The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

Opening chapters detail the formation of the waterways by geologic action and
other natural forces, including the "rafts"-natural obstructions in the streams-
and efforts to clear them for navigation. The majority of the study is devoted to
steamboat transportation. Bagur identifies 324 steamboats that operated west of
Shreveport, 288 of them as far as Jefferson. He has documented more than 2,6oo
trips to numerous ports and landings, the majority of them conducted between
1840 and 1873. Bagur includes chapters on shipwrecks, products involved in the
trade, and post-steam navigation, and three lengthy appendices that provide a
wealth of data on steamboats, passengers, and cargoes on the lakes and the bayou.
Bagur makes sure we understand that it was the coming of railroads, a much
more versatile method of transportation, rather then the elimination of the
river rafts, that ended steam transport in the area. The legend about Jefferson
"dying on the vine," then, is true enough, but with a twist: Jefferson did not
spurn the railroad and lose trade through pride. Indeed, Jefferson had a rail-
road connection to Marshall but was not on the main line. Business followed
the rails, lessening the viability of the boats and of Jefferson. The "boats"
extracted a measure of revenge in the 1990s when they reappeared in
Shreveport as gambling casinos, once again attracting the wealth of northeast
Texas to the waters of the Red River.
Stephen F. Austin State University ARCHIE P. MCDONALD
The Texas Sheriff Lord of the County Line. By Thad Sitton. (Norman: University of
Oklahoma Press, 2000. Pp. 272. Illustrations, preface, introduction, notes,
bibliography, index. ISBN 0-8061-3216-7. $24.95, cloth.)
The Texas Sheriff" Lord of the County Line is universal in its discussion about
police work, especially in the rural areas of the United States. It is an essential
book for anyone who wants a human face on law enforcement. Thad Sitton's
opening explanation of the history of the "high sheriff" from a thousand years of
English history sets a good framework for understanding the sheriffs of rural
Texas (and elsewhere).
Sitton presents an insightful view of the Texas sheriff from a law enforcement
as well as peace officer perspective, and by extension, of all rural American law
enforcement. Sitton is a delightful storyteller who engages us from the view of
the "high sheriff" in all aspects of his job for the first seventy years of the twenti-
eth century. The stories, while delightful and introspective, are at times tedious-
ly redundant.
The first two chapters of the book bring into play not only the "outlaw" nature
of some counties or sections of counties but also the horrendous working condi-
tions that plagued rural police. Why some became law enforcement officers is
most baffling and we are left wondering. The politics of getting elected is well
told and represents the story of sheriffs elections throughout America. Sitton's
commentary of county governing boards in Texas is representative of governing
boards in counties throughout rural America up until the late 1970s.
There is a sense in the book that the old days of the "high sheriff' who was a



Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed November 30, 2015.