James Lee House a labor of love


Thank you Dan Conaway for this story of love for the James Lee House.  Jose and Jennifer and partners have indeed engaged in a labor of love to restore this grand old Memphis home and operate it as a bed and breakfast.



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Eagle Packet Co. Lee Line competitor 1907

Following the bankruptcy of the St. Louis New Orleans Anchor Line due to financial decline and massive damage caused to their boats by killer tornado’s that hit St. Louis May 26, 1896 the Lee Line expanded their business north to St. Louis and into the Ohio River.  The Eagle Packet Co. expanding to fill the void as well.

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1874 Competitor Pass

Both the Idlewild and Quick Step entered the Lee Line fleet after 1874.  Capt. James Lee Sr. had a knack for buying or chartering boats as family boats were lost or sent to repair yards following accidents.

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Theodore Roosevelt came to St. Louis by way of steamboat 1907

St. Louis river front 1907 Theodore Roosevelt landed on the Lee Line wharf boat.  The top panorama was enhanced using PhotoShop to take out the folds in the original postcard.

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Lee Line creamer

Another recent find also purchased from an antique dealer who to the best of his recollection purchased it years ago at a garage or estate sale.  Originally this creamer was very thinly silver plated since the family knew that most of the items on their boats would probably end up on the bottom of the Mississippi or Ohio Rivers since boats were prone to snagging, blowing up or burning.

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Original Lee Line Poster

This poster came from a family member by way of an antique dealer who purchased it years ago.  I am happy to return it to the family.

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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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