Category Archives: Descendents & Relations

Genealogy, reports from descendants.

The Three Lizzie Bordens

Spooky Southcoast Radio with Tim Weisberg, Matt Costa and Matt Moniz did a special show just prior to the 118th anniversary of the Borden murders and again invited me to be a guest.   This was their teaser for the show: CLICK

In this July 31, 2010 broadcast I talk about the three Lizzie Bordens.  The first is the Lizzie from her birth to 1890 – the one often described as odd and sulky, the one who quit high school her junior year.   The second is the post Grand Tour Lizzie Borden who came back  after 19 weeks abroad a changed woman, steeled in her reserve to get more, i.e., the things her father’s money could buy.  The third Lizzie is the post acquittal Lizzie who lived the entire second half of her life up on the “Hill” in a home she named “Maplecroft”.  This is the Lizzie shunned by most in her society that knew Lizzie 1 and Lizzie 2 , but whose loyal friends (including servants and travel companions)  would  all speak of or document her kind and gentle nature.  They only knew the third Lizzie.

I also reveal for the first time some documented proof concerning a theory of motive.

You can listen to the program immediately by clicking HERE.


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Henry & Caroline Gardner and Riverby

Henry Augustus Gardner and his wife Caroline Cole Mason Gardner were the progenitors of three subsequent generations with solid ties to Lizzie Borden and especially her sister, Emma.

Henry & Caroline about the time they married in 1864.

Caroline Cole Mason was the 3rd child of Zephaniah S. Mason, (born Jan. 27, 1804, died Nov. 11, 1844) and Susan Vinnicum.  Her brother Willlam was born in 1831, and her sister Ann Frances born in 1834.  Caroline was born December 12, 1839.  She married the handsome Henry Augustus Gardner on December 11, 1864.  Although younger than her sister, Ann, she married first.

Ann married William Morse – brother of Sarah Anthony Morse and John Vinnicum Morse – therein sealing the bloodline connection between Emma Borden and her sister Lizzie and the Morse family.

Henry Augustus Gardner, born Sept. 12, 1835, lived the early part of his life at the old homestead in Swansea, and then near Touisset Station, “Riverby – property that was originally in his wife’s family.

Henry had two brothers – also quite handsome ( “oval picture”) and one sister.  For all their lives they remained extremely close – helping one another and helping to raise each others’ children.  Henry had been a shoemaker but his life’s occupation was farming.

Henry and Caroline were Republicans, and members of the First Christian Church of Swansea.

They had four children:

(1) Orrin Augustus, born July 21, 1867

(2) Frank Henry, born Jan. 16, 1869,

(3) William Wilson, born Jan. 2, 1875,  and

(4) Mabel, born Aug. 16, 1876, died Sept. 2, 1876.

Orrin Gardner

Frank Gardner

William Gardner and Hamilton Gardner, father and son

(Emma remembered all of these people in her Will and/or other Trust investment funds.  Lizzie mentioned none of them in her Will and that is significant and will be explained in a later post.)

When Henry died he passed on to his oldest son, Orrin, the family possessions, including bibles, documents, albums, etc.  Orrin passed much of this  on – along with most of the things he acquired from Emma’s estate – to the boy he raised:  Hamilton, son of his deceased brother William.  There had been some albums, photographs, autograph albums, portraits, etc. which he turned over to the Swansea Historical Society in the years when he was long retired and in ailing health.   Hamilton Gardner, whom
Emma had known  since he was born and until her death, would end up selling some of these things but did pass down to the 4th generation some of what remained.

After 50 years of marriage in1911.

“Riverby” was a place that Emma visited often, in addition to  visiting Swansea and the people from the “oval picture” and their offspring.  Riverby was, in fact, the last place she visited prior to her interment at Oak Grove Cemetery.  When Emma died in 1927, only nine days after her sister Lizzie, her cousin Orrin Gardner, son of Henry & Caroline, had her remains brought to Riverby for service (her wake)

The house and grounds looked much like this in the mid to late 1920’s.

Caroline can be seen standing in the top photograph; below is the fireplace in the first floor sitting room.

Borden case enthusiasts will cruise by “Riverby” to see where Emma was taken and snap pictures from the roadway, never imagining how much the landscape has changed.  Little is left by way of documentation to know of its true history and the richness of the two generational “band of brothers” connected with it.

This is how it looks today:

Although Gardners were prominent among the founding families of Swansea, none of their bloodline remain in that town today across the bay from Fall River.  Many of their homes still stand and their graves can be found at Mount Hope Cemetery but none of their descendants live in Swansea.  Virtually all of the descendants of the original Gardners long ago moved on – not unlike the Bordens of Fall River.

But I take a moment here to pay homage to Henry Augustus Gardner:  He lived a long (to age 96) and decent life – a truly devoted husband, father, brother and friend.  His character and morals were passed on to his children and grandchildren.  When we speak about quality of character, when we speak about the fabric of America and the honest, hard working salt-of-the- earth types – we speak of men like Henry Augustus Gardner of Swansea and Touisset.

More to come on this inspiring family – their aunts, uncles, cousins – and of course, Lizzie and Emma.

Sources:  History of Swansea; estate records of Henry Augustus Gardner; emails from Gardner descendants; letter from great grandson of Bailey Borden; correspondence with great grandson of Henry Augustus Gardner.


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“michelle” posted this comment:

Michelle N.

Your website is fascinating. I’ve been interested in the Bordens ever since writing a term paper about the case as part of my criminal justice studies in the early 1990s. After reading the webpage, I was puzzling over a few things. During my research at the Boston Public Library, I came across excerpts from a newspaper interview the heir (Orrin Gardner) gave some time after the death of the Borden sisters. He mentioned that he had visited Emma Borden after she had become somewhat senile and partially paralyzed from a stroke a few years before she died. I haven’t seen this mentioned anywhere on the website. Considering this, it seems that she couldn’t have possibly written a letter in 1926 if she had already suffered a stroke? Also, if the Gardner family already knew about her physical condition and where she was living before she died, then how could her whereabouts have been a complete secret? Since the letter written to Higley is obviously not in Emma’s handwriting, is it possible that her caregiver could have written it?
Is there an example of Connor’s handwriting for comparison to the Higley letter?
Thanks, and keep up the great work!


Yes, i’ve heard also about the senility and stroke and have thought this the reason for the income trust fund separate from her will. I’ve not seen Connor’S HANDWRITING…SHE was a recipient in that separate Trust, however.


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The Genealogy Link of the Gardners of Swansea to Emma and Lizzie Borden

(Click on image for larger view: The home of Henry Augustus Gardner, called “Riverby” in Touisset, can be located on the very bottom left of the above map).

Across the Taunton River in South Swansea and adjacent to Mount Hope Bay in Touisset, Ma. lived a branch of Swansea’s founding Gardners who became relatives through marriage to Emma and Lizzie Borden.

Emma would be the one to maintain relationships – and very close ones – with her Gardner cousins after “The Trial” and her 1905 separation from her sister.  Indeed, she knew all of those in the picture below.  Their own children were her contemporaries and some would become helpful guides in her later life and benefit from her financial legacy after her death.

From my collection on the Gardners, here’s an old group photo.  I’ve placed their names onto the photo for quick identity reference.

The Gardners of Swansea and Touisset, MA

(Click on image for larger view)

Handwritten names found back of oval picture shown above.

The genealogical link that bound Emma and Lizzie to these Gardners was the marriage between Henry Augustus Gardner and Caroline Cole Mason Gardner.   Caroline’s sister, Ann Frances,  had married William Bradford Morse eight years previous.  William Bradford Morse was the brother of Sarah Anthony Morse and John Vinnicum Morse, Lizzie and Emma’s mother and uncle.

Henry Augusts Gardner and Caroline Cole (Mason) Gardner

Wedding certificate for Henry & Caroline – Married on December 11, 1864.  (Emma was nearly 14 and Lizzie 4-1/2 years old when they wed; her future financial advisor, Preston, nephew of Henry & Caroline, was then a one year old baby).

Ann Frances (Mason) Morse         William Bradford Morse

William married Ann, age 21, on June 8, 1856, in Excelsior, Minnesota when Emma was five years old.   It would be interesting to know how Ann’s younger sister, Caroline, came to first meet (and subsequently marry) Henry Augustus Gardner whose roots were Swansea and not Excelsior.

I’ll have to add that task to my list.


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A little Peek at “The Swansea Farmhouse”

Andrew Borden’s smaller “farm” in Swansea located at 1205 Gardner’s Neck Road, was built in 1790’s by Peleg Gardner.  Old Peleg (and he is quite a story himself) is buried in the very, very, old cemetery at the north end of the road.

Borden case enthusiasts have driven by and gawked at this structure for over a hundred years.  Few have been invited inside.   But here’s a little peek from this news article (1947?) of what the interior was like when Joseph French owned it.  The basic interior structure would have been the same as when Lizzie Borden’s father held title and the family used it as a “summer retreat”.  This article has it being built in 1750 but I have more confidence in Mrs. Ellis Waring’s research and her findings as indicated in the second article shown below written in 1965.

(Note: This is NOT the farmhouse that Uncle Morse went to for the eggs from Mr. Eddy.  You know the eggs.  The ones they didn’t eat on that infamous Thursday morning because there was still some leftover mutton not to go to waste).

The house is actually “historic” and would be #8 when the diagram below was made.   Swansea looms large in the Borden case.

(Click on image for larger view)

Photo taken August 2005 – the house has since been painted blue.

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Posted by on April 7, 2010 in Descendents & Relations, Swansea


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Bordenia Goolash

Here’s a serving up of Bordenia Goolash – a mix of random selections most all with our Lizzie Borden in mind :

From PC Guru Goddess, Kim Komando, comes info on this nifty “cool site of the day” called Flame. Have some fun creating your own art, save and print.  From the images you create, you could then have them transferred on to your own stationery, buttons, framed prints, whatever.

Above created with Flame, a free program.

The cellar steps at 92 Second Street, Fall River – the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum.  Not often shown on the web, this photo was taken August 4, 2007.  This is where Bridget lugged clean clothes to hang out to dry, and where Lizzie said she found a “ten penny nail” in the door keyhole when the house was “robbed” a year before the murders.

The Borden barn being demolished.  You can see the Churchill house and gazebo from across the barn “loft”.

1892 perspective to previous photo

Award Winning author Lisa Mannetti’s new book!

Can you spot the errors and omissions?

The silver cup Abby gave to Lizzie – from Leonard Rebello’s Lizzie Borden Past and Present

Left to Right:

Nathan Bosworth Gardner, father of Preston, brother of Henry Augustus; Mary Hicks Gardner, wife of Nathan and mother of Preston; Preston Hicks Gardner – Emma’s “financial advisor”.

Cool fan from 1992 Conference

Front staircase, 92 Second Street, Spring 2001.

TV Guide ad for Paramount Studio’s 1975 “Legend of Lizzie Borden”

Nance O’Neil’s ashes repose with her husband’s, Alfred Devereux Hickman, at Forest Lawn Memorial Cemetery in Glendale, Ca.

From David Rehak’s book

Copy of the actual Lizzie Borden’s Will

Was he a dirty old man?

From Christopher Moon comes this:

“Moon says his evidence suggests that Andrew Borden was not only tightfisted, but cold and abusive to his daughters.

“Andrew Borden was one of the most sick, disgusting men who ever lived,” Moon tells a group gathered in the home’s basement for Ghost Hunter’s University, a two-day crash course into the world of paranormal investigations.””


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Stephen Borden’s Website

Stephen Borden has been hard at work the past few months on his website which I’ve long had included in my own Blogroll (see listing on the right).

He recently added the Hattie Borden Weld’s Borden Genealogy on his home page.  This work has been used by researchers and genealogists for  over a hundred years and even though its not perfect, it’s an amazing effort considering it was compiled long before computers, let alone the IBM Correcting Selectric typewriter!  This was one of the very first books I began to collect on the Bordens and Fall River because it came so highly recommended by Florence Brigham, past Curator Emeritus of the Fall River Historical Society.  I had spent hours in the basement pouring over their copy.   Oh, how much easier it is in this digital age!

At Stephen’s Home Page, by clicking his link, “Other Stuff” you’ll find he has a nice assemblage of old Fall River maps and old photos, as well as the complete online versions of Arthur S. Phillips History of Fall River.(Phillips, a life long supporter of Lizzie’s innocence,  had served on the defense team).  You’ll find his stunning accomplishment by simply clicking “Vol. I”, “Vol. II”, “Vol. III” and they will come up as .pdf files.  Those volumes are online elsewhere on the web but I like that the way the links are all arranged on one page within Stephen’s blog.

There’s so much more, so do yourself a favor and spend some time at Stephen Borden’s website.


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Lizzie Borden & Emma Borden – Handwriting Analysis

(Recycled Post)

It’s curious to note that the sisters signed the below Deed on the very same day, January 31st, 1910, although they had been separated for well over 4 years.  Emma had packed her belongings and moved out of their French Street house, “Maplecroft”, in late May of 1905.  If they both appeared before Charles C. Cook, long time property manager, at the same time (perhaps in his offices in the A.J. Borden Building) then the legend that once Emma moved out the sisters never spoke or saw each other again – can be debunked.  On the other hand, if the riff between the sisters still had salty wounds, they may have appeared before Charles at different times during that day.  Imagine if Charles screwed up and scheduled them for the same time.  Oh dear.

Anyway, Francis and Chester Gardner, sons of Leander Gardner, were farmers and it can be read about HERE.

In March of 1989, Frances Allbright, graphics evaluator, submitted her solicited evaluation of the personalities of Lizzie Borden and Emma Borden from an analysis of their handwriting to Florence Brigham of the Fall River Historical Society.

I dug up from my files this Swansea farm deed and post it here because it shows both their signatures (along with their business/real estate manager Charles Cook) from 1910, when they were older.

It is my recollection that Mrs. Brigham provided Allbright this document as well as a letter written by Lizzie, and Emma Borden’s postcard from Scotland written to Mrs. Brigham’s mother-in-law, Mary Brigham, a friend and witness for the Defense at Lizzie’s trial. It’s my recollection from a conversation but I am not certain these were the documents.

You can find out who Francis and Chester Gardner were and their lives by reading HERE.

Mrs. Allbright’s cover letter to Florence and her “profiles” of the sisters can be seen below. Personally, I tend to put more validity in such interpretations when the “evaluator” has no knowledge of the person doing the writing. It should be mentioned that these are not the only handwriting analyses of the Borden sisters that have been done, but you can draw your own conclusions with this particular evaulator.


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(Recycled post)

We know Nance O’Neil is connected to Lizzie Borden. But actress Drew Barrymore? Yes indeed, and only by “six degrees”.

1. Actress Drew Blythe Barrymore

(b. February 22, 1975)

2. Her grandfather was actor John Drew Barrymore

(b. John Sidney Blythe, February 15, 1882, Philadelphia. – d. May 29, 1942, Hollywood, CA.)

3. He was the brother of actor Lionel Barrymore

(b. Lionel Herbert Blythe, April 28, 1878, Philadelphia – d. November 15, 1954, Van Nuys, CA.)

4. Lionel Barrymore married the daughter of McKee Rankin*

(b. February 6, 1844, Canada – d. April 17, 1914, California)

5. McKee Rankin was theatrical manager to Nance O’Neil

(b. Gertrude Lamson, October 8, 1874, Oakland, CA – d. February 7, 1965, Englewood, NJ)

6. Nance O’Neil was a friend of Lizzie Borden

(b. July 19, 1860, Fall River, MA – d. June 1, 1927, Fall River)

*Doris McKee Rankin (1888-1946) married Lionel Barrymore at age 17 in 1905, divorced December, 1922. (Time Magazine, May 19, 1923)

Source: (McKee Rankin and the Heyday of the American Theater. David Beasley, Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2002.)

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Emma Borden’s $45,000 Trust Made on January 14, 1925

Emma Borden in her early 60’s

At age 69, on November 20, 1920, Emma Borden signed her Last Will & Testament.  It would be greatly enhanced with a Codicil signed less than two years later, on June 27, 1922.  Her Will and Codicil have been uploaded as a separate page to this blog.  Click that selection at the top of this page to view them.

Subsequent to the Will and the Codicil, and something never written about before, is the fact that on January 14, 1925, Emma created an initial $45,000 investment Trust with the Rhode Island Hospital Trust Company that benefited – while she lived and beyond –  an interesting assortment of selected individuals.

In addition to providing an income for Emma herself, the four primary recipients of 10/45th income derived quarterly from the Trust were:

A.  Orrin A. Gardner (upon his death to Hamilton M. Gardner)

Orrin Gardner – July, 1930

(It was at Orrin’s home in Touisset, known as “Riverby” that Emma was taken upon her death for her wake prior to burial in Fall River.)

“Riverby” in the early 1920’s

B.  Hamilton M. Gardner (nephew of  Orrin who raised him as a young boy when his own father died).

Hamilton Gardner – July, 1930

C.  Maude G. Dawson (married daughter of  Mary & Preston Gardner)

D.  Annie C. Connor (the trained nurse and woman who would look after Emma in her last last few years of life in Newmarket,  New Hampshire — and upon her death to her son, John M. Conlon).  Note:  Annie C. Connor died at the age of 75 on October 11, 1936 in neighboring Lee, New Hampshire.

In addition, Emma allows for 5/45th to go to Mary Kelly (employed by Emma when she lived at The Minden Apartments in Providence, RI; and upon Mary’s death, the income to her son, John).

Emma could not know she would be dead in 2-1/2 years, so why was this established at this time?  Her Will & Codicil had already been written and witnessed a little more than five years previous to this Trust Fund.

Here are a few things that happened the year before the establishment of the $45,000 Trust Fund:

1924 Helen Leighton moves from Boston to Brookline, MA.
February 24, 1924 1924 Woodrow Wilson dies.
1924 The Society for Human Rights in Chicago becomes the country’s earliest known gay rights organization.
1924 Machinery from the Borden controlled Fall River Iron Works to their mills in Kingsport, Tennessee marks the unofficial demise of the cotton industry in Fall River.
April 14, 1924 Lizzie forms a partnership with Jacob Dondis in her half share of the AJ Borden Bldg on So. Main.                                                                                 (LR56)
1924 Adolf Hitler publishes his Nazi political tract Mein Kampf (My Battle).
April 29, 1924 Hannah B. Reagan, former police matron, dies at the age of 73 in Fall River.
1924 Studies in Murder by Edmund Pearson is published.  (Did Lizzie read it?)
1924 Decline in Fall River textile mills begins; Fall River is no longer the “Cotton King”.
December 4, 1924 David Anthony, Jr. dies at Truesdale Hosp from injuries from a fall from his motorbike in Somerset on 11/24/24.

The year before, 1923, Emma boarded for the summer in Newmarket with Annie Connor and then in 1924 lived there permanently.  It was, in fact, through Preston Gardner that the Emma-Connor connection was made.  So it would appear Preston Gardner saw to it that Emma had a nice place to live with someone who could care for her.

The Trust Fund was undoubtedly administered by Preston Gardner, an officer and Vice President of the Rhode Island Hospital Trust Company that figures so prominently in Emma’s actual Will.

Here is the actual Trust Fund document. Click on image for larger view.

It strikes me that Emma may not have  been very wise in the handling of her money in terms of investing it.  Perhaps she just kept it in a bank not earning much interest.  For the first 42 years of her life she never had to think about large purchases or any type of financial management involving significant sums.   Maybe she never learned how.  Her relationship with Charles Cook, who handled Andrew’s properties and subsequently “the girls”, does not seem to be as lasting as it was with Lizzie.

It is possible that Emma was already showing signs of senility and her cousins, Preston and/or Orrin, prompted her to invest at least some of her net worth.   In any event, this Trust ensured those named  individuals of receiving income prior to her death and beyond.

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Posted by on January 24, 2010 in Descendents & Relations


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Lizzie & Emma’s Wills

Unrelated News: eBay has a diary of a contemporary to Lizzie’s that has a reference to “Caroline Mason”, who could be Caroline Cole Mason who married Henry Augustus Gardner.  One of their children was Orrin Gardner, a major legatee in Emma’s Will.

On a Lizzie chat forum there seems to be surprise that in the above mentioned diary for the date of August 4, 1892 the writer, Charitta Sanford, says Lizzie probably did it.  But this sentiment among Fall Riverites was noted back in the 1960’s with Victoria Lincoln’s  book,  A Private Disgrace, that suspicion of  Lizzie by those that knew the Andrew Borden family came about as soon as the murders were reported. The link to the auction is HERE.

The same seller sold another diary of this same woman wherein she wrote everything in rhyme.  Very clever.  That can be seen HERE.

The Wills of sisters Lizzie and Emma Borden, including the probate of Lizzie’s Will and the Codicil to Emma’s Will, can be seen as separate pages on this Blog – simply click above.

Lizzie’s Will, signed by her hand on January 30, 1926, was simple and straightforward in its bequests – primarily to those individuals whose loyalty and friendship she valued, with the largest cash amount to the Fall River Animal Rescue League.

Their Wills tell us something about their post-separation relationship when it comes to the property on French Street in Fall River known as “Maplecroft”.

From Emma’s Will pertaining to sister Lizzie:

“SIXTH: If my sister, Lizzie A. Borden, shall survive me and I shall own an interest at the time of my death in that tract of land with the dwelling house thereon situated on the northerly side of French Street, in said Fall River, and being the same premises now occupied by my sister and which were purchased by my sister and myself of Charles M. Allen, then I give, devise and bequeath all my right, title and interest in and to said tract of land and the improvements thereon, to my said sister, Lizzie A. Borden, and all my interest in and to the household furniture in said house or upon said premises.  If,  however, at the time of my death I shall have disposed of my interest in said tract of land located on French Street and in the contents of the house, and my said sister, Lizzie A. Borden, shall survive me, then I give and bequeath to my said sister the sum of One Thousand Dollars ($1,000).”

-Signed by Emma Borden –  November 20, 1920

By significant contrast, we have this from Lizzie’s Will:

“28. I have not given my sister, Emma L. Borden, anything as she had her share of her father’s estate and is supposed to have enough to make her comfortable.”

- Signed by Lizzie Borden –  January 30, 1926

(A few days later, on February 2, 1926, Lizzie would enter Fall River’s Truesdale Hospital for a gall bladder operation from which she would never fully recover.   She had only one year and four months left to live.)

It would seem Lizzie never forgot a kindness and never forgave a betrayal.

Whether the following events had any influence on Lizzie’s Will, we don’t know:

May, 1923 – Emma Borden seeks court authority to divide value of Borden Building between herself and Lizzie.

December 3, 1923 – Emma sells her 1/2 interest in the A.J. Borden Building.

April 14, 1924 – Lizzie forms a partnership with Jacob Dondis in her half share of the AJ Borden Bldg on So. Main.  (LR56)

1924 – Studies in Murder by Edmund Pearson is published.

1926 – Murder at Smutty Nose by Edmund Pearson is published, contains essay on the Borden case.

What we DO learn from these Wills is that Lizzie was the primary guiding hand in determining to whom and how her money and property was to be distributed.   The guiding hand for Emma was clearly her cousin Preston Gardner who benefited in every possible way, particularly in how her money was designated between the BMC Durfee Trust and the Rhode Island Hospital Trust with whom he was a Director and later Vice President.

After Emma’s Will and the Codicil (where she remembered her other Gardner cousins), Preston crafted for her a separate Trust of $45,000 designated for specific individuals, himself included.  (More on this later).

I think these Wills say a lot about the relationship of the two sisters after early June, 1905 when Emma moved out of Maplecroft.  Rendering a kindness to Lizzie was still in Emma’s mind when it came to her Will.  For Lizzie, time had not healed the wounds of her perceived betrayal and abandonment.


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New Book: FDR’s Shadow-Louis Howe the Force that Shaped Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt

I’ll be doing a review shortly on Julie’s new book that came out last month:  FDR’s Shadow the Force that Shaped Franklin & Eleanor Rooswevelt . I wanted to wait until I got a chance to review those letters – and more – at the FDR Library which I did just recently.


Julie M. Fenster’s, award winning author and historian,  new book


Julie has reciprocated in helping me with my own research at the FDR Library in Hyde Park, NY.   We now have much to discuss of our own insights from that very private and revealing correspondence.


Julie was, of course, focused on the Holy Triangle of Louis, Franklin and Eleanor – the Grace Hartley Howe connection a stunning by-product towards understanding the “inner man” of Louis.  I, of course, was interested in the Grace-Louis correspondence specific to the Lizzie connection.  Why, after all, was Grace a major legatee?  I got my answers.

When Grace died her daughter Mary and son Hartley inherited her personal papers, which included the letters written to her from Louis and these were subsequently donated to the FDR Library to be deposited with Louis’ other papers.

Side note:  Mary Howe Baker sat with Eleanor Roosevelt and other notables in this TIME Mag article May 20, 1933.   Grace was in Fall River at the time.


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Point Reflections

A print of this collage, which I created back in 1999, still hangs on the refrigerator at the Lizzie Borden B&B.

(click on image for larger view)

Back from visit Northeast with scads of voice mail, emails and snail mail to catch up on. Some pointed reflections that I may elaborate on later:

1. Twisted Restaurant in Hyde Park.

2. Two FR senior guys at Rosario’s – turns out one has a home at Rim Country Club Estates here in Payson.

3. Letters from Mary Hartley to Grace Hartley at Vassar in 1897…re “cousin in the news again”.

4. Letters from Mary Hartley to Grace Hartley Howe full of gossip about the “Rock Street people”.

5. Victoria’s Secret girls at the Lizzie Borden B&B.

6. Long chat with Michael Martins and Dennis Binette re Lizzie, their book, etc. (photos selected, galleys done, index done; awaiting blueline, altho new stuff still coming in).

7. Scallops and Lobster at the Liberal Club with Manny A. and his wife.

8. GalleryX Exhibit piece “Two Sides to Every Story”….couldn’t find artists contact info or I would have purchased it right then and there.

9. Interior of Abby Grille (Central Congregational Church) since the recent vandalism. Sickening. I’ll post pictures later.

10. “Blood Relations” in New Bedford Saturday night, then our mad dash back to the Eagle. What a ride!

11. FDR’s house, Vanderbilt Mansion, Val-Kil – thank you Margaret, D.A.R. member, and resident of Hyde Park.

12. Max the cat in window of the “bahn” late at night; red glow background (from Exit sign), foggy. Stunning effect.

13. Blueboy in parlor – couldn’t stop laughing.

14. Ken Champlin telephone calls.

15. Fall River Library – new piece by Macomber donated in memory of Jerome C. Borden – my personal fav.

16. Visit to FRPD and chat with Asst Chief Moniz.

17. Nice visit and Chinese lunch with Bob Dube. (Wonderful new look to the parlor).

18. Mayor’s office re disposition of WPA artist project of murals at Kuss Middle School.

19.  Viewing the grounds at Vassar in Poughkeepsie where Grace and Mary Howe attended.  (Grace lived in an apt there while Louis lived with the Roosevelts a their huge house).

Lots to do, little time. More later.


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Rosella Howe

Note:   It was Rosella and Hartley Howe who inherited most of Lizzie’s furniture, books, etc. that Grace Hartley Howe had inherited from Lizzie’s Will.  Her son Edward H. Howe, was subsequently given many of those items.

She was the wife of Hartley Howe, son of Louis McHenry Howe and Grace Hartley Howe.  Grace was second cousin to Lizzie Borden.
September 10, 2009

WESTPORT, MASS. — Rosella Senders Howe, poet, feminist, political adviser, and Lewis Carroll scholar, died at home on Thursday, September 10, after a long illness. She was 97.

Mrs. Howe was born March 28, 1912, in Exeter, N.H., and grew up in Cambridge, Mass., where she graduated from Cambridge Latin School and attended Radcliffe College for two years, majoring in psychology. In her first job after college, she put her new-found knowledge of the human psyche and her excellent command of the English language to immediate use, responding to irate letters for Macy’s complaint department.

She went on to study dance in New York’s Greenwich Village with Charles Weidman, a pioneer of modern dance, but said she gave it up after a tour stop in Providence when she found herself sharing a dressing room with a circus elephant. Despite this traumatic encounter with a pachyderm, she remained in excellent physical condition for the rest of her life.

Before World War II, she worked for the American Red Cross in Boston. During this time, she met Hartley Howe, a newspaperman who was the son of Louis McHenry Howe, President Franklin Roosevelt’s best friend and political advisor. They were married in 1941 and moved to Washington D.C. , where she worked for the Office of Indian Affairs and then for Sidney Hillman, head of the labor division of the War Production Board, writing speeches and news releases.

After their first son was born and Mr. Howe returned from the war 10 months later, the Howes moved to Queens, New York. Here Mrs. Howe concentrated on their growing family of three boys and a girl while she and Mr. Howe were active in the Democratic Party, the Americans for Democratic Action, and the American Civil Liberties Union. She later taught English as a Second Language at Queens College and befriended many of her foreign students, who adored her.

Once their children were grown, the Howes moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where Mr. Howe was a journalism professor and Mrs. Howe finished up her degree in linguistics and studied Japanese. She became active in the Wisconsin Humanities Council, where she taught poetry and writing to adult students. She was a prolific poet herself, excelling in clever puns, visual metaphors, and acid social criticism.

She was known to drive a thousand miles to sample the country’s best oysters, played a wicked game of tennis, and provided strategic advice to the campaigns of politicians such as (Congressman) Barney Frank and (former Fall River mayor) Ed Lambert, among others. With a fascination for language and a vibrant imagination, she was drawn to the works of Lewis Carroll and traveled to many meetings of the Lewis Carroll Society. Over the years, she also mentored many young adults, especially women, always urging them to follow their career dreams.

Mrs. Howe is survived by three sons, David S. Howe, of New York City, Edward H. Howe of Jamaica Plain, Mass., and Henry S. Howe of Gallup, N.M.; one daughter, Rosemary Howe Camozzi of Florence, Ore.; by two sisters, Virginia Browne of Wayland, Mass., and Henrietta Jacobsen of Austin, Texas, and a brother, John Senders of Toronto, Canada; and by 12 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. Her husband Hartley died in 1996.

A memorial celebration for friends and family will be held October 24, at 3 p.m., at the Westport Friends Meeting, 930 Main Road, Westport, Mass.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in Mrs. Howe’s honor may be made to Emily’s List, 1120 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20036.


Lizzie Borden Slept Here


On April 25th I wrote a blog (scroll down) trumpeting a terrific newspaper article on the history of Gardner’s Neck Road.  I mentioned it was the first time I seen it in print that the above farm house had been built by Peleg Gardner and his sons.

Well, sometimes you get a sweet nudge from someone you met and with whom you shared your interest in Lizzie Borden.  Thanks to “Vicki”, who refreshed my memory, I can show the source of where I did, in fact, read about the sons of Peleg Gardner building the “Borden farmhouse” on Gardner’s Neck Road in Swansea, MA.

Thank you, Vicki!

Click on the email for a larger view.

scan0004I should mention my newspaper collection on the Borden case is vast – I have photo copies of the newspapers which are kept in ten 4-inch wide 3-ring binders and indexted by date and headline.  They begin with 1845 (Fall River Monitor) and continue to present time as I am constantly adding to it.  Vicky caused me to look back into my presentation package for that lecture and check the “Headline” index – and I was able to quickly find it.

The article was written by Barbara Ashton, long time Swansea historian, who, sadly, died in the late 1990’s.  She appeared in a number of Lizzie Borden documentaries.   It is a terrific article full of interesting information that any Borden scholar would relish and appreciate.   Again, click to increase size.



Grace & Louis Remembered

Grace Hartley Howe (cousin to Lizzie Borden and major legatee in her Will) and her husband, Louis McHenry Howe, “the man behind Roosevelt”, have long been favorites of mine in the Borden saga.

Often disregarded or minimized in the role they played in Lizzie’s life, I find them fascinating in their own right.   As it turned out, by the time Grace received the cash (along with with Helen Leighton) three years before Louis’ death, it was a financial windfall at a time sorely needed.

To put events into a better perspective, here is a partial timeline where it can be seen 1936 was a pivotal year for Grace:

November, 1932 Franklin Delano Roosevelt wins election to his first term as President of the United States.
February 7, 1933 Grace Howe and Helen Leighton each receive $4,500 from Lizzie’s Will.
February 17, 1933 2nd Probate Court accounting filed by Charles Cook on Lizzie’s Will for period May 2, 1929 thru Jan.1, 1932.
February 17, 1933 3rd Probate Court accounting filed by Charles Cook on Lizzie’s Will: period May 2, 1929 thru Nov. 28, 1932.
March 3, 1933 Grace Hartley Howe & Helen Leighton sign 4th & Final Account of Probate.
March 4, 1933 Franklin Delano Roosevelt is inaugurated as the 32nd U.S. president.
March 24, 1933 4th & Final Probate Court acctg. filed by Cook on Lizzie’s Will – period Nov. 28, 1932 thru March 3, 1933.
April 13, 1933 Emma Borden’s estate sells Maplecroft.
April 27, 1933 The play: Nine Pine Street opens on Broadway at Longacre Theatre starring Lillian Gish as Lizzie Borden.
January 29, 1934 The huge Merchant Mill, 14th St. extending from Pleasant to Bedford, destroyed by fire.
1934 Victoria Lincoln’s book February Hill is first published; some characters based on real Fall River people.
1934 American Print Works, one of the largest factories in Fall River, closes.
1934 The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is formed to regulate broadcasting
September 28, 1934 Charles Cook dies at age 80 in Fall River (6 months after final settlement of Lizzie Borden’s estate).
1935 Pearson, Edmund. “Legends of Lizzie” published in More Studies in Murder.” NY: Smith & Haas
1935 The “Monopoly” board game is patented in the U.S.
August 31, 1935 Louis McHenry Howe enters Bethsheba Naval Hospital
April 18, 1936 Louis McHenry Howe dies at Bethesda Naval Hospital; has state funeral in East Room of White House.  Eleanor Roosevelt contacts Grace Howe in Fall River and notifies her death of Louis.
February 20, 1936 Gertrude Baker dies.
From TIME Magazine – published about 3 months after Louis McHenry Howe’s death (April 18, 1936)

Relict’s Recompense

While he lived, the nation hardly knew that Louis McHenry Howe had a wife. Quartered like a bachelor in Abraham Lincoln’s White House room, Franklin Roosevelt’s gnarled and gnomish No. 1 Secretary was a member of the private as well as the official Presidential family, spent more time in Washington than he did at home in Fall River, Mass.

Last week it was revealed that, while her famed husband devoted himself to Franklin Roosevelt’s affairs, plump, grey-eyed Grace Hartley Howe has done more than sit at home rearing his son and daughter. She is a director of Fall River’s Family Welfare Association, Historical Society, Ninth Street Day Nursery and of the League of Nations Association; advisory board member of the Consumers’ League of Massachusetts and of various local WPA projects; trustee of the Bristol County Agricultural School and Fall River Public Library; secretary of Massachusetts’ Democratic State Committee and vice chairman of Fall River’s Democratic City Committee; member of the Fall River Women’s Club, American Association of University Women, Massachusetts Horticultural Society, New England Farm and Garden Club, English-Speaking Union. League of Women Voters. D. A. R., Fall River Vassar Club and the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiques.

None of these activities, however, has made her rich, and Louis Howe left “less than $20,000.” Last week President Roosevelt recompensed his most devoted and intimate friend’s relict for virtual widowhood during her husband’s later life by appointing her acting postmaster of Fall River, at $4,000 per year.”

1936 The federal law prohibiting the dissemination of contraceptive information through the mail is modified and birth control information is no longer classified as obscene.
April 19, 1936 Grace and son Hartley travel from Fall River to Wash. DC.
April 22, 1936 President Franklin D. Roosevelt attends Louis McHenry Howe’s burial funeral in Fall River at Oak Grove Cemetery.
July 17, 1936 Louis McHenry Howe estate valued at $20,000.
June 3, 1936 Arthur Sherman Phillips writes to son of Defense Attorney Robinson asking to be forwarded Lizzie’s answers to the questions he posed her back in 1892.
June 23-27, 1936 Grace Hartley Howe attends Democratic Nat’l Convention in Philadelphia as a Delegate At-large.
July 17, 1936 Grace Hartley Howe named FR Postmistress.  (Time Mag. July  27, 1936)
October 21, 1936 FDR & wife visit to Delano Family Homestead at 39 Walnut St. following a campaign speech in New Bedford.
1936 More Studies in Murder by Edmund Pearson is published.
December 10, 1936 King Edward VIII abdicates the throne.

Borden here, Borden there, Bordens, Bordens EVERYWHERE!


I regularly receive emails and letters from those interested in the Lizzie Borden case and usually because they have or believe they have a link to Lizzie herself.

As early as 1970, I began exchanging letters with people, many of whom were distant Borden relations or residents of Fall River during Lizzie’s life time, although one or two generations behind her.   For the early correspondence I am indebted to Florence Brigham, past Curator Emeritus of the Fall River Historical Society, who was so accommodating and helpful with her introductions and assistance in my early years of research.

In more contemporary times, letters have given way to emails in terms in quantity and frequency.  But the content seems to always have that recurring thread:  the writer is related to Lizzie Borden.  This isn’t surprising since we’re all only 14 degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon, why not 20 degrees of separation from Lizzie?  Seriously though, with a variety of internet search engines we can instantly find countless blogs and websites on the case to learn specifics from -

Andrew’s skull as presented at trial to:

The Drew Barrymore connection to:

Descendents of the Bordens

The Borden Project is one of my favorite sites because of the many photographs of Bordens.  When you get to the site, click on the “Photo Gallery” at the left and by the time you get to the 3rd and 4th pages you are at the 5th, 6th and 7th generations of Bordens.  When you see all those faces, the years they were born and died, the states they spread out to, is it any wonder that Bordens are everywhere?   And though the bloodline thins with each generation, the linkage is still there.





My mother’s family were Bordens from Fall River, MA. What is interesting is that my family lineage were all male descendents, so the surname remained Borden until my mother. Your friend indicated that you were also a Borden and had done a lot of Borden genealogy and also that you knew quite a bit about Lizzie. Between a third cousin, Stephen Borden in Fall River, and my aunt, most of our family’s Borden genealogy is current.

Why I have contacted you is mainly to see how we might be related and also to ask you a question or two on Lizzie Borden. There was a grocer by the name of Edmund Whitehead located on 102 South Main Street during this period of Lizzie and the murder of her parents. Edmund Whitehead had married a Borden, Silvia L. Borden, oldest daughter of Stephen and Sarah Potter (Brayton) Borden. Silvia was the older sister of my great grandfather, Charles Edgar Borden. Anyway, Edmund was called as a witness at Lizzie’s trial in regards to the movement of Andrew Borden that morning. I am attaching a summary of Andrew Borden’s movements that morning and you can see the reference to Whitehead.

What has peaked my interest, and you may be able to offer an answer, is the half-sister of Lizzie’s stepmother, Abby. The half sister’s married name was Whitehead. I can’t find my reference at this moment, but I think her first name was Mary. My question: Was Abby’s half sister married to one of Edmund’s brothers? The Whitehead family came to Fall River in 1856, so I don’t think the town was full of Whitehead’s. Lizzie would be my fifth cousin, three times remove according to my cousin, Stephen Borden. But I would be interested in finding out if there is a connection with the Whitehead family.

I hope this email hasn’t confused the daylights out of you, I am open to any questions you may have on my family’s history. My great great grandfather, Stephen Borden, and the next two generations of male Bordens were all carriage painters by trade. So you can see I am not directly related to any of the Borden shakers and movers.

I hope to hear back from you,

Mary Clemens in Florida


I came across your blog from the article in today’s Boston Herald. Very interesting! Last year I starting doing family research because my Mom always told stories of how her mom (my grandmother) would play in Lizzie’s house. My grandmother, Marion Haywood b. 1893, mother was Flora A. Borden. Anyways…traced it back to Lizzie’s G G Grandfather John Borden b. 1640 is my G G G G G G  Grandfather. Not sure how you would say we were related, but we were.Anyways…great web-site enjoyed it alot!


After reading Arnold R. Brown’s book regarding Lizzie Borden, I became interested in the aspect of the murder being done by William S. Borden, with the possible help of William Lewis Bassett.  I began researching these two people.  One thing of interest I found is that William Lewis Bassett left Fall River, Bristol, Massachusetts after 1900 and ended up across the country in Sunnyside, Yakima County, Washington, where he died after 1910!  After William S. Borden’s murder or suicide in 1901, it looks like William Bassett wanted to get as far as possible from Fall River.William Lewis Bassett’s mother, Peace, was the second wife of Charles Lott Borden.  Charles Lott Borden’s first wife was Phebe Hathaway, the mother of William S. Borden.It is probable that Ellen Eagan’s story of seeing William S. Borden coming out of the Andrew Borden house at 11;00 a.m. the morning of the murders is true.  My theory is that he and William L. Bassett went there that morning, between 10:15 and 11:00, to ask for money from Andrew Borden.  When Andrew refused, he was murdered by William S. Borden, a dangerous lunatic.  Abby Borden was probably murdered shortly before, between 10:30 and 10:45.

So, when I read the newspaper account of Pete Peterson’s story on your website, I wanted to see the whole newspaper account.

Sincerely, Patricia

Note:  “Slides” above from presentation to womens group at ASU 5 years ago.  There are letters I will post pending permission where applicable.


St. Anne’s Church & It’s Notable Shrine

Located on South Main Street, across from Kennedy Park in Lizzie’s Borden’s Fall River, is this magnificent Catholic Church built by French Canadian immigrants in the early 1900’s.  It is one of the iconic skyline structures immediately recognizable upon the Braga Bridge approach to Fall River.

This structure was put on the National Historic Register of buildings in 1983.

St. Anne’s Parish was founded in 1869 when there were about 500-600 French families in the city.  The Church was founded in 1894.  In 1900, Fall River had a population of slightly more than 100,000 people, of which nearly 40,000 were French.  The surge of French Canadian immigrants at the turn of the Century came from the agricultural crisis in Quebec.  They had a profound influence in the labor, language and culture.  Even by the 1930’s, Fall River still kept sort of a French flavor, and even today one comes across more French and Portuguese names in its local politics, legal profession, and many of the middle class businesses.

French Canadians rose to prominence in Fall River, including Edmund P. Talbot, Fall River’s Mayor from 1923-1926 and again from 1929-1930.   Past Mayor Edward M. Lambert, Jr. is Franco-American.  Ties to church and community is what kept the former mill workers (including the Portuguese and Irish) to remain in Fall River while most of the founding families split when the hard times hit.   Now the French Canadians and those from the Azores are the weavers of a restored tapestry to Fall River’s rich history.  Their hands are no longer on levers and pulleys and spindles,  but their fingerprints are all over what is left and plans for what will be.

Little known to tourists and passing visitors (mostly because it’s not advertised in city brochures) is the below ground level Shrine to St. Anne within the Church.  One has to know where to enter:  an unmarked outside door on the north side.  According to Fall River “Officer Dave” whom I met at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast, the Church at one time opened up this space for the homeless.  In short order there were thefts, vandalism and even a death.  The space had also become a safe haven for illicit drug use.  So the parishioners had to re-think that whole be-kind-to-those-less-fortunate thing when it came to free and easy 24/7 access to the Shrine of St. Anne.

The subterranean Shrine is open most all hours to the general public.   It is spacious with a number of “exhibits, as I prefer to call them.  The Shrine of Mother Theresa is astonishingly realistic from all angles.

I forgot what or who this was supposed to be.  I just remember it striking me as rather creepy.

St. Anne was Jesus’ maternal grandmother – although you won’t find that in the bible.

Candles for prayer.

After you delight in the “Shrine Exhibit”, just down the road at Globe Four (really Five) corners, at Globe and South Main is one of the best secrets in town.  You can get the best soft serve ice cream anywhere, right here, in this little French Canadian nieghborhood.


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Lizzie Borden: Democrat or Republican? Listen to WSAR Radio Friday, August 29, 2008 at 8:00 am

I was invited back to WSAR Radio – this time to talk about one of Fall River’s most accomplished – if not notorious – women – Grace Hartley Howe – also a cousin to Lizzie Borden. Tune in if you’re in the area.

What was, if any, Lizzie Borden’s political affiliations? August 26th is “Women’s Equality Day” and as every indication tells us Lizzie was one to assert her rights, (by virtue of her sense of entitlement or legally) she most likely exercised her right to vote as ratified by the 19th Amendment in 1920.

Did she vote for the first time for Democrat James Cox or Republican Warren G. Harding? In 1924, did she vote for Calvin Coolidge who had been Harding’s Vice President, or did she vote for progressive Democrat John Davis?

She didn’t have much of an opportunity to exercise her hard-fought right to vote before she died in 1927. But because of her cousin, Grace Hartley Howe (1874-1955), Lizzie Borden may very well have been a staunch Democrat.

Grace Hartley Howe as Fall River Postmistress

Grace was one of the two major legatees in Lizzie’s Will. Her mother, Mary Borden, was the daughter of Cook Borden, Andrew J. Borden’s uncle. Grace married Louis McHenry Howe (1871-1936) – first secretly and then a second ceremony in Fall River on May 6, 1899.

When Louis Howe met Franklin Roosevelt in 1911 he began a life-long career of service and devotion to FDR, becoming not only his best friend but private secretary when FDR was Secretary of the Navy and later chief political strategist and “keeper of the secrets”. Louis McHenry Howe is attributed as having encouraged FDR to fight his battle of infantile paralysis and persuaded him to continue on with his political career. He was FDR’s speech writer, confidant, manager, mentor and trouble shooter.

After Roosevelt was elected his first term as President of the United States, Louis lived in the White House and Grace lived in Horseneck Beach, with Louis coming home on weekends. Grace busied herself raising her two children, Mary and Hartley, and often went weeks at a time without seeing Louis. But in the 1920’s and 1930’s and beyond she would be a tireless fundraiser, campaigner and active member of the Democratic Party. I would not doubt that Grace received political contributions from Lizzie for Democratic and social causes to which she was involved.

During the 1920’s it’s very likely Lizzie and Grace visited each other in their respective homes in Fall River, Horseneck Beach in Westport, New York and Washington, D.C. During this time the Howe’s and Roosevelts also visited at each other’s homes. Lizzie very well may have visited Grace in Westport when Mary and Hartley were growing up. And would Lizzie and Grace have discussed politics?

Grace Hartley Howe is seated to Louis’ right, who is directly across from Eleanor Roosevelt

When Louis died in 1936, it was Eleanor Roosevelt who called Grace in Fall River and gave her the news. Prior to his funeral services at Oak Grove Cemetery in Fall River, which both Eleanor and FDR attended, Mr. Howe was honored in Washington.

Prior to Louis’ death, Grace’s work within the Democratic Party coupled with the cache of her husband’s service, she was on an upward trajectory. Below is the article of how she became appointed to the Secretaryship of the Democratic State Committee in 1933. She was a Delegate at the 1934 Democratic Convention.

And after Louis’s death, FDR appointed her Postmistress of Fall River. Grace continued with her many political, civic and social activities. Grace resided on Locust Street (shown below) in Fall River, a few short blocks from Lizzie’s home, “Maplecroft” on French Street. Grace lived there when Lizzie died June 1, 1927.

In 1938, two years after Louis died, Eleanor Roosevelt came to visit Grace as told in this FRHN article that recaps Grace’s life and service to the Democratic party.

Grace died in 1955 after being in a coma for many weeks. At that time she lived in a lovely little cottage on Martha Street (still there) in Fall River with a nice view of the Taunton River.

Throughout her husband’s political career it was rarely reported in the papers of the link between Lizzie Borden and the Howes. That link would be too close for comfort. Notoriety from an 1892 scandal certainly was not needed to surface and hinder the ultimate goal of making FDR President. But it was Louis McHenry Howe himself who was the source of the “Emma did it” theory. I found verification of this in Fulton Oursler’s book, Behold This Dreamer! during his visit to the White House. But although Louis said it tongue in cheek, the Bordenia urban legend was born that Grace’s husband believed Lizzie’s sister did the awful deed of August 4, 1892. The story Louis told Oursler was typical of his sense of humor. (I’ll address that in a future blog entry).

With her relative and close friend, Grace Hartley Howe, so entrenched in democratic politics through her husband Louis McHenry Howe, could it be that Lizzie Borden was a Democrat? I say yes. In an interview after Lizzie’s death, Grace remarked of the many charitable acts and donations to which she gave. I just bet some of Lizzie’s money went to those very causes in which her cousin Grace solicited.

And here’s the part that has never failed to amuse me: Had Lizzie Borden lived a mere five more years she very well might have been invited to the White House. Think of it: Through her cousin’s friendship with Eleanor Roosevelt, Lizzie Borden, accused and acquitted of the most sensational crime of the century, might very well have chatted it up with Franklin Delano Roosevelt, President of the United States.

Discreetly, of course. ;


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Lizzie Borden Link to Deadwood’s Al Swearingen

Ian McShane received a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Al Swearingen

My all time favorite TV drama series was the now defunct HBO’s DEADWOOD, starring Ian McShane as “Al Swearingen”, (Ellis Alfred Swearengen) a true life character who owned The Gem saloon in Deadwood, South Dakota in the 1870’s. The series was created by genius David Milch.

The Gem Saloon. Al Swearingen believed pictured in the carriage on the left.
My all time favorite classic unsolved crime is, of course, the Borden murders. I mean, gee whiz, can you compare The Beatles and Elvis to The Back Street Boys and Barry Manilow? Neither can you compare HBO’s DEADWOOD and Lizzie Borden to anything else of compelling caliber. So imagine the stunning symmetery I realized when a correspondence from a fellow Deadwood fanatic winged its way with the following:

“I thought you might appreciate what I just confirmed last week while researching Al’s mother, Keziah Montgomery. Keziah Montgomery is named after her great grandmother Keziah Huff (1744-1797) who married Eli Branson (1734-1797), a pretty infamous Carolina Tory during the American Revolution (he was a Patriot but switched sides and fought for the British). While I knew Eli’s mother was a Borden (Rebecca Borden), I didn’t research that line too far until this weekend and made a few more Borden connections. Rebecca’s grandfather was John Borden (1640-1716) who had nine children. My family (and Al’s) descended from John’s son Benjamin (1675-1743); Lizzie’s family descended through John’s son Richard (1671-1732). That makes Al Swearingen and Lizzie Borden sixth cousins – a fairly distant connection, but related nonetheless. So I’m related to both Al Swearingen and Lizzie Borden … probably won’t be putting that on a resume.”


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