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California Genealogy and History Archives

San Bernardino County and Riverside County


M. L. BLACK was responsible for developing one of the earliest and finest orange groves in the Redlands District. He owns a large amount of property in that section, most of it developed through his enterprise and capital, and after more than thirty years of labor is now gradually retiring from the heavier responsibilities and turning them over to his sons.

Mr. Black was born June 10, 1853, at Louisburg, Ohio. His father, William Anderson Black, was born in Ohio July 19, 1827, and spent his life as a farmer. He died May 8, 1904. The mother, Amanda Maria Gruber, was born December 20, 1830, and died January 12, 1907.

M. L. Black was the second in a family of eight children. When he was four years of age his parents moved to Ottawa, Illinois, and he grew up in that locality, acquiring a common school education. On leaving school and the home farm he became a telegraph operator, and for twenty years was in the service of the Rock Island Railroad Company in that capacity. He finally became afflicted with operator's paralysis of the hand, and seeking new fields and new enterprises he came to California in 1889. He at once engaged in orange culture, purchasing eighteen acres on Redlands Street, which he had prepared and set out to Navel oranges, and saw the profits of his work as a developer before he sold the tract in 1902. He then bought seventy acres on Orange Street. A small part of this was planted to oranges and the remainder was divided between vineyards, deciduous fruit orchards and grain. Mr. Black owned a hundred and fifty shares of the Pioneer or Sunnyside Water System, and with these water rights he has since improved his large tract, setting it out completely to citrus fruits, Navels and over a half in Valencias. On part of this land he erected his modern home on Orange Street. Within his personal recollection this tract exhibits in brief the complete history of transformation in Southern California. He saw the land when it was wild, while now it is entirely orchard, and electric cars pass before his door where only a few years ago jack rabbits and coyotes slunk away at the approach of the occasional human being.

In 1880 Mr. Black married Miss Emma J. Dodds, a native of Massachusetts. She died at Redlands in 1893. She was the mother of four children, the first three being born in Iowa. The oldest child, Charles Henry Black, born September 22, 1884, is a Redlands orange grower and on July 11, 1909, married Hester A. Smith. The second son, Everett A. Black, born August 30, 1888, has a distinguished war record. He was educated in the Redlands High School. He enlisted and served in the American expedition and in the campaign along the Mexican border. When America declared war against Germany he again volunteered, but was refused on account of disability. He had to be examined again when his name was drawn in the draft, and this time he was passed by the Medical Board and assigned to duty with the 364th Machine Gun Squadron, noted as the Suicide Squadron. He was overseas and has a fighting record enjoyed by few Californians. In the Argonne Forest he was exposed to fire continuously eight days and eight nights, until wounded by shrapnel in the arm, shoulder and at various points on the body. He was also gassed. For a time he was in a field hospital, then sent to a Base Hospital at Paris, and when partly recovered he rejoined his command, but was unable to keep up the duty and was again forced to go to the hospital. Again he secured his release and rejoined the command before he was able to take to the field, and was therefore assigned Y. M. C. A. work. After more than two years in the army he resumed civilian life in April, 1919, and is now attending the School of Horticulture at Ontario, California.

The third of Mr. Black's family is Beulah Mae, who was born February 18, 1891, was educated in the Redlands High School, and on June 21, 1911, was married to Richard D. Mills, of Ottawa, Illinois, a lawyer. She died January 1, 1919, being survived by one son, Robert Mills, born May 1, 1912. The youngest of the family, Clarence E. Black, was born at Redlands December 1, 1893, graduated from the Redlands High School, and on January 1, 1918, enlisted in the Aviation Corps and was in training at San Diego until honorably discharged in July, 1919. May 18, 1920, this son married Miss Eleanor Bushnell, of Redlands.

On July 11, 1912, Mr. M. L. Black married Mrs. Anna L. Prisler, of Ottawa, Illinois, but a native of Zanesville, Ohio. She was the mother of three children by her first marriage. Mrs. Black comes of a prominent family and has been a valued addition to Redlands society. She and Mr. Black have shared in many interesting experiences in travel, and have made many trips by motor, railroad and ocean vessels. They made a transcontinental tour by automobile, going from California to the Atlantic Coast, and visiting thirty-two states besides the District of Columbia and Canada. Some of their sea voyage took them to South American points, and they crossed the continent from ocean to ocean eight times in twelve months.

Mr. and Mrs. Black and family are members of the Congregational Church. While his substantial interests and affections are permanently linked with Redlands, he and Mrs. Black now contemplate making their home at Long Beach, leaving the management of his property to his sons.


History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties 
By: John Brown, Jr., Editor for San Bernardino County 
And James Boyd, Editor for Riverside County 
With selected biography of actors and witnesses of the period 
of growth and achievement.
Volume III, the Western Historical Association, 1922, 
The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, ILL

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011