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 quarter constructed a name as a harsh frontier the place grit and tenacity turned vital instruments of survival. in the course of the Louisiana buy, bureaucrats from either Spain and the us squabbled over the precise boundary line among the 2 rival powers. either governments got rid of defense force from the contested land to prevent warfare. Intensifying its popularity, the area served as an authentic buffer region. with no the safety of an army presence, citizens speedy discovered they might have to shield and govern themselves. quickly, tight-knit groups shaped, and citizens constructed a reliance on self, relatives, and neighbor.

In the early 1900s, the trees growth sliced in the course of 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 number of alternative characters, comparable to the outlaw leather-based Britches Smith. The entrenched neighborhood citizens quickly faced not just those new group individuals but in addition a dynamic cultural second that struck a defining blow within the making of the zone. That second maintains to form the place’s cultural cognizance, and folks model a lore attached to this time.

In a desirable exploration of the area, Keagan LeJeune unveils the legend of leather-based Britches, paralleling the levels of the outlaw’s lifestyles to the impartial Strip’s formation. LeJeune retells every one degree of Smith’s lifestyles: his infamous prior, his audacious deeds of theft or even generosity, his rumored connection to an area union strike—the Grabow War—significant within the annals of work heritage, and his eventual demise. because the outlaw’s existence vividly unfolds, the e-book 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 quarter recalls and reinterprets the previous to be able to navigate an international altering rapidly.

Drawing from newspapers, courtroom files, and a decade of interviews and remark, LeJeune deals a penetrating exam of the interaction among legend and position, exploring Smith’s personal lifestyles, this specified old second, and the place’s mysterious panorama. The e-book additionally considers how modern fairs and different kinds of cultural historical past hire the legend as a cultural recourse. to stick bright and significant, tradition continually re-makes itself; right here, the outlaw occupies a necessary position within the re-creation.

Texas Folklore Society additional booklet quantity 23

“LeJeune makes use of a truly strange strategy mixing historic files 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 monitors a wealth of knowledge approximately western imperative Louisiana and the historiography of the region.”—Gary D. Joiner, writer of Through the Howling wasteland: The 1864 crimson River crusade and Union Failure within the West

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

“Based on my adventure instructing introductory folklore collage classes, i do know that scholars have hassle figuring out what a legend is. LeJeune’s publication might make an exceptional textual content simply because he's taking the reader step-by-step in the course of the evolution of the leather-based Britches legend, in a transparent and easy approach that starting scholars could simply grasp.”—Lee Winniford, writer of Following previous Fencelines

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