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Yucca Plantation, Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana

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Date: [unknown] [unknown]
Location: Natchitoches, Louisiana, United Statesmap
Surnames/tags: Metoyer Black_Heritage Slavery
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Index of Plantations


Yucca Plantation, later known as Melrose Plantation, was one of the largest plantations in the United States built by and for free blacks.

The Metoyer family owned Yucca Plantation from 1794 until 1847. They are the founding family of today's Cane River Isle Brevelle Creoles of Color Community.

Marie Therese Metoyer, aka Coincoin was a former slave of first-generation African parentage who ultimately became a plantation and slave-owner herself. Marie Therese was sold, along with several of her children, to Claude Thomas Pierre Metoyer, who later freed her and eventually all her Metoyer children.

Between 1794 and 1803, Marie Therese and her sons received a number of land grants, some of which came from Metoyer after he freed Marie Therese. The lands formed Yucca Plantation, recorded in the name of her son Louis. Descendants of the Metoyers live along the river today.

The Metoyers built Yucca House (c.1796), the original house at Melrose, incorporating local materials exclusively—heavy, hand-hewn cypress beams, uprights, and sleepers; waIls made of mud from the river bottoms, mixed with deer hair and Spanish moss.

The African House (c.1800), a construction reminiscent of the straw-thatched huts found in the Congo, was built as a combination storehouse and jail for rebellious slaves. The African House has been called the only structure of Congo-like architecture on the North American continent dating back to colonial times.

Amid the financial depression that followed the Panic of 1837, Marie Therese and Louis fell heavily into debt. After she emancipated her teenage son Théophile Louis Metoyer from the disabilities of minority, creditors filed a series of lawsuits. The Yucca Plantation went on the auction block.

On 22 March 1847, the plantation was sold for $8,340 to the French Créole brothers Hypolite Hertzog and Henry Hertzog, and sister Fannie Hertzog Bossier. The Hertzogs and Bossier then operated a cotton plantation, in partnership, until 1880. They also owned the neighboring Magnolia Plantation.

In 1881, the Hertzog family sold Yucca Plantation at a public auction. It was purchased by Francis Roman Cauranneau of New Orleans for $1,500, but sold three years later to Joseph Henry. When Joseph Henry passed away in 1899, his son and daughter-in-law, John Hampton Henry and Carmelite Garrett Henry bought the property from their heirs, ushering in one of the most extraordinary periods in the plantation's history.

In 1884 Joseph Henry bought the plantation and named it “Melrose” in honor of Sir Walter Scott’s poem about Melrose Abbey. Clementine Hunter was raised on this plantation. It is here where she picked up paintbrushes and began painting. Originally born at Hidden Hill Plantation in 1887, her family moved to Melrose as sharecroppers for the Henry family. Later she became a house keeper but it was while she was a cook that she found some discarded paints left behind by an artist at Melrose. Those discarded paints changed her life.

Research Note

Need to find documents of enslaved




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