Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Louisiana Patriot of the American Revolution and Progenitor of the Metoyer Family-Claude Thomas Pierre METOYER

As we Honor, So do we Remember

Claude Thomas Pierre Metoyer will be honored as an American Revolutionary War Patriot during a Patriotic Grave marking sponsored by the Louisiana Society Sons of the American Revolution (LASAR) on Oct 8, 2011 in NATCHITOCHES, La.
From "A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography; Ten-Year Supplement 1988-1998," editors, Carl A. Brasseaux and James D. Wilson, Jr., published by The Louisiana Historical Association; pp. 154-156 (text in parentheses in original; text in brackets supplied):
"METOYER, Claude Thomas Pierre,  colonial merchant and planter. Born, La Rochelle, France, March 12, 1742; son of Nicolas Francois Metoyer and Marianne Drapron. In the mid-1760's Metoyer and a friend from La Rochelle [Etienne Pavie] ventured to the Louisiana outpost of Natchitoches, where they opened a shop in competition with at least fifteen other 'sellers of alcoholic beverages and owners of cabarets.' Both prospered, invested regularly in land and slaves, and within two decades became leading Red River planters. While Metoyer remained a bachelor throughout these years, he ignited a scandal by renting a slave woman (Marie Therese dite Coincoin, q.v.) by whom he fathered ten children. Called to account in 1776 by a new parish priest, who threatened to seize and sell Coincoin for the benefit of the colony's hospital, Metoyer evaded penalty with the assistance of her owner (Marie des Neiges Juchereau de St. Denis de Soto (q.v.), daughter of Natchitoches's revered founder), and the post commandant (Athanase de Mezieres, the owner's brother-in-law (q.v.)). Amid their machinations, Metoyer secretly freed the mother and her nursing infant, but not the children already born to them. 

The liaison formally ended in 1788, when Metoyer married Marie Therese Eugenie Buard, widow of Pierre's friend Pavie, on October 13. In a settlement with Coincoin, Metoyer conveyed to her a slave and a small corner of his land. As their sons matured, each was assisted in some fashion and all took his name, although Pierre never acknowledged his paternity. With his public reputation shielded by denial, Metoyer rose from the rank of a militia private in 1772 to the marechal de logis (quartermaster) in the 1780 company that Governor Bernardo de Galvez (q.v.) dispatched to Mobile amid the American Revolution, to company standard bearer in 1791. By 1791, also, he was church sindic (in which capacity, ironically, he brought charges against religious transgressors), and he held that post for much of the next decade. 

Metoyer died at Natchitoches, September 30, 1815, leaving (to his legitimate offspring) one of Red River's largeest fortunes. By Marie Therese dite Coincoin (who died about 1816), Metoyer was the father of Nicolas Augustin (q.v.) (twin, b. 1768, founder of Church of St. Augustine on Isle Brevelle; q.v.); Marie Suzanne (twin, b. 1768), Louis (q.v.) (b. ca. 1770, founder of famed Melrose Plantation on Isle Brevelle; q.v.); Pierre (b. ca. 1772); Dominique (b. 1774); Eulalie (b. 1776); Antoine Joseph (b. 1778); Marie Francoise Roselie (b. 1780); Pierre Toussaint (b. 1782); and Francois (b. 1784). By Marie Therese Eugenie Buard (who died February 6, 1813), Metoyer was the father of Pierre Victorin (b. 1789); Marie Therese Elisabth (b. 1790, wife of Louis Narcisse Prudhomme); and Francois Benjamin (b. 1794) [who was my 4th great-grandfather]. Both sets of offspring--in disparate ways--would dominate Cane River society, economics, and politics over the two centuries that followed.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Up Through Slavery Marie Therese Coincoin was in bondage for 44 years. Yet she freed her children and became a slave owner herself.

Nicholas Augustine METOYER
Founder of the Saint Augustine Catholic Church,
 Near Melrose

By Ken Ringle
Washington 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