Houston Matters

William Ellis: The Former Slave Who Became a Mexican Millionaire

Guillermo Eliseo was a wealthy Mexican banker and broker who lived in New York City in the early 20 Century. But, Eliseo had a secret. He was actually born into slavery on a cotton plantation in southern Texas, and his real name was William Ellis. Maggie Martin talks with historian and author Karl Jacoby, who […]

Photo: Michael Hagerty, Houston Public MediaGuillermo Eliseo was a wealthy Mexican banker and broker who lived in New York City in the early 20 Century.

But, Eliseo had a secret. He was actually born into slavery on a cotton plantation in southern Texas, and his real name was William Ellis.

Maggie Martin talks with historian and author Karl Jacoby, who wrote a book about Ellis. It’s called The Strange Career of William Ellis: the Texas Slave Who Became a Mexican Millionaire.

Jacoby talks about why Ellis made the move to Mexico, the ways his secret life cut him off from his family and the lessons from his life.

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Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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