Always for the Underdog: Leather Britches Smith and the Grabow War – #bookreview

Always for the Underdog: Leather Britches Smith and the Grabow War
By Keagan LeJeune
(University of North Texas Press, $29.95, hardback)

The 1803 Louisiana Purchase doubled America’s size. It also left  one small border area in legal limbo. When the United States and Spain disagreed over who owned it, they pulled back their militias to avoid war and left the area ungoverned. Soon, the tiny Free State of the Sabine was formed in pine forests along the Sabine River that now separates Texas and Louisiana.

Also known as the Louisiana Neutral Strip, the Free State of Sabine became a haven for outlaws, and it remained so for many years after the boundary dispute was settled.

Keagan LeJeune’s informative and entertaining book focuses on one “good” fugitive in the lawless area, Leather Britches Smith.

In 1912, Leather Britches — a man with a murderous reputation and plenty of weapons — sided with union workers against lumber mill operators during a violent, fatal clash that became known  as the Grabow Riot or the Grabow War. It was  part of the bigger Louisiana-Texas Timber War that raged from 1911 to 1912.

The author is a professor of English and folklore at McNeese State University. He lives in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and has served as president of the Louisiana Folklore Society.

Si Dunn

Author

  • Si Dunn is a novelist, screenwriter, photojournalist, and book reviewer. His published books include: DARK SIGNALS, a Vietnam War memoir; ERWIN'S LAW, a private-detective novel; and JUMP, a novella about a combat veteran suffering from PTSD and alienation while trying to work for newspapers as a journalist. Several of his feature screenplays recently were under option to movie producers. He spent nearly 15 years working as a technical writer and software tester in the telecommunications industry. His current programming interests include Go, JavaScript, Python, R, Angular, and other languages and frameworks. He is a U.S. Navy veteran and a graduate of the University of North Texas.

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