J.M. WHITE

"SW p wh b. Jeffersonville, Ind., by Howard, 1878. 312.7 x 47.9 x 11.5 amidship and 17 ft. at bow and stern. She was 321 ft. overall length and 91 ft. overall width. Engines 43's--11 ft. Ten boilers, each 42" dia. by 34 ft., two 16" flues. Paddlewheels 44 ft. dia. working 19 ft. buckets with eight ft. dip. Owned by Greenville and New Orleans Packet Co., composed of Capt. John W. Tobin, Capt. John W. Cannon, R.H. Woolfolk, Samuel S. Brown, N.M. Jones, Capt. J.M. White, and John Howard. Named for Capt. J.M. White (1823-1880) of Cloverport, Ky. The prior two boats of the name honored respected merchant of Hurculanium and St. Louis, Mo. This boat was the supreme triumph in cotton boat architecture. A description, written by Col. Will S. Hays, appeared in the Louisville Courier-Journal, Aug. 7, 1878, from which we quote:

The J.M. White is the 276th boat built by the Howards, and their crowning effort. She is the fourth boat they have built for Captain Tobin. The contract was signed on the 12th of June, 1877, and preparations immediately made to commence the work. She was launched on the 3rd of April and taken over the Falls on May 3rd and steamed out of the Ohio in the latter part of June, receiving her finishing touches at Paducah and Cairo.

[The article goes on to describe the architecture, furnishing and decoration of the cabins. The style of the architecture of the cabin will have to be seen to have any idea of,' Col. Hays wrote, as it was not taken out of the books; nor was it got up to be like anything that has ever been built before.' This fantastic style included stained glass skylights and doors; veneered sunk panels, which are laid in the finest rosewood and walnet burl'; large French mirrors in the Gothic style, very massive, with gold carving; a bridal chamber panelled in mahogany and satinwoods; gold-gilt chandeliers of "Egyptian design, acknowledged the most costly and elegant on any vessel in the United States'; silverward monogramed J.M.W.'; Haviland table china, and two concert grands.]

Due to poor times and yellow fever the big boat never carried her cotton capacity; her banner trip totalled 5, 067 bales on a trip in 1878. She ran New Orleans-Vicksburg teamed up with the ROB'T E. LEE (2nd) and NATCHEZ (7th).

The fire which destroyed the WHITE was spectacular. She was moored at Blue Store Landing, St. Maurice Plantation, Pointe Coupee Parish, La. on December 13, 1886 when the blaze was discovered. Several lives were lost, and more would have been save for the cool determination of her clerk G. Wash Floyd, who lost his life saving others. Gunpowder stowed in the boat's magazine in the hold let go and blazing timbers were hurled aloft. The old hulk was bedded in the sand there for many years, grim reminder of the greatest cotton queen of the Mississippi." (J12)