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