Reconstituting the Vanished (1994-1998) was an image/text project that explores the lives of four remarkable Louisiana women. Gelatin-silver prints made after visiting the places they lived were scanned and combined with archival images and documents from the Louisiana State Museum. The historical interpretations were a 4 year collaboration project which traveled widely. Text by Barbara Allen and digital images by Lynda Frese.
Marie Thereze Coin-Coin was born in 1742 the second daughter of first generation African slaves. Both she and her parents were owned by Louis Juchereau de St. Denis, the first commandant of the oldest French outpost in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Between the ages of seventeen and twenty-four she gave birth to four full-blooded African children. At the age of twenty-five she was lent to Frenchman Claude Thomas Pierre Metoyer and she bore him six Franco-African children, all slaves. He then purchased her and secretly granted her freedom. She remained with him for four more years during which time she had four more children, this time all free. In 1786, at the age of forty four she was formally granted manumission, given a small stipend and sixty eight acres of land bordering the Cane River in a fertile but discarded area of central Louisiana known as Isle Brevelle. Within six years she had enough income to begin the purchase of all her children and grandchildren, the last one granted manumission a year before her death in 1816. She accomplished this through the use of slaves and at the time of her death owned twelve thousand acres of land and thirty nine slaves all part of what is now known as Melrose Plantation. Her family and heirs continued to thrive as free people of color in the region for many years until the land was lost due to the insolvency of planters to whom they had made loans.