Melrose Plantation, Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana

This beautiful antebellum house is now owned and maintained by the APHN (Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches). It was founded by direct descendants of Marie Thérèse Coincoin who was born a slave into the household of the founder of Natchitoches.

Coincoin was leased to Claude Thomas Pierre Metoyer, a young French merchant, to be his housekeeper. There followed a nineteen year relationship, which produced ten children. Metoyer ultimately bought Coincoin and several of their eldest offspring, thus granting them freedom.

Coincoin started raising cattle, tobacco and harvesting bear grease. She became a successful trader and systematically set about buying slaves. They became gens de couleur libre, free people of colour, and successful business people, plantation and slave owners.

The house build started in 1832, but tragedy struck and an untimely death led to the estate passing into inexperienced hands. Debts piled up and eventually forced the sale of Melrose Plantation after fifty years in the same family.

Many years later, and after changing hands several times, Melrose gained another housekeeper, one Clementine Hunter. She had become the cook by the time she found some paints and brushes left behind by a guest. She started to paint and her primitive style paintings tell the story of her life and that of those who stayed at Melrose. She painted thousands of works of art in a career as an artist that spanned fifty years. Some of her extraordinary works are preserved at Melrose today. Clementine died in 1988 at the age of 101 years. She is recognised today as probably the most famous African American Folk Artist in the USA.

Photo: mings

You know you're from Louisiana when...

In your car, you use the heater in the morning and the AC in the afternoon.

You greet people with “Howzyamomma'an'emdoin?”

You don’t learn until high school that Mardi Gras is not a national holiday.

You believe that purple, green, and gold look good together.

Your last name isn’t pronounced the way it’s spelled.

You know what a nutria rat is but you still pick it to represent your baseball team.

You can pronounce words like Ouachita, Natchitoches, Avoyelles, and Tchoupitoulas and you make fun of people from other states who say them wrong. [I don’t really make fun of them, but I do point it out. Let’s add Bossier to the list cos no one pronounces it right except for us]

You pronounce the largest city in the state as “Nawlins.” [I don’t]

You know those big roaches can fly, but you’re able to sleep at night anyway. [They’re water bugs]

You assume everyone has mosquito swarms in their backyard. [Bonus points if you call them “skeeters”]

You realise the rainforest is less humid than Louisiana.

You discover that you can get a sunburn through your car window. [THIS HAPPENED TO ME]

When out of town, you stop and ask someone where there is a drive-through Daiquiri place, and they look at you like you have three heads.

You have flood insurance.

Your sunglasses fog up when you step outside.

No matter where else you go in the world, you are always disappointed in the food.

Your house payment is less than your air conditioning bill.

Your grandparents are called “Maw Maw” and “Paw Paw.” [I call mine Grammaw and Grampaw. Though I called my Grandpa Olive “Pepaw” and my cousin Brittney called Grandma Olive “Mamaw”]

You judge a po-boy by the number of napkins used.

You actually know what a po-boy is.

You don’t think it’s odd to see live crickets or firearms being sold at a gas station.

You actually get these jokes.