Creole Culture Is Alive and Well

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Dr. Harlan “Mark” Guidry
Dr. Harlan “Mark” Guidry

Creole Culture is very much alive and well!  People and many surviving treasures are witnesses to that fact.

 

Out of the oldest French settlement came a loving relationship between a Frenchman—Claude Thomas Pierre Metoyer—and a successful and beautiful former slave—Marie Thereze Coincoin. Today their descendants live across the globe making many great community contributions and preserving a 300-year-old Louisiana heritage.

 

Sheriff Victor JonesNicolas Augustin Metoyer, the oldest son of their ten children, was a successful planter, a devote Catholic, respect community leader, and a visionary.  What started as a chapel on his plantation in 1803, is now the St. Augustine Catholic Church and a parish community that holds him as Founder and Patriarch.  The church is the center of community life, sustaining a unique and resilient heritage.  Creole culture lives on in hundreds of descendants across the country who take pilgrimages “back home” to the motherland where it all began.  Last year, the Church was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as a traditional cultural property–a first for the state of Louisiana!

 

The Isle Brevelle Creole culture is still alive due to the efforts of those who carried the torch. Noteworthy are: Sonny Jones, first President SAHS; Marie Llorens Roque, “Matriarch of Isle Brevelle” and meat pie culinary expert; Terrel Delphin, second President of SAHS and “Godfather of the Creole Renaissance; ”Mama Lair” Lacour creator of the First Louisiana bicentennial “Creole Ma-Man” doll; and many other SAHS Founding members–Earl Roque, Larry Balthazar, Mickey Moran the “Cane River Creole Historian,” Frances Balthazar, Maxine Rachal, James Sarpy,  Myra Friedman the community educator, Collins Roque, Mike Roque, Elizabeth Metoyer, Lille Delphin a Creole cuisine preservationist, Edward Antee for allowing the SAHS to purchase and restore the Badin-Roque House, and Gertrude Chelette.

 

Metoyer (2011)Today, there are many remarkable Creoles of Isle Brevelle.  Just to name a few: Thomas E. Roque, Sr., Superintendent of Catholic Schools, Diocese of Alexandria; Judge George Metoyer, Jr. of Rapides Parish; Sheriff Victor Jones of Natchitoches Parish; James Llorens, former chancellor of Southern University and recently appointed president of a new Catholic High school;  Harold Rideau, Mayor of Baker; Pharmacist Carla Roque Allen, the first Louisiana Creole Heritage Queen 1999 and now Pageant Director educating young girls about the Creole culture; Betty Metoyer Roque. Melrose tour guide and reenactor of Marie Therese Coincoin; Charles Roque, a 2014 Natchitoches Treasure for lasting community contributions; Therese Delphin Morgan for an extensive collection or Creole Cultural archives; Willie Metoyer, who faithful serves the church and led efforts resulting in the national registry designation;  “Mama Glo” Gloria Jones, a founding member and the “First Lady of the SAHS”; Vera Severin a creole preservationist and long-time officer of the SAHS; Anita Evans, an assistant principal at Cloutierville; Marilyn Goudeau Guidry, Creole culinary expert and cookbook author, and so many more!

 

James LlorensMany iconic symbols of Creole Heritage still exist on Isle Brevelle–the Roque House now relocated to Natchitoches riverfront; the Badin-Roque House, circa 1770, a one-of-a-kind poteaux-en-terre home in Louisiana and a rare find in the United States; Melrose Plantation and its African House recently declared a National Treasure, just to name a few.  Each of these treasured structures has statewide and national significant, and they are reminders that the culture lives on!

 

The St. Augustine Historical Society, preserving history and heritage since 1979, invites you to celebrate Creole with the people and the treasures of the Isle!