An online archive offering digital copies of many peer-reviewed articles published by Elizabeth Shown Mills on Cane River and other historical subjects.
River National Heritage Area
Information about the Cane River National Heritage
Area, including a brief history of the Isle of Canes region. Also
presents an explanation of the Cane River Heritage Program, which
is “to provide funding and establish partnerships that contribute
to a culturally sensitive approach to the preservation of the
Cane River region’s heritage.”
According to the site: “...not only is this Creole Web site
meant to open the doors to a understanding of Americans' "
first and only " home brewed nationality, but is also a way
of Introducing to the American people the way of life and the
struggle for recognition that we Creole people have been guaranteed
throughout our existence.”
Written by Washington Post Staff Writer
Ken Ringle and run on Sunday, May 12, 2002, this article offers
great historical background on the story behind the Isle of
Creole Heritage Center
The mission of the Louisiana Creole Heritage Center is to promote,
foster and engage in activities and endeavors that relate to Louisiana
Creoles and their culture.
G. Henry Research Center
Hosted by the Watson Memorial Library, Northwestern State University
of Louisiana— Here you'll find Louisiana books, rare books,
archival materials, The NSU Archives, microfilm, maps, newspapers,
and oral history tapes. The collection includes many items of
interest pertaining to Creole culture and history.
A photography site maintained by a local photographer and includes
many contemporary images of Natchitoches.
This is the Natchitoches Parish Tourist Commission Internet site.
This site is valuable for learning about travel and tourism in
the Natchitoches area.
A Readers’ Guide to the
Study of Cane River Creoles
(A Selective Sampling)
Articles & Book Chapters
- Lennon, Rachal Mills and Elizabeth Shown Mills. “Mother,
Thy Name is Mystery! Finding the Slave who Bore Philomene Daurat.”
Reassembling Female Lives, a special issue of the National
Genealogical Society Quarterly 88 (September 2000): 201–28.
article details the research process that uncovered the slave
ancestry presented in Lalita Tademy’s Cane River. Tademy’s
forebears lived on the plantation of Louis Derbanne, who appears
in Isle of Canes as a friend and neighbor of Augustin
- Mills, Elizabeth Shown. “Deliberate Fraud and Mangled
Evidence: The Search for the Fictional Family of Anne Marie
Philippe of Natchitoches, Louisiana.” The American
Genealogist 72 (July–October 1997): 353–68.
Available from www.americangenealogist.com.
NOTE: This article traces the German
ancestry of Agnes Poissot, the slave-born bride of Augustin
Metoyer. As “the old lieutenant’s wife” and
Agnes’s grandmother, Anne Marie Philippe earns a mention
on p. 250 of Isle of Canes.
- -------. “(de) Mézières-Trichel-Grappe:
A Study of a Tri-caste Lineage in the Old South.” The
Genealogist, ser. 1, vol. 6 (Spring 1985): 4–84.
Available from the publisher of series 1, firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: This article traces both
the ancestry and the mixed-race offspring of the French nobleman
and Natchitoches commandant, Athanase Mauguet de Mézières,
who appears throughout the early chapters of Isle of Canes.
- -------.“Forgotten People of America.”
Ancestry Magazine (May–June 2004): 16–22.
NOTE: Here, the author of Isle
of Canes discusses the magnet that drew her to the Isle
and some of the intriguing challenges she faced as she and her
late husband uncovered the roots of the story.
- ———. “Quintanilla’s Crusade,
1775–1783: ‘Moral Reform’ and Its Consequences
on the Natchitoches Frontier.” Louisiana History
42 (Summer 2001): 277–302.
NOTE: The Capuchin padré
Luis de Quintanilla plays a strong role in Part 2, Isle
of Canes. This article provides additional historical perspective
on his moral crusade and upon early miscegenation along Cane
- ———. “Social and Family Patterns on
the Colonial Louisiana Frontier.” Sociological Spectrum
2 (July–December 1982): 233–48.
NOTE: This paper examines community
lifestyles during the first century of Cane River’s settlement.
- Mills, Elizabeth Shown and Gary B. Mills. “Louise Marguerite:
St. Denis’ Other Daughter.” Southern Studies
16 (Fall 1977): 321–28.
NOTE: Here, the Millses presents
the research by which they discovered that Commandant Louis
Juchereau de St. Denis fathered a Native American daughter by
a member of the Natchitoches tribe. That daughter, Louise Marguerite
de St. Denis (Mme. Pierre-Louis Duplessis) makes a cameo appearance
on pp. 43–44 of Isle of Canes and is discussed
elsewhere in Parts One and Two.
- ———. “Marie Thérèse
and the Founding of Melrose: A Study of Facts and Fallacies.”
Natchitoches Times, 29 July; 5, 12, and 19 August 1973.
NOTE: This serialized report concludes
the historical site documentation project commissioned by the
Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches, upon
which Melrose Plantation was declared a National Historic Landmark.
- ———. “Missionaries Compromised: Early
Evangelization of Slaves and Free People of Color in North Louisiana.”
Cross, Crozier, and Crucible, Glenn R. Conrad. ed. New Orleans:
Archdiocese of New Orleans, 1993. Pages 30–47. Available
NOTE: This essay compares Catholicity
on the Isle to other Creole populations along Cane River.
- ———. “Slaves and Masters: The Louisiana
Metoyers.” National Genealogical Society Quarterly
70 (September 1982): 164–89.
NOTE: Here, the authors provide
genealogical documentation for the first three generations of
Coincoin’s family, from her parents through her grandchildren.
- Mills, Gary B. “A Portrait of Achievement: Nicolas
Augustin Metoyer, f.m.c.” Red River Valley Historical
Review 2 (Fall 1975): 332–48.
NOTE: A biography, as the title
- ———. “Coincoin: An Eighteenth-Century
‘Liberated’ Woman.” Journal of Southern
History 42 (May 1976): 203–22. Reprinted in Darlene
Clark Hine, ed., Black Women in United States History.
Brooklyn: Carlson Publishing, 1990.
NOTE: Also a biography.
- ———. “Monet-Rachal: Backtracking a
Cross-Racial Heritage in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries.”
The American Genealogist 65 (July 1990): 129–42.
Available from the publisher at www.americangenealogist.com.
NOTE: This paper explores a passé
blanc Cane River family, identifying its slave roots and demonstrating
how it crossed the color line by marrying “Anglo”
newcomers to the region.
- ———. “Liberté, Fraternité,
and Everything but Egalité: Cane River’s Citoyens
de Couleur.” North Louisiana to 1865: Essays on the
Region and Its History. Ruston, La.: McGinty Trust Fund
Publications, Louisiana Tech University, 1984. Pages 93–112.
NOTE: This essay explores the failed efforts of the Isle
families to earn citizenship in the “Anglo” regime
of antebellum Louisiana.
- ———. “Patriotism Frustrated: The ‘Native
Guards’ of Confederate Natchitoches.” Louisiana
History 18 (Fall 1977): 437–41.
NOTE: Here, Mills presents a study
of the Augustin’s Guards and Monette’s Rifles, the
two home-guard units raised on the Isle to protect Cane River
during the Civil War. The two ill-fated units appear in Part
5 of Isle of Canes.
- ———. “Piety and Prejudice: A Colored
Catholic Community in the Antebellum South.” Catholics
in the Old South: Essays on Church and Culture, Jon L.
Wakelyn and Randall M. Miller, eds. Macon, Ga.: Mercer University
Press, 1983. Pages 171–94. Available from www.mupress.org.
NOTE: This essay explores the Isle’s
futile attempts to earn equality through religious leadership.
- Saxon, Lyle. Children of Strangers. Boston: Houghton
NOTE: Saxon, who frequently visited
Melrose Plantation in the 1920s–1940s, presents his interpretation
of the Isle’s plight in the early twentieth century.
- Tademy, Lalita. Cane River. New York: Warner Books,
NOTE: Tademy, an offspring of Cane
River, presents her family’s experiences with slavery
and Jim Crow racism from the 1830s to the 1930s. Louis Derbanne,
the French-Indian Cane River planter who owned Tademy’s
earliest-known forebears, appears in Isle of Canes
as a neighbor of Augustin Metoyer.
- Callahan, J. J., et al. The History of St. Augustine’s
Parish: Isle Brevelle, Natchez, La.: 1803–1953; 1829–1954;
1856–1956. Natchitoches: The Parish, 1956.
NOTE: Callahan’s little pamphlet
primarily presents local tradition.
- Mills, Elizabeth Shown and Gary B. Mills. Tales of Old
Natchitoches. Natchitoches: Association for the Preservation
of Historic Natchitoches, 1978. Available from www.willowbendbooks.com.
NOTE: This collection of historical
vignettes, which the authors developed from archival research
rather than lore, originated as a series published in the Natchitoches
Times during America’s Bicentennial celebration.
- Mills, Elizabeth Shown and Gary B. Mills. Melrose.
Natchitoches: Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches,
NOTE: This small book summarizes,
for Melrose tourists, the story of Coincoin and her offspring.
- Mills, Gary B. The Forgotten People: Cane River’s
Creoles of Color. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University
Press, 1976. Available from www.lsu.edu/lsupress/.
NOTE: In this groundbreaking study
that focuses principally upon the Metoyers, Mills presents the
first in-depth social and economic history of a mixed-race family.
- Phares, Ross. Cavalier in the Wilderness. New Orleans:
Pelican Books, 1976.
NOTE: A romanticized biography
of Louis Juchereau de St. Denis, the frontier commandant who
owned Coincoin and her parents.
- Woods, Frances Jerome (Sister). Marginality and Identity:
A Colored Creole Family through Ten Generations. Baton
Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1972. Available from
NOTE: Sister Woods, an anthropologist,
analyzed primarily the twentieth-century residents of the Isle,
using the pseudonym “Letoyant” for “Metoyer.”
- Bearss, E. C., ed. A Louisiana Confederate: Diary of
Felix Pierre Poché. Natchitoches: Northwestern State
NOTE: Lieutenant Poché,
whose diary covers the period of his military service on Cane
River, makes a cameo appearance on pp. 517–19 of Isle
- Bolton, Herbert Eugene, trans. and ed. Athanase De Mézières
and the Louisiana-Texas Frontier, 1768–1780. 2 vols.
Cleveland: Arthur H. Clark Co., 1914.
NOTE: This classic work presents
a rich trove of colonial records created by the Natchitoches
commandant who befriended Coincoin and her French lover, Pierre
Metoyer. The genealogical background added by Bolton is less
than accurate. For the latest research, see Elizabeth Shown
Mills, “(de) Mézières-Trichel-Grappe,”
cited under “Articles and Book Chapters” above.
- McCants, Dorothea Olga (Sister), ed. and trans. They
Came to Louisiana: Letters of a Catholic Mission, 1854–1882.
Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1970. Available
NOTE: The Daughters of the Cross,
whose Louisiana writings are assembled in this volume, was the
order that established St. Joseph’s Convent for the young
ladies of the Isle in 1857.
- Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Natchitoches: Abstracts of the
Catholic Church Registers of the French and Spanish Post of
St. Jean Baptiste des Natchitoches in Louisiana, 1729–1803.
New Orleans: Polyanthos, 1976. Available from www.willowbendbooks.com.
NOTE: This volume, and the two
that follow, provide indexed and translated abstracts of almost
all Catholic baptisms, marriages, and burials for Cane River
prior to 1850—including records for slaves and free people
of color, as well as the dominant white population.
- ———. Natchitoches, 1800–1826:
Translated Abstracts of Register Number Five of the Catholic
Church Parish of St. François des Natchitoches in Louisiana.
1980; reprint Bowie, Md.: Willow Bend Books, 2004. Available
- ———. Natchitoches Church Marriages,
1818–1850: Translated Abstracts from the Registers of
St. François des Natchitoches, Louisiana. 1985;
reprint Bowie, Md.: Willow Bend Books, 2004. Available from
- ———. Natchitoches Colonials: Censuses,
Military Rolls and Tax Lists, 1722–1803. Chicago:
Adams Press, 1981. Currently out of print.
NOTE: This volume presents most
of the colonial censuses and census substitutes needed for genealogical
and historical research.
- Crespi, Muriel. “A Brief Ethnography of Magnolia Plantation:
Planning for Cane River Creole National Historical Park.”
Studies in Archeology and Ethnography, no. 4. National
Park Service Service. www.cr.nps.gov/aad/pubs/studies/study04a.htm.
NOTE: Magnolia Plantation, at the
foot of the Isle, belonged to the Hertzogs who play a cameo
role in Isle of Canes. It is Cane River’s most
intact slave plantation and a focal point of the Cane River
Creole National Historical Park. Crespi interviewed descendants
of many slave and free Creole families in the region and relates
- Gould, Philip, Richard Seale, Harlan Mark Guidry, and Robert
B. DeBlieux. Natchitoches and Louisiana’s Timeless
Cane River. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press,
2002. Available from www.lsu.edu/lsupress/.
NOTE: Gould’s dramatic photographs
and the vivid word-pictures of Seale, Guidry, and DeBlieux make
for a mesmerizing photographic history.
- Lee, Dayna Bowker. “Indian Slavery in Lower Louisiana
during the Colonial Period, 1699–1803.” Bound typescript,
c1989. 116 pp. Copy at Watson Memorial Library, Northwestern
State University, Natchitoches.
NOTE: This unpublished paper by
Lee, an anthropologist who directs the region’s FolkLife
Program, explores the slave system that introduced Caddo and
Canneci bloodlines and culture into the Isle.
- Mills, Elizabeth Shown. “Family and Social Patterns
of the Colonial Louisiana Frontier: A Quantitative Analysis,
1714–1803.” Senior Thesis, University of Alabama,
1981. 231 pp. Copy on file in Mills Collection, Cammie G. Henry
Research Center, Northwestern State University, Natchitoches,
NOTE: This examination of colonial
life along Cane River is based upon a study of the origin, lives,
and relationships of some 2,702 individuals, representing all
known residents along Cane River prior to the Louisiana Purchase.
- Wells, Carolyn M. “Domestic Architecture of Colonial
Natchitoches.” M. A. Thesis, Northwestern State University,
1973. 102 pp.
NOTE: Wells, a former archivist
at Northwestern State University, exhaustively combed all extant
notarial documents (deeds, succession [probate] records, marriage
contracts, etc.) for this study of early homes and their furnishings.
Other Perspectives on Louisiana Creoles (A Selective Sampling)
- Brasseaux, Carl A., Keith P. Fontenot, and Claude F. Oubre.
Creoles of Color in the Bayou Country. Jackson: University
Press of Mississippi, 1994. Available from www.upress.state.ms.us/.
- Desdunes, Rudolphe L. Our People and Our History: A Tribute
to the Creole People of Color, in Memory of the Great Men They
Have Given Us, and of the Good Works They Have Accomplished.
Dorothea Olga McCants, ed. and trans. Baton Rouge: Louisiana
State University Press, 1973. Available from www.lsu.edu/lsupress/.
- Dominguez, Virginia R. White by Definition: Social Classification
in Creole Louisiana. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University
Press, 1986. Available from http://Rutgerspress.rutgers.edu.
- Dormon, James H., ed. Creoles of Color of the Gulf South.
Knoxville, University of Tennessee Press, 1996. Available from
- Gehman, Mary. The Free People of Color of New Orleans:
An Introduction. New Orleans: Margaret Media, 1994.
- Hamel, Reginald. La Louisiana créole: littéraire,
politique, et sociale, 1762–1900. Montreal: Libraire des
Presses du l’Université de Montreal, 1977.
- Kein, Sybil, ed. Creole: The History and Legacy of Louisiana’s
Free People of Color. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University
Press, 2000. Available from www.lsu.edu/lsupress/.
- Logsdon, Joseph and Hirsch, Arnold R., ed. Creole New
Orleans: Race and Americanization. Baton Rouge: Louisiana
State University Press, 1992. Available from www.lsu.edu/lsupress/.
- Schafer, Judith K. and Warren M. Billings, eds. "An
Uncommon Experience: Law and Judicial Institutions in Louisiana,
1803–2003." The Louisiana Purchase Bicentennial
series in Louisiana History, vol. 1. Lafayette,
La.: Center for Louisiana Studies, 1997). Available from www.louisiana.edu/Academic/LiberalArts/CLS/series.html.
NOTE: This volume richly treats
the laws governing slavery and manumission in Louisiana. Despite
its title, it includes the pre-1803 French and Spanish regimes.