Millie and Christine McKoy 1851 - 1912

born in:
North Carolina, United States

Millie and Christine McKoy were referred to as one person, 'Chrissie Millie McKoy' rather than two separate people.

Born into slavery, they were referred to as one person from birth. In the 19th century conjoined twins were seen as medical ‘oddities’ and ‘freaks’ and were frequently part of travelling shows. They were African American pyopagus twins, with Millie slightly smaller than Christine. They were joined at the lower spine and shared a pelvis, but each had a full set of limbs.

Chrissie Millie McKoy were sold three times between the ages of 6 months and 6 years. By 1856 they were owned by North Carolina merchant Joseph Pearson Smith, who purchased their family from the McKoys. Smith’s wife taught Chrissie Millie to read, write, speak five different languages, sing and play the piano to a high standard. They toured Europe and America, and were frequently billed as ‘The Two-Headed Nightingale’. In 1869 the twins issued their autobiography, History and Medical Description of the Two-Headed Girl.

Key dates:

1851 - born into slavery in North Carolina;

1851-1857 - sold three times and toured England, Europe and the United States; purchased by the showman Joseph Pearson Smith; later sold to showman to P.T. Barnum; known as the "The North Carolina Twins";

1863 - After the Emancipation Act of 1863, which abolished slavery in the United States, the twins chose to remain with the Smiths;

1869 - published their autobiography "History and Medical Description of the Two-Headed Girl" purchaseable for 25 cents;

1887? - after a thirty-year career, they retired to North Carolina;

1909 - a fire destroyed all their possessions and left them in financial ruin;

1912 - died of tuberculosis.