James T. Staples was completed at a cost of $40,000 in Mobile during 1908. It was large enough to carry a cargo of 2,500 bales of cotton. Its trade route was along the Tombigbee River from Mobile to Bladon Spring, Demopolis, and Pickensville. The ship was owned by Captain Norman A. Staples, son of James T. and Mary Staples. Staples ran into financial problems in 1912, leading his creditors to take possession of the ship in late December 1912. Staples took his own life with a shotgun on January 2, 1913. He was buried in the main cemetery at Bladon Springs, Alabama. One week after his death, on January 10, 1913, his former steamboat was destroyed in a boiler explosion while about four miles away from Bladon Springs, at Powes Landing. Twenty-six people were killed and twenty-one injured in the disaster. The survivors were rescued by the crew of the John Quill, another large sternwheeler plying the same circuit. The explosion was variously blamed on human error and sabotage. Neither were ever proven. The hull, engines, and two boilers were later salvaged from the river and used to build the Peerless, launched in 1914. A story began to circulate soon after the disaster that crewmen had abandoned the engine room after seeing an apparition under the boilers. Another story printed on several occasions stated that an old man that was claimed to be prophet by townspeople in Coffeeville had foretold of the disaster.
Hattie B. Moore, another large sternwheeler, was built in 1883 by The People’s Line. Her sister was the Tinsie Moore. Her trade route was along the Tombigbee River from Mobile to Bladon Spring, Demopolis, Pickensville. She was destroyed in the devastating hurricane of 1906.