J.B. Lee & Hattie Kincaid Lee

The Lee Family has roots planted in the rich soil of the “Magnolia State”.   Although much of the family lore is obscured by the experience of slavery, its history can be traced back to Pre-Civil War days. Essentially, the Lees of Sunflower County owed their existence to ancestors hailing from the environs of Utica (Hinds County) and Vicksburg (Warren County). John the Baptist (J.B.) Lee of Utica MS married Hattie Kincaid of Vicksburg MS andestablished themselves in Sunflower County. Before making his way to the Delta, J.B. the son of Dan and Teresa Kelly Lee, attended the Hinds County public schools where

He walked 8 miles each day to the proverbial “One Room Schoolhouse.”

Such a long trek did not mattered to the young J.B., so anxious was he, along with his parents, to secure an education. Upon completion of his secondary education, he enrolled at Tougaloo College where he completed the A.B. Degree in 1904 and later became a trustee of the college. His wife, Hattie Kincaid Lee, was also an educated woman who graduated from Mary Holmes Seminary, Jackson for the education of “Colored Girls” mostly in the domestic arts.

This is where, perhaps, Hattie learned the trade of midwifery, an occupation that inspired one of her sons, Edwin to become a medical doctor. When J.B. Lee arrived in the Delta, he acquired an initial tract of ten acres upon which he erected the first family homestead. After bringing Hattie to live with him, together they acquired more land, planted gardens, and purchased cows, chickens, mules, hogs and horses. With a home and a way to make a living established, J.B. and Hattie brought eight children into the world; Lucille, John, Dan, Baldwin, Edwin, Clara Mae, Helen and Bessie, all of who are now deceased. The purchase of 350 acres in the Kinlock community and 170 acres just east of Indianola made possible not only a comfortable living for the large family,

but also served as bulwark against the ravages of white supremacy which generally made African Americans politically disenfranchised, economically fragile and dependent upon local whites and socially relegated to second class status. For them, the 530 acres meant relative freedom from white economic control, making them perhaps the largest Black landowners in the county at the time when most of their racial cohorts were stuck in the vice grip of sharecropping.

This farmland permitted the Lee patriarchy/matriarchy to send their children to boarding schools in Utica, Tougaloo and other
places, bypassing the substandard schools reserved for Black children throughout the Delta.

After completing boarding school, the second generation of Indianola Lees advanced to college and became educators, medical technicians, physicians, and even farmers, following their parents’ tradition of independence and self respect.

Retrospectively, the most noted legacy of the Lee Family has been the realm of farming. Although Hattie died in 1949 and J.B. succumbed in 1963, the next generation carried on the tradition, Brothers John and Dan took over the operation and incorporation the farm as J.B. Lee Farms Inc., on January 1, 1967.