Bohlen-Huse Machine and Lake Ice Co.

April 1913 Bohlen-Huse Ice Co.

April 1913 Bohlen-Huse Ice Co.

Sometime in the mid 1880’s James Lee Jr. diversified the family business by adding the Bohlen-Huse Machine and Lake Ice Co. to his successful enterprises.  This company was founded in 1850 and became the largest ice business in Memphis under family management.  During the Bohlen-Huse early years, ice was harvested from northern lakes during the winter and barged down the Mississippi River to Memphis.  An early advertisement for the company let the public know that between 5 and 6,000 tons of ice would be available for sale.  By the mid 1890’s large quantities of ice were manufactured at the companies facilities.  Sales of coal helped balance the companies revenue during the winter.  This picture of company wagons was taken around April 1913 following a flood of the companies factory and ice houses on Court Ave. Memphis.  The flood of 1913 involved the Ohio as well as the Mississippi and caused massive damage to both river basins.   A Memphis couple who cared for my fathers first cousin Rowena Lee graciously allowed me to copy these great pictures

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REES LEE at Memphis wharf boat 5th glass negative

This is the 5th and final REES LEE picture from the recently purchased glass negatives.  Besides the boat and wharf boat, there are several other things of interest.  The first is on the rail road bridge in the background where a locomotive is on the left of the bridge.  The second thing of interest is the car on the cobble stones near the left edge of the picture.  Closer examination of the car reveals a cloth top.  Perhaps someone with much greater knowledge about period cars could properly identify the make and model and perhaps year of manufacture.  Several years ago, the Memphis Commercial Appeal Mid-South Memories column reported my great uncles Robert E Lee and Bayliss Lee were 2 of 10 Memphians who owned automobiles.

Lee 9-4 006print

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REES LEE loading cotton

This picture is the 4th of 5 pictures of the REES LEE reproduced from a glass negative.

Lee 9-4 002print

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Rees Lee passenger or crew member?

This picture is from the group of 5 glass negatives.   Passenger or crew member?  My great great grandfather James Lee Sr. a number of years prior to the Rees Lee entering the Lee Line fleet added cabins onto the back of the Texas deck of the GENERAL ANDERSON which he owned following the Civil War.  These cabins were for black passengers who wanted a cabin accommodation’s rather than having to sleeping on the boiler deck.  He told friends who questioned this decision that “I believe any person paying first class fare on a steamboat is entitled to first class passage.”   The additional cabins built onto the GENERAL ANDERSON were completed October 12, 1869.  The same food served to white passengers was likewise served to black passengers.  (This history is from a newspaper byline  – In the Pilothouse by Joe Curtis who wrote extensively about the river transportation industry.  In light of the Lee Line having a history of first class accommodations for black travelers, this person could have been such a passenger.  His clothes do not seem to be the clothes of a rouster.Lee 9-4 004print Rees Lee worker

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REES LEE passengers up to no good?

This picture is from the group of glass negatives purchased recently.   With quite a number of bales of cotton to load, these men found a way to occupy themselves with what appears wagering on the luck of the roll.  The Lee Line did not permit gambling on any of their boats however, what happened on the river bank was another matter.

Lee 9-4 005print

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REES LEE taking on a load of cotton circa 1908 – 1910

Recently I was contacted by an individual (M.K.) who purchased at auction, a set of glass negatives of the REES LEE taken somewhere on the Mississippi River taking on a load of cotton and cotton seed during the winter.  Most likely the last of that years cotton crop was being brought to the river to be shipped to market.  M.K. graciously offered to sell me these previously unseen images which I agreed to purchase.   The picture below shows a number of interesting things, heavy iron tractor wheels are on the fore deck to the right of the boom mast, a wagon on top of the passenger deck along with a very large crate likely containing a carriage, in addition to barrels and snakes of cotton samples.  The temperature must have been quite cold since the passengers looking down are all dressed in heavy coats with head coverings on some of the ladies.   These pictures would have been taken around 1905.  Thank you M.K. for selling these great images.Lee 9-4 003

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JAMES LEE Galina Illinois


This picture is from the Galina Illinois group of postcards.

14-8 Unloading Carriage

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A 50 year perspective 1881 versus 1931

This humorous 1881 comparison to 1931 was found in papers belonging to my great uncle Robert E Lee (no kin to the other more famous Robert E Lee).

1881 1931 changing times

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JAMES LEE Memphis Commercial Appeal Mid-South Memories 100 years ago 1914

The Memphis Commercial Appeal reported a 100 years ago, “A new steel steamer, costing $100,000, to take the place of the James Lee for the Memphis Friars Point trade, will be 245 feet long and capable of carrying as many tons of freight as the James Lee, which sank in 10 feet of water last week end 80 miles south of Memphis after striking a hidden snag.  All passengers and crew were saved.”

Captain William Tippitt recorded in his history of the Lee Line the following accounts taken from the Commercial Appeal and other newspapers of the day.

August 3, 1914  Some time Sunday the James Lee settled on a piling and punched a hole in her bottom.  The watchman was unable to keep her pumped out and she settled in 6 ft. of water.

Aug. 4, 1914  The hole in the James Lee’s bottom has had a box built around it and she has been pumped out and batton placed over the hole.

Aug. 11, 1914 The James Lee left of Friday to move a levee outfit, on her way back up the river shortly after midnight yesterday she struck a snag at Asher Landing 80 miles below Memphis and sank in 10 ft. of water.  Capt. Bender ordered the pilot to shore, but she sank before reaching the shore.  No lives were lost and she had only a few hundred sacks of seed on board.

Aug. 11, 1914 Reports have it that if James Lee is not quickly raised she will break up.  Capt. Peters Lee has gone to her with men and equipment to raise her.

Aug. 15, 1914  The hole in the James Lee’s hull is a small one and has been batten down and pumps have been started to raise her.

Aug 19, 1914 The James Lee passed up on her way to Mound City to have her hull repaired, she is expected to be pulled out shortly.

October 14, 1914  The James Lee has been returned to her regular run to Friar’s Point

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1898 race between the GEORGIA LEE and DICK FOWLER Cairo, ILL.

Recently this postcard depicting an 1898 race between the GEORGIA LEE and DICK FOWLER was added to my Lee Line postcard collection thanks to another EBay seller.  The postcard reverse format indicated the card was made around 1907 since it has a split back for the address and message.

1898 Georgia Lee and Dick Fowler race postcard

1898 Georgia Lee and Dick Fowler race postcard

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