Newly Acquired Items
Waybills & Steamboat Documents


JOHN L. LOWRY letterhead and correspondence 1916

Very interesting "letter home" from passenger "Guy" to his "Dear Wife" in 1916.

Did a lot of restoring to the letter and although his penmanship was irregular and his sentences run together without punctuation there's still some charm to it.

Written on the letterhead for the Steamer JOHN L. LOWRY Paducah, Kentucky

March 8, 1916

Dear Wife. Received your letter all O.K. was glad to hear from you but had rather see you than write thought sure you would get to see me to night but on account of delayed on machinery will crowd us to get out tomorrow evening never was so disgusted the way every thing turns out we will be in fine shape when we do get out the river has been up side down for 3 days we couldn't have run if we had not been in shape and as to clean clothes will make out till I get home this is all I know to write

so long

as ever

your Guy

JOHN L. LOWRY Sternwheel Packet

Way's Packet Directory Number 3085

Built in 1913 at Evansville, Indiana
Captain John L. Lowry owner and master in 1914

Captain Milt Harry also served as master

The LOWRY navigated the Ohio; Mississippi and Illinois rivers
Ran the Evansville-Paducah trade.
On March 17, 1919, she sank in a storm at Kincaide Landing, Illinois and was raised.
In 1920 she was taking coal at Saline Mines, Illinois, near Shawneetown when she burned on October 4th.


Waybill 19 February 1875 from the BELLE YAZOO

Waybill dated 19 February 1875 for single cotton bale shipped aboard the BELLE YAZOO.

Sidewheel steamboat
Way Packet Directory Number 0542

Owned by the Parisot Line and ran Vicksburg-Yazoo River. First mention we notice is in mid April 1871 when she lost her stacks eight miles above Yazoo City during a storm and was otherwise damaged. On January 7, 1876 downbound from Yazoo River to New Orleans she was snagged and sank about 12 miles above Bayou Sara with no loss of life.


Waybill from LAKE CITY

Way's Packet Directory Number 3350
Built at Yazoo City, Mississippi in 1885 - 44 tons
Yazoo & Tallahatchie Transportation Co.



Merchants and Planters Packet Co. - Greenwood, Mississippi

Above 1890's letterhead for the Merchants' & Planters' Packet Co. of Greenwood, Mississippi restored from the upper portion of a dilapidated 5.90 x 9.50 inch original.

Sternwheel packet boat

Way's Packet Directory Number 1638
Built at Patterson, Louisiana in 1892
Documented at Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1896

a Sternwheeler not listed in Way's Directory

However, both of these boats are mentioned in the following, quoted from page 159 of Steamboats & the Cotton Economy - River Trade in the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta by Harry P. Owens ~ University Press of Mississippi 1990:

"W.F. Ramay built the sternwheel steamer FERD R. at Greenwood in 1892 and entered the trade. The next year the new boat hit a snag and was towed to Captain Pugh's boatyard at Yazoo City. She was originally only 70 feet long, but when rebuilt she measured 93.8 x 16.2 x 3 feet. When the FRED R. returned to the Yazoo trade, she was owned by W.C. George, who had started the Greenwood Transportation Company. Within a few month, the Greenwood firm purchased the sixty three ton sternwheeler E.A. PHARR to serve upper river shippers."


Waybill from the IKE BONHAM

Waybill IKE BONHAM May 10, 1888
Waybill dated May 10th, 1888
Waybill dated October 14th, 1892

IKE BONHAM Way's Packet Directory Number 2730

Sternwheel packet

Built in Mason City, West Virginia in 1878 at at the Mees Yard, above the city wharf for Captain W.H. Sargent. 93 4 x 18 x 3.6 Ran on the Kanawha River in 1879. Capt. Sargent then took her to the Yazoo River. On March 11, 1886 her boiler exploded on the Mississippi 11 miles below Vicksburg with loss of life. Capt. Sargent was not aboard but Mrs. Sargent kept a cool head; helped extinguish a resulting fire and aided with rescue work. [See S & D REFLECTOR, March 19, 1978, page 5]. Ran excursions occasionally between New Orleans & Grand Isle. The BONHAM sank in the Yazoo River and was lost in 1893.


Waybill from the BLANKS CORNWELL 1892

Waybill dated 28 April 1892 on the
Sternwheel packet

Way's Packet Directory Number 0641

Built at Jeffersonville Indian by Howard in 1887
140 x 29 x 4.6 Engines 10's - 4 foot stroke

Built for Captain Jack Blanks to run on the Ouachita River but was bought new by S.H. Parisot of Vicksburg for the Yazoo and Tallahatchie service. She was snagged and lost on the Tallahatchie under full headway on January 24, 1896.


Streckfus Steamboat Line's Letterhead 1911 with transcript of correspondence

Streckfus Steamboat Envelope and 2 pages of correspondence on Streckfus stationary, large file of the letterhead from the stationary also included.

On the back of the envelope is written in pencil:

"Letter from two women (Grace & Gertrude) who worked on one of the steamboats, probably as chambermaids."

Sounds like Grace may have been trying to make her beau Bennie in Superior jealous by implying all sorts of goings on with young men who worked on the steamboat. Grace might have been hoping to get reluctant Bennie to propose marriage.

The envelope was Postmarked
June 28 1911

addressed to

Mr. Benj. A. Polzin
Superior, Wisconsin

Box 2, East End

June 28th 1911

Dear Bennie -

Will just drop you a line to let you know I'm still in the land of the living. Went to P.O. in St. Louis & thought I'd get a letter from you as folks said they would forward mail but didn't get a blamed thing.

Talk about your good times, we sure are having it. Just the dandiest bunch you ever met. The boys are simply great to us.

Fred Smith, a nice boy, met us in St. L - and we sure did go some. Also two of the other boys here on the boat went out to Anheuser-Busch. Have a terrible crush on one of them. Gert (Gertrude) & the 2nd clerk have it pretty bad.

Wonder where you are now. Will send this to the Superior & maybe it will be forwarded to you & then again, you may never get this.

Went through Winona in the night going down so didn't see Elsie & go through going back on Friday night at 12 o'clock he ain't going to bed at all Friday night as that is our last night on the boat.

Never had such a peachy time


Excuse scribbling but boat rocks & I can't write straight.

Must close & write home.


[An additional paragraph at the bottom of the last page in a different style of handwriting after Grace signed off]:

You ought to see the way Grace has been flirting it sure is terrible but don't you care it will all come out in the wash. We sure are having one swell time but leave it to us to do that.



Diamond Jo Steamers Letterhead from 1911


Waybill Steamboat Agents Greenwood Transfer Company, Mississippi October 1st & 3rd 1908

Steamboat Agents Freight Bill from May 1st 1905
Greenwood Mississippi Transfer Company Freight Bill


Broadside for the steamer NEW HAMPSHIRE for Arkansas River commerce

Broadside circa the 1840's and 50's.

Fred Way did not list the steamboat NEW HAMPSHIRE in his Packets Directory and no other references to the boat have been found.

The Arkansas destinations Van Buren and Fort Smith were on the Arkansas River.


Van Buren, Arakansas is located directly northeast of Fort Smith. The city was incorporated in 1845
The area was settled by David Boyd and Thomas Martin in 1818.

After Arkansas became a territory in 1819 Daniel and Thomas Phillips constructed a lumber yard in the community to serve as a fuel depot for traffic along the Arkansas River.

In 1831 a post office was constructed for the community, at the time known as Phillips Landing.

This post office was named after the newly appointed Secretary of State Martin Van Buren.


The story of the J.M. WHITE
From River Web

Captain John W. Tobin, a successful river magnate, first piloted the J.M. WHITE to New Orleans in the summer of 1878. The boat then began a stint on the New Orleans-Vicksburg-Greenville trade route. The new boat was technologically advanced and powerful. Tobin had his crew specially trained to manage the boat. He never put her under full steam because he feared she might tear herself apart. Regardless, the J.M. WHITE quickly broke the New Orleans-Vicksburg speed record.

Although capable of beating any other steamer, Captain Tobin refrained from challenging the record of the venerable ROB'T E. LEE, still plying the waters, eight years after defeating the NATCHEZ in a famous race. Tobin was a close friend of Captain John W. Cannon, the captain and owner of the Lee. Cannon was near retirement and still held the record for the New Orleans to St. Louis trip. Tobin decided the older Captain should retire with his record intact.

However, Captain Tobin was not friends with Captain Thomas Paul Leathers, the owner of the NATCHEZ. Captain Leathers liked to allow boats docked at New Orleans to pull out in front of the NATCHEZ and he would then pass the boat while under full steam. The show was well known to the people on the New Orleans wharf and never failed to impress the passengers of the NATCHEZ. Once Leathers did this to Tobin while he was aboard another of his boats, the Ed. Richardson. Tobin vowed to get even and waited to use the J.M. WHITE to do it.

When the time arrived to beat the Natchez using the J.M. WHITE, the two boats pulled away from New Orleans at about the same time. The Natchez gained the lead and the duel appeared over. The J.M. WHITE had a minor accident and slowed for repairs. After the crew finished, Tobin put her under steam, caught and passed the NATCHEZ, and set a new speed record of seven hours between New Orleans and Baton Rogue. The J.M. WHITE's record time broke the ROB'T. E. LEE's best time by more than forty minutes.

Unfortunately the J.M. WHITE was an expensive boat to operate and Tobin faced bankruptcy after only eight years of service. Tobin tried various means to stay in business with the WHITE but even bringing in new business partners was not enough. Insurance premiums in excess of $100,000 were more than he could afford. The final months of the WHITE's operation were not pretty. With its owners unable to afford repairs or regular upkeep, the ship deteriorated.

On December 13, 1888, the J.M. WHITE met with tragedy while on a routine run from Vicksburg. Apparently a careless passenger was smoking and ignited drapes. However, the reason the J.M. WHITE burned will never be known for certain. With a full load of cargo and passengers, the ship had just tied fast to the Blue Store landing, when flames engulfed the decks. An estimated twenty-eight people died and the J.M. WHITE was no more.


The LABINNAH CLUB (LABINNAH is HANNIBAL spelled backwards) is a B & B in downtown Hannibal, in a Victorian home and a restaurant. Mark Twain was a guest there during his last visit to the town in 1902 and he signed several pages of the guest register. I own one of those and the Mark Twain Museum in Hannibal owns another one. There are probably more but we don't know who owns them. Attached is a reduced file of the composite I made which included and newspaper article given to me by Stelle Mahan Winkler whose grandfather George Mahan bought the Boyhood Home and the Becky Thatcher house, restored them and ultimately gave them to the City of Hannibal.


Invoice for repairs to the Steamboat ELLEN MAY 25th of March 1875

The handwriting is difficult to decipher but some of words that are more or less legible are as follows; Steamer Ellen May & owners c/o Nicholas Glasser screw bolts, strap, rudder (s)pindle & chains Algier(s), La (Louisiana) per Ohlsen & Lawson filed March 25/75


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everything on this page is from a private collection.
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