Who is Henrietta Green: the Richest Woman in America or the Greatest Miser in the World?

Surely, you’ve read stories about the most famous rich men and the ways how they made a fortune. But have you ever heard of the witch of the Wall Street? The story of this woman hit me like a ton of bricks. Let me share it with you.

Henrietta Green is one of the most mysterious women in the history of the exchange existence. She rose to fame thanks to her unique behavior in the trading process. Hetty Green even got on the pages of the Guinness Book of Records – she became the most misery woman in history. Her fortune after death is estimated at $100-150 million (in 1916). Nowadays, it would be around $2.5 billion.

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But first things first.

Henrietta Green’s childhood and youth

She burned one of the sheds with three whaleboats belonging to her family.

The basis of her future well-being Green got thanks to her parents. Green was born in 1834 in a very wealthy family – her parents had a huge whaling industry and also received income from trading with China. Henrietta’s mother came from a noble kin. Since the mother was constantly ill, Hetty was raised from an early age in the house of her grandfather. Apparently, her father and grandfather had a great influence on the course of her thoughts, since at 6 years the girl read financial newspapers, and at 13 she became an accountant in the family business.

Henrietta Green

At 15 she was given to one of the schools in Boston. Hetty had a very bad temper – she always made fights and scandals and neglected schoolwork. All of her education is accounting courses passed at the school.

After returning home, Hetty began to work in the family business – participated in whaling expeditions, sold caught fish, worked at the shipyard. However, all the money she earned went to her father’s bank account, and Getty did not become richer.

In 1864, her father died. He bequeathed Getty about 7.5 million dollars, and whaling business was devised to her brothers. But according to the law, all income from the business should go to the whole family, and not to one person. However, Green said that she would kill anyone who tried to challenge her father’s will. As evidence, she burned one of the sheds with three whaleboats belonging to her family.

Later, her aunt died. She bequeathed her 2 million to her relatives and to charity. And Henrietta didn’t like this. She tried to fabricate her aunt’s will and started a lawsuit. The most interesting thing that Hetty’s purpose was not the judging of the money. She just wanted to finally intimidate her relatives.

The way to wealth

She counted every dollar lent out, and could travel a thousand miles to get her 100 dollars back.

Hetty multiplied her fortune, following a coherent strategy, which consisted of investing, cash stocking for futures deals and her own sanity. She invested in dollars, in banknotes of the US government, printed right after the Civil War. The inheritance received from his father in the amount of $7.5 million she invested in bonds of military loans of the US Civil War. She also bought shares of railway companies.

panic-of-1907
The Panic of 1907

In 1907, when a stock-market panic began in the United States of America, Henrietta Green earned most of her fortune. As a result of the huge fall in the value of shares, the Wall Street world was on the verge of extinction. At the time when the 9 largest banks of America declared bankruptcy, Green had free capital, which was enough to “force almost all the most influential traders into debts” of that time. She bought thousands of mortgages bonds, as a result she became the owner of land plots, and even whole residential quarters in some cities of the USA, for example in Chicago.

Hetty Green was a very successful business woman, even the city government of New York flew to her for loans in bad times. She counted every dollar lent out, and could travel a thousand miles to get her 100 dollars back.

The shades of misery

She ate only oatmeal, heated over the radiator in the office.

Having an excellent business grasp and a huge fortune, Hetty Green at the same time was terribly stingy, for which she got into the Guinness Book of World Records under the heading “the most miser person in the world.” There’s a lot of stories about Green’s stinginess.

She never turned on the heating and did not use hot water. Hetty wore only one old black dress and changed her underwear only when it was completely worn out. She ate in the cheapest restaurants, preferring mostly pies at 15 cents. One of the stories claims that Hetty Midnight was looking for a lost mark in the carriage, which cost 2 cents. Another – that she instructed the laundress to wash only the dirtiest parts of the dress to save money for soap. She came to the local grocery to buy broken cookies that cost less.

Henrietta Green

Some said that she ate only oatmeal, which she heated over the radiator in the office. Perhaps because of the fierce competition in the male business world and, in part because of her passion for wearing an old black dress she was called “the witch of Wall Street.”

The most terrible story is the story that happened to her own son. When he broke his leg, Henrietta Green took the boy to a free clinic for the poor. However, people recognized her there and refused to serve. Then Hetty began to treat her son at home. As a result, self-treatment led to gangrene and amputation of the leg.

Henrietta died of a blood-stroke during a dispute with her maid in 1916 at the age of 80 years.

So, what do you think about this story? Was this woman right or just insane? Of course, wealth makes people crazy. But not in such way. Share your opinions in comments.

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