Apr. 12, 1853 Ogdensburg St. Lawrence County New York, USA
Mar. 10, 1942 Los Angeles Los Angeles County California, USA
Daughter of Walter Alward Whitney and Catherine Moffet Wilson
Married George Rufus Shatto 15 August 1876 in Flint, Genesee County, Michigan Children: Walter Ohl Shatto - 24 January 1881
Clarissa was born into modest circumstances in New York. Her Whitney fore-bearers were quarrymen and stone workers who after moving to Flint Michigan were trading in marble where she met her husband George. She came to enjoy all the comforts of the Gilded Age and in later life a dowager philanthropist in Los Angeles.
George, a farmer's son, had a head for business as did Clarissa. George started as a clerk in a dry goods store in Flushing Michigan and by 1880 was the proprietor of a thriving retail business in Port Huron.
George's interest turned from merchandising to real estate, its development and making money. His attention came to rest on Southern California undergoing a growth boom in the 1880's. He bought land in Los Angeles and created the Orange Heights subdivision in the Wilshire district. He purchased Catalina Island in 1887 with an eye to developing it into a resort. He laid out the town, subdividing it into lots and initially calling the town Shatto City (changed to Avalon on the advice of his sister-in-law Etta Whitney). This venture failed when financial partners backed out of other plans for mining and ranching on Catalina. Clarissa's brothers came to Los Angeles to help with the effort.
Along with the Catalina Island venture the Shattos continued to enlarge their commercial real estate and business holdings. They built a mansion on Orange Street (now Wilshire Blvd.), the site of which later became The Good Samaritan Hospital.
Clarissa suffered two personal tragedies. First, her one and only child, Walter, was born and died at age 8 months while they lived in Port Huron, Michigan. The second was the death of George in 1893 in a train wreck in Kern County, Calif., while on a trip to examine mining property.
Clarissa survived her husband for almost a half a century as George's widow and went on to build a financial empire. She was a self-declared capitalist on her passport applications and census returns. In 1920 her address was on Shatto Place in Los Angeles in the then fashionable Wilshire district. She traveled internationally, including trips to the Orient in the early 1920's. By 1930 she had built a large home on the heights in Beverly Hills (valued $70,000 in the 1930 census) where she lived with her brother George who had lost his wife in 1925, he dying in 1940, and her last residence.
Her philanthropy includes land donations for Sunset Park (now Lafayette Park) and the neighboring First Congregational Church, whose Shatto Chapel became popular for years afterward as a favorite wedding venue. She also endowed the Walter O and Clara R Shatto Scholarship in astronomy at Pomona College in remembrance of her son and where her nephew Walter Ticknor Whitney was a professor of Astro-Physics and Astronomy. Anything in Los Angeles with the Shatto name is due to Clarissa and her husband George. She left the bulk of her estate to the church. ~~~~~~~~ Excerpt from: Reno Weekly Gazette and Stockman June 8, 1893, p. 8
The Railroad Accident Special to the Gazette
Los Angeles (Cal.), June 1. -- Nothing further has developed in the railroad accident at Ravenna. The inquest over the body of George R. Shatto, the capitalist who was killed, is now in progress. The news of her husband's death was broken to Mrs. Shatto this morning by Rev. Dr. Campbell. Mrs. Shatto gave a pitiable scream when she heard the news and fainted. She has been in a semi-unconscious condition all day and under the care of a physician...
Barry Michie - Shatto researcher With substantial help from Joseph Breeze - G Nephew