One in Slavery, Two in the Kingdom
Imagine... being born into slavery. Your parents are slaves on a plantation in North Carolina. They already have seven other mouths to feed. The year is 1851.
Imagine... being helped into this world by an aging midwife. No doctor, nothing for pain, no running water, no comfort, no hope for a life of freedom.
But, I'm just getting started sharing with you a birth of the most extraordinary circumstances. The first four years of this child's life would find her sold, traded, and stolen. She would be examined by hundreds of doctors in the towns in which she was exhibited as a freak. Sounds like the most hopeless of situations, doesn't it?
Let me share with you the life of a most remarkable woman, Millie-Christine McKoy.
God's hand was protecting this newborn; He had a purpose for her life. He knew that she would be accepted and loved by her parents where so many others would have found it convenient to let this baby die. You see, Millie-Christine was a conjoined twin. The fact that she survived at all is most amazing given the time and circumstances of her birth.
I refer to her in the singular following her example and her wish to be known as one. Millie-Christine had four arms and legs, two heads, and a single pelvis and genitalia. Her bodies were at a ninety- degree angle to each other. I can't imagine the love of the mother who held her close to her breast.
Her owner sold her along with her parents to a showman when she was less than a year old. That showman sold her to another showman who had a partner, Joseph Smith. She was kidnapped from Smith while on exhibit in New Orleans. Her kidnapper continued to display her in America, but fearing arrest he sold her to a showman who took her to Canada and then to Europe. She was only four.
Joseph Smith had become a father figure to her in the time he had owned her and with God's guiding hand he was able to locate her in England. Taking her mother with him, Joseph regained control of the child and brought her back to America to live with him in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Joseph and wife, Mary, grew to love Millie-Christine as their own child. They taught her voice, piano and five languages. They also taught her about her creator and tutored her daily in the Bible.
Millie-Christine's enthusiasm for life touched all who met her. She was smart and talented and refused to pity herself, choosing instead to cherish her uniqueness.
She gained her freedom at the close of the Civil War. And instead of leaving him, she hired Joseph Smith to be her manager. In her hand-written notes she referred to him as generous, kind, patient and beloved. She chose to remain under the guardianship of Mrs. Smith whom she called her 'white ma'.
Millie-Christine traveled the world performing. She harmonized, one voice a contralto and the other a soprano. She became known as 'The Two-Headed Nightingale'. She played the piano, sang and danced into the hearts of all who heard her, even entertaining Queen Victoria.
After many years of travel and having become one of the best known personalities of her time, Millie-Christine returned to her hometown and purchased the plantation on which she was born. She was the wealthiest person in her hometown.
She used her earnings to support her mother and took on the responsibility of caring for Mrs. Smith after Joseph had passed away. Millie-Christine praised Jesus her whole life. She took what was the most dreadful of circumstances and turned it into joy.
In 1912, at age sixty-one, she passed from this life into Glory.
Yes, I know that conjoined twins are two distinct souls. Yet, somehow I feel her life represented Unity as no other could. I hope in Heaven they are in two mansions, perhaps a mansion-duplex, one for Millie and one for Christine with lots of common areas.
She would like that. That and meeting her Creator face-to-face to thank Him that He chose her to be so fearfully and wonderfully made*.
* Millie-Christine: Fearfully and Wonderfully Made was written by Joanne Martell and is one of the few writings to champion her.
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