LEE LINE BOAT HISTORY
RUTH: Boat 4880 Way’s Packet Directory page 406. 160 x 31.5, 5 x 5. Stern Wheel, Packet, Wood Hull, built Paducah Kentucky 1888. Built for Capt. W.P. Hall, Memphis and ran Vicksburg – Greenville. Crew in 1900: Capt. Charles Nichols, master; Clarence Nichols and Henry Auter, pilots; Scott Phillips and John Schaffer, clerks; James O’Brien and James Gillespie, mates; Mike O’Keefe and Thomas Wylie engineers. She also went up the Yazoo River (Mississippi) to bring out trips. Still running in May 1900. Her whistle is said to have gone to the ROWENA LEE, JAMES LEE (2nd) and HARRY LEE (2nd). (PICTURED)
PRINCE OF WALES: Boat 4586 Way’s Packet Directory page 378. Side Wheeler, Packet, wood hull, 248 x 40 x 7, built Cincinnati Oh 1860, 572 tons. Built for Nashville – New Orleans trade for Capt James Lee (Sr), Memphis. Upon the advent of hostilities she was sold to Preston Lodwick and other, New Orleans and ran New Orleans – Memphis, Capt. James Kenniston. She was taken up the Yazoo and Tallahatchie rivers to avoid capture where she was purposely burned by the Confederates July 14, 1863. (NOT PICTURED)
GENERAL ANDERSON: Way’s Packet Directory makes no mention of this boat being owned by the Lee Line. However, the following is taken word for word from a newspaper clipping of unknown date. The byline of the article is “In the Pilothouse” by Joe Curtis and reads as follows: “First Mississippi river packet to have a separate cabin for negro passengers was the GENERAL ANDERSON. Before the Civil War, Negroes were not permitted in any boat’s cabin unless they were maids or housemen traveling with their owners. Capt. James Lee was the first owner of a boat to conceive the idea of a negro cabin. It was installed on the ANDERSON when he acquired her for the Memphis and Vicksburg trade and what brought it about was increasing travel of negroes who paid first class fares along the lower Mississippi. When Capt. Lee bought the GENERAL ANDERSON he brought her to Memphis from the Ohio River. Carpenters were put to work extending the rear of the texas leaving all forward rooms for the crew and the rear for negroes. A nice well furnished cabin was fitted up with staterooms and a small place for them to occupy if they did not want berths. Meals were served in the “parlor,” as the Negroes called it. And they had the same food set before first class passengers in the main cabin. Captain Lee was advised against building such quarters for Negroes but answered his friends: “I believe any person paying first class fare on a steamboat is entitled to first class passage.” That settled the argument. It was on October 12, 1869, when repairs to the ANDERSON were finished. Steam was raised. That afternoon she was given a trial run downstream. The bluffs of Memphis were crowded to watch the boats performance because she was talked about on account of quarters for Negroes. Her average speed on that run was 20 miles an hour, considered fast for a packet. Capt. Stacker Lee was chief purser. His assistants were J.B. Booker and Henry Mathes. She loaded next day to Vicksburg, departing amid screeching whistles of a dozen boats in port. The GENERAL ANDERSON was a side wheel boat, built at Brownsville, Pa in 1863. Her length was 345 feet. The cylinders were 19 inches and the piston stroke was seven feet. She was said to be the fastest boat on the river in her time. The ANDERSON was the finest steamboat Captain Lee had owned since the tragic ending of the PRINCE OF WALES, which he had operated as a New Orleans, Memphis, and Nashville packet until General Grant was ready to start with his gunboats down the Mississippi from Cairo (Illinois), Captain Lee knew further navigation above Memphis would be fatal, so he lit out with the PRINCE OF WALES, took her up Yazoo River above Yazoo City (Mississippi) and laid her up along with several other steamers owned by Southern men. It was during the siege of Vicksburg that Captain Lee burned his boat to prevent her from being seized by the Union Army. He did this after removing her furnishings. Mattresses in the stateroom were turned over to the Confederates. Her big hurricane roof bell was melted for the metal which went into cannon.”
NATRONA: Boat 4120 Way’s Packet Directory page 340. Stern Wheeler, Packet, wood hull, built Wellsville, Oh. 1863, 111 tons. Built for Pennsylvania Salt Mfg. Co., Natrona Pa. on the Allegheny River. This firm marketed “Natrona Oil” and had a large refinery. The NATRONA operated to Franklin and Oil Creek until sold early 1867 to Allegheny Valley RR who used her while building their line up the Allegheny at Red Bank and elsewhere. Capt. James Lee (Sr), Memphis bought her April 1868 to replace PRINCE OF WALES and ran her Memphis – St. Francis River. Later she became a rafter on the Upper Mississippi and served many years. Finally sank near East Dubuque and the wreck was removed by a U.S. Snag-boat in April 1892. (NOT PICTURED)
COAHOMA: Boat 1203 Way’s Packet Directory page 102. Side Wheeler, Packet, wood hull, built Metropolis, Ill 1876, 205.2 x 32 x 7. Compound engines, 17’s, 31’s – 7 ft. Three boilers and five flues. Built for the Lee Line Memphis. A widely circulated report while she was under construction was that Capt. James Lee (Sr) intended renaming her KATE FRISBEE to honor that old packet and her builder. The Ohio River was very low when she was launched. The new hull plowed in the mud and stuck. The IDLEWILD took a pull at it but had no luck. Her wheel shafts came from the burned CITY OF EVANSVILLE and her cabin was from the QUICKSTEP. The job of moving the cabin took only an hour and thirty minutes and was done so easily that the night watchman asleep in the Texas did not know he was on a new boat until he was called. Paddlewheels were 26 ft. in diameter with 15 ft buckets. She ran Memphis – Friars Point where the Lee Line had a U.S. Mail contract at $18,400 annually. Capt. Harry Cooper was master in 1882 with John Haley clerk. In 1892 she was in Pittsburg having been bought by Capt. Lee Anshutz and theater owner Harry Davis. They had plans to make an excursion boat of her which died aborning. Dismantled. QUICKSTEP’S oil headlight was still in the Lee Line wharf boat at Memphis 1920 (Way’s) page 382. (NOT PICTURED)
ED FOSTER: Boat 1701 Way’s Packet Directory page 140. Ferry, wood hull, built Cincinnati Oh., 1878, 390 tons, 280 x 35 x 4. Built to ferry at Little Rock Ark. and departed for her new home in April 1878. Documented at Memphis in 1886 and listed as a Lee Line boat. (NOT PICTURED)
SILVER THORN: Boat 5125 Way’s Packet Directory page 427. Stern Wheel, Packet, wood hull, built Jeffersonville Ind. (Howard Ship Yard?) 1872. She was entered in Evansville – Nashville trade with Capt. Josh V. Throop master and George Throop clerk. Named for Col. Silver-Thorn river editor of the Evansville Journal. In 1877 owned by Evansville Cairo & Memphis Steam Packet Co. Capt George Throop with Sid Humphrey clerk. Was running Memphis – Hales Point January 1880. Sold to New Orleans fall of 1883. She was returned to Paducah in 1883 and was given cotton guards then went back south. (Way’s makes no mention of Lee Line owning this boat which is named on the Lee Line river poster showing Robert E Lee holding the reins to various Lee Line boats). (NOT PICTURED)
DEAN ADAMS: Boat 1478 Way’s Packet Directory page 122. Side Wheeler, Packet, wood hull, built Sewickley Pa. (hull) and completed at Pittsburg 1880, 190 x 29 x 6. Engines 17’s – 7 ft. Three boilers each 47” x 23 ft. Machinery came from the LEGAL TENDER. Built for the Arkansas City – Vicksburg trade, Capt. Matt Williams. After the IDLEWILD burned she ran Memphis – Arkansas City trade. Owned by John D. Adams and named for a son. When the KATE ADAMS was built the DEAN ADAMS was sold to the Lee Line and burned at the Memphis wharf in 1886. (NOT PICTURED)
ORA LEE: Stern Wheel Packet wood hull Way’s Packet Directory page 357. Built by Howard Shipyard, Jeffersonville Ind. 1891, 140 x 32, 4 x 4. Owned by the Lee Line , Memphis, and ran short trades. In July 1900 hauled on the Mound City (Ark) marine ways, and was sold soon thereafter to White River, her name was changed to ORLANDO, which then ran the Memphis and White River weekly, April 1901. Struck a snag two miles above Peach Orchard Bluff on the White River July 5, 1901 en route from Memphis to Newport Ark and was lost. (PICTURED)
CHICKASAW: Boat 1010 Way’s Packet Directory page 85. Sternwheeler, Packet, wood hull, built Pittsburgh, Pa. 1883, 185 x 38 x 6. Engines, 16’s – 7 foot, three boilers each 48” x 26 ft, seven flues. Designed to carry 1650 bales of cotton. Owned by the Memphis & White River Packet Co. and later owned by the Lee Line, Memphis. The Lee Line sold her to New Orleans in November 1897 where she ran to Bayou Lafourche, Capt. J.J. Dodd master with Leonard Noyes clerk. The machinery in 1904 was placed on the towboat CHARLEY JUTTE at Jeffersonville Ind. (PICTURED)
PHIL ALLIN: Boat 4476 Way’s Packet Directory page 370. Side Wheel Packet, wood hull, built Memphis Tenn. 1871, 463 tons, 181 x 38 x 6. Engines 22’s – 7 ft. Three boilers. Ran Memphis – Friar’s Point. Capt. James Lee. Machinery came from C.E. HILLMAN (page 65 Way’s). Dismantled when the JAMES LEE(1st) was built and the engines went to that boat. Her jack-staff went to the towboat DICK FULTON and in 1920 there still was a set of solid walnut furniture on the Lee Line wharf boat at Memphis which came from her. (PICTURED)
PAT CLEBURNE: Boat 4398 Way’s Packet Directory page 363. (Names after Confederate General). Side Wheel Packet, wood hull, built Cincinnati Ohio 1870. Engines 20’s – 7 ft. Four boilers each 37” by 24 ft., two 14” flues. Built for the Memphis & White River Packet Co. She and ARKANSAS BELLE were partner boats and both came to the Evansville-Cairo trade owned by Evansville, Cairo and Memphis Steam Packet Co. In 1875 Capt. John Goff, master with Mat. Williams clerk. On the down bound trip she was landing opposite Weston, Ky. May 17, 1876. The ARKANSAS BELLE came up and was landing alongside when the boilers of the PAT CLEBURNE exploded. Capt. Dick Fowler was in command at the time, asleep in the Texas, and was burned in the ensuing fire. The death toll was given as fourteen persons. A Banca boiler plug was later found melted. The snag boat E.A. WOODRUFF removed the wreck. Way’s makes no reference to the Lee Line concerning this boat.(PICTURED)
BAYLISS LEE: Boat 0461 Way’s Packet Directory page 39. Stern Wheel, Packet, wood hull, built by Howard Ship Yard Jeffersonville, Ind. 1899, 190 x 38 x 5.8. Built for the Lee Line which ran her to Friars Point. When she was still very new she was bought by Capt. E.W.B. Nowland, Memphis, who promptly renamed her DELTA for the Memphis Vicksburg trade. At the time of this sale she had a roof signboards reading LEE LINE – PADUCAH AND WATERLOO. She had been built to “buck” the St. Louis – Tennessee River Packet Co. but the differences had been settled. The Nowland Line relettered the signboards to read REGULAR MEMPHIS and VICKSBURG PACKET.
GEORGIA LEE: Boat 2320 Way’s Packet Directory page 187. Stern Wheeler, Packet, wood hull, built by Howard Shipyard Jeffersonville Ind. 1898, 178 x 33 x 5. Engines 18’s – 8 ft. Three boilers each 44” x 32 ft. Owned by Lee Line. Left Memphis Aug. 13, 1898 on maiden voyage in Memphis – Cairo trade, Capt. N.B. NcNeely with Jesse P. Irwin mate and Charles Conway pilot on watch. She replaced the ROWENA LEE in the trade. Named for Miss Georgia Lee daughter of Capt. James Lee Jr. Had a narrow shave in May 1909 at the Paducah Marine Ways where she was being hauled out for repairs when the chains gave way and she took a run for the river and sank. Ran in the Memphis – Cincinnati trade until 1914 when the Lee Line abandoned the trade. Her last operation probably was under charter taking the place of the KATE ADAMS which was stranded at Helena Ark. in 1917. Lost in ice at Memphis January 1918 along with the ex – JAMES LEE (DESOTO). (PICTURED)
REES LEE: Boat 4708 Way’s Packet Directory page 390. Stern Wheel, Packet, wood hull, built Jeffersonville, Ind. by Howard Ship Yard 1899, 220 x 38 x 5. Owned by the Lee Line, Memphis. The Howard Yard also was building the BAYLISS LEE and ROWENA LEE when this boat was completed. Sank and was lost at Tiptonville Tenn., June 22, 1906. (PICTURED – SEE POSTCARDS)
S.S. BROWN: Boat 4900 Way’s Packet Directory page 407. Stern Wheel, Packet, steel hull, built Ambridge, Pa. (hull) and completed at Pittsburg 1906, 228 x 44 x 6.6. Compound condensing engines, 15 ½ ‘s, 30’s- 8 ft. Four boilers each 44” by 24 ft., three 10” and three 8” flues. American Bridge Co. built the hull and she was completed at the James Rees & Sons shop in the Allegheny River, Pittsburg. Owned by Memphis & Arkansas River Packet Co. Was taken to Memphis new November 1906. Capt. Ed Nowland, Jr. with George Ehringer chief engineer. Entered the Memphis – Vicksburg trade with Chess Wilcox and Charles Nixon as pilots. In May 1907 she made a trip up the Arkansas River to Little Rock Ark. The owning firm failed in May 1908; however the S.S. BROWN was brought from retirement to run a special trip from Paducah Ky. to New Orleans that July. Later in the year she pinch hit for the KATE ADAMS in the Memphis – Arkansas trade. Bought by the Lee Line Memphis in 1909 and renamed the REES LEE. The story of this steamer with many pictures appears in the S&D Reflector June 1972 issue pages 23 – 32. (PICTURED)
REES LEE: Boat 4709 Way’s Packet Directory page 390. The REES LEE (renamed from the S.S. BROWN) ran the Memphis – St. Louis route. Way’s calls the REES LEE the fireproof elegant flagship of the Lee Line. Sold circa 1919 to Capt. D.W. Wisherd and others who converted her to an excursion boat renamed MAJESTIC. (PICTURED) MAJESTIC: Boat 3712 Way’s Packet Directory page 304. In 1915 was converted to and excursion boat by Capt. Peters Lee and D. Walter Wisherd and renamed from the REES LEE. On the main deck were a miniature scenic railroad and a merry-go-round. She tramped New Orleans to the Upper Mississippi and burned in her winter quarters on the Illinois River May 1922. The steel hull was converted into a cotton barge and George H. Partin loaded it with cotton at Memphis in 1931 and had it towed to New Orleans. On the second cotton trip towed by the ROBERT GORDON, the barge sank fully loaded at New Orleans on December 16, 1931. Capt. Peters Lee owned the barge. Pictures of the excursion boat MAJESTIC are not Lee Line pictures. (NOT PICTURED as Majestic, see postcard of REES LEE)
GAYOSO: Boat 2210 Way’s Packet Directory page 177. Stern Wheel, Packet, wood hull, built at Axton yard Brownsville Pa., 1883, 127 x 28. Owned by the Lee Line Memphis. Sold to Capt. Elmore Bewley in January 1895 for the Evansville – Green River trade. Name changed in November 1897 to PARK CITY. (PICTURED) PARK CITY: Boat 4392 Way’s Packet Directory page 362. The PARK CITY went to the Kentucky River in her latter days and was lost by reason of an accident most peculiar. She was rounded to, to make Lafe Mahonery’s Landing bear Mussel Shoals in Owen County. She had aboard a large shipment of whiskey contained in both barrels and cases. One of the barrels tiered high on the main deck lost its balance as the boat rolled, crashed through the deck into the hold, went on through the bottom planking and sank her. This happened on Dec. 6, 1909 within a few miles of where the SONOMA turned over and sank. (NOT PICTURED)
H. W. BUTTORFF: Boat 2509 Way’s Packet Directory page 205. Stern Wheel, Packet wood hull, built at the Howard Ship Yard Jeffersonville, Ind., 1896, 160 x 30 x 4.1. Engines 13 ½’s – 4 ½ ft. Two boilers 44” x 20 ft. Owned by the Pyman Line Nashville- Paducah. In 1901 Capt. James S. Tyner with Al Bishop and George Bitroff clerks. Bud Yarbrough and B. Collishaw pilots and Bedford Harris and Allard Jones engineers. She struck the bridge pier abutment at Clarksville March 5, 1899. She looked like a total loss but was raised. Capt. J.S. Tyner spent his honeymoon aboard, was master 15 years, and his wife lived aboard eight of those years. In 1906 again at the Clarksville bridge and L&N passenger train (No. 102) ran out and dropped the engine and coal car into the Cumberland River losing the engineer and express messenger. The BUTTORFF was getting ready to run the open draw at the time but was uninjured. The boat was named for the founder of the Phillips & Buttorff Co. Nashville Tn. She was bought by the Lee Line, Memphis January 1911, which renamed her JOHN LEE. (PICTURED as H.W. BUTTORFF and in Lee Line Fleet 1912 picture identified as JOHN LEE)
JOHN LEE: Boat 3088 Way’s Packet Directory page 253. Lee Line ran her short trade out of Memphis and later converted her into an excursion boat named PRINCESS, boat 4595 Way’s Packet Directory page 379. She was sold to Pittsburg owned there by Edgar E. Eaton and in 1928 was taken over by Morgan-Davis Dock Co. at Glenwood Pa. She lay around in their fleet until scrapped in 1934. (PICTURED)
RENE McCREADY: Boat 4726 Way’s Packet Directory page 391. Stern Wheeler, Packet built by Howard Ship Yard Jeffersonville, Ind., 1875, 141 x 28 x 4.8. Ran Memphis – St. Francis River. In April 1882 shuttled between Memphis and Marion Ark. making connections with the Memphis & Little Rock Railroad. Capt. O.K. Joplin with A.L. Penning clerk. Dismantled 1890 at Memphis. Her oak dining room tables were still stored in the Lee Line wharf boat in 1920. (PICTURED)
VALLEY QUEEN: Boat 5537 Way’s Packet Directory page 466. Stern Wheeler, Excursion, wood hull. Built by Howard Ship Yard Jeffersonville Ind. 1913. Origionally, named JO HORTON FALL. Capt. Peters Lee, Memphis and others bought her circa 1926 and ran her in short trades to Caruthersville Mo. and elsewhere, renamed VALLEY QUEEN and fitted out for excursions. She made a Missouri River trip and was sunk and lost at Omaha Neb. May 17, 1934. (The picture in this compilation is most likely not the VALLEY QUEEN owned by Peters Lee and run by the Valley Line. See below Way’s description of the other VALLEY QUEEN.) VALLEY QUEEN: Boat 5536 Way’s Packet Directory page 466. Stern Wheel, Packet, wood hull built by Howard Shipyard Jeffersonville Ind. 1889. 192 x 35.8 x 5.6. Engines 16’s- 5 ft. Two boilers each 46” x 28 ft. This cotton-style packet was built for Capt. George W. Rea and others ran New Orleans – Red River to Shreveport La. In early January 1896 brought 2,888 bales of cotton, 643 bundles of hides and an assortment of cargo into New Orleans on a single trip. In burned in 1903 near Hardscrabble Landing near St. Joseph La. with a big load of cotton and seed. Another account says she was at Bruinsburg Landing , Tensas Parish La. (PICTURED loaded with cotton bales)
CITY OF OWENSBORO: Boat 1115 Way’s Packet Directory page 95. Stern Wheel, Packet wood hull, built by Howard Shipyard Jeffersonville Ind. 1885, 245 x 37.6 x 6.3. Much of the equipment came from the Grey Eagle built 1871 (Eagle Packet Co.). Owned by Louisville & Evansville Packet Co. Capt. David L. Penny was master many years then Capt. Marion Ryan. Capt. Jess Singleton told this scribe (Fred Way) she once went high and dry in a cornfield at Scuffletown in Canadian Reach on the Kentucky Shore. She was sold to the Lee Line in 1895 and renamed City of OSCEOLA. (PICTURED)
CITY OF OSCEOLA: Boat 1114 Way’s Packet Directory page 95. After 10 years of operation as CITY OF OWENSBORO was purchased by the Lee Line, Memphis. It is said that the new name was selected inasmuch as the silver ware, furniture etc was marked City of O. The Lee’s ran her Memphis – Cairo. She sank with a big trip about 70 miles north of Memphis in November 1896. She was raised but finally sank one winter below Tiptonville Tenn. She was replaced by the ROBERT E LEE. (PICTURED)
ROBERT E LEE: Boat 4779 Way’s Packet Directory page 398. Side Wheeler, Packet, wood hull, built by Howard Ship Yard Jeffersonville Ind. 1898, 238 x 38 x 5. Owned by the Lee Line of Memphis and not named for the military leader of the Confederacy, but for Capt. Robert E Lee of Memphis. Ran Memphis – Ashport Tenn. Capt. Dennis Conners and Capt. George Carvel master when she sank opposite Craighead Point upbound. All passengers and crew were safely removed. The river was rising and she broke up. Capt. Robert E Lee was son of Capt. James Lee Jr. and grandson of Capt. James Lee founder. His mother was Rowena Bayliss Lee. When he died June 12, 1942, he left a son Robert E Lee Jr. The loss of the boat occurred Dec. 22, 1904. (PICTURED) (PICTURE of hull at launch)
ROWENA LEE: Boat 4856 Way’s Packet Directory page 404. Stern Wheel, Packet, wood hull, built by Howard Ship Yard Jeffersonville Ind. 1890, 166.5 x 35 x 4.5. Built for the Lee Line, Memphis. Sank at M’hoon’s Landing below Memphis in October 1897 with her head in six feet and her stern in 12 ft of water. Had 300 bales of cotton and some passengers. Capt. John J Darragh was master for some time. Carried the whistle from the RUTH (b. 1888) and later went to the JAMES LEE 2nd and then to HARRY LEE 2nd. Rebuilt at Howards in 1899. Finally sank for keeps at Tyler’s Mo. just above the Arkansas state line. Sid Smith was the pilot on watch, this in 1902. (PICTURED)
LADY LEE: Boat 3338 Way’s Packet Directory page 275. Stern Wheeler, Packet, wood hull, built by the Howard Ship Yard Jeffersonville Ind. 1889, 176 x 35 x 5.5. Engines 16’s – 6 ft. Three boilers. She and the ROWENA LEE were built about the same time for the Lee Line to run Memphis – Ashport Tn. She carried the whistle from the COAHOMA. Sank in fifteen feet in the chute at Island 40, July 5, 1895. Sand washed out from under her head, the hog chains parted and she proved a total loss. Capt. William J. Irwin related that LADY LEE landing was on the Arkansas shore on the Mississippi opposite Island 35 up about the middle bar. After this loss the Lee Line bought the RUTH as a replacement. (PICTURED) (PICTURED AS PARTIALLY COMPLETE)
ROSA LEE: Boat 4827 Way’s Packet Directory page 401. Stern Wheeler, Packet wood hull, built Paducah Ky. 1887, 225 x 36 x 7. Engines 32’s – 7 ft. from FRANK PARGOUD. Christened by Jennie Fowler daughter of Capt. Joe Fowler. Owned by the Lee Line Memphis. Burned at Memphis Nov. 10, 1892. (PICTURED)
HARRY LEE: Boat 2540 Way’s Packet Directory page 207. Stern Wheeler, Packet, wood hull, built Clarington Ohio 1899. Originally named CITY OF WHEELING. Renamed by the Lee Line. Sank at Brandywine Landing 45 miles above Memphis August 1911 and was raised. Burned at Memphis March 19, 1914. She carried the whistle of the Lee Line ROBERT E LEE. The boat behind the Lee Line Warf boat is the HARRY LEE. The S&D Reflector noted in the September 1984 issue that “They (Lee’s) took good care of her and in 1913 gave her new boilers, engines, and put cylinder beams on her.” The S&D also noted following burning on March 19, 1914, “the hull was sold to Watkins Tie Co and converted into a barge. The machinery and boilers were used in the building of a new steel hull HARRY LEE at St. Louis.” (PICTURED)
HARRY LEE: Boat 2541 Way’s Packet Directory page 208. Stern Wheel, steel hull, Packet built St. Louis Mo., 1915, 175.5 x 36 x 6.7. Engines, 16’s – 6. Three boilers set on her backwards; fired from the deck-room. Owned by the Lee Line, Memphis. Ran Memphis-Helena-Friars Point. In January 1921 she was 40 miles up the St. Francis River (Arkansas). She was built at the Phil A. Rohan Boat, Boiler & Tank Works, St. Louis. Last owned by the Valley Line, Memphis, which sold her June 1924 to Sherburne Transportation Co. She served during WWII at Alexandria La., on the Red River as a barracks for soldiers, and was moved from there to Orange, Tex., used to quarter shipyard workmen and burned May 12, 1942. She was then converted into a showboat at Orange and was still there in 1951.
CITY OF WHEELING: Boat 1146 Way’s Packet Directory page 98. Stern Wheeler, Packet, wood hull, built Clarington Ohio at Mozena Yard and completed at Wheeling 1899, 169.3 x 34.4 x 4.8. Engines 16s- 6 ft. Three boilers each 42” diameter by 22 ft. Engines and boilers came from CITY OF SAVANNAH. Capt. Thaddeus S. Thomas and Cy Higgs were instrumental in building her for short trades out of Wheeling. She was soon sold the Lee Line which renamed her HARRY LEE. (PICTURED as CITY OF WHEELING)
PETERS LEE: Boat 4463 Way’s Packet Directory page 368. Stern Wheeler, Packet, wood hull, built by Howard Ship Yard Jeffersonville Ind. 1899, 220 x 42 x 7, 681 tons. Engines 18’s – 8 ft. Three boilers each 44 “ x 32 ft. Owned by the Lee Line. Built for the Memphis – St. Louis trade. The BONANZA ran the Cincinnati – Memphis trade until early 1904 when she was refused insurance and discontinued the run. The Lee Line stepped the PETERS LEE into the trade, making her first arrival at Cincinnati early April 1904. She brought 100 bales of cotton to Louisville and unloaded them on the wharf, first seen in years April 1911. The GEORGIA LEE replaced her in the trade. She sank at Lake Providence La. after hitting a barge as she backed out, August 1913. She sank over the hurricane roof. (PICTURED)
FERD HAROLD: Boat 2039 Way’s Packet Directory page 165. Stern Wheeler, Packet, steel hull, built at Dubuque Iowa 1890, 244 x 34 x 7.2. Engines 18’s – 8 ft. Three boilers. Ferd Harold Esq. was a St. Louis brewer who financed construction. His likeness in the form of a magnified bust was placed on the forward end of the Texas and later removed to the cabin. Her maiden trip was St. Louis – New Orleans, Capt. Henry W. Brolaski. Then Capt. Milt Harry went on her and she loaded out at St. Louis for Vicksburg. He placed her in the Ouachita River trade in opposition to the regular line and quit when he was paid off. She then ran St. Louis – Alton, did no go and was sold to the Lee Line for $30,000 having cost $75,000 new. They ran her St. Louis – Memphis. During the last several years of operation her owner was St. Louis Memphis Transportation Co., which also ran the GEORGIA LEE in the trade. S.C. Edgar was president of the line, G.F. Lee vice-president and J.M. Tucker general agent at St. Louis. Their folder also advertised the steel hull excursion steamer MAJESTIC. She ran this trade until 1919 at which time the Halliday wharf boat at St. Louis was sold and the Lee Line wharf boat at Cairo was discontinued. The FERD HAROLD was dismantled. Sugar Products Co. of New Orleans used the hull as a barge which foundered in the Gulf of Mexico late 1920. (PICTURED)
CITY ST. JOSEPH: Boat 1129 Way’s Packet Directory page 97. Stern Wheeler, Packet, wood hull, built St. Joseph Mo., 1901, 162 x 36 x 5. Engines 16’s – 6 ft. Two boilers, each 40” x 26 ft. Built by Capt. A. Stewart of St. Joseph for Missouri River service with Capt. Stewart in command with F.W. Turner clerk, R.J. Stewart pilot and Perrin Key chief engineer. She made trips to the World’s Fair at St. Louis in 1904. She was sold to Planters Packet Co. Memphis and was last owned by the Lee Line. Collapsed a flue in June 1911 killing 18 deck crew and injuring engineer Floyd Morgan. She was caught out high and dry at Luna Landing, Ark. in March 1916 and remained there some time. That November the Lee Line changed her name to ECLIPSE and ran her Memphis – Caruthersville Mo. She ended up on a snag 7:00 P.M. Sept. 12, 1925 opposite Osceola Ark. Crew and passengers got ashore over a sand bar. (NOT PICTURED)
ELEONORE: Boat 1752 Way’s Packet Directory page 144. Stern Wheel, Packet, wood hull, built Beardstown Ill 1902, 126.8 x 23 x 3.8. Owned in her later years by the Lee Line. Burned at Memphis September 1911 and rebuilt. Turned turtle (in a tornado – see New York Times article) 20 miles above Memphis drowning several passengers and her purser while she was in the Memphis – Ashport trade. This happened in June 1916 resulting in lawsuits which found the Lee Line not liable since the court ruled the capsizing an “Act of God.” (PICTURED in Lee Line Fleet 1912 picture)
JAMES LEE: Boat 2933 Way’s Packet Directory page 241. Side Wheel, Packet wood hull, built Sewickley Pa (hull) and completed at Pittsburg 1879, 241 x 34 x 7.5. Engines 22’s – 7 ft. from the PHIL ALLIN. Powered by four boilers each 44” dia. by 28 ft., six flues. Paddlewheels 29 ft dia. with 15 ft buckets. The hull was built at the Pittsburg Boat Yard Co. for Major John Adams, Memphis, who planned naming her TROUBADOUR. The hull stuck on the ways during the launch and Adams sold it to Capt. James Lee Jr, Memphis. A duplicate hull then was built at the same yard for Adams which became the KATE ADAMS (1St). JAMES LEE ran out of Memphis. Crew in 1882: Capt. Stacker Lee with Lloyd Whitlow, Platt Rhoads and Arthur Browne as clerks. Her upper works badly burned in a fire Oct. 3 1883 and was rebuilt. She was retired around 1894. The metal from her engines was broken up and recast into cylinders for U.S. steamer JOSEPH HENRY. Of interest in 2 pictures of the JAMES LEE are deer antlers prominently displayed on the hurricane deck in one picture and between the stacks in the other picture. Picture 24 of the JAMES LEE parallel to the river bank with an unidentified boat between the wharf boat and the KATE ADAMS (2nd) was taken around 1888 or later. “At the time of the picture, there were no bridges of any type spanning the Mississippi River from the Eads Bridge at St. Louis to the Gulf of Mexico and fancy steamboat smokestacks reached for the sky with impunity. S&D Reflector Vol. 21 No. 3 September 1984. (PICTURED)
JAMES LEE: Boat 2934 Way’s Packet Directory page 241. Side Wheeler, Packet, wood hull, built by Howard Shipyard Jeffersonville Ind. 1898, 230 x 43 x 7. Engines 24’s – 8 ft. Five boilers each 44” x 30 ft. Built for the Lee Line and ran Memphis – Friar’s Point, Capt. John J. Darragh. This was a handsome boat, consistently successful and outlived her usefulness as a packet. She was converted into an excursion boat at Memphis in 1917 and renamed DESOTO which was crushed during the winter of 1917 – 1918 by ice on the Mississippi. (PICTURED)
SADIE LEE: Boat 4908 Way’s Packet Directory page 408. Sternwheel Packet, built Jeffersonville Ind by Howard Shipyard 1901. 140 ft x 26 ft x 3.5 ft. Built for the LEE LINE Memphis, Tenn. Engines 12’s -6 ft. Came out in Memphis – Ashport trade. Capt. George Carvell, master; William (Billy) Smithers first clerk; Frank Watkins 2nd clerk; Tim Allen and John Seymour mates; Jack Walsh steward; George Woodford and Wes Owens pilots and Dick Johnson and Joe Riveras engineers. Later ran Memphis – Vicksburg. Sank O.K. Landing Nov. 13, 1910. Hit a snag and sank at Dennis Landing Nov. 15, 1910 upbound, Capt. Thomas Staid in command. The JOHN LEE was sent down from Memphis and the KATE ADAMS picked up some of the passengers. Miss Sadie Ardinger Lee daughter of the late Capt. and Mrs. James Lee Jr. (incorrect she was the daughter of James Lee 3rd. son of James Lee Jr.), died May 16, 1963. She was the last of her generation for whom boats had been named.
STACKER LEE: Boat 5174 Way’s Packet Directory page 432. Stern Wheeler, Packet, wood hull, built by Howard Shipyard Jeffersonville Ind. 1902, 225.5 x 45 x 6.5. Engines 18’s – 8 ft. Three boilers each 44” x 24 ft. Owned by Lee Line. Crew October 1902, Capt. Shep Lightner; Pilots Luther Brasher and Charles B. Ziegler; Engineers William Brannon and Richard Fryer; Clerks John Hermann and Joe Tucker. Ran St. Louis – Memphis. Capt. Tom Greene (Anchor Line) once said that the name “STACKER LEE” sounded more “south” than any other steamboat’s name; which reminds us that Courtney M. Ellis who was an engineer for the Lee Line for a time recalled a sign over the crew’s table which warned NO STEAMBOATING AT MEALS. The STACKER LEE sank four miles above Memphis down-bound on October 21, 1916 at 11:00 PM. There was water up to the Texas. Purser Nick Jokerst gathered up money and papers and with second clerk Walter Jeffords rowed to Memphis in a yawl and got the tug BART TULLY to come up for the passengers. On the morning of the same day the CAPE GIRARDEAU sank off Fort Gage. (PICTURED).
BOB LEE Jr. Boat 0662 Way’s Packet Directory page 57. Sternwheel Packet steel hull, built 1912 Memphis TN. 145 ft x 32 ft. She was built on the levee by the Southern Tank & Boiler Works for the LEE LINE. Origionally had cross compound engines, 15’s x 30’s – 6 ft stroke and a firebox boiler. Burned at Memphis wharf destroying upper works in August 1913. Sold to Standard Oil which made a towboat of her and renamed her CORONA. They sold her to Transcontinental Oil (Standard Oil subsidiary) and she was taken to the Panuco River, Mexico where she was renamed ROBALO. Ultimately Standard Oil brought her back again called her CORONA and she flopped over at island 35 sometime during 1932.
Competitor Boats to the Lee Line
NON LEE LINE BOATS J M WHITE: Boats 2865, 2866 and 2867 Way’s Packet Directory pages 233 – 235. Way’s has a lengthy history of the J M WHITE boats which were build for speed. The third and most impressive J M WHITE was destroyed by fire and an explosion of gun powder stored in her magazine December 13, 1886. KATE ADAMS: Boats 3215, 3216 and 3217 Way’s Packet Directory pages 263, 264 and 265. Just as the three J M WHITE boats were built for speed, all three KATE ADAMS were built for speed. The first KATE ADAMS was the follow on boat after John D. Adams sold the first KATE to Capt. James Lee who named her the JAMES LEE. The first KATE was involved in a run from Helena Ark to Memphis which surpassed the JAMES LEE’s best time. Quoting Way’s, “The owners of the LEE handed over an elegant set of deer horns which the KATE wore the rest of her career.” The first KATE burned 40 miles south of Memphis at Commerce Landing early Sunday morning Dec. 23, 1888. The second KATE was built at Howard Ship Yard in 1888. The first two KATES were look-a-likes in most regards. The third KATE was build at Howard Ship Yard in 1899 and is of interest to Lee Line history beyond competition from the first two KATE ADAMS since the third KATE ADAMS became part of a merged steamboat line involving the Lee Line. The name of the company owning the KATE was changed to the Delta Line. In January 1924 the Lee Line merged with the Delta Line and became the Valley Line with Capt. Hicks as president and Capt. Peters Lee manager. In the fall of 1926, she was returned to Memphis and renovated to take part in the filming of the movie Uncle Tom’s Log Cabin, during which she was renamed LA BELLE. Of interest is the post card in this book showing the KATE aground following the Mississippi dropping quickly on June 29, 1917 where she remained until October 12, 1918 when she was re-floated. She burned January 8, 1927. Way’s has more interesting history on the KATES.
Thank you for providing such rich history. I am looking for information on the Mississippi River Packet Elenore that was capsized by the storm on the Mississippi River about seventeen miles north of Memphis. It occurred either June 4th or 5th of 1916.
I noticed the STACKER LEE sank four miles above Memphis down-bound on October 21, 1916 at 11:00 PM. In reading the histories it seemed they sank, exploded or burned. Where can I locate the “Way’s Packet Directory” on-line. Can you tell me what makes a steamboat a “PACKET”?
Margaret, thank you for your interest
in the Lee Line steamer Elenore. Way’s
Packet Directory to my knowledge in not
available on-line. However I can scan
Way’s history on this boat and send it
to you as a PDF. A packet boat was a
steamboat that carried freight and passengers
and often mail. What caused your interest
in the Elenore? Again, thank you for your
You list the Lee Line Robert E. Lee that was built at Jeffersonville, Indiana. It would have been nice if you had mentioned the fact that this is not the Robert E. Lee that beat the Natchez in the famous New Orleans to St. Louis race. That world famous Robert E. Lee was built at New Albany, Indian, located down river from Jeffersonville by just a few miles.
You are correct on the much older RE Lee being the racer.
My ancestors did not allow head to head races with their boats.
They however participated in time trials as you will see from
my history of the Lee Line. Southern steamboat owners liked to
name their boats after famous people, however the Lee’s named boats
after family members who had a famous name. Thank you for your interest
Hi again, thanks for my post.
It looks like a large percentage of your boats were built at Jeffersonville, Indiana (just four miles upriver from my hometown of New Albany where the first Robert E. Lee was built). So, the question is, what was the connection between your family and Jeffersonville’s Howard shipyard? Thanks.
I have a painting of the Coahoma from 1891.
I would love to know who the artist is now that I know all the history! Is there a data base of artist that painted the Lee Lines?
Amy, thank you for your interest in the Lee Line. To my knowledge, there is no
list or history of people who painted pictures of Lee Line boats. I am interested
in old paintings and pictures of Lee Line boats. I would love to put a copy of your
painting on my web site if you are able to send a jpg of your painting. Also, how
did you acquire this painting? Again, thank you for your interest in the Lee Line.