Morbid Fact Du Jour For November 24, 2013

Today’s Conjoined Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Millie and Christine photographed by Chas. Eisenmann.

Millie and Christine photographed by Chas. Eisenmann.

Millie and Christine were born into slavery in Columbus County, North Carolina, on July 11, 1851.  The seventeen-pound twins were joined at the base of the spine and had a common urogenital tract and interconnected nervous system below the juncture.  They were of normal intelligence and had completely independent consciousnesses.  Their owner, a man named McCoy, realized he had a valuable property and sold them as infants.  After changing hands several times the twins were purchased by the promoter J.P. Smith for $30,000.  Smith tempered the cruelty of the transfers by purchasing the rest of the family, but the reunion was short-lived: the infant twins were heisted by Smith’s road manager while on tour in New Orleans.  After two years of being freighted about the country they were fenced by their kidnapper to a Philadelphia promoter.  Smith had by now tracked them down, but before he could close in their new owner shipped the pair off to England.  Smith and the twins’ natural mother crossed the Atlantic in pursuit.  A British court case ensued and Millie and Christine were awarded to their mother.  However, she elected to remain in partnership with Smith, and they took advantage of their stay in England to arrange a tour.  An extended booking at London’s Egyptian Hall was followed by an audience with Queen Victoria.  The twins were now four years old.

Upon returning to America the girls were schooled by Smith’s wife for the stage and they re-emerged as “The Two Headed Nightingale.”  They had worked up a dance routine, sang in two-part harmony and chorded away on guitars for accompaniment.  In the middle ’70s Millie and Christine returned to England on tour and made additional appearances in Paris.  A third visit to England in 1885 won them a second audience with Victoria.  The twins were now making $600 weekly.  Millie had become a hardline Baptist fundamentalist and funneled a good part of her earnings into Baptist African missions.  Christine had become a good-time girl and spent her share on fun.

Shortly after the turn of the century Millie and Christine returned to their home country in North Carolina and bought a large house.  Following a decade of retirement Millie died on October 8, 1912 of tuberculosis.  Christine survived her sister by seventeen hours.  They had appeared across America in fairs, dime museums and circuses and played for both Barnum and Drew.  It was estimated that their career earnings were in excess of a quarter of a million dollars.

Culled from: Monsters: Human Freaks in America’s Gilded Age: The Photographs of Chas Eisenmann

Millie and Christine poster from their Ringling Brothers circus days, as photographed by the Comtesse at the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

Millie and Christine poster  at the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

Okay, where to begin discussing the questions that this one inspires?  How can it work that one of them could be pious and the other a partier?  Wouldn’t the pious one have refused to go out?  And can you imagine realizing that your twin just died and you are gonna die soon yourself, as your twin decomposes into your blood stream?  And if they share the urogenital tract, do they both feel orgasms and arousal?   So much to think about!!

3 comments

  1. Each one would have the smug satisfaction of knowing that they could go anywhere and do anything they wanted, because the other couldn’t do anything about it but possibly complain all night long.

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