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 1905

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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JAMES LEE leaving Galina IL area

This picture is also from my recent EBay purchase of 9 postcards depicting the JAMES LEE unloading and departing this town.   The just departing picture and this photo are unusual pictures.  Postcard and regular photos of steamboats as far as I have seen show boats moored while idle, unloading or underway.   Prior to these two pictures, I have not seen boats maneuvering as they depart.


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JAMES LEE postcard Galina IL

JAMES LEE ILLINOIS - CopyRecently this postcard along with 8 other cards depicting the arrival, unloading and departure of the JAMES LEE and the JOHN BERTRAM were available for purchase on EBay.   I was able to purchase these 9 cards for my growing Lee Line collection.  Another of these cards shows several very small local trade stern-wheel boats with the home port of Galina IL painted on the stern of one of the small steamers.   This picture would have been taken prior to 1912 since the JOHN BERTRAM was retired from service in 1912.  Further research reports the JOHN BERTRAM was build to ferry rail cars for the Illinois Central Rail Road.

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Lee Line Tourist Guide circa 1900

This is another EBay find


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