Lee Brothers New Orleans

The three gentlemen standing on the cotton bales are most likely Shelby Rees Lee, my grandfather, Robert E Lee and perhaps their brother James Lee III.   The SADIE LEE is to their right and the HARRY LEE is in front of the SADIE.  The colorized postcard below is almost identical to the above picture and it appears that several of the Rousters are in both pictures.  These pictures most likely were taken sometime shortly after 1901 when my grandfather began working for the Lee Line.   The Lee Line did not go farther south than Vicksburg Mississippi which makes me suspicious that these pictures were not taken at New Orleans.  Additionally steamboats landed upriver since controlled landings were easier going upriver than down bound.  Memphis is on the east bank of the Mississippi as well as prevailing winds from the south west make me think this picture would have been taken at Vicksburg or Memphis since these steamers are landed starboard side and their smoke is blowing left to right.

The reverse of this postcard has the following description:  “Loading cotton: Husky, singing Negroes handle these great bales of cotton as most people would handle bed pillows.  On the great Mississippi river, packets and barges are piled high with the billowy white cotton, tightly encased in burlap wrappings.”  There are no pictures showing rousters carrying cotton bales as if they were pillows.  The Rousters pictured are carrying what appears to be perhaps 100 pound bags of cotton seed.  Pictures of Rousters handling cotton bales show 2 or 3 men rolling bales of cotton across cobble stones or up the gang plank of steamboats.  Stacking cotton bales on the decks of steamers would have required 3 or 4 men to lift and position 500 pound bales of cotton.

4 Responses to Lee Brothers New Orleans

  1. Looking for information on my great grandfather his below obit says he worked for the Lee Line(he was a Veteran River Boat Capt.)

    The below obt. For William Maikell was posted in the Memphis Tenn paper and submitted to the Times Picayune New Orleans for 1944-03-06



    MEMPHIS, MARCH 3 1944

    Captain William Maikell, Whose friends said he was the last steamboat captain to hold a license to take a boat all the way to the headwaters of the Red river at Arthur, Tex.,died Here (Marine Hospital Memphis TN)

    Captain Maikell 83 years old was born near New Orleans Lousiana and had spent almost 60 years “on the river” . He had been wharfmaster for theLee Line at Memphis after the steamer Valley Queen of which he was master, was withdrawn.

    Maikell, Veteran River Captian Dies
    March 3 1944 , Shelby Tnn, and New Orleans

    • leelinesteamers says:

      Barbara, thank you for sharing this information. I am always interested in learning more
      about the people who worked for the Lee Line. Interestingly,the great grandfather of Fred Smith
      founder of FedEx worked for the Lee Line as a boat captain during the Mark Twain Era.
      Again, thank you for sharing this information about your great grandfather.

      Jim Lee

      • Thank you Jim for your reply…here is a little more information from articles printed in Newspapers about my great grandfather…looks like he also did some work in Texas. I would so love to hear from any one who had more information on him.

        Strikes Snag in Red River and Goes to Bottom.
        Shreveport La.March 12 (not sure of the Year)
        The Stern Wheel boat Barlow, Capt. William Maikell,struck a snag in Red River six miles above Shreveport this morning and sunk in seven feet of water. She carried a full cargo of provisions for plantations along the Upper Red River. Her Crew of five men are said to have escaped.
        The accident occurred opposite Colquitts Landing which can not be reached by telegraph or telephone. No particulars are obtainable.

        Next article:
        Another article on Capt. Maikell occurred in the Port Arthur Tx.Beaumont where he was hired by the Shell company to be the lead engineer to raise the Barge “Cyclone” —This article was small but I transcribed most of it
        Capt. Maikell BargeCyclone Raised 1910 Port Arthur Tx. “Beumont Enterprise and Journal”
        Barge “ Cyclone” Raised

        Captain Maikell rights the Vessel in Sabina River Near Orange

        Port Arthur, Texas, Dec. 18-The Iceland shell company’s barge “Cyclone “ was righted las Saturday by Captain Maikell a professional wrecker from New Orleans and was taken to Orange and pumped out. She will be again put in commission in the san J and shell bussinesss. Captain Maikell was working for the underwriters who would not make public the cost of the job.
        Some things can be arrived at by analysis and comparison and the righting of the Cyclone is one of them. The Texas Dredging company’s barge “H Deuteer” which turned turtiv in the lower Neches isa year ago cost $2, 250 go put upon its feet. These figures appear to be out of all proportion to a job like that, but they are correc. In the final attempt which succeeded to right the “Deuteer” four of the heaviest sea going tugs inthese waters were employed at once. These tugs were the “Captian “ the della, “ the Russell and the “Viva.” The last named tug was owned by the steering company. The others were hired. The service of sea- gong tugh is worth about one hundred dollars a day.
        While the Deuteer” was turned over in about three hours, when the four tugs goat a grip on the craft, yet a month had been spent before the numerouse and vain attempts to get the vessel on its feet. This was what made the cost run up to over $2,000 about one –half of the orginal cost of the barge. The job on the “ Cyclone” was done much cheaper for fewer….at taking her had been maked. But that it was an under writer’s job, and that a professionalman had to be accured from New Orleans. Indivuals indicates that the expense was heavy. In a swift current the….. would have been praticullary ……(a little more to this article but light and difficult to read) They were sucessful.

        newpaper articles
        Notice frin 30 Nar 1919 Times Picayne (Maikell to furnish Boats)

        Capt. Wm. Maikell – Article dated 30 March 1919 Times Picayune
        Has the privilege to furnish boats to carry visitors
        to the war vessels now at anchor in stream / foot of
        Canal street and will have the steamer Dixie and the launches
        Hazel and Henry W.. Visitors allowed aboard from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
        Round trip 25 cents.

  2. Gerald Chaudron says:

    The photograph was taken at Memphis.

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