The Natchitoches City Council, Louisiana and its Mayor, Lee Posey, have proclaimed February 8, 2014 as a date to recognize a slave woman, Marie Thérèze ditte Coincoin. The proclamation, which is reproduced below, although written in official jargon, describes what must have been a tender relationship that developed between her and her French master, Sieur Lois Juchereau de St.Denis.
Clearly, Marie Thérèze ditte Coincoin must have been a woman of special charm and qualities as later she developed a loving liaison with another French master, Claude Thomas Pierre Métoyer. She bore his children, he bought her freedom and gave her land, which she cultivated and realized profits. She in return bought the freedom of all her children and her deeds and her descendants resonate to this day, over 250 years later, in the City of Natchitoches.
The proclamation is a heartwarming account of the generosity and love and affection that sometimes joined master to slave. More importantly, it illustrates how, even in adversity, the human soul and spirit finds a path to leave the world a happier place for future generations.
Editor in Chief
WHEREAS, Marie Thérèze ditte Coincoin (African/Indian origin) was born in 1742, a slave in the household of Sieur Lois Juchereau de St.Denis, the founder and commandant of the oldest settlement (1714) of Louisiana, Natchitoches post; and
WHEREAS, Legend has it that Marie Thérèze is the daughter of Francois and Marie Francois, slaves of the commandant St. Denis. After Madame de St. Denis untimely death in 1758 and both of her parents 3 days later, sixteen year old Marie Thérèze was inherited by the elder son. In his household she gave birth to five children and was later given to his younger sister Mme. de St. Denis de Soto; and
WHEREAS, In 1767, Marie Thérèze then twenty-five, first laid eyes on Claude Thomas Pierre Métoyer, a french merchant new to the frontier. There was an instant attraction between the comely slave and the young french settler, and Pierre leased MarieThérèze ditte Coincoin from Mme de Soto. A year later, In January of 1768, Marie Thérèze gave birth to twins; a son and a daughter. Eventually the relationship would produce a total of ten children; and
WHEREAS, In 1778, in order that they could be together Pierre Métoyer purchased Marie Thérèze from Mme de Soto. Conflict of more serious laws forbade white masters from keeping slaves as concubines. The only way that Pierre Métoyer and Marie Thérèze could be together was for her to be free. Métoyer soon gave Marie Thérèze and their newborn son their freedom along with 68 acres of land and a monthly stipend; and
WHEREAS, At the age of forty-six, Marie Thérèze ditte Coincoin was free, a landowner and the mother of free children and slave children. The relationship between Pierre and Marie Thérèze was to continue for years, but the problem was that while Pierre had many children, he had no legal heirs. Pierre would go on to marry Marie Therese Buard Pavie, the widow of his dear friend, Entienne Pavie. Marie Thérèze ditte Coincoin moved to the Maison that Métoyer built on her property, and with the help of her children and her slaves began to cultivate tobacco and indigo; and
WHEREAS, Marie Thérèze used the profits to buy all of her children out of slavery and eventually gave/set each one with a land grant. Nicolas Augustin, the eldest of their union, would follow these idyllic values by donating land to build the St.Augustine Catholic Church, believed to be America’s first church founded by free people of color. His brother Louis, would build the Yucca Plantation, today known as Melrose which both exist today;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Lee Posey, Mayor, and the Natchitoches City Council, do hereby proclaim February 8, 2014 as:
MARIE THEREZE DITTE COINCOIN DAY
in the City of Natchitoches and invites all citizens of Natchitoches to reflect upon and honor the lifetime achievements of Marie Thereze Ditte Coincoin and the impact she has left upon the City of Natchitoches.