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Millie-Christine McCoy
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Oddity
    (July 11, 1851-October 8, 1912)
    Born in Columbus County, North Carolina
    Conjoined twins
    Joined at the lower spine, pelvis and sacrum
    Last name sometimes given as 'McKoy'
    Born into slavery
    Popular circus and vaudeville attraction
    Billed as 'the Carolina Twins,' 'the Two-Headed Nightingale' and 'the Eighth Wonder of the World'
    At birth, Millie, a frail 5-pounder, looked like an attachment on her 12-pound sister's back, prompting their mother to give them a joint hyphenated name and to refer to them in the single person.
    When they were less than a year old, their owner got tired of the 'burden of frequent visits of strangers' and sold them to a showman for $1,000 and a share of the exhibition receipts.
    During a British tour (1854-55), their exhibitors played on audience sympathy by claiming the money being raised would go to buying their parents' freedom. (It actually all went to line the promoters' pockets.)
    They sold copies of their biography during appearances.
    At three, they were kidnapped by a rival promoter who hustled them off to Europe.
    After the Civil War, they took control of their career and finally got to keep the money they were earning.
    Millie was a contralto and Christine was a soprano, allowing them to harmonize when they performed.
    They earned enough money to buy the farm they had been born on and give it to their father.
    They performed at Buckingham Palace and were given diamond hairclips by Queen Victoria (1871).
    They donated generously to historically black colleges in the South.
    They lost most of their possessions in a house fire (1909).
    After Millie died of tuberculosis, Christine was euthanized with an overdose of morphine.

Credit: C. Fishel


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