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Hard Scrabble to Hallelujah, Volume 1: Bayou Terrebonne - Legacies of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana

Hard Scrabble to Hallelujah, Volume 1: Bayou Terrebonne

Legacies of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana

By Christopher Everette Cenac Sr.
With Claire Domangue Joller
Foreword by Carl A. Brasseaux & Donald W. Davis
Series: America's Third Coast Series

Hardcover : 9780989759410, 500 pages, 1290 b&w/color illustrations; 40 maps; 15 tables, October 2016

An incomparable historical record of a bayou’s many plantations, farms, and homesteads


Winner of a 2017 Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Book of the Year Award

This book represents the first time that the known history and a significant amount of new information has been compiled into a single written record about one of the most important eras in the south-central coastal bayou parish of Terrebonne. The book makes clear the unique geographical, topographical, and sociological conditions that beckoned the first settlers who developed the large estates that became sugar plantations. This first of four planned volumes chronicles details about founders and their estates along Bayou Terrebonne from its headwaters in the northern civil parish to its most southerly reaches near the Gulf of Mexico. Those and other parish plantations along important waterways contributed significantly to the dominance of King Sugar in Louisiana.

The rich soils and opportunities of the area became the overriding reason many well-heeled Anglo-Americans moved there to join Francophone locals in cultivating the crop. From that nineteenth century period up to the twentieth century’s side effects of World Wars I and II, Hard Scrabble to Hallelujah, Volume I: Bayou Terrebonne describes important yet widely unrecognized geography and history. Today, cultural and physical legacies such as ex-slave-founded communities and place names endure from the time that the planter society was the driving economic force of this fascinating region.


"Hard Scrabble to Hallelujah: Legacies of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana—winner of a 2017 LEH Humanities Book of the Year award—is an expansive, encyclopedic account of the historic waterway of Bayou Terrebonne and the many diverse communities that have called it home."

- Benjamin A. Morris, Ph.D., Louisiana Cultural Vistas, Spring 2017

"Just as Louisiana's unique history often chronicles examples of hard scrabble to hallelujah, history sleuth Dr. Chris Cenac has intricately compiled a variety of narrative and pictorial representations to portray a truly rich historical evolution of Hard Scrabble to Hallelujah, Volume I: Bayou Terrebonne: Legacies of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana--and this is only the first of four fact-filled volumes! A comprehensive resource like no other, this treasure will undoubtedly become the go-to Bible of the residents and friends of Terrebonne, as well as south Louisiana and beyond. The all-inclusive index alone will enrich the history enthusiast and educate the fortunate reader, making this work a collector's choice."

- Florent Hardy Jr., Ph.D., director of archival services, Louisiana State Archives

"Mention Louisiana plantations and the mind immediately gravitates to the Mississippi River corridor with grand mansions shaded by rows of live oak trees. Nothing could be further from the truth; most plantation homes were modest and utilitarian. In Hard Scrabble to Hallelujah, Volume I: Bayou Terrebonne: Legacies of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, Dr. Cenac gives the reader an in-depth look at the history and people of bayou plantations within Terrebonne Parish. Stretching for fifty miles, Bayou Terrebonne was lined on both sides by plantations, towns, and churches. The homes were only occasionally a statement of grandeur and prestige, but these were the exception. This engrossing book tells the rich history of these plantations, towns, and religious institutions in which the people come alive on the page. Dr. Cenac has achieved a book that is fascinating in its detail of plantation life and occupants, and it makes this reader wish for a time machine."

- Robert S. Brantley, author of Henry Howard: Louisiana Architect, published by Princeton Architectural Press and The Historic New Orleans Collection; winner of The Henry-Russell Hitchcock Award (2016) from the Victorian Society in America

"This first volume of Dr. Cenac's Legacies of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana series provides readers with a well-documented and thoroughly researched volume on the two-hundred-year history of the parish along its namesake waterway. In this work, he has compiled photographs, maps, oral histories and other historical information, much of which has never been published, from numerous sources into a beautifully illustrated and encyclopedic resource. This work, in addition to Dr. Cenac's two previous books, helps to document parish history that is fast disappearing as the older generations who had first-hand knowledge of that history pass away. Readers will find detailed history of well-known plantations and communities, as well as many that are unknown, some whose names now exist only in street names or subdivisions. Scholars as well as current and future Terrebonneans will appreciate and cherish having a copy of this work in their personal library."

- Clifton P. Theriot, CA, archivist, Nicholls State University

"Terrebonne Parish's preeminent historian, Dr. Chris Cenac, once again transports us back in time to discover a heretofore undocumented segment of local history. In this first volume of his new Legacies of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana series, Cenac chronicles the pioneering families that settled along the banks of Bayou Terrebonne and illustrates the historical footprint of the great sugar plantations that once dotted the landscape and dominated the local economy. This book could not be timelier, as many of the once prosperous plantations have vanished into the past, taking with them another slice of the region's unique bayou culture."

- Jason P. Theriot, Ph.D., author of American Energy, Imperiled Coast: Oil and Gas Development in Louisiana's Wetlands, published by Louisiana State University Press

"In Hard Scrabble to Hallelujah, Volume I: Bayou Terrebonne: Legacies of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, Dr. Chris Cenac has conceived a dynamic new model for the telling and teaching of local history. By elegantly weaving legal documents, stories, and hundreds of images from Terrebonne Parish's past, he equally honors both people and place. Organized by family and geography, this will be a necessary reference for anyone studying Louisiana's social, agricultural, commercial, and architectural history. At the same time, his accessible style and presentation will serve as fine entertainment to the hobbyist--enter it at any chapter and you will not be able to put it down. In addition, each page is visually striking--composed like a panel extracted from a museum--and the reader anticipates the delights of the next section. This is exciting history--alive and well in Louisiana."

- Gregory Free, architectural historian, Austin, Texas