Let us remember:
“It was a horrible crime. It was an impossible crime. And yet it happened.”
-Hosea Knowlton, District Attorney
-As we approach yet another onslaught of redundant “On this date” media mentions and website word-smithing concerning America’s 115 year old classic unsolved crime, here’s an extract from my work-in-progress Timeline.
The What is a given. The Who and the How badger our brains for a solution. Well, for some anyway. For me, it’s less a Who-dunnit than a How-dunnit. But let us examine this resource for the When of things.
It should first be mentioned that times given are based on various testimonies taken from the Fall River Police Witness Statements, Coroner’s Inquest, Preliminary Hearing and Superior Court Trial and are approximated as close as possible. It is nearly impossible to construct an absolutely correct Timeline for the following reasons:
1. Witnesses often changed their statements among any two or more of the above cited source documents and, having forgotten or realized their times were off, may have knowingly changed their testimony in order to be more credible.
2. Clocks and watches were not all in sync, and not all testified as to how they fixed the time.
3. Witnesses often drew their recollection of the time based on their routine daily schedules which cannot be precise day-to-day.
Conflicting testimonies from the same witness are sometimes shown and cited here. It is important to realize that there are three – and only three – times that definitively establish the window of opportunity for Andrew’s murder, the explosive first knowledge of the crime and subsequent entry into the house by “outsiders”. These 3 times are :
1. Bridget hearing the City Hall clock strike 11:00.
2. Officer Allen noting the time as 11:15 when City Marshal Hilliard received the call.
3. The 11:32 am time-stamp on the telegram Dr. Bowen sent to Emma.
All others are at the least conjecture in comparison, or at the most best-guess estimates – much like the following:
AUGUST 3, 1892
THE DAY BEFORE THE MURDERS:
8:00 am Abby goes to see Dr. Bowen & tells him she fears she’s been poisoned. 9:00-10:00 Dr. Bowen gos to check on the Bordens notices Lizzie rushing up the stairs. Bowen is rebuked by Andrew for his unsolicited professional call.
10:00-11:30 am Lizzie visits Smith’s pharmacy on Main & Columbia Street & attempts to buy prussic acid from pharmacist Eli Bence. (PH310)
12:00 Noon Lizzie joins Andrew and Abby for the supper in the dining room.
12:35 am Uncle John Vinnicum Morse takes the train from New Bedford to Fall River. (CI98)
1:30 pm Morse walks from the train station to the Borden house.
2:00-4:00 pm John Morse and Andrew talk in Sitting Room; Lizzie hears their conversation. (TT141)
4:00 pm John Morse hires horse and wagon at Kirby’s Stable and drives to Swansea in late afternoon. (CI 99)
7:00 pm Lizzie visits Alice Russell with telling her she’s afraid “something will happen”.
8:45 pm Morse returns from Swansea, talks in sitting room with Andrew and Abby. (CI99)
9:00 pm Lizzie returns from Alice Russell’s, enters and locks the front door and goes immediately up to her room without speaking to her father or uncle.
9:15 pm Abby Borden retires to bed.
10:00 pm Andrew and Morse retire to bed.
AUGUST 4, 1892
THE DAY OF THE MURDERS:
6:15 am Bridget goes downstairs, gets coal and wood in cellar to start fire in kitchen stove, and takes in milk.
6:20 am Morse goes downstairs to Sitting Room.
6:30 am Abby comes downstairs, gives orders for breakfast to Bridget
6:40-6:50 am Andrew goes downstairs, empties slops, picks up pears and goes to barn.
6:45 am Bridget opens side (back) door for iceman.
7:00 am Bordens and Morse have breakfast in Dining Room. (Lizzie is still upstairs).
7:15 am Bridget sees Morse for first time at breakfast table.
7:30 am Bridget eats her breakfast, and then clears dishes.
7:45-8:45 Morse and Andrew talk in Sitting Room; Abby sits with them a short while before beginning to dust.
8:30 am Morse sees Abby go into the front hall.
8:45 am Andrew lets Morse out side door, invites him back for dinner.
8:45 am Morse leaves for Post Office and then to visit niece at Daniel Emery’s #4 Weybosset Street.
8:45-9:00 am Andrew goes back upstairs and returns wearing collar and tie, goes to sitting room
8:45-9:00 am Abby tells Bridget to wash windows, inside and out.
8:45-8:50 am Lizzie comes down and enters kitchen
8:45-9:00 am Bridget goes outside to vomit.
9:00 am Andrew leaves the house.
9:00 am Bridget returns, does not see Lizzie, sees Abby dusting in dining room, does not see Andrew.
9:00 am Abby goes up to guest room.
9:00-9:30 am Bridget cleans away breakfast dishes in kitchen.
9:30-10:00 am Abby Borden dies from blows to the head with a sharp instrument.
9:30 am Abraham G. Hart, Treasurer of Union Savings Bank, talks to Andrew at Bank.
9:30 am Morse arrives at #4 Weybosset Street to visit his niece and nephew.
9:30 am Bridget gets brush from cellar for washing windows
9:30 am Lizzie appears at back door as Bridget goes towards barn; Bridget tells Lizzie she need not lock door.
9:30-10:05 Andrew visits banks.
9:45 am John P. Burrill, Cashier, talks to Andrew at National Union Bank.
9:40 am Morse arrives at the Emery’s on Weybosset Street.
9:50-10:00 am AJB deposits Troy Mill check with Everett Cook at First Nat’l Bank; talks with William. Carr. (WS29)
9:30-10:20 am Bridget washes outside windows, stops to talk to “Kelly girl” at south side fence.
10:00-10:30 am Mrs. Churchill sees Bridget outside washing NE windows. 10:15-10:30 am Andrew stops to talk to Jonathan Clegg, picks up old lock; Southard Miller (at Whitehead’s Market) sees AJB turn onto Spring St; Mary Gallagher sees AJB at corner of South Main & Spring with a small package in his hand (WS10); Lizzie Gray sees AJB turning north on Second Street. (WS10, 43)
10:20 am Bridget re-enters house from side door, commences to wash inside windows.
10:29 am Jonathan Clegg (fixed time by City Hall clock) stated Andrew left his shop heading home. (TT173)
10:30-10:45 Joseph Shortsleves& James Mather finish talking with Andrew on Main St. as he heads towards Spring Street. (WS10)
10:30-10:40 am Joseph Shortsleeves sees Andrew.
10:40 am James Mather sees Andrew leave shop (fixes time by City Hall clock)
10:40 am Mrs. Kelly observes Andrew going to his front door.
10:40 am Andrew Borden can’t get in side door, fumbles with key at front door, and let in by Bridget
10:40 am Bridget hears Lizzie laugh on the stairs as she says “pshaw” fumbling with inside triple locks.
10:40 am Bridget sees Lizzie go into Dining Room and speak “low” to her father.
10:40-10:43 am Andrew goes upstairs to his bedroom and returns in a few minutes, going to Sitting Room sofa.
10:45 am Mary Chase, residing over Wade’s store, sees man on Borden fence taking pears. (WS45)
10:45-10:55 am Lizzie puts ironing board on dining room table as Bridget finishes last window in the dining room
10:45-10:55 am Lizzie asks Bridget in kitchen if she’s going out, tells her of note to Abby & sale at Sargeants.
10:50-10:55 Mark Chase observes man with open buggy parked just beyond tree in front of Borden house.
10:55-10:58 am Bridget goes up to her room in attic and lies down on her bed. (WS3)
10:55-11:00 am Andrew Borden dies from blows to the head with a sharp instrument.
11:00 am Addie Churchill leaves her house for Hudner’s grocery store on South Main. (WS8)
11:00 am Bridget hears City Hall clock chime 11:00.
11:05-11:10 am Hyman Lubinsky, peddling ice cream, drives his horse cart past the Borden house. (TT1423)
11:05-11:10 William Sullivan, clerk at Hudner’s Market notes Mrs. Churchill leaving the store. (WS10)
11:10 am Lizzie hollers to Bridget to come down, “Someone has killed father”. (TT244)
11:10-11:12 am Lizzie sends Bridget to get Dr. Bowen. (TT245)
11:10-11:13 am Bridget rushes back across the street from Bowen’s, tells Lizzie he’s not at home. (TT245)
11:10-11:13 am Lizzie asks Bridget if she knows where Alice Russell lives and tells her to go get her. (TT245)
11:10-11:13 am Bridget grabs her hat & shawl from kitchen entry way and rushes to Alice Russell’s. (TT245)
11:10-11:13 am Mrs. Churchill observes Bridget crossing street, notices a distressed Lizzie and calls out to Lizzie who says “someone’s killed father’. (PH281-282) 11:10-11:13 am Mrs. John Gormely says Mrs. Churchill runs through her house yelling “Mr. Borden is murdered!” (WS9)
11:10-11:12 am Mrs. Churchill goes to side door of Borden house, speaks briefly to Lizzie then crosses street looking for a doctor. (PH283)
11:12-11:14 am John Cunningham sees Mrs. Churchill talking to others then uses phone at Gorman’s paint shop to call Police.
11:15 am Marshall Hilliard receives call from news dealer Cunningham about disturbance at Borden house.
11:15 am Marshall Hilliard orders Officer Allen to go to Borden house. (Allen notes exact time on office wall clock).
11:16 – 11:20 am Mrs. Churchill returns from giving the alarm. (PH284)
11:16 – 11:20 am Dr. Bowen pulls up in his carriage, met by his wife, rushes over to Borden’s. (PH 273)
11:16-11:20 am John Cunningham checks outside cellar door in Borden back yard, finds it locked.
11:18-11:20 am Dr. Bowen sees Andrew, asks for sheet; alone with Lizzie for approx. one minute.
11:20 am Office Allen arrives and is met at door by Dr. Bowen. Sees Lizzie sitting alone at kitchen table.
11:20-11:21 am Allen sees Andrew’s body at same time Alice Russell and Mrs. Churchill come in. (Where was Bridget?)
11:20-11:22 am Allen checks front door and notes it bolted from inside, checks closets in dining room and kitchen.
11:20 am Morse departs Daniel Emery’s on Weybosset Street, takes a streetcar back to the Borden’s.
11-22-11:23 am Officer Allen leaves house to return to station, Bowen goes out with him. Allen has Sawyer guard back door.
11:23-11:25 am Dr. Bowen returns home, checks rail timetable, goes to telegram Emma, and stops at Baker’s Drug store. Telegram is time stamped at 11:32. (PH274)
11:25 am Off. Patrick Doherty, at Bedford & Second, notes City Hall clock time enroute to Station. (T589)
11:23-11:30 am Lizzie asks to check for Mrs. Borden; Bridget & Mrs. Churchill go upstairs, discover body. (PH29-30)
11:35 George Petty, former resident of 92 Second Street, enters the house with Dr. Bowen. (WSp21)
11:40 am Bowen returns to Borden house. Churchill tells him they’ve discovered Abby upstairs. (TT322)
11:34 am Bridget fetches Doctor Bowen’s wife, Phoebe. (T250)
11:35-11:40 am Officer Patrick Doherty & Deputy Sheriff Wixon arrive at house, see Manning sitting on steps, met at backdoor by Dr. Bowen, who lets them in. (T447)
11:35-11:40 am Francis Wixon and Dr. Bowen check Andrew’s pockets and remove watch.
11:35-11:40 Officer Doherty questions Lizzie who tells him she heard a “scraping” noise.
11:35-11:40 am Officer Doherty views Abby’s body with Dr. Bowen, pulls bed out to view her better. (PH330)
11:35-11:45 am Morse arrives at Borden house, first going to back yard.
11:39-11:40 am Officer Medley arrives at 92 Second Street. (T686)
11:40-11:45 am Doherty runs to Undertaker Gorman’s shop around corner and phones Marshall Hilliard. (PH331)
11:45 am Doherty returns; Officers Mullaly, Allen, Denny, and Medley arrive.
11:45 am Dr. Dolan arrives, sees bodies.
11:45 am Morse walks thru side gate, talks to Sawyer at side door, (later testifies he heard of murders from Bridget.)
11:45-11:50 am Morse sees Andrew’s body, then goes upstairs and sees Abby’s body.
11:50 am Morse speaks to Lizzie as she lays on lounge in dining room.
11:50-11:55 Lizzie goes up to her room.
11:55 am Asst. Marshall Fleet arrives; sees bodies; talks to Lizzie in her room w/Rev. Buck, says “…she’s not my mother, she’s my stepmother” (PH354)
11:55 am Morse goes out to back yard and stays outside most of the afternoon.
11:50 am -Noon Deputy Sheriff Wixon climbs back fence cutting his hand, and talks to workmen sawing wood in Chagnon yard. (TT452)
11:50-Noon Doherty, Fleet and Medley accompany Bridget to cellar where she shows them a handless hatchet in a box on a shelf.
12:15-12:20 pm Officer Harrington arrives at the Borden house. (WS6)
12:25 pm Officer Harrington interviews Lizzie in her bedroom (she wears pink wrapper). (WS6)
12:45 pm Marshall Hillliard & Officers Doherty & Connors drive carriage to Andrew’s upper farm in Swansea.
3:00 pm Bodies are photographed by Walsh. (PH160)
3:30 pm Crime scene photographs are taken of Andrew & Abby.
3:40 pm Emma leaves on New Bedford train for Weir Junction to return to Fall River. (CI107)
4:00 pm Stomachs of Andrew and Abby removed and sealed by Dr. Dolan.
5:00 pm Emma returns from Fairhaven and arrives at the Borden house. (TT1550)
5:00-5:30 pm State Detective George F. Seaver arrives from Taunton. (PH453)
5:30 pm Dr. Dolan “delivers” bodies of Andrew and Abby to Undertaker James Winward. (PH388)
6:00 pm Alice leaves 92 Second Street to return home for supper. (CI149)
8:45 pm Officer Joseph Hyde, observing from a northwest outside window, sees Lizzie & Alice go down cellar.
9:00 pm Officer Hyde observes Lizzie return to cellar by herself.
1. 100 Years of The Boston Globe. Louis M. Lyons. 1971
2. A Fall River Incident, Jno. Gilmer Speed, 1895.
3. Constant Turmoil-Politics of Industrial Life in 19th Century. New England. Mary H. Blewett. 2000.
4. The Democrat & Chronicle Newspaper, Rochester, New York
5. Description and Biographical Record of Bristol County, MA. Hon. Alanson Borden. 1899.
6. Fall River – A Pictorial History. Judith A. Boss. 1982.
7. Fall River and Its Industries. Frederick M. Peck and Henry H. Earl. 1877.
8. Famous Front Pages from The Boston Globe, 1982-1972
9. History of Fall River, Massachusetts, Henry M. Fenner. Fall River Merchants Association, 1911.
10. Inquest Upon the Deaths of Andrew J. and Abby D. Borden, August 9 -11, 1892, Volume I and II. Fall River, MA: Fall River Historical Society
11. Lizzie Borden Murder Case Chronology. Neilson Caplain. Lizzie Borden Quarterly, Jan. & July 2001.
12. Lizzie Borden, Past & Present. Leonard Rebello. 1999.
13. LizzieBorden Sourcebook. David Kent and Robert A. Flynn. 1992.
14. Preliminary Hearing, Second District Court, Fall River. August 25-Sept. 1, 1892.
15. The Phillips History of Fall River, Fascicles I, II, and III. Arthur Sherman Phillips. 1941.
16. Trial Transcript (Commonwealth of Mass. vs. Lizzie Andrew Borden).
17. Victorian Vistas, Fall River 1865-1885. Philip T. Silvia, Jr. 1987.
18. Victorian Vistas, Fall River 1886-1900. Philip T. Silvia, Jr. 1988.
19. Victorian Vistas, Fall River 1901-1911. Philip T. Silvia, Jr. 1992.
20. Witness Statements (Fall River Police Department officer interview reports)
ASPI, II, III = The Phillips History of Fall River
AB = Arnold Brown
Beasley = David Beasley, McKee Rankin & Heyday of American Theatre
CI = Coroner’s Inquest
D-C = The Democrat & Chronicle Newspaper
DK = David Kent, Forty Whacks
ER = Edward Radin
ES = The Evening Standard (New Bedford)
Fenner = History of Fall River
FREN = Fall River Evening News
FRHN = Fall River Herald News
FRI = A Fall River Incident
HBW = Borden Genealogy, Hattie Borden Weld
KP = Knowlton Papers
KPC = Knowlton-Pearson Correspondence
LR = Leonard Rebello, Lizzie Borden Past and Present
NYT = New York Times
OG = Oak Grove (taken from Headstones)
PH = Preliminary Hearing
TT = Superior Court Trial Transcript
VL = Victoria Lincoln, A Private Disgrace
VVI = Victorian Vistas, Volume I
VVII = Victorian Vistas, Volume II
VVIII = Victorian Vistas, Volume III
WP = Washington Post
WS = Witness Statements
Faye Musselman©1998 All Rights Reserved