Cruso Canning Company, also known as C.C. Company, was established in 1918 by William Cruso. The small factory was located on Point Cadet on Point Cadet on the east end of Biloxi and began with processing crabs. William would catch crabs for the factory and his wife, Lillie Toche Cruso, whom he married in 1919, would clean them. Soon, he was able to dig a small canal and later hire someone to help build a pier for better access. The business began booming when he was able to first incorporate oysters, then later, add fish and shrimp to the market’s offerings. The business was able to grow even as labor disputes arose in the seafood industry during the era of The Great Depression. This was due in large part to Cruso’s willingness to negotiate and meet his workers’ demands, keeping many employed when jobs were scarce.
By the 1930’s, Cruso Canning Company boasted five tall-masted schooners and was one of the largest distributors of what was known as the “raw” business, that of shipping seafood on ice. In 1940, the factory was able to invest $14,000 in modernizations and improvements and was one of the first to pioneer into the frozen seafood business.
The growing company realized the need for a growing workforce. Recognizing again that strong manpower could be created by meeting the needs of the people, William had ten small 4-room houses built. These houses would be rented out to workers by the room at a rate of 50 cents per month or the whole house for as little as $5 per month. C.C. Company’s improvements resulted in the employment of over 400 people.
At its peak, Cruso Canning Company which eventually was owned and operated by William and Lillie’s sons, John and Willie, commanded a fleet of 16 shrimp boats as well as a fleet of snapper boats.
In 1968, Lillie Toche Cruso passed away. This was a devastating blow to William that was then followed by the catastrophic toll the industry was dealt at the hands of Hurricane Camille in 1969. William Cruso passed away in 1975, but the legacy of Cruso Canning Company will live on in Biloxi’s heritage.