thelma. In 1909 she began having a romantic relationship with Dr. Guy Black. When his wife found out she confronted Gussie on the street and started a fight. The incident made headlines in Emporia. Soon after Gussie and Thelma moved to California to open a cafe. After Thelma died in 1938 Gussie remained in California. She passed away on December 12, 1954 (Thelma's birthday) at the age of seventy-nine.

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