H. W. BUTTORFF in a bad way March 1899

This postcard is a recent EBay find. March 5, 1899 the BUTTORFF struck a bridge pier abutment at Clarksville Tennnessee on the Cumberland River. One account noted that all that was needed to put a steamboat back into service was to gather up all the pieces and nail them back together. As this picture shows, the BUTTORFF suffered more damage than hammers and nails could repair. She was purchased by the Lee Line January 1911 and renamed the JOHN LEE.

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Sinking of the GEORGIA LEE and the JAMES LEE January 1918

Both of these pictures were found in the archive of the University of Wisconsin Lacrosse Collection. Prior to wide spread dredging of the Mississippi River, ice gorges developed due to slow moving currents with the result that steamboats that could not be moved to safe harbors where crushed. (Use Control + to enlarge the image so as to have a copy large enough to read)

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Captain Milt Harry one time friend of the Lee Line and failed attempt to restore the James Lee House into a museum circa 1962 however later turned into the beautiful James Lee House bed and breakfast.

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Pat Cleburne photo from the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library Tulane University

Post Civil War boat used in the Lee Line fleet
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Lee Line silver sugar dish

Thank you Lola Culler for sharing these pictures of your Lee Line sugar dish.

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Stylish Ladies on Lee Line steamer Princess day excursion 1918 or 1919


This picture is of my grandmother on the right and the child is my grandfather. The Princess originally named the HW BURTOFF and the the JOHN LEE before being turned into the PRINCESS which was an excursion boat once packet boats business was taken over by rail roads.

My grandmother is second from the right.two of the young women were cousins of my grandmother. This picture was taken in 1919.
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Lee Line Serving Dishes

Justin B., thank you for sending these pictures of Lee Line serving dishes. These silver plated dishes were made by Reed and Barton. Last year I was able to purchase an identical creamer pitcher that had lost just about all its silver plating. When my grandfather was asked how many boats the Lee Line operated, he would reply “We have more boats under the water than on the water.” I am always excited to see new\old Lee Line items turn up as most of the items such as these reside under the water.

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SADIE LEE sunk at Dennis Landing Mississippi Nov. 15, 1912

Way’s Packet Directory recorded the SADIE hit a snag at Dennis Landing. Of interest is the stern sign SADIE LEE of NEW YORK. Sometime after the death of Capt. James Lee Jr., (Feb 1905) the Lee Line reincorporated in New Jersey. I suspect a tax dispute over the value of the assets of the company between the executors of his estate and the state of Tennessee led to the Lee Line reincorporating as a New Jersey corporation. Additionally, my great aunt Rowena Teagle’s husband Walter who was the chairman of Standard Oil of New Jersey became the President of the Lee Line. Walter Evans Edge the wife of Lady Lee Philips Edge became the Vice President. Lady Lee Philips Edge was the daughter of my great aunt Sara Lee who married Capt. Sam Philips in 1905. Walter Edge was a newspaper publisher, governor of New Jersey and an ambassador to France. Way’s Packet Directory records Sadie Lee as the daughter of Capt. James Lee Jr. Actually Sadie Ardinger Lee was the daughter of James Lee Jr.’s son James Lee III and Capt. James Lee Jr.’s law partner Hiram Warinner and Bodien Warinner. Capt. Tippits History of the Lee Line seems to be missing pages for 1912.

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Lee Line encounters with law enforcement

This newspaper clipping is from the Memphis Commercial Appeal December 17, 2018.
Tennessee Prohibition began in 1917 2 years prior to when the 18th Amendment was passed
outlawing possession and  manufacturing of alcohol as part of the US Constitution.

June 27, 1929

Posted on February 22, 2012 by leelinesteamers

The Evening Independent Newspaper St. Petersburg Florida reported on June 27, 1929 the following story

G Peters Lee Caught after repeated warnings by Memphis Chief of Police

Memphis Tenn., June 27 (AP)

G. Peters Lee, president of the Valley Line Steamers, Inc. was arrested today on charges of possession of liquor, conspiracy to violate the prohibition law and violating the liquor law.   He immediately made bond of $500 cash of each of the charges.

Capt. Lee’s arrest followed a visit by police chief  Will D. Lee and Capt. Hulet Smith accompanied by Finis Wilson, federal prohibition chief, here.  The officers said they found 75 gallons of liquor on the wharf-boat and 100 gallons in an auto.

“For years I have been telling Captain Lee that we would get him sooner or later,” Chief Lee said.  “We have arrested several of his employees and each time have given Captain Lee a warning.”  We have an open and shut case on him this time.”

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Beautiful cursive script July 3 1891 letter to Lee Line Capt. Robert E Lee

This letter resides in the Lilly Library at the Univ of Indiana Howard Shipyard archive.  

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