Millie and Christine McCoy

Millie and Christine McCoy (1851-1912) were conjoined twins known as the Two-Headed Nightingale and the Eighth Wonder of the World.

  • Waukesha Daily Freeman; Waukesha, Wisconsin; Thursday, June 29, 1882. "Batcheller and Doris' Great Inter-Ocean Show has a larger amount of canvas thann any other show these mammoth tents being a matter of necessity on of the mastodonic proportions of the entertainment furnished. In each and every it exceeds all competitors in novelty and merit of its presentations. In the circus will be found the leading ... etc. In ... addition to a will be found the greatest wonder of the Millie the two headed young woman with but one body and two heads. Miss Christine appeared twice before Queen Victoria at her Majesty's and so pleased was the latter that she presented Miss Christine with a handsome diamond necklace. Unlike natural Millie Christine is pleasant to look upon and charms all with her brilliant conversational abilities. She sings like a nightingale and dances with the grace of a fairy. It should be borne in mind that Millie Christine is a part of the big show and not a side show attraction. This great novelty was secured by Batcheller and at an expense ... for the the highest salary paid any single attraction in this or any other country. The menagerie is the most complete ever seen in this including animals that have never before been [seen]. This ... pageant is the [handsomest] and most gorgeous ever, introducing the famous ... the handsomest womam in the world. In line also be open dens of performing animals and bands of music."
  • Indiana Weekly Messenger; Indiana, Pennsylvania; Wednesday, January 16, 1884. Freak of Millie Christine, the Double-Headed Woman Some of Her Mental and Physical. Miss Millie Christine, the double-headed lady, was seen this morning by a reporter of the Journal, who had an exceedingly interesting ... erratic with regarding herself, her past history and ... immediately rose and extended a most ... . The appearance she presented was that of two persons sitting side by side in the arm chair, and as the conversation went on the reporter could never get rid of the impression that he was talking to two separate and distinct souls. At the [insistence] of the hostess he seated himself in a [chair] opposite her or them and requested [a] sketch of her career from her birth until the present time. First permit me to ask said the inquisitor, when I am speaking to you am I to address you as two? "You may consider us two in one", laughingly replied the right-hand head. "Independent, but ..." added the left. "We have two perfectly distinct minds and think entirely independently, but we are ... perfectly harmonious. We have [never] had the least difference of any subject, and never quarrel." Will [you] please give me a short sketch ... history, then? "To begin at the beginning", said the little head, "I was born in Columbus County, North Carolina. My parents an both alive, and now reside in ... Carolina." Do [you] consider you as two or one? "Two" said the head. Are there any other children in [the] family? "I [have] three brothers; and three sisters" [said] the left head." And how many children do you count in the whole family? "Oh, there are seven children in ..." the ... head replied. Are you the oldest? "Oh, there are three older and three younger. I come in the middle." And are any of the others differeces in formation from ordinary "No, not in the least." When did you first begin to ... "I was stolen from Philadelphia when I was one or two years old, I was then on exhibition there and was stolen for purposes of exhibition. The person who stole me took me to Europe, and I was there two, three, or four years. My manager's father, Mr. Smith, took my mother to Europe, when they discovered ... brought me back. The person who stole ... punished my mother ... was too glad to get me [back] to ..." ... here till 1871, when I went a second time to Europe and remained ... the first or second to Europe that jou became ... second trip. ... took me there who educated ... European ... Great Britain and Ireland and the Continent, exhihibition in all its principal cities ... everywhere. That ... very pleasant ..., and during it I made numerous ... exhibiting in the far ...South. Indeed, there are not many places of any ... Four months last winter I spent quietly at home with my parents. ... Is our general health I have excellent health all the time." Should ono of you suffer would the other suffer? "Yes if one suffers, both do." Do you both constantly go to sleep together, or will one go to sleep and the other remain [awake]? "Generally we go to sleep together and sleep for the same length of time. Occasionally one will be asleep when the other is awake, but only for a very short time." Do both heads eat, or does one eating do for eating would sustain the life of both, but both do eat, and both get hungry and thirsty. Is one ever hungry and the other is not? "No; both get hungry together." Are the tastes of both [the same]? "Yes, both have the same tastes. We are at all times perfectly harmonious on everything. Wherever one is, there the other will generally be found." Does your similarity of tastes extend to the ... ? "Yes; we have similar mental tastes. We have never had anything to quarrel about. Sometimes one will read and the other will at the same time, but the difference never extends beyond that. Both mental and physical tastes are the same." Millie Christine is religious, and will not break the Sabbath by exhibiting on that day. Some time ago a correspondent of the Auckland, New Zealand News writing from San Francisco gave the following description of this freak of nature, treating especially of her physical peculiarities: "Miss Millie Christine is a colored, lady, born consequently of negro parents. She has two arms, four legs and one body. From her waist upwards the bodies are twain, fastened together at the back by piece of extraneous flesh, the one commencing at the waist and finishing at the commencement of the dual thighs. As she stands it is as though two forms stood before you, save ana except that only one skirt falls from the waist to the knees The abdomen, instead of being before either of the faces, is side between the two forms the back corresponding, therefore, Miss Millie walks sidewise, as a matter of course. The heads, however, partially face the side, as from a desire to see and speak to one another, and have in the course of years become stationary in that position, that is to the torsos have become the power to turn the head back to back still remaining. Such monstrosities not, ... pleasant to look upon, but in this case Miss Millie is an exception, as there is nothing ... the appearance of the ... On the contrary she is a very pleasant and well educated person, speaking English, German and Italian fluently, also, a little Spanish. It is very curious to hear her speak different languages with her double mouths at the same time, and, though she calls herself Miss Millie Christine, from my own standpoint I should pronounce this monstrosity twins spoiled by a freak of nature. The head and bust of ... mother, the other [is] much smaller, ... totally defficient in features, ... her father. As the sits down, Millie presents the appearance of [two] girls squeezing into one chair, as ... The legs at the same moment in walking or ... though the ... and arms are perfectly independent of each other. The lady has two beautiful ... singing duets charmingly when warbling a solo the voice ... . I had a long ... in which she told me that there is never the slightest difference of opinion between her and her double; they agree in all things, are hungry and thirsty at the same time, eat the same things, and divide everything, 'even to a peanut. When alone they converse on all kinds of topics, rarely having a different thought, except occasionally being puzzled ... to the faces they have ..."
  • Biographical Sketch of Millie Christine, the Carolina Twin. Surnamed the Two-Headed Nightingale and the Eighth Wonder of the World; 1889. Miss Millie Christine, or Christine Millie, was born of slave parents, on the plantation of Mr. Alexander McCoy, near the town of Whiteville, Columbus County, North Carolina, on July 11, 1851. At her birth her mother was in her thirty-second year. She was a handsome woman, finely formed and in excellent health. Millie Christine's father, of Moorish descent, slender and sinewy, with the powerful activity characteristic of his race. Prior to the birth of Millie Christine, her mother had borne seven other children, five boys and two girls, all of ordinary size, with no peculiarities of conformation, and some of them are still alive. The wonder of the family, Millie Christine, weighed seventeen pounds when she entered the world, and, although her mother was only attended by a colored midwife, no serious consequences attended such a remarkable birth. But, when the child was once fairly in the world, how rumor flew about the township of Whiteville, and spread from thence over the whole country! "Have you seen the girl?" was the first question asked of every one by every one, and pilgrimages to visit her became all the rage in the country side. The old nurse who had superintended her introduction into this world was doubtless awestruck at the anomalous and wonderful addition she had made to her master's property, and not unnaturally prided herself on having assisted Nature to produce a phenomenon; but the master himself, and his amiable lady, without stopping to question the designs of Providence, immediately surrounded the extraordinary infant with such care and attention as enabled it to thrive and grow. The dual-headed child was taken from the cabin to the mansion, and Mr. McCoy's family commenced then a course of care and attention to her health and welfare. During the first eighteen months of her life nothing of importance occurred to Millie Christine worthy of note. She grew as other girls grow, learned to walk at twelve months old, was of a lively and agreeable disposition, and at fifteen months began to talk with both her mouths. She was cheerful and active as any girl of her age, with every appearance of robust health. Her vivacity and goodness, together, no doubt, with her peculiar formation, rendered her the almost idolized child of the mother and a general favorite of both old and young, and every attention and kindness was bestowed upon her. At this time Mr. McCoy, being a man in very moderate circumstances, a plain farmer, thinking the girl would become a burden to him, and annoyed with the frequent visits of strangers to see  her, determined to dispose of her. He was not long in finding for her a purchaser, a person of the name of Brower, who offered $10,000 for her, seeing the possibilities of the child in the way of an exhibition. But inasmuch as this Brower was not possessed of the requisite cash to back his faith, and only offered to give a note of hand for the purchase money, Mr. McCoy naturally desired some responsible person to whom to look for the money in case of the non-payment of the note when due. This person was ultimately found by Brower in Joseph P. Smith, of Wadesboro, North Carolina, and Mr. McCoy finally parted with Millie Christine, in consideration of Brower's note for $10,000 endorsed by Mr. Smith. The happy Brower, in full possession of his prize, at once departed for New Orleans, in obedience to a request from the medical faculty of that city asking that she be brought there for a scientific examination. Rooms were taken and every preparation made for the contemplated examination, after which she was to be placed on public exhibition. It had been arranged, prior to their leaving home, that their presence in the city should be kept as quiet as possible, as the desire to see her would undoubtedly be very great and might interfere with the examination. This precaution was not strictly regarded, and soon the rooms and the passages leading thereto were literally besieged with anxious crowds of people eager to get a sight of her. The examination, however, at length took place and proved most satisfactory, every physician in attendance concurring in pronouncing her Nature's greatest wonder. Being endorsed by the medical faculty, she was now put on public exhibition, but from want of proper management she succeeded but indifferently. Mr. Brower, being quite ignorant of the business he had undertaken, despaired of success after a few more efforts. About this time he became acquainted with a certain adventurer who hailed from Texas and boasted of his immense tracts of land in that State. This swindler proposed to purchase the girl by giving for her lands, at a fair market valuation, to the amount of forty-five thousand dollars, and Brower, having full confidence in the would be millionaire, concluded the bargain by giving possession of the girl, and was on the following day to receive the deeds in due form. The day arrived, but neither the Texan nor the deeds were forthcoming, and then for the first time the unpleasant fact broke upon him that he had been completely duped. To gain some knowledge of her whereabouts was now his first effort; but so adroitly was everything pertaining to her abduction managed that no clue to her, or even the direction she had been carried, could be gained, and every effort for a time to learn anything of her proved futile. Mr. Brower, after weeks of useless search, becoming convinced that, for the present, further efforts to regain her would only prove useless, determined to return to North Carolina and impart to Mr. Smith his loss, and to the mother the sad intelligence of the abduction of her daughter. Words are inadequate to describe the anguish of the parent on learning the fate of her child. For a time she was perfectly frantic, during six days refusing food and for the same number of nights her eyes did not close in sleep. Her excellent character, uniform kindness and amiable disposition had made her a general favorite, so that everything that could be was cheerfully done to comfort and soothe her mind. She was promised that no amount of money should be spared, no effort left untried to procure her much-cherished child. How truly this promise was kept the sequel will prove. Brower and partner were bankrupt, and Mr. Smith expected no assistance from them. But before anything could be done to recover the child it was necessary that her original owner should be compensated for his loss in the transaction. Christine Millie had been spirited away to parts unknown, and all that Mr. McCoy had to show for her was Brower's note for $10,000; and as Brower could not pay this money his endorser, Mr. Smith, became the responsible party and accepted the responsibility. He at once paid the purchase money in full to Mr. McCoy, and took from him a deed which made him the exclusive owner, under then existing laws, of the person of Millie Christine. The proviso, "wherever he could find her," was of course understood, and in order to quiet the mind of her mother and convince her that, whenever found, the child would be restored to her care, Mr. Smith at the same time purchased the father, mother and seven children, a transaction of course involving a large sum of money, all of which was dependent for its recovery on the recovery of Millie Christine herself. The question then arose, where was she, and if found, how was she to be recovered, if at all? Mr. Smith found in the person of Mr. T. A. Vestal of Selma, Alabama, one of the shrewdest detectives in the country, and Vestal at once commenced operations, with the assistance of two other detectives, and ultimately gained intelligence of her in the city of Philadelphia, though not before the lapse of some fifteen or eighteen months. Vestal heard from a negro barber, whose confidence he had obtained, that about a year ago a child answering her description had been in the city, and for a time had been secreted in a celler on Pine Street. The cellar was found, and, through the influence of bribes, it was ascertained from an old woman still living in a portion of the house to which the cellar belonged that the child had been carried to New York. The next day Mr. Vestal started for that city to prosecute his search, and remained there five weeks. Every effort was made, but no further intelligence of her could be learned. If any one knew of her or had seen her there, their mouths were sealed to the influence of money or persuasion. Mr. Vestal began almost to despair, yet determined not to yield his cherished object. He had every reason to believe she was alive, for when taken from New Orleans she was in excellent health. The papers had been watched closely by him, and no account of the death of any one answering her description had been noticed, which certainly would have been the case had she died. From New York he proceeded to Boston; from thence to Philadelphia, and ultimately to Newark, New Jersey. There, for the first time, he got definite information of her. He learned from a man then keeping a drinking house that at one time, when engaged as a cabman in the city of New York, he had been hired to convey a girl answering her description to a sailing vessel, the name of which he did not remember, bound for and ready to sail for Liverpool; that he had seen the vessel depart, and knew the child was aboard of her when she sailed. Acting on this valuable information, Mr. Vestal immediately returned to North Carolina and urged on Mr. Smith the necessity of following her. Mr. Smith determined to make the attempt, and accordingly prepared for the journey. Accompanied by the mother of Christine Millie, he reached New York, took the steamship Atlantic, and after a pleasant voyage reached Liverpool. There they learned that the child had been on exhibition in that city; also in London, Leeds and other places. Seated in a promiscuous crowd of traders and traveling clerks one evening, in front of his hotel, her name was introduced, and he learned that a short time before she had been on exhibition in Glasgow, Scotland. Immediately they started for that city, but on arrival found that a short time before she had been taken back to England, and was then in Birmingham. So to that city they posted, and on their arrival, to their joy, found she was then on exhibition. It now became necessary that extreme caution should be used, lest their long-cherished object would be frustrated on the very eve of consummation. The impatience of the mother knew no bounds: scarcely could she be restrained from rushing to the exhibition room and defiantly claiming her child, supposing the party who then had possession of it would recognize her claim. She was, however, at length convinced of the imprudence of such a course, and submitted until the case had been placed in the hands of the proper officers. Accordingly the Chief of Police and a select body of assistants were called and a true statement of the affairs given. The American Consul was also waited upon and consulted. He immediately took a lively interest in the matter, and advised that the arrival of the American party be kept unknown to the exhibitor until they, in company with a protective force of police, should enter the hall that evening; and should the child recognize the mother among the audience, it would be prima facie evidence of the facts attempted to be established by them, and used as such in case of litigation. Accordingly, the impatience of the mother was restrained until the hour of the gathering of the visitors, when a portion of the police (selected for the purpose and disguised) Mr. Smith and the mother procured tickets of admission and entered the hall, as casual visitors impelled only by the general curiosity. No sooner, however had the keen eye of the mother caught a glimpse of her long-lost child than she uttered a scream of such heart-rending pathos that the audience simultaneously rose to their feet, wondering and astonished. The mother, overpowered, fell fainting to the floor. When resuscitated she wildly threw her arms about, crying in most piteous tones. "My own child! O! give her to me! Do not take her away again; she needs my care! Where is she?" Where is she?" While this scene of excitement was going on, the exhibitor attempted to secrete the girl in an adjoining room; but an honest Scotchman, divining his intentions, arched his back against the door, and bringing himself into a position that would have delighted a pugilist, cried out: "Ye'll nae tak' the bairn ayant the door, maun ye wallop me first, and I'm nae thinkin' ye'll soon do that." Such a scene of excitement as this denouement created has seldom been witnessed. The women fainted, and the men, learning the true state of affairs from the Chief of Police, who mounted the stage for the purpose, threatened with immediate and summary punishment the sordid villain who had stolen, for the purpose of gain, a helpless child. He managed, however, to escape by jumping from the second story window, which hazardous feat alone, for the time, saved him from certain and well-merited punishment. The mother, recovering, took the child, and they were conveyed to the hotel, where, for the first time in three years, she slept with it in her arms, forgetting, in the possession of the fondly-loved and long-lost one, the days and nights of anguish she had spent during its absence, and dreamed of naught save happiness and pleasure to come. But her troubles were not to end here. The prize was too rich to be thus easily given up by interested ones. So, on the following morning, a writ of habeas corpus was served upon them, requiring the appearance of mother and child before the Court of Admiralty, to show cause why she was taken from the custody of the exhibitor. Here the Consul again proved a friend and true American by demanding the child as an American citizen, and requiring it, as a minor, to be placed in charge of the mother, and that protection be given her to maintain her maternal rights. Voluminous proofs, giving an accurate description of mother and child, together with all necessary facts bearing upon the case, had been carefully procured and carried there, in case of necessity. Upon these the Consul spoke a short time, when the judge, arising, declared it useless to occupy more time, for from the opening of the court the case had been decided by the Bench. "The child should be given into the custody of its lawful mother. If it was not the child of the defendants, then mother never bore a child. Every lineament, every feature, every look betokened it; every spectator in his inmost heart felt, yes, knew it to be her child, almost as certainly as though they had seen it every hour since its birth." A long and hearty shout of approbation at this decision ascended to the dome of the stately old building. As soon as order was restored, the plaintiff determined to make one more effort; so, calling the attention of the Court to the fact of his ability to perform all he promised, he said he was ready then and there to settle upon the mother the sum of ten thousand pounds sterling, and deed to her an elegant house, in which she could spend the rest of her days in luxury and comfort if she would remain in England and give him possession of the child until she was eighteen, to all of which flattering offers she only turned a deaf ear, preferring, as she said, "to return and live, as she had done, in the land of her birth, with those she had known from infancy, and among her kindred and her friends." It should have been remarked before that the Texan, although shrewd enough to dupe Brower, was in turn made a dupe himself. Arriving in Philadelphia, on their way from New Orleans, he fell in with two showmen, Thompson and Miller, who soon succeeded in getting possession of the girl, and it was they who had carried her to, and in whose possession she was found, in England. As Thompson and Miller had been most successful in their exhibitions of her (in the course of three years arising from poverty to comparative affluence), it was not to be presumed they would willingly abandon the hope of again possessing her, be the means of possessing what they would. Mr. Smith, the mother and the subject of our sketch, being now free to depart, made their preparations openly to return. The Atlantic had made a return trip and was then at the Liverpool docks. The now happy party again took passage upon her, and after a prosperous voyage reached New York. There they took the cars and were soon landed safely in the good old State of North Carolina. Astonishing as it may appear, scarcely had the party reached home when those who had caused so many sleepless nights and days of anguish and trouble made their appearance in Charlotte, distant from the girl's home fifty-five miles, evidently intent upon another attempt to regain the rich prize they so fraudulently had possession of for a time, but now wrested from their avaricious grasp. The citizens of Charlotte, learning of their presence and intentions, concluded to give them an admirably fitting suit, composed of good tar and excellent feathers, and the freedom of the streets for promenading, with the company of a lusty negro to keep time to quickstep on the end of a large tin kettle. Thompson and Miller, by accident, learning the intentions of the Charlottins, concluded "discretion was the better part of valor" and decamped by night, and since then nothing has been heard of either in North Carolina, and the only thing to remind you of their visit to that section is the chorus of a negro song heard at the corn shuckings:
  • Fayetteville Observer; January 16, 2000. "Millie-Christine, Siamese twins, were born into slavery in Columbus County. But that didn't stop them from becoming world famous, touring Europe or becoming accomplished writers, singers and dancers. They spoke five languages and lived to buy and return to the plantation they were born on. The twins were buried in 1912 in Welches Creek near Whiteville, and for years the graves were neglected. The grave markers were ..."

  • Fayetteville Observer; March 1, 2001. "When you think of Siamese twins, you probably think of Chang and Eng, who were born in Siam and settled in North Carolina. Lesser known are Millie-Christine, who are from an area near Whiteville in Columbus County. Joined at the hip with common organs, they were born into slavery and exploited by white owners. But they lived to travel the world and became the toast of Europe. Their lives were pushed into the spotlight again last ..."
    Millie-Christine: Fearfully and Wonderfully Made; Joanne Martell; John F. Blair Publisher (2001)
  • Philadelphia Daily News; February 5, 2003. "Woman discovers 'Eighth Wonder of the World' in family tree. As word spread about the miraculous birth, locals trekked across swamps and marshland to the North Carolina farm to see what they called "the strange curiosity." They'd never seen twins like Millie-Christine McKoy. There they were, connected to each other at the lower spine, sharing two heads, four arms and four legs. Born into slavery in 1851, Millie-Christine were sold, traded and stolen over the years. Fluent in five languages, they traveled the world, sometimes displayed as freaks of nature, other times commended for their talent. For Shelda Baldwin Glover of West Philadelphia, the twins are more than an interesting historical ..."