Littleton S. Black, who was often referred to simply as “LS,” was born in Milford, Baker Co., GA on February 2, 1862 to the parents of Peter J. and Susan S. (Adams) Black. Susan was pregnant with Littleton when Peter left home to fight in the Civil War. He was born during that turbulent time, his father away, fighting for the cause. He was three years old before his father returned home.
Littleton was raised in Georgia, but he was a grown man when the family picked up and moved to Alabama locating near Dothan. Littleton was married twice. Nothing is known about the first marriage except for a record, which was found of a Littleton Black who married an I. D. Mixon in Dale Co., AL in 1893. It is unknown if this is the same Littleton Black, referred to in this biography, although it is the same area where the family located. He married Alice Tucker at Inverness, Citrus Co., FL, on May 21, 1894. She is shown on the 1900 Citrus Co. census as being from Alabama. It’s not known if this is where they actually met. They had one child who died as an infant.
Littleton was quite the businessman. He ran several different enterprises including a large fish house from where he shipped fish and oysters to several states for many years and was well
known throughout Marion and Citrus Counties as “The Fish Man.” He had a fleet of boats as well as a grocery store operating out of the City Market. An advertisement in the Crystal River News dated April 5, 1912, quotes L. S. Black as saying, “You cannot get better cuts of meat anywhere than those you get at the City Market. We will not handle poor meat.” It goes on to say, “Complete market, complete grocery all in one. If it is in town we have it; for our line of groceries is complete.” Littleton was shipping fish and oysters to several states as well as buying and selling properties up until his sudden heart attack on April 29, 1914.
Although successful, Littleton was not without his troubles. Numerous newspaper accounts tell where he was in and out of court for seining the waters of Lake Weir in Marion County, along with other family members. Apparently they supplied the fish Littleton was selling and shipping to other states.
Another time, he found himself in trouble for selling liquor without a license. Although found “not guilty” by a jury, a judge made an example of him, saying, “while Black may have not sold the liquor, he made it possible for others to do so and kept them in that state of mind and body, that they refused to testify to the facts,” and sent him to Federal Prison in Atlanta for a year in 1904, for intimidation of a witness. The prosecuting attorney happened to be the son of the judge in the case, which today would be disallowed due to a “conflict of interest.” After his release from prison, Littleton applied for and received a license to sell liquor and returned to business as usual. In 1905, Littleton along with J. B. Cutler, J. L. Leitner, G. W. Neville and C. L. Hobbs of Dunnellon applied for a charter to do business under the name Crystal River Fish and Oyster Company.
Littleton’s family had come to Florida and finding it quite different from their previous existence as farmers in rural Georgia, felt blessed to be near the water and quickly saw the benefits and profits to be explored. They had a large commercial enterprise, consisting of a close family base, full of loyalty to each other and the business. They were content for a few years. The family had settled in Ocklawaha near Lake Weir in Marion Co. The area grew in popularity as a resort town and the quiet fishing village disappeared, along with the commercial fishing out of the lake. They were harassed unmercifully. Some of the family including Littleton, himself, moved south to Citrus County, settling in Crystal River, but the patriarch of the family remained. Littleton’s father went with the flow of the times and rented a fleet of boats to tourists, who came to the lake for recreation and sport.
It was October of 1902. The headlines read…L. S. Black Shot! “L. S. Black, formerly of this city (Ocala), but operating at Crystal River most of the time of late, was seriously shot Monday at Crystal River and is expected to die. His aged mother went down from Lake Weir. We could not learn the particulars of the shooting.” Five days later another article appeared, “L. S. Black was in town yesterday, having recovered from his illness.” It would be interesting to know the story behind the headlines.
Littleton was a Woodsmen of the World; one of the first fraternal benefit societies in the U. S. They helped families seeking financial security and also provided insurance. He is buried in the old Crystal River Cemetery, which is downtown, west of Hwy. U. S. 19. He has a large Woodsman of the World marker that is enclosed within an ornate fence. His father is believed to be buried next to him.
After her husband’s untimely death the following article ran in the Crystal River News dated May 22, 1914…Mrs. L. S. Black will in the short time, move her market and grocery store from her present stand to the building she owns, known as Crystal River Bargain House; thus putting her business under one roof. By September of the next year, Alice had married Charles McBride and he had taken over as proprietor of the store. Many years later he was shown as owning a bakery and then as a barkeeper.
Alice remained close to Littleton’s family and some twenty-six years later allowed his brother Jacob to be buried next to him in the family plot. Alice and Charles are buried together elsewhere in the cemetery.
Author: Linda Flowers
© Linda Flowers
Photo © Linda Flowers