Crime Criminals

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 constructed a name as a harsh frontier the place grit and tenacity turned crucial instruments of survival. throughout the Louisiana buy, bureaucrats from either Spain and the USA squabbled over the precise boundary line among the 2 rival powers. either governments got rid of armed forces from the contested land to prevent battle. Intensifying its attractiveness, the zone served as an legit buffer sector. with out the safety of an army presence, citizens fast learned they might have to guard and govern themselves. quickly, tight-knit groups shaped, and citizens built a reliance on self, kinfolk, and neighbor.In the early 1900s, the bushes growth 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, bushes employees, unionists, and a number of different characters, equivalent to the outlaw leather-based Britches Smith. The entrenched neighborhood citizens quickly faced not just those new group contributors but in addition a dynamic cultural second that struck a defining blow within the making of the sector. That second maintains to form the place’s cultural attention, and other people model a lore attached to this time.In a desirable exploration of the zone, Keagan LeJeune unveils the legend of leather-based Britches, paralleling the levels of the outlaw’s existence to the impartial Strip’s formation. LeJeune retells every 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 historical past, and his eventual demise. because the outlaw’s existence vividly unfolds, the booklet additionally unearths the area’s heritage and cultural panorama. usually utilizing the details of 1 small city as a consultant instance, the publication explores how the area recalls and reinterprets the prior on the way to navigate a global altering rapidly.Drawing from newspapers, courtroom files, and a decade of interviews and commentary, LeJeune deals a penetrating exam of the interaction among legend and position, exploring Smith’s personal lifestyles, this exact old second, and the place’s mysterious panorama. The e-book additionally considers how modern gala's and other kinds of cultural background hire the legend as a cultural recourse. to stick bright and significant, tradition continually re-makes itself; right here, the outlaw occupies an important function within the re-creation.Texas Folklore Society additional ebook quantity 23“LeJeune makes use of a truly strange strategy 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 monitors a wealth of knowledge approximately western valuable Louisiana and the historiography of the region.”—Gary D. Joiner, writer of throughout the Howling desolate tract: The 1864 purple River crusade and Union Failure within the West“This ebook reminds us that Louisiana west of the Mississippi was once a part of the western frontier. Few understand 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. consistently for the Underdog should be of curiosity to all people who find themselves desirous about the yank outlaw-hero.”—Barry Ancelet, writer of Cajun and Creole Folktales“Based on my adventure instructing introductory folklore university classes, i do know that scholars have hassle realizing what a legend is. LeJeune’s publication may make an outstanding textual content simply because he's taking the reader step-by-step throughout the evolution of the leather-based Britches legend, in a transparent and straightforward method that starting scholars could simply grasp.”—Lee Winniford, writer of Following previous Fencelines

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

Sample text

In the past, when facing a crime, outlaws crossed the Sabine from one jurisdiction to another as a sure way to avoid capture. The river offered a similar safe haven for Leather Britches Smith. Many claim Leather Britches to have been a Texas outlaw who crossed the river to escape justice and, on some occasions, crossed back into Texas during his career to escape pursuers in Louisiana. 14 This intersection begins with the controversy over Smith’s start. As is the case with many outlaws, Smith’s actual identity—his true past and his real name—sparks debate, and conversations about Smith often speculate about it.

The fish remain perfectly still, and age after age the fish have learned to remain like this until the last moment. They have learned that to remain hidden earns safety. The fish will not move until fingers squeeze around their bodies or until they, thinking hands are great meals being served, strike the hands nearing them. Then, the sunken catfish thrashes, whips its tail, throws itself forward through the water. People who know pull the fish from their lairs and take them home. They hang them from a line or tree, pull off their skin with pliers, split open their bellies, filet them, fry them, and enjoy what this close connection to the river brings.

This trip exists as somewhat of a local Christmas tradition and seemed to be my initiation rite. 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.

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