BLEE, ROBERT E. (31 Jan. 1839-26 Feb. 1898), a railroad superintendent, was mayor of Cleveland from 1893-95. Born in Glenville, Ohio, to Bridget and Hugh Blee who were early settlers of Cuyahoga County, Blee attended district schools and Shaw Academy at COLLAMER, and was inspired by a graduation speaker to pursue a career in railroading. At 15 he became a brakeman for the Cleveland, Columbus, & Cincinnati Railroad, the "Bee Line." During the CIVIL WAR, Blee supervised troop transportation for the Army between Cleveland's Camp Chase and Columbus' Camp Dennison. After the war, he returned to the Bee Line, and by 1888 was its general superintendent. Blee organized and was president for 22 years of the Bee Line Insurance Co.; was president of the Ohio Natl. Bldg. & Loan Co.; and was a director for several other corporations. He never married.
Elected as a Democrat, Blee was Cleveland's police commissioner from 1875-79 and is credited with ending the unpopular "star chamber sessions" that typified police arrests until that time (police board policy of keeping the press out of hearings). As the result of a Republican split in 1893, Blee was elected mayor of Cleveland. During his term, he advocated harbor improvements and dock building to maintain the city's position as a Great Lakes port. The police department also tried to register local prostitutes, but Blee was forced to stop them because of public outrage. Blee was defeated for reelection by ROBT. E. MCKISSON† in 1895. He is buried in WOODLAND CEMETERY.Last Modified: 25 Nov 2008 12:58:42 PM
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