Madam C. J. (Breedlove) Walker
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Sarah (Breedlove) Walker (1867 - 1919)

Sarah (Madam C. J.) Walker formerly Breedlove aka McWilliams, Davis
Born in Delta, Madison, Louisiana, United Statesmap
Wife of — married about 1882 (to about 1887) [location unknown]
Wife of — married 11 Aug 1894 (to about 1903) in St. Louis, Missouri, United Statesmap
Wife of — married Jan 1906 (to 1910) [location unknown]
Descendants descendants
Died in Irvington, Westchester, New York, United Statesmap
Profile last modified | Created 20 Oct 2009
This page has been accessed 11,750 times.
US Black Heritage Project
Madam C. J. (Breedlove) Walker is a part of US Black history.
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Notables Project
Madam C. J. (Breedlove) Walker is Notable.

Madam C.J. Walker left her mark on history as an African-American business woman, entrepreneur and philanthropist whose beauty products empire led her to become the first self-made female millionaire (according to The Guinness Book of Records). Born Sarah Breedlove on December 23, 1867 according to her passport.[1], she was the daughter and fifth child of former slaves and lived a childhood touched by poverty and despair. In 1878 she lost her parents to yellow fever, forcing her and her sisters to move to Vicksburg. Upon arriving in Vicksburg, they took on jobs as maids.

When Sarah was fourteen she married Moses McWilliams. They had Leilia together. She became a widow at the age of 20, and quickly remarried a gentleman by the name of John Davis in St. Louis, Missouri. [2] When their relationship failed, she married for a third time to Charles Joseph Walker and changed her name to "Madam C.J. Walker".

Madam Walker went through many obstacles in her life but managed to become a successful woman entrepreneur - founding the Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company to produce and sell hair care products and cosmetics. She states to have built her company on an actual dream she had where a large African-American man appeared and gave her a formula for curing baldness. With the help of her husband Charles Walker [3] and daughter Lelia Walker, Madam C.J. Walker initially sold her products door-to-door; later moving her operations from St. Louis to a new industrial complex in Indianapolis.

Madam C.J. Walker died at her home at the age of 51 on Sunday, May 25, 1919 from complications of hypertension (high blood pressure). She is buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Bronx, Bronx County, New York.[4]

When she died, she was considered to be the wealthiest African-American woman in America. She was the first self-made millionaire woman in the United States. [5]

Her daughter Lelia succeeded her as president of the C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company.

Madam C.J. Walker's strength and lasting legacy has inspired many African-American women to enter the business world.

"Don't sit down and wait for the opportunities to come; you have to get up and make them." -Madam C.J. Walker


  1. "United States Passport Applications, 1795-1925," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 16 March 2018), Sarah Walker, 1913; citing Passport Application, Indiana, United States, source certificate #17661, Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 - March 31, 1925, 1020, NARA microfilm publications M1490 and M1372 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  2. "United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 20 February 2019), Sarah Davis in household of John Davis, Precinct 4 St. Louis city Ward 14, St. Louis, Missouri, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 215, sheet 7A, family 109, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,240,895.
  3. "United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 25 February 2019), Sarah Walker in household of Chas J Walker, Indianapolis Ward 5, Marion, Indiana, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 98, sheet 3B, family 65, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 367; FHL microfilm 1,374,380.
  4. Find a Grave, database and images (accessed 24 October 2020), memorial page for Madam C.J. Walker (23 Dec 1867–25 May 1919), Find A Grave: Memorial #18239, citing Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, Bronx County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave.

See Also:

  • "Wealthiest Negress in World Succumbs," The Pittsburgh Press, 26 May 1919, page 5.
  • Doyle, Eva M., "Madam C.J. Walker -- America's first black woman self-made millionaire." Buffalo News, Sunday, February 10, 2019, page H2.

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Memories: 2
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"I got myself a start by giving myself a start." Madam C.J. Walker
posted 2 Nov 2009 by Madam C. J. (Breedlove) Walker

Madam C.J. Walker's story has always deserved an expansive loom on which to weave the threads of her legendary life with the broad themes and major events of American history. Quoted from On Her Own Ground [novel]

posted 30 Oct 2009 by Madam C. J. (Breedlove) Walker
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