The page below from Capt. William Tippitt’s History of the Lee Line recounts the clash and competitive spirit between the Lee Line and the St. Louis and New Orleans Anchor Line. The JAMES LEE “Took the Horns” (deer antlers – signifying the fastest boat) May 27, 1882 from the CITY OF PROVIDENCE in a record time of 5 hours 33 minutes between Helena Arkansas and the Beale Street Landing Memphis. A careful reading reveals a great deal of “trash talk” from the St. Louis news paper. Below this page is a model of the BELLE MEMPHIS which is part of the Howard Shipyard Museum, Jeffersonville Ind.
My new friend Jeff Wilkes of Savannah TN gave me this great old picture. Jeff has an amazing collection of St. Louis and Tennessee River Packet items. This picture was cropped from the original which is a stereoscopic card. The City of St. Joseph was built at St. Joseph MO in 1901. As you can see from this picture the Eclipse was in a bad way. Way’s Packet Directory reported the following, ” The Lee Line at Memphis in latter (November) 1916 changed her name to ECLIPSE (from CITY OF ST. JOSEPH) and ran her Memphis – Caruthersville. She ended up on a snag at 7:00 pm, Sept. 25, 1925 Opposite Osceola Ark. Crew and passengers got ashore over a sand bar. The picture of the City of ST JOSEPH below shows a much different configuration with an extended bow. Ways also reports the City of ST JOSEPH collapsed a flu 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.”
This historical account was sent to me by Nancy Buchant whose father died along with my uncle Jim and 47 other young American men August 1, 1944. The Captain in charge was told by a young French boy that if he continued down the road they were on they would be cut down like rabbits but if the went into Rennes by a different way they would slide in like butter. The Captain replied that tanks weren’t designed for street fighting and continued down the road they were travelling, resulting in German 88 mm fire destroying 6 tanks, a number of half tracks and the lives of almost 50 men. This unit had landed on Utah Beach approx. 2 weeks previously. Later that day 2 P-47’s destroyed the German 88’s. The following is a brief account of this fighting. The citizens of Rennes France have memorialized the deaths of these young men who died fighting to free them from German occupation and oppression. The town build a memorial listing each man and the place of his burial. The wiki link below can be translated from French to English and gives greater detail about this memorial.
The Howard Steamboat Museum in Jeffersonville Indiana is must see for anyone interested in steamboat history. Howard Shipyard built for the Lee Line the following boats, LADY LEE 1889, ROWENA LEE 1890, ORA LEE 1891, GEORGIA LEE 1898, ROBERT E LEE 1898, JAMES LEE (2nd) 1898, PETERS LEE 1899, REES LEE 1899, BAYLISS LEE 1899, ROWENA LEE 1900 (sold on ways prior to launch to St. Louis and Tennessee River Packet Co. and renamed CITY OF CLIFTON), SADIE LEE 1901, and STACKER LEE 1902. Additionally the LEE Line bought from others the following Howard build boats (year built not owned), SILVER THORN 1872, RENE MC CREADY 1875, CITY OF OWENSBORO renamed CITY OF OCEOLA) 1885, HW BUTTORFF 1896, JO HORTON FALLS (owned by the Valley Line run in part by G Peters Lee) 1913.
The guided tour was excellent. The museum is full of interesting artifacts and is well worth the time. Admission is very reasonable. Jeffersonville Ind is right across the Ohio River from Louisville KY.
The third deadliest tornado in United States’ history struck St. Louis, Missouri, and the East St. Louis, Illinois, area on this date back in 1896. This F4-rated twister left 255 dead and over 1,000 injured as it devastated the region. The Anchor Line (main Lee Line competitor) suffer the loss of and severe damage to several of her steamboats during this storm. The Anchor Line became insolvent following this disaster. As a result of the Anchor Line demise, the Lee Line expanded operations beyond Cairo IL into St. Louis. The Lee Line ordered 3 large side wheel steamers and several smaller stern wheel boats built at Howards Shipyard Jeffersonville Indiana to expand the Memphis and St. Louis trade as well as compete on the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers. The following account of the storm is from Capt. William Tippitt’s History of the Anchor Line.
This bit of history is from Capt. William Tippitt’s History of the Lee Line. My great grandfather James Lee Jr. purchased 690 Adams Ave. which is now the James Lee House Bed and Breakfast operated by Jose and Jennifer Velazquez. Jose and Jennifer (and partners) have done an amazing job of bring this house back to and above its former splendor and most important are very gracious host.
Regarding this somewhat humorous story, (great grandfather passed away Feb. 1905), in 1890 and 1900 he still had a never back down attitude that served him well the many years he spend battling for his share of steamboat business
Thank you David Tschiggfrie, Editor of the S&D REFLECTOR, for emailing this October 23, 1909 ad from the Waterways Journal.
These pages are from the Standard History of Memphis : From a Study of the Original Sources published by H.W. Crew & Co. Knoxville Tennessee 1912
The Monitor USS Amphitrite was moored at the mouth of the Wolf River where it meets the Mississippi & apparently caused silt buildup causing the eventual forming of Mud Island. This picture and above caption was sent by Henry Carlyle Acosta. Thank you Henry for this very nice picture of the USS Amphitrite and the history. The white building just to her stern appears to the US Custom house.
Credit: From Monitor Amphitrite. Sysid 97315. Scanned as tiff in 2008/03/03 by MDAH. Credit: Courtesy of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.