|Nicholas Augustine METOYER|
Founder of the Saint Augustine Catholic Church,
By Ken RingleWashington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 12, 2002; Page F01
To study a people's history without understanding the family structure from which it evolved is to confront a robot and pretend one feels a pulse-- Elizabeth Shown Mills
No one knows where Marie Therese Coincoin lies buried, but it's easy to think of the 250-year-old live oak in front of Melrose Plantation as her family tree. Its kinked and elbowed limbs stretch 100 feet or more in every direction. They're hung with Spanish moss and coated with an opportunistic bit of hitchhiking botany that in dry weather looks like nothing so much as dead and rusty lace. All the plant needs, however, is one opportunity -- a single rainstorm -- to green into leafy lushness and prosperous coexistence with the tree. It's called the resurrection fern.
The story of Marie Therese Coincoin and her descendants is as improbable as the resurrection fern, yet it's all but unknown despite its ample documentation. It flies in the face of almost everything we think we know about slavery: Melrose Plantation was built not only by former slaves but for them. It is also a cautionary tale for those tempted to simplify history or underrate the astonishing capacities of the human spirit, past or present. Read More .