The one book on Lizzie Borden that most everyone interested in the case has read is Victoria Lincoln’s A Private Disgrace, Lizzie Borden by Daylight, published in 1967. No other book to date captures the feel and texture of that time in Fall River’s “highly stratified society” as well as in this book. Victoria had her thumb on the pulse of that society and, as proved out by her diaries and journals, a keen insight into the underbelly of what made Fall River’s Lizzie Borden.
On my recent visit to Fall River I met up with Victoria’s second daughter, Louise Lowe Kittredge for a pre-arranged luncheon at Chow Chow City restaurant (where you can get Dim-Sum at 3:00 in the morning!) in Boston’s Chinatown. Afterwards, we went to her home in Newton, MA to look through her mother’s written remembrances that had not been donated with her massive papers to the Eisenhower Library at John Hopkins University.
At the China Gate in Boston’s Chinatown with Louise Lowe Kittredge
Fantastic little bakery in Chinatown
They also had wonderful dim sum to-go!
Part of the journals, diaries and photographs Louise brought out for me to look at and read.
Victoria Endicott Lincoln Watts Lowe, known as Victoria Lincoln Lowe has been somewhat maligned by what I refer to as “Google researchers” because some content in her book is based on best guesses from her own experience and not documented fact. Other assertions, such as the petite mal epilepsy theory, i.e., that Lizzie committed her stepmother’s murder during a “brownout”, and the second to prevent her father from finding her out have also been criticized. But such conjectures and theorizing are no less apparent in many other books with hooks on this case. A Private Disgrace, however, was the work of a woman who did old fashioned research without the advent of the internet. She went to libraries, took notes, interviewed people, and acquired copies of first generation source documents. Plus she was only a generation behind Lizzie, knew her and had relations who knew her and wrote of her.
After reviewing Victoria Lincoln’s diaries and the journals of her grandfather, Leontine Lincoln, I understand her better and have acquired a much deeper meaning and insight into much of what she wrote. More importantly, I learned new information that supported what she wrote, which will be saved for my own book. Leontine Lincoln’s 1909 journal was of particular interest.
With Louise showing me what her mother wrote about Fall River society when she was a young girl during Lizzie’s time.
The following slide show includes photographs of Victoria as she grew up near “Maplecroft” on French Street where Lizzie lived. Her beloved Grandfather, Leontine, is also shown. Also included a rare photograph of Louise with Isaac Watkins, her first husband. I thank Louise Kittredge for giving me these photographs and allowing me their use.