It’s December 7th – the date my mother turned 13 in 1941. She lived in Honolulu and this is her story.
Here is the Trailer to a new documentary by Chris and Allison Ritter.
Musings, reflections and sharing on this enduring fascination. copyright 2007
December 7, 2013
It’s December 7th – the date my mother turned 13 in 1941. She lived in Honolulu and this is her story.
Here is the Trailer to a new documentary by Chris and Allison Ritter.
December 6, 2013
If you get Google Alerts on Lizzie Borden, you’ve known for a long time that the Lifetime Movie Channel is doing a movie of our endearing Lizzie and the most mystifying, classic unsolved murder case. You would also know that filming and post production has concluded and it is scheduled to be broadcast on January 25th, 2014. But I post this here for those of you who may NOT know.
I predict the airing, and undoubtedly repeat airings, of this production will serve to perpetuate so many myths and untruths about Miss Borden and the case in general. I’ll tell you why:
1. In the first place, Lizzie was 32 at the time, not a “young girl”.
2. The murder weapon was a hatchet, not an axe.
3. The production company and research people did little to no in-depth research, as is usually the case with these formulated productions.
4. None of the cast members, ( including Christina Ricci), production crew, or director even bothered to visit the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast to get a sense of what was then a territorial layout between the sisters on the one hand and the father and stepmother on the other.
5. The LMC’s productions appeal to a target market that has an interest in “love gone wrong” kind of shows and have become noteworthy in cable news and social networking sites when trending. They have a pool of production companies and directors, none of whom are “A”-listers.
6. Budgets are tight, on “short shoot” schedules, and often sacrifice authenticity for cost effectiveness.
7. Christina Ricci playing Lizzie would be a good fit if Justin Bieber were playing Andrew Borden.
Nope, I’ll say it here and now: This will NOT be a movie that captures the depth and texture of the case, Fall River, and Lizzie herself. Just as Elizabeth Montgomery’s looks and performance is burned into the minds of a viewers from a generation ago, Ricci and the LMC will permanently embed its story into the minds of a newer – and younger – generation.
The mass of viewers (who are not Borden case afficionados) will forever believe Lizzie Borden was a young, psychopathic girl who wielded a bloody axe to do her daddy and stepmother in. Thus, the iconic one dimensional Lizzie Borden will remain.
November 10, 2013
Time Portals, TV, Theatre & Film, Urban Legends in the Lizzie Borden Case criminal psychology, jfk assassination; fall river, kennedy assasination; criminal profiling; fall river, lee harvey oswald, legend of lizzie borden; hatchet murders, Lizzie Borden, unsolved murders Leave a comment
Lizzie and Lee have become icons of unsolved murders. “Made for t.v.” movies and several documentaries have been filmed about their cases. Both have been psychologically dissected, studied and debated in schools, on the web, and at various conference and lecture venues.
The “sealed” files of certain documents of the House Committee on Assassinations parallels to the yet unrevealed Robinson files.
Looking at their background and character traits, even the most shallow analysis will yield that:
The further we get in time from these two infamous crimes, the more outlandish and implausible are the theories set forth.
Although perhaps not as they intended, Lizzie and Lee did achieve recognition and acceptance: Recognition by others of who they were, and Acceptance by others of their place in history.
November 6, 2013
Lizzie Borden died on June 1, 1927. Her highly publicized Will was probated for six years. We learn much from those probate proceedings. For example, Undertaker Winward charged $696.70 for her funeral arrangements. We learn that Lizzie’s two cars, which were not listed among her bequests, were subsequently given away to her chauffeur, Ernest A. Terry, and business manager, Charles C. Cook as assigned assets disposed of in the 4th and Final Probate Accounting.
Conformed Copy of the original of Lizzie Borden’s Last Will and Testament.
(Right click images for better viewing)
There were 4 Probate Hearings as follows:
|1st Accounting||June 24, 1927 -May 1, 1929||October 2, 1931(Fall River)|
|2nd Accounting||May 2, 1929 -Jan. 1, 1932||February 17, 1933(Taunton)|
|3rd (Substituted)Accounting||Jan.1, 1932 -Nov. 28, 1932||February 17, 1933(Taunton)|
|4th FinalAccounting||Nov. 28, 1932 -March 3, 1933||March 24, 1933(Attleboro)|
Conformed Copy of the original probate documents as filed with the probate court in Fall River.
As executor of Lizzie’s Will, Charles C. Cook had listed his services at $10,000. That was reduced to $5,000. There was also the initially unreported sale of the Henry house (for $10,000 on April 14, 1928) adjacent to Lizzie’s that was contested by the primary “human” heirs, Grace Hartley Howe and Helen Leighton. As if the money and the “so called Baker lot” were not enough, Mr. Cook ended up with the car below. He had served Andrew Borden in his business interests and then Lizzie and her sister for the past 35 years. He had earned Lizzie’s respect and gratitude for his loyalty and discretions. Perhaps, like Lizzie, Charles had his own sense of entitlement.
The vehicles pictured below are for illustrative purposes and not the actual cars.
1923 Lincoln Sedan went to Charles C. Cook.
Charles C. Cook was born March 28, 1854, and died on September 28, 1934, only 18 months after the final probating of Lizzie’s Will.
1924 Buick Sedan went to Ernest A. Terry
Ernest A. Terry was born January 26, 1886, and died October 11, 1955.
Both these cars would have been garaged in the special structure Lizzie had built for her first automobile in 1913. It still stands on French Street but is used for storage. Robert Dube, owner of “Maplecroft” tells me that when originally constructed there was only the center doors. The doors on both ends were added years later. Dube showed me the original drawings.
Rear of Maplecroft showing the area behind the Swift residence to the right. This shows the pathway on which Lizzie wanted to have a driveway built to her garage with it facing towards Belmont Street. Due to restrictions set forth in the sale at the time, she was not able to build where she wanted.
Besides Ernest and Charles and the cars – both Grace and Helen gained from the “residuals” of the estate. In addition to the furniture, carpets, books, jewelry, silver, glassware, etc., they were given cash payouts earned from interest on properties and stock dividends earned since Lizzie’s death to the final accounting – a period of 6 years. Grace was in Fall River on March 3, 1933 to sign (along with Helen Leighton) the Fourth and Final Accounting of the Probate of Lizzie’s Will, wherein they both received $6,000. That was a chunk of change to receive in the middle of the Depression.
The very next day Grace Hartley Howe, cousin to Lizzie Borden and wife of the private secretary and chief political strategist to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was in Washington, D.C. for the inauguaration of the President of the United States of America. She and Hartley took the train.
Why she and Helen chose not to keep these cars is a puzzlement to me.
October 17, 2013
92 Second Street-Then & Now, Books - Good & Not So Good, Fall River Historical Society 92 Second Street, Abby Borden, Andrew Borden, dennis binette, Fall River Historical Society, Lizzie Borden, Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast, michael martins, Parallel Lives, unsolved classic crimes, unsolved crimes Leave a comment
This excellent video produced by the Fall River Historical Society bears repeat posting. The clarity of the crime scene photographs and others are because they were taken from first generation photos taken at the time of the early murder investigation on August 4, 1892. At the beginning part of the video we hear Lizzie’s words written while in the Taunton Jail…based on an actual letter acquired by the FRHS while developing their massive, award winning book Parallel Lives – A Social History of Lizzie A. Borden and Her Fall River.
While the video was produced to promote the Society, Parallel Lives, and its collection during the peak visitor period – August – it is well worth watching because whatever the FRHS does, it is always of the highest quality. Michael Martins and Dennis Binette are your tour guides. Enjoy.
October 15, 2013
I just can’t make the mental leap, but I’m glad The House gets the publicity!
October 13, 2013
I’ll try to do this everyday. Simple, little stuff. Sometimes longer, bigger stuff. Sometimes in-depth, impactful stuff.
So let us begin……….
“The jurors in the Lizzie Borden Trial were mostly farmers.”
No, they were not,. Out of the 12 jurors, only four (4) were actually farmers:
George Potter, 55, from Westport; William F. Dean, 50, from Taunton; Wiliam Westcot, 45, Seekonk; and John Wilbur, 58, Somerset.
The other 9 were: Charles L. Richards (foreman), 55, North Attleboro – real estate business; Frederic C. Wilbar, 38, Raynham – journeyman carpenter; Lemuel K. Wilber, 45, Easton – owner of large garden shop; Frank G. Cole, 40, Attleboro – jeweler; John C. Finn, 35, Taunton – painter & member of City Council; Allen H. Wardell, 45, Dartmouth – farm tools salesman; Louis B. Hodges, 59, Taunton – iron moulder; and Augustus Swift 50, New Bedford – President of the Acushnet Iron Company.
Numerous books, articles, documentaries, and lecturers have stated the jury was made up of mostly farmers. MYTH,
Source: Fall River Daily Herald, June 6, 1893, page 7.
September 10, 2013
(Reposted from June 2011)
I believe it was the article below that first gave us information that Lizzie went to Chicago as a young girl. It would be her first venturing outside of Fall River until she was a grown woman. (She would return to Chicago after her “great ordeal” for the 1893 World’s Fair). Although her age at the time is not given, it strikes me likely Andrew would have made the trip to visit the Morse relatives and introduce his new wife, Abby.
This article gives us other glimpses into Lizzie, reportedly coming from her friends. Some of these sentiments were echoed decades later by her supporters during her “Great Ordeal” and even after her death. Point is: there’s a theme here – of Lizzie’s characteristics of dignity, reserved deportment, kindness, modesty of manner, etc. These characteristics are made of her both prior to and after the crimes. Makes one think, doesn’t it, about that “haughty and domineering” personality given by her uncle, Hiram Harrington. Of course, people can act one way with their peers and another way within their own families. Here’s the article:
LIZZIE BORDEN Her School and Later Life – A Noble Woman, Though Retiring. FALL RIVER, Aug 6.-It is the men who have, since the murder, been accorded the space to talk to Lizzie A. Borden, the younger daughter, during the past few days. It is the gentlemen with whom she was acquainted who have given her character and her personality to the world since the public cared to know about her. None of her lady friends, the women who knew her, with whom she grew up, those with whom she has been associated day by day and year after year, have yet presented their Lizzie Borden. woman’s opinion of a woman is a consideration Lizzie Borden has not yet been allowed. Desiring to present this young woman as her friends have known her, to picture her as she daily appeared among women, the writer spent the greater part of the afternoon and evening in conversation with Lizzie’s friends. They talked of her life, of her inclinations, her interest in church work, her modesty of manner, unswerving sincerity, gentle forbearance and aspirations to be and to do all that is best and right in life. From the consensus of opinion it can well be said: In Lizzie Borden’s life there is not one unmaidenly nor a single deliberately unkind act. Lizzie Borden’s life is full of good works, kindly offices in the church and in the society of her friends. As Lizzie Borden appeared today, as she was stepping into the carriage to follow her parents remains to the cemetery, to the writer, who had never seen her before, it seemed as if she was well-deserving of the ecomiums of her friends and of the kind words which follow. She makes an exceedingly favorable impression and her dignity and her reserve are at once impressed. It was a trying ordeal to pass before the eyes of a crowd of 1500 morbidly curious spectators. She wore a tight fitting black lace dress with a plain skirt and waist of equally modest cut and finish, while a dark hat, trimmed with similar material, rested upon her head. Of medium height, she is possessed of a symmetrical figure with a retiring manner and a carriage which would dignifiedly repel the attention. Her Personal Charms might attract. A wealth of black hair is revealed under the hat which, arranged on top of her head, is trained about her forehead in short curls, parted in the centre and thrown over to the sides. Her dark, lustrous eyes, ordinarily flashing, were dimmed, and her pale face was evidence of the physical suffering she was undergoing and had experienced. To sum up, Miss Lizzie Borden, without a word from herself in her own defence, is a strong argument in her own favor. Although over 30 years old, it cannot be said that she looks it. In contradistinction from her sister, she looks as much as six years younger than she is as Emma L. Borden looks as many years older than she is. Lizzie was born in the old family homestead on Ferry St., in which her father has lived and his father before him. It is the same estate which the dead Andrew J. Borden deeded to the two girls in 1887. As a child she was of a very sensitive nature, inclined to be non-communicative with new acquaintances, and this characteristic has tenaciously clung to her all through life, and has been erroneously interpreted. Her sister, being older, was a constant guide and an idolized companion. An unusual circumstance is that of her practically having no choice of friends until she attained womanhood. At the usual age she was sent to the Morgan street school, embracing primary and grammar grades. Her school days were perhaps unlike most girls in this lack of affiliation with her fellow pupils. As a scholar she was not remarkable for brilliancy, but she was conscientious in her studies and with application always held a good rank in her class. She entered the high school when about 15 or 16 years old. It was then held in a wooden building on the corner of June and Locust Sts., which was removed when the present mammoth structure was presented to the city. Her life was uneventful during the few years following her leaving school. She abandoned her piano music lessons because, although making encouraging progress, she conceived the idea that she was not destined to become a good musician. If she could not excel in this accomplishment she did not wish to pursue the study, and so her friends heard her play thereafter but little. Her father and mother were religious and regular church attendants, and she has been surrounded by Christian Home influences. When a young girl, she accompanied her parents to Chicago and was there a member of the Sunday school class and punctual in attendance. She was, however, a girl with anything but an enthusiastic idea of her own personal attainments. She thought people were not favorably disposed toward her and that she made a poor impression. This conduced to the acceptance of this very opinion among church people, and consequently the young. woman was to some extent avoided by the young women of the church. There was a remarkable change in her some five years ago and at that time she first began to fraternize with church people. Then, of course, when she was thoroughly understood, when the obnoxiously retiring manner was dissipated and the responsive nature of the girl came to view, she became at once popular and then came the acquisition of the friends who today sound her praises.”
There are literally thousands of newspaper articles on the Borden case. Archived copies can be found with minimal search efforts. Even websites carry many of them – for example, these have been online for over a decade.
August 15, 2013
Talk about timing! Earlier this evening I posted about the first photos of Kim Kardashian walking and with her baby on my Facebook page.
Kim still gripping her designer bag.
Well, as luck would have it, I was just given a copy of the secret taping in the post delivery room soon after Kim gave birth to her baby girl. Here is a transcript:
Dr. Delivery: So, how are you feeling, Kim?
KK: How do you think? Look at me. I’m a mess.
DD: That’s to be expected. Actually, you look fine. Would you like to see your little baby daughter now?
KK: You’ve got to be kidding! Like this? Khloe, hand me my mirror……Oh….My…..God.
Kris Jenner: Oh honey, you don’t look bad. Really.
KK: Easy for you to say, you didn’t go through what I just did.
KJ: Uh, actually I did. Seven times.
KK: Look at my stomach! Doctor, can you prescribe something for me to make my stomach go flat?
DD: It will reduce faster if you breastfeed.
KK: Breastfeed??? No way. Khloe hand me my lipstick.
Kourtney Kardashian: Kim, you don’t want to put on lipstick – you’ll get it all over the baby.
KK: Not if I don’t kiss her, I won’t. I’ll just pat her on the head and hug her, right honey?
Kanye West: (standing in a corner of the room, head down) Don’t look at me. Don’t even talk to me.
KK: Doctor, I am so stressed. I absolutely have to get my weight back to at least ten pounds LESS than I was before I got pregnant,. I can’t be photographed until I look amazing.
Bruce Jenner: I’ll design a work-out program for you.
Kris: Leave her alone, Bruce. I don’t even know why you’re here.
DD: I’ve sent the nurse for the baby, Kim. It will do your spirits good to see her.
KK: Doctor, I can not be seen in public until I look absolutely fabulous. I want you to prescribe something that will accelerate my weight loss.
DD: As I’ve recommended, breast feed for ….well, just try it for 3 months.
Kourtney K: It worked for me.
KK: Well, I’m not you, am I? You don’t have the obligations and work load I have do you. Isn’t that right, honey (looks at Kanye).
Kanye: Why are you talking to me?
KK: Mom, have you found a Nanny yet? I’m not, repeat, I am not, going to be changing poop out of a diaper when I get home. I’m not, I’m not, I’m not. (Checks herself again in mirror).
Nurse: Here’s your little daughter.
KK: Wait. Kourtney, take this mirror. Khloe, take this lipstick. Mom, hand me a tissue.
Nurse hands Kim the baby. Kim puts tissue on top of baby’s head, bends her head down and purses her lips about 3 inches from baby’s head.
KK: There. Doctor, Don’t you think I’m doing a good job bonding? (smiles)
DD: Yes, ma’m. Absolutely. You’re the best mother I’ve seen all day. Well, I better go and start my rounds. Goodbye ladies, Bruce, Mr. West.
KW: (still in the corner, still looking down) Don’t talk to me.
KK: Here mom, you take her. I’m exhausted. Khloe, hand me my Blackberry.
August 15, 2013
Above and Below The Hill, Fall River Historical Society, Fall River History, Fall River, MA, Mills and Factories, TV, Theatre & Film Below the Hill, Fall River Historical Society, Lizzie Borden, VHS films on Fall River Leave a comment
From my eBay post this evening – runs for 7 days.
August 14, 2013
Recycled from 2011
Emma Borden, Lizzie’s sister, left most of her personal property to Orrin Gardner. He, in turn, gave much to his nephew, Hamilton, son of Orrin’s brother. Before we go further, please note I’ve written about the Gardners of Swansea many times and you should review these posts HERE and HERE.
The following images of letters and notes gives us a glimpse of what happened. Indeed, the recently discovered portraits of a young Andrew and young Sarah were donated to the Swansea Historical Society by Hamilton Gardner. (You’ll remember those portraits, possibly done at the time they were married – a true love match.)
You have to wonder if these portraits hung at Maplecroft and if Emma took them when she left Lizzie in 1905. Anyway….as to her other stuff, read these:
I sure would like to see that photo of Emma “with a girlfriend at church bazaar” Maybe it’ll be in Parallel Lives).
(Scanned documents from the Swansea Historical Society)
August 13, 2013
(Reposted from February 2011)
Here are some Fall River history and Lizzie Borden collectibles in various groupings. Serious Bordenia collectors will recognize all, if not most all, of the items shown.
I have been collecting for nearly 45 years, and now wish to rid myself of what I have in duplicate or have used for research and no longer need. I’ve already sent boxes of collectibles and rare items to the Fall River Historical Society over the past few years.
I’m too lazy to give full detail information on these items, but you can Google the titles. I guarantee you won’t find these assortments at these prices. :) Note: To order, email me at: email@example.com stating which numbered grouping(s) you want and I will give you mailing address.. All prices include media mail shipment. If you want priority, price will be higher. Personal checks or money orders only.
(1a) Below the Hill is a 1963 movie filmed entirely in Fall River, telling the story of an unemployed mill worker, a sexually frustrated wife, and their neighbors. Those who live in or have been to Fall River will recognize many of the sites. Includes program from a special showing through the Fall River Historical Society. (1b) History of the First Congregational Church of Fall River, MA, edited by Kenneth H. Champlin and published by Dr. Ira H. Rex. The book is autographed by both. 2003. (1c) Scrabbletown by Alice Brayton, gives a history of early Swansea focusing on the Brayton family. (1d) September 1938 Hurricane Pictures of Greater Fall River, published by the Fall River Herald News.
(2a) Central Congregational Church, Fall River, MA. published 1905 and the church to which Lizzie Borden belonged.. One of the writer/compilers of this 331 page book was Mrs.. Charles J. Holmes, a strong supporter of Lizzie during “the ordeal” of 1892-93. (2b) New England Sampler by Eleanor Early, 1940. Contains true murder and mystery stories of New England, including the Borden case. (2c) Lizzie Borden: Girl Detective by Richard Behrens, 2010. Well written fictional stories of Lizzie being a young sleuth in Fall River. Autographed. (2d) Lizbeth of Maplecroft, a play in two acts by Nick Pelino, Jr. This award winning play is quite imaginative and one of the better plays, IMHO, on the Borden case. 1996. (2e) Blood Relations and other plays by Sharon Pollock. This play received Literary Award for Drama in 1981 and is the play most produced.
Rare Fall River City Directories. From left to right: 1861, 1926, 1927, 1932, and 1864. Also includes The Fifty Most Amazing Crimes of the Last 100 Years, published 1936. Spines are loose on 2 of these books and completely separated on the 1861 directory.
(4a, b, c) Spinner, People and Culture in Southeastern, Ma. Volumes, I, II and V. (4d) Constant Turmoil – The Politics of Industrial Life in Nineteenth Century New England by Mary H. Blewett, 2000. A most excellent research tool, this book has an extensive section on the Bordens and the Borden case.
(5a) American Heritage, February/March 1978, includes 14 page article on the Borden case by Kathryn Allamong Jacob, with several photos, some half page in size. (5b, c, d, e, f) Five graphic novel books by premiere graphic artist Rick Geary: Jack the Ripper, The Mystery of Mary Rogers, The Bloody Benders, and Famous Players-Mysterious Death of William Desmond Taylor. 5g) The World’s Greatest Unsolved Crimes, compendium book.
(6a) The Justice Story – Murder, Mystery, Mayhem, edited by Joseph McNamara. includes chapter on Lizzie Borden. (6b) Solved and Unsolved Classic True Murder Cases, edited by Richard Glyn Jones, 1987. (6c) The Logic of Women on Trial-Case Studies of Popular American Trials, by Janice Schuetz, 1994. (6d) The Cases that Haunt Us, by John Douglas, 2000.
(7a) The Fine Art of Murder by Walter B. Gibson, contains chapter, The End of the Borden Case by Edmund Pearson. 236 pp, 1963. (7b) The Legend 100 Years After the Crime-A Conference on the Lizzie Borden Case – Proceedings, edited by Jules R. Ryckebusch, 1993. This book contains most all of the presentations given at the Conference held in Fall River, MA, August 3-5, 1992, including yours truly. (7c) New England Remembers Lizzie Borden by Karen Elizabeth Cheney, 80 pgs, 2003. (7d) What We Had, James Chace, 187 pgs, 1990. Author is descendent of one of the founding families of Fall River.
(8a) Working Class Community in Industrial America-Work, Leisure, and Struggle in Two Industrial Cities, 1880-1930, John T. Cumbler. 275 pgs, 1976. Excellent work gives the reader a real sense of the working class and conditions in Lynn and Fall River, MA. The bottom right of cover was due to my dog. Sorry. (8b) Gentleman of the Press-The Life and Times of an Early Reporter, Julian Ralph of the Sun, Paul Lancaster, 290 pgs, 1992. Julian Ralph was a popular reporter at the Borden Trial, favoring her. He had a remarkable career. (8c) Priscilla of Fall River, Roger Williams McAdam. 215 pgs, 1947. The Priscilla was one of the beautiful steamships that wen from Fall River to New York City. A lovely book, photos. (8d) Probably the best book on the death of Sarah Cornell is David Richard Kasserman’s Fall River Outrage-Life, Murder, and Justice in Early Industrial New England. Digs deep into the circumstances and evidence leading to the trial of the Reverend Avery. 260 pgs, 1986. (8e) The Lowell Offering, Benita Eisler, 218 pgs, 1977. Wonderful little book giving great insight into the women who worked the mills in Lowell, Mass., illustrated. (8f) The Cotton Industry, Chris Aspin, 32 pgs. This little booklet gives a general overview of the cotton industry – its rise and fall – as related to New England mills.
#9: $45.00 (four images)
Massachusetts of Today-A Memorial of the State, 1892. This is an historical and biographical book prepared especially for the World’s Columbian Exposition at Chicago, i.e. the 1983 World’s Fair. This book was sold at the Massachusetts Building at the Fair. It features prominent men from Fall River, some shown in these images (Mayor John Couglin & banker Charles Holmes). The front cover is completely separated from the spine and that’s why this highly coveted collectible is priced so low.
The Preliminary Hearing in the Lizzie Borden Case. Typed/created by yours truly. Comes in a 3-ring binder. You can also read this on my blog.
(11a) True Detective Cases from Police Files, June 1964. Contains 5 page article on Borden case, illustrated. (11b) Fall 1972 Liberty Magazine with the “Puritan Girl” article by Sidney Sutherland, illustrated. (11c) DVD – The History Channel’s The Strange Case of Lizzie Borden, new, still in wraps. (11d) DVD – New Faces of 1954 features Ronny Graham, Mel Brooks, Eartha Kit, Paul Lynde, etc. 98 mins. (11d) CD – Morton Gould’s Fall River Legend by the National Philharmonic Orchestra. New, still in wraps.
SALES ARE ON A FIRST COME/FIRST SERVED BASIS….SO IF YOU WANT TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THESE INCREDIBLE BARGAINS, EMAIL ME ASAP:
August 8, 2013
Fall River Historical Society, Fall River History, Urban Legends in the Lizzie Borden Case dennis binette, Fall River Historical Society, Lizzie Borden, Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast, michael martins, unsolved classic crimes, unsolved murders Leave a comment
I posted this piece over 3 years ago about Lizzie Borden being ingrained in the identity of Fall River and how she should be embraced by the city and its people. The Fall River Historical Society, through generous donations and a state grant, has taken a giant leap forward in this regard by creating an exciting 13 minute video promoting the FRHS.
This video is one of the best promo videos I’ve ever seen. Wonderful graphics, fast pace, great use of artifacts and artsy visuals. The first several minutes are all about the Lizzie Borden murders with great use of crime scene photographs and the (now) Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum. Curators Michael Martins and Dennis Binette speak about recent new findings – revelations – in the case and address certain artifacts debunking long standing myths about the murder and our Miss Lizzie. Makes you wanna jump up and go there.
Watch the video HERE.
July 30, 2013
Fall River History, Investigations & The Trial Abby Borden, Andrew Borden, andrew jennings, Central Congregational Church, classic crimes, dennis binette, Emma Borden, Fall River, Fall River Herald News, Fall River Historical Society, girl with the pansy pin, hatchet murders, John Morse, Lee-ann Wilber, Lizzie Borden, Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast, lizzie borden past and present, Maplecroft, michael brimbau, michael martins, Oak Grove Cemetery, shelley dziedzic, Stefani Koorey, unsolved classic crimes, unsolved crimes, unsolved murders 4 Comments
NEWS FLASH: Stefani Koorey wrote on her forum (regarding her partner’s new novel on Lizzie, “The Girl With the Pansy Pin” the following:
“To give you a brief history about Lizzie Borden novels, there are 3 full-length titles written since 1939 centered and structured around the actual Borden murders. It began with Marie Belloc Lowdes, LIZZIE BORDEN A STUDY IN CONJECTURE, published by Longmans, Green Co. Then, in 1984, Evan Hunter came out with his block-buster best seller LIZZIE, published by Arbor House. This was followed in 1991 by Elizabeth Engstrom’s LIZZIE BORDEN, published by Tom Doherty Associates Book. Now it’s the PearTree Press’s venture with, LIZZIE BORDEN, THE GIRL WITH THE PANSY PIN. “
She forgot to mention Walter Satherwait’s Miss Lizzie, which was originally published in 1989 – 24 years ago, and shown here in a Kirkus Review. I’ve had this book (autographed) for years. It has recently been reprinted for Kindle. I’m surprised Ms. Koorey missed this as it appeared in the same issue of the that featured her research on the Preliminary Hearing.
UPDATE: As I said, there will be many articles acknowledging the anniversary of these gruesome murders. Here is a sampling. Also news about the upcoming Lifetime Movie Channel presentation on the Trial starring Christina Ricci.
And this is the BEST.
And also this from the FRHN. Debbie Alard Dion has for many, many years been the go-to local reporter for writing all things Lizzie Borden as the stories develop. This is her (pretty much stock) annual recap. Depending upon what happens Sunday, August 4th at US embassies overseas, it may or may not be a slow news day, relegating Ms. Borden to page 2 in some local papers.
It’s almost that time of year when focus on Fall River, MA is dominated by Lizzie Borden and the unsolved hatchet murders of her father, Andrew, and her stepmother, Abby on August 4, 1892.
A regurgitation of media mentions, short site and sound bytes, videos of the “murder house” (a Bed & Breakfast Museum since 1996) accompanied by eerie music and bloody graphics, and the gratuitous recitation of that inaccurate quatrain, “Lizzie Borden took an axe, gave her father……” (please, don’t make me go any further) will surely play out on various TV channels throughout the country.
The Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum will be having its annual re-enactments which is always very entertaining and worth the price of a ticket. The Fall River Historical Society will have its special display of Lizzie Borden artifacts – another “must see” if you’re anywhere in the area during its exhibition. And of course the Andrew J. Borden burial plot at Oak Grove cemetery, as well as the high volume “drive-bys” in front of “Maplecroft” in the Highlands neighborhood of Fall River will thrill both newcomer and repeat OCD’r.
Also, it’s this time of year new books on Lizzie come out and this year it’s an attractively packaged fiction hardback by first time author, Michael Brimbau titled: The Girl With the Pansy Pin. Limited edition with color photographs (most all of which we’ve seen before) and its own slip case for a mere $85.00 (or the standard black and white paperback for $22). In my opinion, if you’re going to buy any book on Lizzie Borden – invest heavily right off the bat and get to know about the real Lizzie Borden and her Fall River. Buy THIS book: Parallel Lives. I’ve written about it myself several times HERE. Trust me. It should be your FIRST book if you haven’t read anything about her before.
In the upcoming days, TV’s will be saturated with all the WRONG information about the “notorious” Lizzie Borden, depicted as a maniacal, axe wielding psychopath. And the masses buy into it because they don’t bother reading the facts that are available in a multitude of books, let alone free access to online primary source documents such as the police “witness” statements, Coroner’s Inquest, and Preliminary Hearing. In fact, the Preliminary Hearing is available at this blog site.
So…. before you indulge yourself in the hash and rehash (pun intended) put down the bong and get a focus on what was going on in Lizzie’s Fall River and her life in general before, during and right after the crimes. Below is an extract from my “Lizzie Borden Historic Timeline” which is a comprehensive document focusing on local, U.S. and world events from1610 to 2010.
Let’s take a look specifically at what was going on starting just two weeks before the murders. The windows of time that the killings could have taken place for first Abby, and then Andrew, are shown in RED. The Timeline was developed over a number of years involving comprehensive study and analysis of the primary source documents mentioned above. (The more expanded Timeline book cites the sources).
Visualize the events at 92 Second Street in a different way – factual details that won’t be shown or reported on TV.
|July 18, 1892||Emma and Lizzie deed back house on Ferry Street to Andrew and receive $2,500 each.|
|July 19, 1892||Lizzie’s 32nd Birthday.|
|July 20, 1892||Grover Cleveland passes thru FR enroute to NYC for Democratic Convention.|
|July 20, 1892||Lizzie supposedly sees a stranger at the back door when she returns from being out that evening.|
|July 21, 1892||Lizzie & Emma leave Fall River; Emma stopping at Fairhaven to visit the Brownell’s.|
|July 21, 1892||Lizzie travels on to New Bedford, staying with Mrs. Poole and her daughter at 20 Madison Street.|
|July 23, 1892||Lizzie went on the street alone (New Bedford) to buy some dress goods gone from rooming house 30 minutes. (Did she buy a new hatchet?).
|July 25, 1892||AJB writes letter to Morse telling him to wait about getting a man to run his farm in Swansea.
|July 25, 1892||Lizzie visits the girls at Marion at Dr. Handy’s cottage.|
|July 25, 1892||FR Daily News reports on ladies (including Lizzie) vacationing in Marion.|
|July 26, 1892||Lizzie, Mrs. Poole & Mrs. Poole’s daughter ride to Westport to visit Mrs. Cyrus Tripp (Augusta, old schoolmate).|
|July 26, 1892||Lizzie takes train from Westport to New Bedford to connect with Fall River.|
|July 30, 1892||Fall River Board of Health reports 90 deaths due to extreme heat, 65 are children under age 5.|
|July 31, 1892||Bridget prepares first serving of the infamous mutton for Sunday supper.|
|August 2, 1892||Andrews tells associate there is “trouble” in the Borden household.|
|August 2, 1892||Swordfish is served for supper and served again warmed over for dinner.|
|August 2, 1892||Andrew and Abby vomit during the night.|
|August 3, 1892||
THE DAY BEFORE THE MURDERS
|8:00 am||Abby goes across street to Dr. Bowen; tells him she fears she’s been poisoned.|
|9:00 am approx||Dr. Bowen crosses street to check on the Bordens; Lizzie dashes upstairs; Andrew rebuffs his unsolicited visit.|
|10:00-11:30 am||Lizzie attempts to buy prussic acid from Eli Bence at Smith’s pharmacy on Columbia Street.|
|12:00 Noon||Lizzie joins Andrew and Abby for the noontime meal in the dining room.|
|12:35 am||Uncle John Vinnicum Morse leaves by train from New Bedford for Fall River.|
|1:30 pm||John Morse walks from train station & arrives at Borden house; Abby lets him in front door.|
|2:00-4:00 pm||John Morse and Andrew talk in Sitting Room; Lizzie hears their conversation.|
|4:00 pm||John Morse hires horse and wagon at Kirby’s Stable and drives to Swansea in late afternoon.|
|7:00 pm||Lizzie visits Alice Russell in the early evening, states her fear “something will happen”.|
|7:00-8:00 pm||John Morse visits Frederick Eddy at Borden farm in Swansea, brings back eggs.|
|8:45 pm||Morse returns from Swansea, talks in sitting room with Andrew and Abby.|
|9:00 pm||Lizzie returns from Alice Russell’s, locks front door, and goes upstairs to her room without speaking to father or uncle.|
|9:15 pm||Abby Borden retires to bed.|
|10:00 pm||Andrew and Morse retire for the night. Morse sleeps in the guest room next to Lizzie’s room.|
|August 4, 1892||
THE DAY OF THE MURDERS
(Note: Times given are based on various testimonies taken primarily from the Preliminary Hearing held August 25-September 1st, 1892, and are approximated as close as possible).
|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 the ice man.|
|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.|
|8:45-9:00 am||Morse leaves for Post Office and then to visit a niece and nephew 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.|
|9:00-10:00 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. (|
|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.|
|10:20 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.|
|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; Lizzie Gray sees AJB turning north on Second Street.|
|10:30-10:40 am||Joseph Shortsleeves sees Andrew.|
|10:40 am||James Mather sees Andrew leave shop|
|10:30-10:40 am||Mrs. Kelly observes Andrew going to his front door.|
|10:30-10:40 am||Andrew Borden can’t get in side door, fumbles with key at front door, and let in by Bridget.|
|10:30-10:40 am||Bridget hears Lizzie laugh on the stairs as she says “pshaw” fumbling with inside triple locks.|
|10:35-10:45 am||Bridget sees Lizzie go into dining room and speak “low” to her father.|
|10:45 am||Mark Chase, residing over Wade’s store, sees man on Borden fence taking pears.|
|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 Sargeant’s.|
|10:50-10:55||Mark Chase observes man with open buggy parked just beyond tree in front of Borden house.|
|August 4, 189210:55 am||Bridget goes upstairs to her room to lay down.|
|10:55–10:58 am||Bridget goes up to her room; lies down on her bed.|
|10:55-11:00 am||Andrew Borden dies from blows to the head with a sharp instrument.|
|11:00 am||Bridget hears City Hall clock chime 11:00.|
|11:05-11:10 am||Hyman Lubinsky drives his cart past the Borden house.|
|11:05-11:10||William Sullivan, clerk at Hudner’s Market notes Mrs. Churchill leaving the store.|
|11:10 am APPROX.||Lizzie hollers to Bridget to come down, “Someone has killed father”.|
|11:10-11:12 am||Lizzie sends Bridget to get Dr. Bowen.|
|11:10-11:13 am||Bridget rushes back across the street from Bowen’s, tells Lizzie he’s not at home.|
|11:10-11:13 am||Lizzie asks Bridget if she knows where Alice Russell lives and tells her to go get her.|
|11:10-11:13 am||Bridget grabs her hat & shawl from kitchen entry way and rushes to Alice Russell’s.|
|11:10-11:13 am||Mrs. Churchill observes Bridget crossing street, notices a distressed Lizzie and calls out to Lizzie who tells her “someone has murdered father.”|
|11:13 am||Mrs. John Gormely says Mrs. Churchill runs through her yelling “Mr. Borden is murdered!”|
|11:10-11:14 am||Mrs. Churchill goes to side door, speaks briefly to Lizzie, and then crosses street looking for a doctor.|
|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||Marshal Hilliard receives call from news dealer Cunningham about disturbance at Borden house.|
|11:15 am||Marshal 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.|
|11:16 – 11:20 am||Dr. Bowen pulls up in his carriage, met by his wife, rushes over to Borden’s.|
|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||Officer Allen arrives at Bordens, met at door by Dr. Bowen. Sees Lizzie sitting alone at kitchen table.|
|11:20–11:21 am||Allen sees Andrews’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.|
|11:23-11:33 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.|
|11:25 am||Off. Patrick Doherty, at Bedford & Second, notes City Hall clock time enroute to Station.|
|11:23-11:30 am||Lizzie asks to check for Mrs. Borden; Bridget & Mrs. Churchill go upstairs, discover body.|
|11:32 am||Officers Doherty & Wixon leaves police station for Borden house. Reporter Manning on rear steps, Sawyer inside at screen door. (Bridget in s/e corner near sink)|
|11:34 am||Bridget fetches Doctor Bowen’s wife, Phoebe.|
|11:35||George Petty, former resident of 92 Second Street, enters the Borden house with Dr. Bowen.|
|11:40 am||Bowen returns to Borden house. Churchill tells him they’ve discovered Abby upstairs.
|11:35-11:40 am||Officer Patrick Doherty & Deputy Sheriff Wixon arrive at house; see Manning sitting on steps, met at back door by Dr. Bowen, who lets them in.|
|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.|
|11:35-11:45 am||Morse arrives at Borden house, first going to back yard.|
|11:37 am||Officer Mullaly arrives.|
|11:39-11:40 am||Officer Medley arrives at 92 Second Street.|
|11:44 am||Doherty runs to Undertaker Gorman’s shop around corner and phones Marshal Hilliard.|
|11:45||Dr. Bowen shows Doherty Andrew, then Abby. Pulls bed out 3 feet.|
|11:45 am||Doherty returns; Officers Mullaly. Allen, Denny, and Medley arrive.|
|11:45 am||Dr. Dolan arrives, sees bodies.|
|11:45 am||Morse 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. Lizzie goes from dining room to her room and changes into a “pink wrapper”.
|11:50 am-Noon||Asst. Marshal Fleet arrives; sees bodies; talks to Lizzie in her room w/Rev. Buck, says “…she’s not my mother, she’s my stepmother”|
|11:50 am||Morse goes out to back yard and stays outside most of the afternoon.|
|11:50 am –Noon||Deputy Sheriff Wixon climbs back fence and talks to workmen sawing wood in Chagnon yard.|
|11:50-Noon||Doherty, Fleet and Medley accompany Bridget to cellar where she shows them hatchet in box on shelf.|
|12:15-12:20 am||Officer Harrington arrives at the Borden house.|
|12:25 am||Officer Harrington interviews Lizzie in her bedroom (she wears pink wrapper).|
|12:45 am||Marshal Hillliard & Officers Doherty & Connors drive carriage to Andrew’s upper farm in Swansea.|
|2:00 pm||Dr. Dedrick arrives at Borden house.|
|3:00-4:00 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.|
|4:30 pm||Stomachs of Andrew and Abby removed and sealed.|
|5:00 pm||Emma arrives in Fall River. )|
|5:00-5:30 pm||State Detective George F. Seaver arrives from Taunton.|
|5:30 pm||Dr. Dolan “delivers” bodies of Andrew and Abby to Undertaker James Winward.|
|5:35 pm||Winward & assistant remove sofa from house and store it in a room at his building.|
|6:00 pm||Alice leaves 92 Second St. to return home for supper.|
|8:30 pm||Mrs. Charles Holmes leaves the Borden girls and returns to her home on Pine Street.|
|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 in basement alone.|
July 27, 2013
Here’s a new book on Lizzie, “The Girl With The Pansy Tattoo” – scratch that, “The Girl With The Pansy Pin” (not quite the same cadence, but you get it.)
Here’s a promo piece on the book as announced by the Fall River Historical Society where an advanced purchase can be made.
Judging from the description of the book’s content it would seem that the author pulled from known facts about Lizzie, if not the story line itself.
I’m not one to read much fiction on Lizzie as I think there is enough conjecture in many of the non-fiction books. However, I’m curious to see how Mr. Brimbau managed to get “600 pages” for his book. It may be he has attempted to tell all of Lizzie’s story from his conjectured POV as her own. If so, I would think he was cautious not to make up wildly unlikely scenes or events and stick to that which can be based on fact. From what I know of Mr. Brimbau’s penchant for accuracy, he most likely has done precisely that.
It should be noted that Mr. Brimbau is the owner of the house just east of “Maplecroft” (once actually owned by Lizzie herself) and is the “SO” to Stefani Koorey, his roommate of the past 6 years. Therefore, he would have a great amount of resources at his disposal for his own research. It’s worthy of note that Ms. Koorey has stated publicly she moved from central Florida to Fall River because she fell in love with Michael, who, instead, might have lived in Cleveland.
The only fiction book I’ve read in the last ten years on Lizzie Borden is Richard Behrens “Lizzie Borden Girl Detective”, a well-written book that stands fast to known facts and shows solid research. I would recommend this book as a very entertaining and very smart read. In fact, the more informed you are about the case and Lizzie in general, the more you will enjoy this book. In short, it’s very “inside”, but that’s not to say you need know anything about the Borden case to enjoy the jolly exploits of this “Nancy Drew” type girl detective.
July 21, 2013
Have you ever tried CafePress? I’ve had an account there for years. Check out my stuff and feel free to order something unique for a friend! Click HERE.
Are you looking for a reasonably priced “Lizzie Borden Past & Present” by Leonard Rebello? Well, here it is on eBay. Click HERE.
I’ve written about “Lizzie Borden – A Study in Conjecture” by Marie Belloc Lowndes and the much coveted dust jacket. Well, I’m offering the book on eBay at an incredibly low price (usually sells in the hundreds). So here’s your chance. Click HERE.
Now, what is really, really, cool is that if you buy the book from eBay from seeing this blog, let me know and you will receive THIS FREE BONUS CD:
July 16, 2013
For the latest update with additional information and photos, click HERE
If you missed Part IV, you’ll find it HERE.
And yet another “Alone” painting surfaces – the same girl-in-the-boat-at sunset scene that Lizzie Borden gave to a handy man. Thanks to a comment submitted to this blog we have the name of another artist, Heinrich Vosberg, who painted an original of this scene. The commenter had this to say:
“I have a copy as well. It was found in the attic of my girlfriend’s great grandmother. She had it framed. It looks to be oil paint and the canvas has large blank edges with writing on it. It is signed H. Vosberg 1887 on the bottom left. Send me your email and I will send you a pic.”
I “Googled” Vosberg and discovered a load of sites about him, including this “Best Answers” forum that poses the question of value of this painting by Vosberg – I have to assume it’s the same person who wrote me. Otherwise, logic presumes two people have two original originals. The entire exchange is quite interesting, but here are some extracts:
So we learn this painting was actually entitled “ALONE AND FORSAKEN” – at least by artist Vosberg. Get this: A small print can be had for $1.50. That’s right. Click HERE and scroll down until you come to image “SIG425″.
It remains a mystery who actually painted the original-original of this girl-in-a-boat-at-sunset scene but what we do know is that it was so popular that countless prints were made and apparently easy to come by. Actual oil on canvas original paintings that have surfaced here so far were painted by:
1. Herman Alfred Leonard Wahlberg (1834-1906) – and was given by Lizzie to a handyman. (Provenance describes it as a “picture” so it may not have been an original painting but a print of Wahlberg’s original).
3. Heinrich Vosberg (1833-1891) – his paintings are still sold through various art auction houses. He named this one “Alone and Forsaken”.
Slide cursor over image when it comes into full view. (There’s music).
One of those untold number of prints sold for less than $30 on eBay just recently. The cherrywood frame, circa early 1900′s, and the newsprint behind the frame were worth more than the print.
I’ve become less interested about the fact Lizzie gave this painting to a handyman than I am about the genesis of its original creation. Perhaps more readers out there will come forward with *their* original “Alone” painting.
June 22, 2013
Descendents & Relations, Fall River Historical Society, Lee-ann Wilber, Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast, Newspaper Coverage, The Borden Family, Urban Legends in the Lizzie Borden Case 92 Second Street, Fall River, Fall River Historical Society, Lee-ann Wilber, Lizzie Borden, Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast, providence journal, shelley dziedzic, unsolved classic crimes Leave a comment
It”s been 120 years since Lizzie Borden was acquitted of the hatchet murders of her father and stepmother, so it’s no surprise the media would exploit this case once again.
Until last summer, Shelley Dziedzic, whom I’ve known for many, many years was a tour guide at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum. She is the one who used to produce those annual August 4th re-enactments at the B&B. Shelley has added “historian” to her credentials, and aptly so, as she is extremely well informed on the case. Her favorite smells are the hatchet cookies made at the B&B and, of course, the ever predictable rose.
The Lifetime Movie Channel’s Lizzie Borden is sure to exploit the slash and slice aspect of the case. I’m fairly certain the Providence Journal will not, but we will see.
Meanwhile, check out my Facebook page: CLICK HERE
June 18, 2013
(Originally posted March 11, 2010)
Andrew Jackson Borden, from all we can surmise, loved his wife, Sarah Anthony Morse Borden. Sarah was a pretty little thing when they married on Christmas Day, 1845. He was 23 and she was 22. Probably a true love match. But it would be five years before they had any children.
Emma Lenora Borden, born March 1, 1851 was older sister to Lizzie Borden. Unlike Lizzie, Emma knew her mother. Knew her and loved her.
Just before Emma’s 6th birthday, a second daughter was born, Alice Ester. Emma must have loved holding and helping to care for this little sister. She would be taught how to nurture and protect her younger sibling by her own loving mother. It was the “formative years” for Emma when so many character traits are instilled. It was a sweet time, but a short time because baby Alice was to die just two years later, on March 10, 1858 of hydrocephalus (water on the brain).
After two more years, the sad loss of baby Alice would find some solace with the joy of another baby sister born on July 19, 1860. The gender may have been a disappointment to 38 year old Andrew, but surely Sarah and Emma were thrilled and delighted with baby Lizzie Andrew.
Emma, now 9 years old, was even more prepared to handle and help take care of little Lizzie, again with the gentle guidance of her dear mother. To Sarah, it may have seemed that God himself answered her prayers with this special gift. Showered with love, affection and tender care, this little baby would be spoiled in getting her way.
Tragedy struck again in the Andrew Borden family when 3 weeks after Emma’s 12th birthday, Sarah Borden died of uterine congestion, leaving Emma and toddler Lizzie without a mother. And although their grandfather and step grand-mother, as well as their Aunt Lurana lived next to them, it was Emma who took care of Lizzie. Shortly before she died, Sarah had extracted a promise from Emma to always look after little Lizzie. A duty she would never take lightly nor relinquish easily.
The marriage of Andrew and Abby Durfee Gray could not have been a love match. For Andrew, he had found a capable, respectable and sturdy woman to take care of the house and someone to look after his growing daughters. Emma, especially, needed a woman’s hand to teach her the charming attributes of a proper Victorian young lady. Yes, for Andrew it was a sound acquisition.
For Abby, at age 37, she was happy to be married and have her own home and family. Her maternal instincts immediately embraced little Lizzie to whom she hoped to be a loving mother as well as a good wife to the stern but prosperous Andrew Borden. Emma, the teenager, was cool and distant, and did not embrace Abby’s attempts to teach her.
For Emma, it could not have been a pleasant change. She had been “in charge” of baby Lizzie. But now she had been trumped by the intruder. Her animosity towards Abby would be transparent and viral to her younger sibling.
One can almost imagine Emma holding toddler Lizzie on her knee and showing her the above picture of the mother she never knew. “This is our real mother, Lizzie. Her name was Sarah and she loved you very much. Not like our steppie ‘Abby’. She can never be our real mother. This is our REAL mother.”
When the “young Emma” went off to Wheaton Female Seminary, she was separated from “young Lizzie” for a year and a half, except for holidays. Plain and reserved Emma would not complete her studies at Wheaton. She lacked the charm and experiences of her school mates. Perhaps she feared the affect “Mrs. Borden” (as she called her) would have on Lizzie during her absence and would rather be at home in Fall River, resuming her role as the surrogate mother.
Her absence did afford Abby a chance to bond with Lizzie. Little Lizzie may have written letters to big sister Emma about “mother did this for me”, or “mother took me here”, all much to Emma’s dismay. This was also a time when Abby gave an engraved silver cup to Lizzie.
The oddness of Lizzie became a character trait along with her intermittent haughtiness – the latter perhaps derived from her growing knowledge she and her sister were “blood Bordens” and what that meant. But Abby, her “steppie”, ugh. Her class was beneath theirs.
“I had never been to her as a mother in many things. I always went to my sister, because she was older and had the care of me after my mother died.” -Lizzie Borden, Inquest Testimony
Abby’s attempts would fail, and as Lizzie grew into a woman Abby would find herself living in a home divided. The bond between the sisters was formidable. For Abby, she would no longer be interested in engendering herself to the girls.
“A. I was speaking to her of a garment I had made for Mrs. Borden, and instead of saying Mrs. Borden I said “Mother.” and she says: “Don’t say that to me, for she is a mean good for nothing thing.” I said: “Oh Lizzie, you don’t mean that?” And she said “Yes, I don’t have much to do with her; I stay in my room most of the time.” And I said, “You come down to your meals, don’t you?” And she said: “Yes, but we don’t eat with them if we can help it.”” -Trial Testimony of dressmaker Hannah Gifford
“And we always thought she persuaded father to buy it. At any rate he did buy it, and I am quite sure she did persuade him. I said what he did for her people, he ought to do for his own children.” -Lizzie Borden, Inquest Testimony
“Q. Can you tell me the cause of the lack of cordiality between you and your mother, or was it not any specific thing?
A. Well, we felt that she was not interested in us….” -Emma Borden, Inquest Testimony
Lizzie’s disdain for her stepmother became more pronounced as she grew older. It had long been embedded in her psyche. She fretted and brooded. Her fearful anxiety about the disposition of her father’s wealth always had Abby, the usurper, as its focus.
No outlet for social intercourse save her church affiliation, a rapidly diminishing prospect for marriage, and an escalating highly charged atmosphere within the territorial home was a stew bubbling to spill over. Suddenly her future financial security and independence was about to be threatened beyond retraction. The knowledge unleashed a rage long dormant and deep within her psyche. And at its core was her hatred of Abby.
-conjectured thought of Emma Borden by the writer
June 16, 2013
Sarah Bunting does a pretty fair job in comparing what a Lifetime Movie Channel vs. HBO rendition of the Lizzie Borden story would look like. At least she is acknowledging the Sevigny project is not moving. Here’s what she wrote on one of her blogs:
According to the nursery rhyme, Lizzie Borden took an axe, and gave her mother forty whacks — and when she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one. But the nursery rhyme doesn’t know the half of it: it was her stepmother; she didn’t hit either of them that many times; she may not have hit anyone at all (she was acquitted of the murders); she had a shoplifting problem that could have derived from her father touching her inappropriately…it’s one of the great American crime stories, not least because it technically remains unsolved.
Lizzie is getting the biopic treatment in an upcoming Lifetime movie, with Christina Ricci in the Lizzie role; the production just added Clea Duvall (as Lizzie’s sister, Emma) and Billy Campbell (as Lizzie’s lawyer, Andrew Jennings). Not only that, but TV Line seems to think the HBO version of the story is still in play; Chloe Sevigny made a few headlines in March of 2011 when HBO announced the development of the two-part miniseries, but it’s gone quiet since then.
Let’s just assume that it’s still a going concern, because a Sevigny/Tom-Hanks-produced iteration of the case would kick ass — especially if it comes out at the same time as the Ricci version. An embarrassment of gory riches! But who would do it better?
Sevigny makes a more believable Lizzie. It’s close, and Ricci is a solid actress, but she’s a bit too dark and petite to match Lizzie physically, and Sevigny’s work on American Horror Story is great practice for the psychological demands of the Lizzie role.
It’s probably unfair to compare them without intel on who else might have joined the HBO project’s cast. As impressive as Duvall and Campbell can be, you’d have to think the Hanks imprimatur on Hollywoodized history would attract even bigger names. And it’s just my opinion, but Duvall would work better as the maid, Bridget (and I’m dying to know who’s cast in that role).
Working with what we do know, though…
The nursery rhyme is right about one thing: Lizzie did use a hatchet. Crime-scene photos of her father do exist and are as hideous as you would expect. HBO is demonstrably not afraid to go there, whereas you’d expect Lifetime to soft-pedal the gore.
Who you rank higher here depends on your stomach for monster make-up. I’m a fan of grisly realism.
Might depend on their respective takes on Lizzie’s innocence. Occam’s razor dictates that she’s guilty, but the physical evidence is ambiguous. Either way, Lifetime is expert at both lady-psycho stories (see also: their upcoming Jodi Arias flick) and woman-in-peril stories.
After her parents’ deaths, Lizzie bought the house she always wanted in the fashionable part of town, and began spending a lot of time with an actress and her company. Many accounts stop juuuuuust short of saying that Lizzie and Nance O’Neil were…you know…Lebanese, while implying that their relationship, whatever its nature, estranged Lizzie from her sister. If that part of Lizzie’s bio merits exploration, HBO will do a better job; Lifetime seems likely to skip from the acquittal to the maid’s rumored deathbed confession to the credits.
Like the murders themselves, there’s just a lot we don’t know: who’s playing what, whether HBO is even going to film their Lizzie Borden movie, who’s writing the Lifetime version. In a perfect world, HBO sees an opportunity to be the Lizzie 30 Rock to Lifetime’s Studio 60 and gets things rolling with Sevigny’s team. In this world, we have to dance with the Lizzie what brung us, and since Lifetime’s Lizzie is actually happening?”
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