Wednesday, April 5, 2017

E is for Elizabeth! #AtoZChallenge


I'll have to make this quick, if I'm to get it in before midnight!

E is for Elizabeth, better known as "Bettie" Green.  Bettie was my 1st cousin, 2x removed. She was the daughter of Annie Green and an unknown (to me) white mill owner in Franklin County, NC.  She was the granddaughter of Anna Green (mulatto) and Nathaniel Hawkins (white).  Therefore, Betty was what was referred to at that time as a "quadroon".

Betty was born in August of 1890, in North Carolina (most likely in Franklin County). She died in New York, where she lived passing as WHITE, and is buried in Farmingdale, Suffolk County, in that state.

Bettie worked as a "hairdresser for the rich folk", according to our now 97-year old cousin, Florine, who knew her well. She was, most notably, the personal hairdresser of Doris Duke for some period of time, and is said to have traveled with her "everywhere she went". Bettie married Reginald "Roy" Alonzo Miller, and lived a lavish lifestyle. However, if the story is true, the wife of her uncle William Green (who was also passing) discovered their truth and "outted" Betty, causing her to lose her clients, and most devastatingly, her position with Ms. Duke. (None of this has been proven via research.)

This photo of Bettie, where she appears to be relaxing on the deck of a boat, provides support for the stories of her traveling with Doris Duke.

Bettie and her dog on a NY rooftop
Roy Miller, Bettie's husband
Although all of my elder cousins who knew Bettie insist that she and our other relatives who left Louisburg to live and work in New York were living as white, the one census record I've found her in enumerates her as "negro". That was in 1930, and may have been after William's wife spilled the beans. At that time, 38 year old Elizabeth, her husband, Roy, and her younger sister, Ruby (who worked as a seamstress for the wealthy, until the "reveal") lived on Convenant Avenue in Manhattan. It's easy to see how this couple could have passed for white, isn't it?

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This photo shows Bettie (top left) with her mother, Annie (seated left with hat and glasses. I'm not sure enough about the identity of others in the photo to name them.(I believe the younger woman sitting on the curb to probably be Bettie's sister, Jessie.) I would really like to be able to identify the location of this photo. Does anyone recognize that monument?

Thanks for reading!

Permalink: http://justthinking130.blogspot.com/2017/04/e-is-for-elizabeth-azchallenge.html

The pictures and content in this post are not to be used without the express permission of the poster, Renate Yarborough Sanders. 

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