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 heritage, the area 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 armed forces from the contested land to prevent battle. Intensifying its acceptance, the sector served as an authentic buffer sector. with out the protection of an army presence, citizens fast learned they'd have to defend and govern themselves. quickly, tight-knit groups shaped, and citizens constructed a reliance on self, family, 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 staff, unionists, and a number of alternative characters, reminiscent of the outlaw leather-based Britches Smith. The entrenched neighborhood citizens quickly faced not just those new neighborhood contributors but in addition a dynamic cultural second that struck a defining blow within the making of the quarter. That second maintains to form the place’s cultural cognizance, and folks type a lore attached to this time.In a desirable exploration of the sector, 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 each one level 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 booklet additionally unearths the area’s heritage and cultural panorama. frequently utilizing the details of 1 small city as a consultant instance, the publication explores how the zone recollects and reinterprets the prior on the way to navigate an international altering rapidly.Drawing from newspapers, courtroom documents, 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 detailed historic second, and the place’s mysterious panorama. The publication additionally considers how modern fairs and different kinds of cultural history hire the legend as a cultural recourse. to stick bright and significant, tradition consistently re-makes itself; right here, the outlaw occupies a necessary function within the re-creation.Texas Folklore Society additional publication quantity 23“LeJeune makes use of a really strange technique mixing ancient documents and bills, oral histories, historiography, and folkloric the right way 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 vital Louisiana and the historiography of the region.”—Gary D. Joiner, writer of during the Howling desert: The 1864 pink 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 recognize 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. constantly for the Underdog should be of curiosity to all those people who are eager 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 difficulty realizing what a legend is. LeJeune’s publication might make an outstanding textual content simply because he is taking the reader step-by-step throughout the evolution of the leather-based Britches legend, in a transparent and straightforward means 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)

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30 Spain’s weakening position as a world leader necessitated its transfer of Louisiana back to France, which occurred in the secret Treaty of San Ildefonso on October 1, 1800. Later, however, Napoleon’s plans for Europe put France in need of money, so 36 | alway s for the underdog the country decided to sell Louisiana to Jefferson’s emissaries, James Monroe and Robert R. Livingston. As officials ironed out the details of the Louisiana Purchase, negotiating its final touches, this long history of transfers caused problems.

No,” I said. “You should have. ” He explained that Leather Britches Smith, an outlaw from East Texas, arrived around 1910, which happened to be the same time Merryville experienced a timber boom. People flocked to the area; timber mills flourished. Soon, though, mills brought unions, and the unions brought strife. For some reason that I can’t remember now, my conversation with him ended as abruptly as it began, and I didn’t hear the rest of his version. Considering the casual nature of the conversation and the story’s clipped form, a person could easily dismiss the whole affair as trivial.

6 Place directs their lives, modifies their memories, their histories. In the end, their sense of place directs their lore—shaping legends, artifacts, songs. Eventually, landscape, history, and belief coalesce into these tangible products. Leather Britches Smith, a notorious local outlaw, stands at the place’s center. 1 Due to a treaty ratified after the Louisiana Purchase between Spain and the United States, this section of Louisiana experienced a brief period (about fifteen years) of military inoccupation.

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