A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from October 28, 2011
Witch of Wall Street

The moniker “Witch of Wall Street” is usually associated with Hetty Green (1834-1916), who was one of the world’s richest women during his lifetime. Many stories were written about her alleged miserly ways, despite her great wealth. She was dubbed “Witch of Wall Street” since at least 1887; a biography titled The Witch of Wall Street was published in 1930.

The first (self-titled) “Witch of Wall Street” was Grace Courtland (also spelled Cortland). Grace Courtland—the daughter of a gypsy—authored A Marked Life; or Autobiography of a Clairvoyante (1879) and was featured in dime museums performing tricks as the “Witch of Wall Street.” The nickname was used frequently since at least March 1881; she was said to have made money on Wall Street from her methods.


Wikipedia: Hetty Green
Hetty Green (née Robinson), nicknamed “The Witch of Wall Street” (November 21, 1834 – July 3, 1916), was an American businesswoman, remarkable for her frugality during the Gilded Age, as well as for being the first American woman to make a substantial impact on Wall Street.

Birth and early years
She was born Henrietta Howland Robinson in New Bedford, Massachusetts, the daughter of Edward Mott Robinson and Abby Howland. Her family were Quakers who owned a large whaling fleet and also profited from the China trade. At the age of two, she was living with her grandfather, Gideon Howland. Because of his influence and that of her father, and possibly because her mother was constantly ill, she took to her father’s side and was reading financial papers to him by the age of six. When she was 13, Hetty became the family bookkeeper. At the age of 15, she went to a school in Boston.

When her father died in 1864, she inherited $7.5 million ($107 million in 2010 adjusted for inflation) in liquid assets, against the objections of most of her family, and invested in Civil War war bonds.
(...)
Miser
There are many tales (of various degrees of accuracy) about Hetty Green’s stinginess. She never turned on the heat nor used hot water. She wore one old black dress and undergarments that she changed only after they had been worn out. She did not wash her hands and rode an old carriage. She ate mostly pies that cost fifteen cents. One tale claims that she spent half a night searching her carriage for a lost stamp worth two cents. Another asserts that she instructed her laundress to wash only the dirtiest parts of her dresses (the hems) to save money on soap.

Wikipedia: Witch Island
Witch Island (a.k.a. Davis Island) is an 18-acre (7.3 ha) wildlife sanctuary in South Bristol, Maine. The island contains a beach large enough to host a kayak or canoe trip and thus the island is frequented by summer visitors looking for a day trip. Since the island is a sanctuary, it remains uninhabited. Currently, many of the hikers use the twigs and bark found on the islands’ trails to create miniature “witch houses” (the houses, although fewer in number, are similar to those found on Monhegan Island).

The island is also named Davis Island, but the name Witch Island has been used as the accepted name both on maps and in conversation. Local legend states the name “Witch Island” was given to the island in honor of the only person ever known to inhabit it. The lady, known as the “Witch of Wall Street,” had a very successful career in financial consulting in New York City. She retired to live alone on the island until she was found dead in her cabin by local residents in the late 19th century. The foundation of her residence still exists on the island along with the accompanying water pipes and kitchen sink.

5 March 1881, Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago, IL), pg. 1:
MISS GRACE COURTLAND, the lady whose exploits in the New York stock market have earned for her the name of the “Witch of Wall street,” visited the Chicago Chamber of Commerce, and was refused admission to the floor or permission to address the busy speculators. She was much incensed, but confided her prophecies to THE INTER OCEAN, together with her opinions of various distinguished stock speculators.

8 March 1881, Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer, pg. 4:
THE WITCH OF WALL STREET.
From a Gypsy Camp Near Cleveland to the New York Stock Exchange.
Mrs. Grace Courtland, called when she first entered the arena of stock speculation the Witch of Wabash because so uniformly and phenominally successful in her operations, after satisfying her ambition in operating profitably in Milwaukee, Chicago, St .Louis and other Western cities, has gone to New York and plunged among the bulls and bears there, being already known as the Witch of Wall street. Of course she is an Ohio woman. She was born in a camp a few miles from Cleveland, her mother being a gypsy and her father a trapper from Vermont. She is said to be a clever horsewoman and an unerring shot. She has two daughters now attending school in a convent at Milwaukee.

23 October 1881, New York (NY) Times, pg. 15 classified ad:
GRACE COURTLAND, “THE WITCH OF WALL-STREET,” will lecture in Chickering Hall FRIDAY EVENING, Nov. 18. Subject—THE KINGS OF WALL-STREET: OR, THE PEOPLE VERSUS MONOPOLY.

19 November 1881, New York (NY) Times, pg. 2:
“THE KINGS OF WALL-STREET.”
GRACE COURTLAND TELLS WHAT SHE THINKS OF THEM.
Grace Courtland, who styles herself “The Witch of Wall-street,” was announced for several days for the lecture which she gave last evening in Chickering Hall upon “The Kings of Wall-Street.”
(...)
She then proceeded to dissect the business characters of Jay Gould and William H. Vanderbilt. She mention no other alleged kings.

31 August 1883, New York (NY) Times, pg. 5:
GRACE COURTLAND AFTER ALIMONY.
MILWAUKEE, Wis., Aug. 30—Grace Courtland, of Chicago, has brought a suit in the County Court to compel her late husband, Davis, to pay $1,500 alimony, alleged to have been awarded her some time ago, but never paid.
(...)
She has at times dabbled in stocks in New-York, being known in that City as the “Witch of Wall-Street.”

Chronicling America
29 May 1887, St. Paul (MN) Daily Globe, “Hetty Green’s Triumph,” pg. 4, col. 2:
The shrewdest male manipulator of railway securities could not have more successfully outwitted his sharp opponents than the witch of Wall street has those who sought to play her for a verdant old woman, easily gulled.

3 March 1889, Arkansas Gazette (AR), pg. 2:
Mrs. Hetty Green’s Millions.
[New York Letter to Philadelphia Times.]
Mrs. Hetty Green, the eccentric old lady sometimes referred to as the “Witch of Wall street,” has real estate, stocks, bonds and diamonds reputed to be worth $40,000,000. Mrs. Green dresses with uncommon plainness, has an aversion for society, and weighs 189 pounds. She has diamonds valued at $150,000, but rarely wears any of them, and regards them simply as so much valuable property.

Google Books
Ten Years at Pemaquid;
Sketches of its history and its ruins

By John Henry Cartland
Pemaquid Beach, ME
1899
Pg. 13:
Witch Island is the summer home of Mrs. Grace Cortland, (who is called the Witch of Wall Street) who with her husband, their relatives, and friends pass much of their time at this thickly wooded, and quiet summer retreat.

OCLC WorldCat record
The witch of Wall street.
Author: Boyden Sparkes; Samuel Taylor Moore
Publisher: Garden City Publishing Co.,Inc., 1930.
Edition/Format:  Book : Biography : English

Fred Allen in Scollay Square
The Great Fred Allen
When it came to popular entertainment in the 20th century, Fred Allen did it all, from Vaudeville to radio to movies to television.  A Boston-area native, Fred rode his razor-sharp wit to the top of his profession.  The following comes from Chapter 7 of
Much Ado About Me, (published in 1952) which deals extensively on Scollay Square.
(...)
The leading freaks of the day appeared at Austin and Stone’s. (...) Other widely advertised features were Miss Grace Courtland, the Witch of Wall Street, “... who foretold coming events with startling accuracy” and “was consulted constantly by the leading financiers of the country”; ...

OCLC WorldCat record
The witch of Wall St.
Author: Joseph Tandet; Michael Champagne; Elliot Weiss; Tony Parise; Jack Hofsiss; All authors
Publisher: New York, 1992.
Edition/Format:  VHS video : VHS tape Visual material : English
Summary: Musical based on the life of Hetty Green (1835-1916), an eccentric financier believed to be the world’s wealthiest woman at the time of her death.

OCLC WorldCat record
The Witch of Wall Street A century before Martha and Leona there reigned the original Queen of Mean, Hetty Green
Author: S Adams
Edition/Format:  Article : English
Publication: FORBES, 174, Part 9 (2004): 236-243
Database: British Library Serials
Other Databases: ArticleFirst

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBanking/Finance/Insurance • (0) Comments • Friday, October 28, 2011 • Permalink