From the Spectator comes this series on Lewis “Pete” Peterson’s remembrances of Lizzie Borden. Extracts only, but included is the rare photo of John Morse which I don’t believe appears anywhere else except in these articles written by Linda Andrade Rodrigues 1996 & 1997. We are indebted to “Pete” for the information conveyed in these articles. Here’s a picture of him from an earlier blog entry.
Much of the information contained here were the seedlings that Arnold Brown so insideously morphed into his book, Lizzie Borden, The Final Chapter. Pete married Ellan Eagan’s grandaughter so much of what “she said”-”he said”. The content in these articles, however, is important because it gives us further glimpses into Lizzie Borden, such as her continued attendance at Central Congregational Church after her acquittal, thus disputing what has been a “Lizzie Legend”, i.e. that once shunned upon her return to Church she never went back again. Florence Brigham (Curator Emeritus of the Fall River Historical Society) had written to me many years previous to these articles that Lizzie had, in fact, attended CCC and related information of those who told her about it. Several years later, through these articles, I was seeing it publically published.
I recommend a cautionary approach in reading these articles. For example, the friendship connection between Ellan Eagan and the Borden’s maid, Bridget Sullivan. I think Ellan made up a lot of stuff – good story telling that she enjoyed and embellished over the years….something her own son-in-law, Henry Hawthorne, did as well. For example, he says Ellan says the police contacted her 5 times and said she was going to be a key witness….humbug. Ellan’s questioning by the Fall River Police at the time of the murders was swift and dismissive. Dear Ellan was never called, let alone considered, a witness for the prosecution OR the defense.
I doubt Bridget and Ellan Eagan corresponded for nine years after Bridget moved to Montana. Where are those letters, eh? Besides, Bridget was supposedly illiterate.
In another section of this series (not scanned here), Peterson relates how Lizzie was buried at night and that his parents went to her service the following day. Really? It’s true Lizzie was buried at night but her “service” was completely private, almost secretive. I’ve yet to find it in print anywhere else that these people, let alone anyone else attended any such service. We know Vida Turner came and sang the evening Lizzie died and was quickly ushered out and cautioned not to speak of it. And yet Peterson asserts his parents were there – “the next day”.
And here’s the photo of Uncle John Vinnicum Morse. Too bad the article didn’t cite where it came from.
I think it highly unlikely Bridget was a friend of Ellan Eagan. There is no supporting documentation to this assertion other than this article.
Arnold Brown’s book was published in late 1991 and was quite the talk at the 1992 Conference. I was swept up in this vast conspiracy theory for a while until this 3-part series came out in The Spectator. Further research led me to the conclusion that Arnold Brown embellished upon embellishments, but he wrote in such a convincing way that the less informed would give it undue credibility.
So in The Spectator Series, we see some of the pictures Brown used in his book, including that of William S. Borden. And we learn what may be some truths but we’re served up a whole swagbag of minformation based on myth bred on embellishments and presented by someone whom I think, swallowed it hook, line and sinker. And we know about sinkers, don’t we? ;)