Millie and Christine McCoy
Millie and Christine were born on July 11, 1851, to Jacob and Monemia McKoy who were slaves of a North Carolina blacksmith, Jabez McKay.The McKay farm was near the town of Whiteville, North Carolina, which resulted in the girls also being referred to as The Carolina Twins. Prior to the sisters’ birth, their mother had borne seven other children, five boys and two girls, all of ordinary size and form.
The twins were first sold at 10 months of age to South Carolinian John C. Pervis.Pervis and McKay reached an agreement where Pervis exhibited the girls for pay and then paid a percentage to McKay. Fourteen months after the original sale, they were sold to a showman, Brower, who had the backing of a wealthy merchant named Joseph Pearson Smith. Brower first exhibited the twins at North Carolina’s first state fair, held in 1853. The North Carolina state fair was a success for Brower and The Carolina Twins; however, Brower’s fortune changed over the next months. Brower was conned by a Texas adventurer, who offered land worth an estimated forty-five thousand dollars as a purchase price for the twins.Brower accepted, sent the twins on to the Texan, and then waited several days for the deeds before realizing that he had been swindled. Brower returned to North Carolina to relate the loss to Joseph Pearson Smith. Since Brower was left destitute, Smith was given the promissory note and was now the owner of The Carolina Twins. Mille and Christine were handled by several managers before being reclaimed by Smith in Britain in 1857.
On 1 January 1863 the Emancipation Proclamation ended their slave status and they were no longer anyone’s property.
Smith traveled to Britain to collect the girls and brought with him their mother, Monemia, from whom they had been separated. He and his wife provided the twins with an education and taught them to speak five languages, dance, play music, and sing.During their time in Britain, they met Queen Victoria.For the rest of the century, the twins enjoyed a successful career as “The Two-Headed Nightingale”, and appeared with the Barnum circus. In 1869, a biography on the twins, titled History and Medical Description of the Two-Headed Girl, was sold during their public appearances.
When they were in their 30s, the twins moved back to the farm where they were born, which their father had bought from Jabez McKay and left to them.
On October 8, 1912, Millie and Christine died of tuberculosis;Christine died 12 hours after her sister. They were buried in unmarked
graves but in 1969 they were moved to a cemetery in Whiteville.