KATE ADAMS whistle – family heirloom

Ms. M.P. Thomas sent me this picture of the whistle from the KATE ADAMS with the following history and family remembrances of the KATE.

My great grandfather, as I understand it, bought the salvage rights to the Kate Adams.  The whistle was placed on the Planters Oil Mill in Clarksdale, MS where it was the morning, noon and go home whistle for the entire town.  When the mill was sold the paperwork to the whistle was discovered and the whistle went home with my grandparents.  As a child, I accidentally knocked it over and broke my dog’s tail with it (I was only a toddler).  My grandfather loaned the whistle for a brief time to the welcome museum in Greenville.  We retrieved it back from the museum after the state took it over.  The whistle now sits in a case in my home.

My great grandfather was Milton Ragan Jones, Jr.  He ran the oil mill in Clarksdale, MS.  My grandfather, James Hamilton Payne, married his daughter, Evalyn Brabston Jones.  My grandfather took over the running of the mill from his father-in-law.  My grandfather was always proud to show us the whistle that sat in their utility room for years after the mill was sold.  My grandfather and his two brothers were from Benoit, MS.  He remembered fondly riding the Kate Adams and the captain allowing him to blow the whistle.

Thank you so much for your efforts in preserving the history of all of these great ships!

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April 1910 advertising postcard

This advertising postcard is another EBay find.  It was post marked April 16, 1910 at Memphis Tenn.  Unseen below the recipient Jno. St. Avit & Son is hand stamped  Cape Girardean Mo.  Of interest are the sentences We beg to advise you and We solicit your liberal patronage.  This card would have been mailed to every shipper between Memphis and St. Louis.

 

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Having a delightful trip on board Steamer FERD HEROLD Aug 10 1909

Recent EBay find.  Pictured is the Steamer STACKER LEE.

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1884 Memphis steamboat history

This interesting page of history covers May through October 1884 and covers some work history of Capt. James Lee Jr as well as chronicles a number of steamboat accidents beginning with a broken tiller line on the JAMES LEE.   Of interest as well is the mention of Lee Line Capt. Claggett who worked as a mate on the JAMES LEE when it caught fire while work was being done on the pilot house.  Mate Claggett picked up Capt. James Lee Sr who weighed 300 pounds and carried him to safety.   A previous description of Mate Claggett used the adjective brawny.

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ECLIPSE postcards circa 1916

Another recent EBay find.   A hand written inscription on the back of the card to the right reads “Excursion picnic on Eclipse to Garner’s Landing.”   A close examination for the card picturing the ECLIPSE shows the negative should have been printed from the other side as ECLIPSE is reversed.  The ECLIPSE was formerly named the CITY OF ST. JOSEPH and entered the Lee Line fleet some time after 1904.  According to Way’s Packet directory, “she collapsed a Flue in June 1911 killing 18 deck hands and injuring engineer Floyd Morgan.  She caught high and dry at Luna Landing March 1916 and remained there some time.  That November the Lee Line changed her name to ECLIPSE.   Additionally, Way’s records she ran Memphis and Caruthersville.  On Sept. 12, 1925 at 7:00 pm she ended up on a snag, opposite Osceola, Arkansas.  The crew and passengers go ashore over a sand bar.”

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1903 Lee Line pass

A recent EBay find.  1900’s Lee Line passes are somewhat harder to find than pre 1900.

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Definition of cotton

“Cotton is the over-coat of a seed that is planted and grown in the Southern States to keep the producer broke and the buyer crazy; is planted in the spring, mortgaged in the summer and left in the field in the winter.  The fiber varies in color and weight and the man who can guess nearest the length of a fiber is called a cotton man by the public, a fool by the farmer and a poor business man by his creditors.  The price of cotton is fixed in New York and goes up when you have sold and down when you have bought.”  A buyer working for a group of mills in the South was sent to New York to watch the cotton market and after a few days deliberation wired his firm as follows:  “Some think it will go up and some think it will go down , I do too, whatever you do will be wrong, act at once.”

This humorous definition of cotton came from the memoirs (dated July 21, 1921) of my mothers grandfather Marius Harrison Gunther who was a cotton and tobacco broker in New Orleans and Memphis in the 1870’s through the 1920’s.  The Lee Line hauled millions of pounds of cotton and cotton seed from 1867 until the early to mid 1890’s when the railroads took much of the cotton trade from the steamboats.

When cotton shipping season began in September and rouster crews were difficult to recruit, Capt. Stacker Lee (my 2 great uncle) would take his walnut cane and walk from the Beale Street landing where Lee Line boats were moored and walk up Beale Street and into the dive bars and brothels loudly announcing “indeter (winter) is coming and bellies will be empty and there will be no food for those who do not work.”  Rousters who worked on Lee Line boats knew they could find a meal on board Lee Line boats during the cold slow winter months.

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1868 Early Lee Line boats NATOMA and NATRONA

Capt. William Tippitt’s History of the Lee Line sited the Memphis Appeal Jan. 3, 1868 “A change has taken place in management of Str. NATOMA Capt. James Lee , formerly of DAN ABLE in Memphis & Vicksburg trade, will be in command and Capt. J. C. Cummings will return to piloting along with S. H. Whitehead.  Capt. Tippitt also recorded the following from the Memphis Appeal April, 26, Capt. Jim Lee has purchased from Mr. Ellerton his one half interest in the steamer NATOMA, at the rate of $9000 for whole.  This is much below her value, but Mr. Ellerton would no doubt prefer to have given an interest to the old veteran than to have sold at a good price to anyone else.   The NATOMA will be laid up a few weeks for and undergo a overhaul preparatory to resuming her place in Friar’s Point (Miss.) trade, where she will stay – live of die; sink or swim; survive or perish.”  The freight bill below is a recent find.

Memphis Appeal June 8, reported “Mr. Stacker Lee returned from Cincinnati , he reported that the NATOMA has been hauled out on ways there and that a new hull is being placed under her.”

Way’s Packet Directory makes no mention of the NATOMA nor can a picture be found of her in the Univ of Wisconsin LaCrosse archive of steamboats.   However, Ways’s Directory recorded the NATRONA becoming part of the Lee Line April 1868 to replace the PRINCE OF WALES (owned by Capt James Lee prior to the war) which was burned July 13, 1863 prevent capture.

The drawing below the freight bill is from Capt. Tippitt’s History of the Lee Line.

1868 Natoma

00032 year 1867 picture of Natoma

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Capt. Stacker Lee as recorded by Capt. William Tippitt

Tippitt Stacker Lee brief bio

 

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1871 PHIL ALLIN and 1877 COAHOMA payment receipts

1871 1877 bills

These receipts are 2 of 4 recent finds dating to the early history of the Lee Line.  Both show James Lee Sr. my great great grandfather as Captain.    The clerks signature Lee would have been Stacker Lee who is listed as the clerk on the PHIL ALLIN in Capt. William Tippitt’s History of the Lee Line January 8, 1872.  Capt. Tippitt in another part of his history recorded his inability to find a photograph of Stacker after searching old newspaper archives.  The PHIL ALLIN was constructed in Memphis and began service January 1871.

Way’s Packet Directory reported the COAHOMA had a $18,400 annual US Mail contract to carry mail between Memphis and Friars Point.

Capt. Tippitt’s history reported Capt. Stacker Lee in command of the COAHOMA Jan. 1, 1878.

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