Hetty Green was known as ‘The Witch of Wall Street’ by people a century ago and was one of the most eccentric and odd characters ever in history. She was the world’s richest woman, but also one of the world’s most stingiest people.
Her parents were wealthy people who owned a whaling business, and at the age of two she was sent to live with her grandfather because of her mother’s poor health. Her parents and grandfather lived very frugal lives, despite being very wealthy, which perhaps paved the way to Hetty’s strange obsession with hoarding money.
Due to her grandfather’s poor eyesight, she would regularly read him the financial papers from the young age of six years old. Here, she began to get an insight into the financial world. She opened her own bank account at the age of eight and would regularly get money from her family as a reward for good behaviour. She was popular with the family because at that age she was cute and had very striking blue eyes. You can see from the picture above that these eyes became a little scary looking in her old age, as she looks as if she is about to cast a dark spell on someone.
Being a little spoilt, when she started school she would rebel at the rules, often refusing to eat her school dinners. She was used to getting her own way after all.
When she reached the age of 21 she came into 7 and a half million dollars in inheritance. Shortly after this she played the stock market on Wall Street to multiply this amount many times over.
She married Edward Henry Green in her thirties who had his own money trading tobacco, silk and tea. They were married in 1867 and had two children, Sylvia and Ned. From this moment on she became even more eccentric.
‘The Witch of Wall Street’ would walk to the grocery store and buy broken cookies in a bulk buy and looked for the cheapest milk she could find to give her cat. It is rumoured that she once spent many hours frantically looking for a 2 cent stamp that she had lost.
Once, when her son was ill, she dressed up to disguise herself and appear poor, so that she could get her son treated for free. However, when people realised who she was she was refused and she reportedly ran out rasping that she would treat her son herself. She was not willing to pay for a doctor to treat her son, which resulted in her son losing his leg to gangerine.
She said that she maintained her own good health by chewing on baking onions which is not an attractive thought. She died when she reached the respectable age of 90.
Although she was stingy, it is said that she would occasionally give a nickel as a tip to someone Â who had shown her kindness.
When the bottom of her skirt became ingrained with dirt and dust, she instructed the laundry to only wash the bottom of the skirt to save on costs.
Children were not surprisingly scared of her and ran a mile when they saw her coming down the street.
When she died she left one hundred million dollars of liquid assets to her children. Her children were more generous than Hetty and donated an experimental radio station to Dartmouth College and the Hetty Green Hall at Wellesley College.
Hetty’s house was in such a poor state of repair where she had skimped on repair costs that the house had to be demolished.
To give some credit to Hetty Green, otherwise known as ‘The Witch of Wall Street’ she did not, as most infamous stingy old women do, give her entire fortune to a cat’s shelter. Despite having her son’s leg amputated, at least he would have lived a comfortable life.