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 built a name as a harsh frontier the place grit and tenacity turned integral 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 conflict. Intensifying its attractiveness, the sector served as an reliable buffer region. with no the safety of an army presence, citizens fast discovered they'd have to shield and govern themselves. quickly, tight-knit groups shaped, and citizens constructed a reliance on self, family, and neighbor.In the early 1900s, the trees 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, bushes employees, unionists, and a bunch of different characters, reminiscent of the outlaw leather-based Britches Smith. The entrenched neighborhood citizens quickly faced not just those new group individuals but additionally a dynamic cultural second that struck a defining blow within the making of the quarter. That second keeps to form the place’s cultural recognition, and other people style a lore attached to this time.In a desirable exploration of the sector, Keagan LeJeune unveils the legend of leather-based Britches, paralleling the phases of the outlaw’s lifestyles 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 an area union strike—the Grabow War—significant within the annals of work background, and his eventual demise. because the outlaw’s lifestyles vividly unfolds, the publication additionally finds the area’s historical past and cultural panorama. usually utilizing the details of 1 small city as a consultant instance, the e-book explores how the quarter recollects and reinterprets the previous so one can navigate an international altering rapidly.Drawing from newspapers, court docket documents, and a decade of interviews and commentary, LeJeune deals a penetrating exam of the interaction among legend and position, exploring Smith’s personal existence, this exact historic second, and the place’s mysterious panorama. The e-book additionally considers how modern gala's and different kinds of cultural background hire the legend as a cultural recourse. to stick brilliant and significant, tradition continuously re-makes itself; the following, the outlaw occupies an important function within the re-creation.Texas Folklore Society additional e-book quantity 23“LeJeune makes use of a truly strange procedure mixing ancient files and debts, 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 primary Louisiana and the historiography of the region.”—Gary D. Joiner, writer of throughout the Howling barren region: The 1864 purple River crusade and Union Failure within the West“This e-book 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 used to be from there. leather-based Britches Smith is destined to take a spot within the pantheon of western characters. regularly for the Underdog may be of curiosity to all those people who are occupied with the yankee outlaw-hero.”—Barry Ancelet, writer of Cajun and Creole Folktales“Based on my event educating introductory folklore university classes, i do know that scholars have hassle figuring out what a legend is. LeJeune’s e-book might make a great textual content simply because he is taking the reader step-by-step in the course of the evolution of the leather-based Britches legend, in a transparent and straightforward approach that starting scholars may simply grasp.”—Lee Winniford, writer of Following previous Fencelines
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Additional resources for Always for the Underdog: Leather Britches Smith and the Grabow War (Texas Folklore Society Extra Book)
When he knocked on doors, set up his recorder, and collected the stories of the longtime residents of the Neutral Strip . . when he interviewed Dave Burges, Arch Slaydon, the s abine river bottom swamp | 19 and Goob Newton—who all mention the dangers of the Neutral Strip and Leather Britches. Born in Ashtabula, Ohio, Ramos did everything from wrestling to reporting before he ultimately ended up in Beaumont, Texas, around 1950. There, he settled in as a roaming reporter for the local paper, the Beaumont Enterprise.
Some say he was a simple drifter whose past cannot be traced. Others claim him to be Ben Myatt who adopted the alias Leather Britches Smith. Some think his real name was Charles Smith, who simply had Leather Britches as a nickname. Some people say Charles Smith was Ben Myatt’s assumed name. Still others think Charles Smith, since it is obviously a common name, is an assumed name as well, and the unidentified outlaw simply added Leather Britches to this already fake name. Finally, some go as far as claiming another Leather Britches established an infamous reputation, and this unknown Louisiana outlaw simply adopted the name as a sort of pre-advertised calling card.
The Europeans grew more intrigued. Soon, Louis Juchereau de St. Denis arrived and made quick friends with the Caddo. They taught St. Denis many secrets about surviving in the woods, and St. Denis taught them how to trade salt and livestock with white men. St. Denis and men like him began erecting structures, Fort St. 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.