Always for the Underdog: Leather Britches Smith and the by Keagan LeJeune

By Keagan LeJeune

Louisiana’s impartial Strip, a space of pine forests, squats among the Calcasieu and Sabine Rivers at the border of East Texas. Early in its historical past, the zone built a name as a harsh frontier the place grit and tenacity grew to become essential instruments of survival. in the course of the Louisiana buy, bureaucrats from either Spain and the U.S. squabbled over the precise boundary line among the 2 rival powers. either governments got rid of defense force from the contested land to prevent struggle. Intensifying its acceptance, the zone served as an professional buffer region. with out the protection of an army presence, citizens fast discovered they might have to defend and govern themselves. quickly, tight-knit groups shaped, and citizens constructed a reliance on self, relations, and neighbor.

In the early 1900s, the bushes increase sliced during the forests of East Texas and the previous impartial Strip, disrupting those dense groups. Mill cities sprang up, and the promise of cash lured land speculators, trees employees, unionists, and a bunch of alternative characters, equivalent to the outlaw leather-based Britches Smith. The entrenched neighborhood citizens quickly faced not just those new neighborhood individuals but additionally a dynamic cultural second that struck a defining blow within the making of the sector. That second keeps to form the place’s cultural attention, and folks style a lore attached to this time.

In a desirable exploration of the zone, Keagan LeJeune unveils the legend of leather-based Britches, paralleling the phases of the outlaw’s existence to the impartial Strip’s formation. LeJeune retells each one level of Smith’s lifestyles: his infamous earlier, his audacious deeds of theft or even generosity, his rumored connection to a neighborhood union strike—the Grabow War—significant within the annals of work background, and his eventual dying. because the outlaw’s lifestyles vividly unfolds, the ebook additionally finds the area’s heritage and cultural panorama. usually utilizing the details of 1 small city as a consultant instance, the booklet explores how the sector recollects and reinterprets the previous so that it will navigate an international altering rapidly.

Drawing from newspapers, court docket files, and a decade of interviews and statement, LeJeune deals a penetrating exam of the interaction among legend and position, exploring Smith’s personal lifestyles, this precise ancient second, and the place’s mysterious panorama. The booklet additionally considers how modern gala's and different kinds of cultural historical past hire the legend as a cultural recourse. to stick vivid and significant, tradition regularly re-makes itself; right here, the outlaw occupies an important position within the re-creation.

Texas Folklore Society additional ebook quantity 23

“LeJeune makes use of a truly strange technique mixing ancient documents and money owed, oral histories, historiography, and folkloric tips on how to inform the tale of the Sabine Strip among Louisiana and Texas, and the legend of an outlaw named ‘Leather Britches Smith.’ He screens a wealth of data approximately western relevant Louisiana and the historiography of the region.”—Gary D. Joiner, writer of Through the Howling desolate tract: The 1864 crimson River crusade and Union Failure within the West

“This publication reminds us that Louisiana west of the Mississippi used to be a part of the western frontier. Few comprehend that Pat Garrett grew up in Louisiana and that Jim Bowie was once from there. leather-based Britches Smith is destined to take a spot within the pantheon of western characters. Always for the Underdog could be of curiosity to all people who find themselves occupied with the yankee outlaw-hero.”—Barry Ancelet, writer of Cajun and Creole Folktales

“Based on my adventure educating introductory folklore university classes, i do know that scholars have difficulty figuring out what a legend is. LeJeune’s publication may make a superb textual content simply because he's taking the reader step-by-step during the evolution of the leather-based Britches legend, in a transparent and straightforward manner that starting scholars could simply grasp.”—Lee Winniford, writer of Following previous Fencelines

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Additional info for Always for the Underdog: Leather Britches Smith and the Grabow War (Texas Folklore Society Extra Book)

Sample text

Jean Baptiste aux Natchitos (established in 1714); the Caddo no doubt found these structures strange. Soon Caddo land filled with other strange men who had guns, married Caddo women, and did not leave. In response to St. 26 For some time, governance of the area’s land and its people became a difficult situation. Disputes about certain borders and boundaries occurred, and tension increased. Of course, both governments wanted possession of the Sabine River Valley, and they vied for control over roads and trading rights in the woods.

Time and the river always move, as do the seasons and colors around them. The basketball games end. With green, March and April and May break the dominant shades of red and brown. Once spring comes on, the woods thicken with leaf and vine. Trees that remained standing through the winter turn with vigor. The tops of trees unfold. Shoots and buds solidify. 5 Out along the roadside or rooted in the railroad’s bank, buttercups range free and thistles turn thorn and weed into flower. The banks of the river, timber tracts and family lands, the town itself: underneath all this a low buzz reigns supreme.

My acceptance of chili as a holiday meal no doubt won her favor. Hearing of my interest in Leather Britches Smith, Grand also decided I should talk to a few people in town versed in “all about the history of Merryville” and bound to know some of the details surrounding the outlaw. We drove for a while, and then we came to the border. We crossed the Sabine to head over to Newton. Even at night, we could feel ourselves crossing and could see the thickets of growth teeming off its banks. 2 These special sections of woods close to the river remain, and in them, growth has somehow held on to the past or convinced the people around them to preserve the past there.

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