Claude Thomas Pierre Metoyer
Claude Thomas Pierre Metoyer was a French merchant and planter who had ten children with Marie Therese Coin-Coin, a woman born a slave who eventually gained freedom for herself and her children. Their relationship began a community of ‘creoles of color’ along the Cane River area of Natchitoches parish. This community has spread out from Natchitoches, both around Louisiana and across the country. He is buried in the American Cemetery in Natchitoches, Louisiana, a popular burial site for early Catholic settlers in the area.
The Sons of the American Revolution and the Daughters of the American Revolution will be marking Mr. Metoyer’s grave in an October ceremony. A DAR member asked if I could clean the marker in advance of the ceremony. I met with her on Thursday, September 15 at around ten in the morning. The physical state of the marker appears to be quite sound apart from a portion in the bottom right corner that has been chipped off. The marker was a dark gray color and did not appear to have been cleaned in quite some time, if ever. It sits in an area of the cemetery that puts it under the branches of several trees. The combination of debris falling from above and the shady location of the grave may have contributed to establishing a foundation for dampness and biological growth to set in to the stone.
The DAR representative told me it was around 200 years old. The death date on the inscription was not readable at the time.
I returned to the cemetery the next morning and began cleaning around 10:15am. The weather was very pleasant, about 63 degrees and some light clouds in a mostly blue sky. I took photographs from different angles before starting.
I performed three cleaning cycles using the D/2 biological solution and a soft-bristle brush. I wet down the stone before each treatment and thoroughly washed it off after each as well. Each treatment cycle and rinse resulted in the removal of some material, most of which was likely dirt, grime, grit, etc., the type of material that would build up on top of an untended grave over the course of time. After the first cycle the inscription became legible. During the third cleaning cycle I used a toothbrush to clean the inscription and get into some narrower and tighter spots. The inscription reads:
CLAUDE THOMAS P.
Décédé le 30 7bre 1815
agé de 72 ans
I returned to the site at 4pm to take a few additional photos, and I will return again about seven days after cleaning to take more. It rained earlier today (9/18/11), so some of the biological growth that died off since cleaning may have been washed off.
This was a very satisfying project for me. Mr. Metoyer is very notable in this area due to his position as the father of a community that gives us a distinct element for our local culture. I know several of his descendants, and ‘several’ is probably short-changing things. The story of Marie Therese Coin-Coin is a remarkable one. The cleaning job was very straightforward, and I was able to see some immediate results. There will hopefully be a gradual improvement in the appearance of the marker between now and the SAR/DAR ceremony in October.
Below is a video of me talking about the different phases of the project.