Marie Thérèse Coincoin

Marie Thérèse Coincoin

64 Parishes

Elizabeth Shown Mills

Melrose Plantation, developed by Louis Metoyer, the son of Marie Thérèse Coincoin, was declared a National Historical Landmark in 1974. Photo by Rene Gomez

Marie Thérèse Coincoin was born into slavery in French Colonial Louisiana then gained her own freedom and the freedom of many of her children.

Marie Thérèse, called Coincoin, a freed slave in colonial Natchitoches, is an icon of American slavery and Louisiana’s Creole culture. As a bondswoman who became a free planter and entrepreneur, she symbolizes female self-determination in a world that imposed economic, legal, and sexual subservience on all women. As the mother of two diverse sets of children born between 1759 and 1785, she personifies the way slavery undermined the stability of slave families. Her successes and those of her offspring reflect the critical skills needed by free people of color to navigate political and racial currents in antebellum Louisiana. Two of their institutions—Melrose Plantation and St. Augustine’s Church on Isle Brevelle, founded by her sons Louis Metoyer and Nicolas Augustin Metoyer—are historical landmarks that preserve Cane River’s Creole culture…

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