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The child of slaves who posed as a Mexican citizen and became a millionaire

On September 24, 1923, a millionaire by the name of Guillermo Enrique Eliseo died in the American Hospital in Mexico City.

pg3He was 59 years old, a New York stockbroker, a Texas landowner, the founder of a Black colony in Mexico, a diplomatic envoy, and holder of a vast African regal estate. Passing as a Mexican, he was actually an African American who began life as the son of slaves.

William Henry Ellis was his birth name and he was born in Victoria, Texas, in 1864. At an early age, he formed friendships with the Latinos in the area where he worked, first as a ranch hand, then as a dealer in hides and wool. Fluent in Spanish, he began brokering cotton sales across the border and ultimately raising cattle in Mexico. He adopted a Spanish version of himself, and his light brown skin color allowed him to “pass” as a Mexican, giving him several advantages not available to Blacks in that era.

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