An inspiring story of human souls who survived the dehumanizing system of slavery in the Old South, Claiming Sunday also provides important keys to comprehending modern racial relations in a more enlightening and historically accurate manner.
The story is told through a richly detailed narrative revealing the lives of the enslaved on the Devereux Plantation and through interviews with their modern-day descendants. Julien Devereux and his elderly father, John, came to Texas in 1841 from Alabama. Julien first settled in Montgomery County and then moved to Rusk County in 1846. When he died in 1856 he owned 10,500 acres of East Texas cotton land and seventy-five enslaved Black Americans. Julien’s widow, Sarah Landrum Devereux, maintained the plantation through the Civil War.
The Devereux Slave Community centered on two people, Tabby and Scott. Together they raised eleven children and saw their family grow over the years, as other lines were added to the Community. The Slave Community endured the various moves from Alabama to Montgomery County, Texas, and then on to Rusk County, but a lawsuit filed after John Devereux’s death broke up Tabby and Scott’s immediate family and threatened the unity of the entire Community. The Devereux Slave Community’s strength, endurance, and determination helped to repair the damage from the division of the core of the Community and carried them whole through to freedom in 1865.
JOLEENE MADDOX SNIDER is a native Texan. She did her academic work at Southwest Texas State University (Texas State University) and the University of Texas. In 1969 Snider’s master’s thesis was the first revisionist work done on slavery in Texas. She holds numerous teaching awards from Texas State University.
“In this tensely wired, swiftly paced story of human trafficking set beautifully among nuanced clashing cultures, author Johnnie Bernhard defines each character’s motivation to portray the collision of opposing sides while casting a wide lens on a human atrocity. Hannah and Ariela is the story of one woman’s bravery in rescuing another, only to rise phoenix-like into a newly defined, far-reaching life purpose.”—Claire Fullerton, New York Journal of Books