Oak Grove Cemetery
Lizzie Borden is buried at Oak Grove Cemetery, and while it is the most known – and the most beautiful – there are other cemeteries with interesting histories in Fall River.
Here’s info on a wonderful picture book of several Fall River cemeteries.
Jack Foley – Fall River Herald News
(Recycled from March 2008)
James E. Windward, “funeral director to the stars” or at least to all the best Fall River families (translation: Bordens, Braytons, Durfees, Chaces, etc.) during Lizzie’s time, was at the Borden house with his assistant around 4:00 pm on August 4, 1892. As Doctor Dolan testified, it was Undertaker Winward who removed the money from Andrew’s clothing and gave it over to him.
Winward had to wait until the in-situ crime scene photographs were taken and preliminary autopsies were concluded before he could claim possession of the bodies for preparation for Saturday’s funeral services. Could it be that Lizzie told him directly or had it conveyed to him as a discreet request by another (Alice? Uncle John?) that she wished her father to be “laid out” in his Prince Albert coat because it was such a signature garment to all those that knew him? The same Prince Albert coat that was photographed crumbled up under his head on the sofa. The same Prince Albert coat that his usual custom was to hang on a hook when switching to his more comfortable coat in which he wore in death? The same Prince Albert coat that is not on the list of clothing buried nor presented at Trial. The same Prince Albert coat that magically disappears like socks in the dryer. The same Prince Albert coat that District Attorney Knowlton alluded to as a possible shield against the assailant’s own clothing during his Trial summation? The same coat that had it been laid out and studied would have had telling blood splatters and not just a large stain from the seeping wounds of the ten hatchet blows to his head.
Let us assume that the Prince Albert coat was indeed removed from the premises by Undertaker Winward at Lizzie’s request. Let us further assume it was subsequently cleaned, pressed and put back upon the corpse of Andrew Borden. It would seem such an appropriate thing to do that his open coffin next to Abby’s in the Sitting Room would warrant narry a comment pertaining to evidence. “How peaceful he looks with his head on the side, and isn’t it natural that he should be wearing that oh so familiar coat?”, one might have commented to another.
Fast Forward – Oak Grove Cemetery:
The mortal remains of Andrew Jackson Borden lay crushed from a collapsed coffin, wood fragments embedded in the decomposed and tattered fabric of a certain Prince Albert coat. A high school ring dangles from his skeletal finger and his skeletal foot stretches out to just inches above Lizzie’s head. Each day at the stroke of 11:00 am, he shoves his foot against her head and in a muffled but strident voice only the dead can hear he speaks out to her: “Bad girl, Lizzie. Bad, bad, girl.” Thus, every day throughout eternity she hears those words at the stroke of Eleven – Lizzie’s own hellish, eternal doom.
I’d be willing to bet if Andrew’s grave were dug up, the collapsed coffin opened, there we would find the mortal remains of Andrew Borden. His head would be detached and displaced but he’d be dressed in that Prince Albert coat.
Clever girl, Lizzie. Clever, clever girl.
Have you ever wondered why:
Winnie French was so adamant to testify on behalf of Grace Howe & Helen Leighton at the Probate Hearing against Charles Cook’s claim of ownership of the Henry House?
Orrin Gardner had so little tribute in ink when he died, although it was highly deserved?
What specifically Bailey Borden sold of Lizzie & Emma’s possession in his Fall River store acquired from Hamilton Gardner?
Why there was so little reporting of Lizzie writing a blank check to Ernest Terry as she lay dying on her last day of life? (All those people at the bank knew.)
Why Charles Cook parked his car in Lizzie’s garage and then charged the heating to her estate?
Why Ernest Terry went to work for Charles Cook after Lizzie died?
Why Grace Howe, with a keen eye for antiques, left so much of it?
Why so many of Lizzie’s good books ended up with Marian Reilly?
Well, I hope to have answers to some of this to post later.
Back home and much to catch up with.
Note: Some people wonder the same thing as stated in this comment I received from “Norman Pound”:
“Inquisitive thirst comes on strong as I wait for your book and/or screenplay! This theatrical passage is evidence that it is impossible to endure another year without the pleasure of your literary talent and aptitude for investigation collected in manuscript form. Us Lizzie lovers await, chatting numerously, “When Phaye? When?””
The answer is: “I don’t do things in a hurry.”
There’s much to wonder about in the Lizzie Borden case, whether at its core or on the periphery. Here’s just a few things:
And, have you ever wondered if Lizzie went to any of those movies Nance O’Neil was in? She certainly lived long enough to read, if not actually see, Nance’s transition from the theatre to the silent screen and then in speaking roles.
And – as to those movies – here’s an interesting tidbit:
John B. Colton (1889–1946), was a New York dramatist whose plays include Nine Pine Street (1933), based on the Borden murder case. (He also co-wrote Rain (1922), based on a Somerset Maugham story). But here’s the thing – Colton co-wrote “Call of the Flesh”, a film featuring Nance O’Neil released August 16, 1930. And less than 3 years later on April 27, 1933, Nine Pine Street premiered at the Longacre Theatre and starred Lillian Gish as “Effie Holden.” It played for 28 performances and closed in mid May, 1933. Do you wonder if Colton spoke to Nance about Lizzie Borden and was thereby inspired to write Nine Pine Street? Something to ponder.
Here’s what was going on around that time:
|February 18, 1933||New York Magazine article on LMH “the mysterious alter ego of Franklin D. Roosevelt.|
|March 24, 1933||4th & Final Probate Court acctg. filed by Cook on Lizzie’s Will – period Nov. 28, 1932 thru March 3, 1933.|
|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.|
|April 13, 1933||Emma’s estate sells Maplecroft. (LR561)|
|April 27, 1933||The play: Nine Pine Street opens on Broadway at Longacre Theatre starring Lillian Gish as Lizzie Borden.|
And here’s something else I have always wondered about:
Why didn’t Abby have Bridget fix eggs on that August 4, 1892 Thursday morning instead of the 5 day old cold mutton and mutton soup? After all, Uncle John Morse had picked them up from Frederick Eddy at Andrew’s farm in Swansea just the evening before and brought them back per Andrew’s request. Those eggs were most likely in the kitchen pantry Wednesday night and Thursday morning. I wonder if Abby asked Andrew what he wanted for breakfast and suggested the eggs. I wonder if Andrew, with both testeronic and assertive dominance said: “No. I’ll be selling those eggs. Serve the mutton. Waste not, want not.” If so, one cannot help but wince and sigh yet again for poor Abby.
Too bad Lizzie didn’t get up earlier. Abby might have asked her what she wanted for BREAKFAST instead of (according to Lizzie’s Inquest Testimony) what she wanted for dinner, i.e., the noon day meal. I wonder if Lizzie would have stomped her foot and said: “Mutton?!! No!!! I want eggs!”
Just a few things to wonder about. There’s more, but I’m out of time and American Idol is on with the results of the next four to get booted off.
Hmmm, something to ponder.
UPDATE: Here’s info on a wonderful picture book of several Fall River cemeteries.
Jack Foley – Fall River Herald News
1540 Stafford Rd
2233 Robeson St
462 N Main St
440 Newhall St
The Fall River Historical Society is having a big sale on all their items. Check it out!
Shelley Dziedzic can usually be found doing her once weekly Friday night tour for the overnight guests at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum. She makes sure the guests get their money’s worth because she knows both the case and the House at 92 Second Street better than most. Shelley has several passions she pursues, least of which is her attraction to old cemeteries foremost being Fall River’s Oak Grove Cemetery. She has spent years amassing gorgeous photos of the grounds, seeking out headstones of those related to the case and beyond.
“A History of Oak Grove Cemetery & Walking Tour of Borden Related Graves and Buildings” is a 65-page booklet chock-full of information about the history, regulations, symbolisms, and Victorian Celebrations of Death, in addition to featuring Borden related burial sites.
She includes the standard map of Oak Grove and places numbers with identifying personages as to their location of burial. Alas, the cemetery’s map does not have the street nor walking paths identified which can make locating the exact spot sometimes problematic. But part of the journey’s enjoyment is in the discovery and if it were too easy we would not be as joyful upon shouting: “Eureka!”
There is also good information about Undertaker Winward, Oak Groves’ “undertaker to the stars” as I like to call him. He is just one of the many people she highlights.
Shelley has included a sleeved CD affixed to to the inside back cover of the booklet with some stunning images she has taken over the years. I would have liked to have seen captions and a cross-reference on some but here again, it makes you want to seek out those you are not familiar with. Additionally, by looking at the images and reading about the symbolism on the stone markings helps educate us to obtain a greater insight into what surviving family members treasured about their departed love ones.
This is truly a wonderful piece of work and I highly recommend its purchase to those who have a love of old cemeteries in general, an interest in the Borden case, or even just a student of headstones and monuments.
You can purchase this booklet at Shelley’s Friends of Oak Grove Cemetery site. If you reside in or near Fall River, it can also be purchased at the Fall River History Society and the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum for a good value price of $20.
(Note: Shelley has performed in a series of mini films by Richard Behrens, Garden Bay Films, and those can be viewed HERE.)
Many of us have given thought as to what other era we would have liked to have been born in. Myself, for example, would have liked to have lived in Deadwood, South Dakota in the 1880′s, or in Paris in the 1920′s when I was IN my twenties. Shelley, on the other hand, would most probably have preferred the Victorian era. I see her as the Elsa Maxwell of Fall River’s Victorian and Edwardian era.
If she had been born into a family residing in one of those great Victorian houses in the Highlands neighborhood of Fall River, she would have grown into quite the society lady. She would have had wonderful, chatty teas with her lady friends, organized and been President of the Victorian Home Gardens Society of Fall River, invited the “Hill people’ to her fabulous costumed parties and soirees, been active in a number of charities, and a formidable member of the Central Congregational Church. Her tireless pursuits of grand special events throughout the Victorian and Edwardian eras would have made her a local legend with several mentions in Philip T. Sylvia, Jr.’s Victorian Vistas. Yes, she definitely would have been the Elsa Maxwell of that time. I think she even resembles her a bit, yes?
Shelley Dziedzic Elsa Maxwell
So a big shout-out to Shelley and all she does to enrich the experience of B&B guests, the August 4th re-enactments (which probably wouldn’t happen without her – or at least not nearly as well produced), and going about her successful endeavors quietly, creatively, and without regard for personal notoriety and/or media exposure.. Thank you, Shelley!
Check out Shelly’s websites:
And there she is, the link – well, sort of a link: Grace Hartley Howe, cousin to Lizzie Borden, sitting behind John F. Kennedy and Harry S. Truman. 1st Row: Governor Paul Dever, JFK, Truman, Eddie Doolan; 2nd Row: Tom Kitchen, Mary Kane, Grace, City Councilor John Arruda, and David Talbot. This photograph was taken in Fall River in 1952 during JFK’s campaign for the Senate and is on display in the dining room cabinet at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast/Museum. Grace died in 1955, three years after this photograph was taken.
Grace lived her last years at this cottage on Martha Street in Fall River.
It has a lovely view of the Taunton River, which would have been even more exposed in her time there.
When a boy, Fall River author Leonard Rebello (Lizzie Borden Past & Present) used to deliver papers to Grace here. He never knew her connection to Lizzie Borden until he was doing research for his book.
Oak Grove Cemetery grave site of Cook and Mary Borden – Grace Borden Hartley Howe’s maternal grandparents. (Right click for larger image)
Grace’s grandfather, Cook Borden, was a brother of Abraham Borden – Andrew Borden’s father. Grace’s mother, Mary Borden Hartley, was named after Grace’s grandmother (Cook Borden’s wife). Grace’s own daughter, Mary Hartley Baker, who died many years before Grace, was also named after *her* grandmother. Mary’s son, (Grace’s grandson) Robert Baker, inherited family property in Westport and also much of Lizzie’s personal property – as did Grace’s own son, Hartley, which Grace had inherited from Lizzie. When Hartley died in 1996, some of what *he* had was left to his wife, Rosella Hartley Howe.
Grace is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery with her husband, Louis McHenry Howe (d.1936)
The autopsies of Lizzie Borden’s father and stepmother were conducted one week after the murders – August 11, 1892, in the “ladies waiting room” at Oak Grove Cemetery. It is the structure to the left in this picture postcard below.
Here is a more contemporary view:The little building is now used to house gardening tools and supplies and also serves as a break room for the grounds-keepers.
Upon the instruction of District Attorney Hosea Knowlton, the heads of Andrew and Abby were severed and taken home by Dr. Dolan. They were unceremoniously boiled of their flesh on his kitchen stove (much to the fright of his two young sons), and maintained in his home until presented in court at the Preliminary Hearing. The sisters were not informed, nor the media – one of the better kept secrets of the prosecution’s case.
Below is the link to the letter from Dr. Dolan’s grandson, Donald Dolan, to Robert Flynn dated March 6, 1992. (Don Dolan was a teacher, and a Presenter at the 1992 Lizzie Borden Centennial. He passed away May 15, 2002 and is buried at Rutland Town Cemetery in Mass. His widow, Joyce, still resides in the same home they shared for 50 years).
A thorough reading of the actual typed autopsy reports, including hand written notes, is available from the images below.
(Right click on the text below for larger view).
The Preliminary Hearing commenced on August 25, 1892 and once the revelation of the heads being severed hit the papers, it brought forth the indignation and revulsion of some readers. As an example, also in my collection is this letter from one John E. Gray written to Dr. Dolan, referring to him as a “vile wretch”. First is an image of the actual letter and then a translation done by his grandson, Don, to Bob Flynn: brutal
It wasn’t until after the Trial in July of 1893, when Hosea Knowlton wrote to Dr. Dolan stating that Lizzie and Emma’s legal counsel, Andrew Jennings, wanted the skulls returned. Click to see returnskulls.
Another letter in this collection remembers this occurrence as conveyed by Dolan’s grandson to Bob Flynn. He also mentions visiting his Aunt Ellen who lives near Oak Grove Cemetery. Porter-Skulls
The skulls were subsequently buried in boxes about 3 feet below ground. Placement was a “guestimate”.
Note1: Robert Flynn is a publisher, author and former bookseller.
Note 2: Joyce Dolan told me Don Dolan remembered his father (Dr. Dolan’s son) telling him of seeing Abby’s hair switch in the attic of their home where other “evidence” was kept.
Note 3: Dr. William A. Dolan had 4 children; 2 sons (Tom and William A. Dolan, Jr. – Don’s father) and 2 daughters (Ellen, called “Nellie” and Mary – both were spinster school teachers in Fall River).
Fall River remains one of those cities best viewed from a distance. Up close her blemishes neither beckon nor embrace. Lizzie Borden, on the other hand, forever beckons, blemishes and all.
From a historical perspective, Fall River is as associated with Lizzie Borden as Dallas is to the JFK assassination. Both horrific and shocking events, both forever embedded in American history.
The Lizzie Borden story is not just about a 32 year old spinster who wielded a hatchet, (let me repeat that – HATCHET) on a highly humid August 4th day, but is a case about class structure in a stratified society with the poor deferring to the power and control of the founding families. It is the incredulity of the circumstances of such a heinous crime in broad daylight with suspicion of a Borden – and the younger daughter at that – which gives this Victorian patricide its compelling and enduring mystique. It is a case that was so out of the bounds of reference for local law enforcement and the public’s imagination in general that weaves into the tapestry of Fall River’s history.
To Fall River residents who are little charmed or largely exasperated by the “Lizzie Borden” association to their city, like it or not this case has legs – and has for 117 years. Like it or not dozens of books on the Borden case, hundreds of dedicated chapters in compendium books, numerous plays, an opera, a ballet, musicals, documentaries, a made for TV film, thousands of websites, blogs and YouTube uploads have continued to feed the hungered curious.
Morphed into the popular culture this mystifying maiden has had her face and form replicated into Goth dolls, bobble heads, woodcuts, miniature die caste game pieces, original “Lizzie art” offered on eBay, CafePress, Itsy, and more. These all serve as the cemented footprint that this case is destined for durability and forever associated with Fall River.
It is a case that gets discovered by every succeeding generation of those who have an interest in true crime, specifically unsolved true crime. In all the world and in all the world’s issues, conflicts and topics be they political, social, environmental – cumulative scholarly interest in the Borden case is but a small niche. A mere pimple upon the landscape of life’s Bigger Issues. But for pockets of society drawn to classic unsolved murders and readers of true crime this case endures, spawning new devotees with each successive decade. Indeed, of all classic unsolved true crimes two names emerge unchallenged with worldwide recognition: Lizzie Borden and Jack the Ripper. So like it or not Fall Riverites – Lizzie Borden is there to stay.
People flock to Fall River just because of Lizzie Borden. And more often than Fall River’s office of tourism would like, only because of Lizzie. Whether a weekend or just a day long visit they want to see four things and four things only:
They travel cross-country and beyond just to stay at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum. Few bother ascertaining what else Fall River has to offer and once arrived, they might have except for their disappointment in the look and feel of Fall River today. More than a century passed its prime, the tawdry downtown and surrounding neighborhoods reflect a city ridden with crime and long without sustainable economic development.
Yet, Lizzie’s home town still has more to offer than just “Lizzie”. Visitors can drive through “the Highlands” and see one of the greatest concentrations of Victorian homes in the country, Battleship Cove, the Martime Museum, the Fall River Historical Society (if you’re lucky enough to be there when they’re open), music and art at The Narrows, the mills and factories – though most standing silent and unoccupied – as testaments to Fall River’s once grand and thriving past. Then there’s the incredible food, beautiful vistas, and some wonderful people – 3rd, 4th, and 5th generation blue collar working class people. But alas, too often for too long these have been bypassed by those drawn to the Borden sites.
Long after more iconic structures have been torn down, long after we have crystals embedded in our foreheads, long after communication requires neither digits nor the digital, humankind’s interest in Lizzie Borden will endure.
Whether on her back looking upwards or above looking down, surely she chuckles; the knowledge of “who dunnit” hers and hers alone.
Lucy S. Macomber headstone at Oak Grove Cemetery. She was a school chum of Lizzie’s (the class ahead of her) and listed as the 17th bequest in Lizzie’s will, receiving $1,000.
Grace’s Fall River cottage home on Martha Street with lovely view of the Taunton River. She lived here during her years as Postmistress of Fall River and until her death in 1955.
Grace’s uncle, Jerome C. Borden had several daughters. Cousin Bessy was a favorite and Grace’s mother wrote her daughter frequently about Bessy, Bertha and Fanny.
During the 1880′s & 1890′s it was fashionable to have yourself photographed in front of your home or business by a traveling postcard photographer. The below image shows 3 ladies in front of this home only one door down from Central Congregational Church.
This is a similar view of that area today where both houses still stand.
The one nearest the now defunct Abby Grille, as shown below, has had some recent modifications.
It is now the “Old Firehouse Smoke Shop”
Perhaps you’ve heard of the mysterious skulker of Oak Grove Cemetery in Fall River, Ma. On the other hand, perhaps you have not, in which case I’ll tell you.
For over a century people have seen the scurrying to and fro of a woman dressed in a black Victorian dress. She is described as neither attractive nor unattractive, neither young nor old, more short than tall and has pale blue eyes. It’s unknown how she gets into the cemetery as she has never been seen walking through the main gate off Prospect Avenue. When spotted from a distance and called out to, she will turn and look up and then quickly scurry away, disappearing between the headstones and over the little sloping hills.
Some people have claimed they saw her carrying away a bone, thought to be a femur, but at the time there was no evidence of any graves having been dug up or in any way disturbed. An Oak Grove caretaker once said he chased her for 200 yards on a vehicle similar to a golf cart but she could not be overtaken. She disappeared somewhere between Louis and Grace Howe and Philip T. Borden.
While in Boston at the Boston Public Library sifting through shelves of old film reels, I came across a short film done as an experiment with time lapse photography at Oak Grove Cemetery at night. After close scrutiny and playing it over and over, I could see this mysterious skulker captured on film! Look for yourself!
Recently spotted and captured on digital camera, I can now reveal the mysterious skulker of Oak Grove:
Scroll down slowly
Wait for it
Wait for it
You’re almost there
Trust me, you’re very close
Photos taken by Don S., a guest at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast on Saturday, August 4, 2007. How he got her to stand still I’ll never know.
That Lizzie. “She’s everywhere”. ;)
15 days to Holloween
Countless guests video tape their stay at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast and often times put them up on YouTube.com. Some are more entertaining and informative than others. Charles Reis, Jr. has done a very good job with this 4-part presentation of his January 30, 2009 visit.
Here’s some shots I just picked at random from my different digital albums of Lizzie Borden’s home town – Fall River. Also some of nearby locales. Enjoy.
Mary Borden Hartley rests near her father, Cook Borden – the mother and grandfather of Grace Hartley Howe.
The beautiful church seats at The Narrows, 45 Anawan Street.
Staircase at The Narrows – imagine the millions of steps up and down by the factory workers, holding the railing, descending after a 14 hour day.
Central Congregational Church
Academy Building Courtyard fronting on Second Street
Sitting Room closet shows bounded Trial transcript. and my “Journey to Maplecroft” game on second shelf.
Rear view of the “Kelley house”, directly south of 92 Second.
The “Henry House”
Main Library, post renovation.
Sitting at the bench, New Bedford Superior Court
Oldest house in Fall River
One of the few remaining “grand” carriage houses
From the corner of the grand old carriage house looking at the former Sarah Brayton house.
Seashells at the sea shore.
Center courtyard off the kitchen at Central Congregational
You can’t stand here and get this shot anymore.
Refrigerator at Lizzie Borden B&B.
Home for the Aged – rear view.
Views from Swansea, across the street from Marconi’s
Bet you’ve never seen this shot before.
David Rehak book, Did Lizzie Axe for It? has first time published portrait of Andrew Borden seen above.
Center Street as seen through window of New Bedford Whaling Museum
Old Gardner cemetery in Swansea
Lizzie Borden’s burial site at Oak Grove Cemetery is the most visited gravesite on the entire grounds.
Lizzie’s headstone center, right
But Fall River has many other cemeteries. Seldom visited is the Friends Cemetery at the foot of Hood Street. Lizzie Borden descended from a line of Quakers.
The Quakers buried here are vitually unknown for not many of the headstones (of those that *did* have headstones), remain today.
Quakers, known for their modesty, believed having headstones was a sign of vanity.
Residential structures were built right over the graves so this cemetery was actually larger than it appears.
This is one of the very few markers that has legible writing on it.
This view shows part of the original stone wall. Hardly a space getting respect and reverence, the Friends Cemetery is often used as a “relieving” area for those walking their dogs.
From the Fall River Library website, here is a listing of all the cemeteries in Fall River.
Agudath Achim Jewish Cemetery
|Beth El Cemetery
N. Main St.
Fall River, Mass. 02722
Contact: Temple Beth El
Contact: Adas Israel Synagogue
North Burial Ground
Notre Dame Cemetery
|Oak Grove Cemetery
765 Prospect St.
Fall River MA 02720
Established c. 1873
Historical Note: burial place of Lizzie Borden
(1860-1927), acquitted of murdering her father
and stepmother in 1892.
Our Lady of Light Cemetery
|St. John’s Cemetery
258 Brightman St.
Fall River, Mass. 02722
|St. Mary’s Cemetery
Fall River, Mass. 02722
|St. Patrick’s Cemetery
2233 Robeson St.
Fall River, Mass. 02720
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. ;
EXPANDED UPDATE – SEE BELOW
UPDATE: According to this USA Today’s AP report, Mr. Pickel is planning to open up his alleged “True Story” of Lizzie Borden this weekend. CLICK HERE
Mr. Pickel continues to be under the erroneous assumption that most people don’t know what state, let alone what city, in which the Borden case took place. To that I say: “Mr. Pickel – just ask the Fall River Historical Society how many decades people have flocked there ONLY to see the Borden case exhibits. Inquire at Oak Grove cemetery how many people traversed their grounds solely to find Lizzie Borden’s grave until they finally painted footprints on the pavement guiding folks to the Andrew J. Borden family plot. Ask Robert Dube and the Silvia’s how many people have come on to their property or stopped to photograph “Maplecroft” for the past 40 years.
Most importantly, people have been flocking to 92 Second Street since Day One. Indeed, within days of the murders wagon and carriage drivers would transport disembarking passengers from steamers of the Fall River Line coming from New York and Boston requesting to be taken to the “Lizzie Borden house.” This was reported in the local papers shortly after the crime and continued when Lizzie moved to French Street. Visitors to Fall River for the past 116 years have continued to drive by 92 Second Street just to get a gander of the famous structure.
For 116 years local, regional and national papers have continued to write articles about the case. Dozens of books have been published, several documentaries have been made on “Fall River’s” Lizzie Borden. The #1 best selling book on the case, Victoria Lincoln’s A Private Disgrace, has had over a dozen printings and is still in print. Royalties continue to be paid out to her daughters, Priscilla Williams and Louise Lowe Kittredge. This book, written by native of Fall River who emphasized “Fall River’s” close-knit families, left no doubt in the reader’s minds WHERE this crime took place. People who have read only one book on the case, most always have read this one.
And when 92 Second Street was opened up to the public for the first time as the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast/Museum in 1996, it put Fall River on the map as a tourist destination for all those interested in unsolved murders and the Lizzie Borden case.
The Lizzie Borden case is as iconic to Fall River as the JFK assassination is to Dallas.
If you can’t even quote the truth about the general public’s awareness of where these crimes took place, what confidence can one have in your ability to present the “true story” of Lizzie Borden at your Salem “exhibit”?
Get a clue, Lenny. Get a grip on the “true” story. ;)
“The True Story of Lizzie Borden” is what Leonard Pickel proposes to reveal to $10 ticket holders ($8 if you use his online $2 discount coupon) at his EXHIBIT, EXHIBIT, EXHIBIT (get it?) in Salem, MA. The “True” story??? Just how does he know what is true?
First and foremost: Lizzie Borden was acquitted on June 20, 1893 in that sensational Trial held at the New Bedford Superior Court. No one else was ever brought to Trial. The Who, How and Why continues to be a major mystery in this most compelling unsolved classic crime. Indeed, from books, blogs and bumper stickers we repeatedly see the phrase: “Lizzie Borden – Did she or didn’t she?” It is absolutely presumptuous of anyone to state – be it in a book, blog, bumper sticker, lecture, Youtube video, or anything else – that they can reveal or know the “true” story. Nobody does.
2005 photo of Leonard Pickel from his Haunted Times magazine website
The person with the most means, motive and opportunity certainly was Lizzie, but it was never conclusively proven and no one knows for certain if she did it. The good money says of course she did, but no one can prove or show that is true.
So I have to wonder just what TRUTH to the Lizzie Borden story Mr. Pickel will impart to his visitors? Is the “true” story going to reveal that Lizzie alone committed the murders? Even the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum and the Fall River Historical Society do not and never have been so presumptuous as to state whether or not Lizzie did it. Nor have they ever claimed to know the truth about Lizzie. Too many questions remain. Far too many.
Lee-ann Wilber, General Manager & co-owner of Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum
Since the opening of the B&B in 1996, the tour scripts have been written for the tour guides to give facts of the case without asserting that Lizzie or anyone else in particular did the deed. They do not purport that Lizzie did it or didn’t do it, or that Uncle John or Bridget or William Borden committed the murders, or that Lizzie had a boyfriend named David Anthony who did it, or that her sister Emma did it, or that even Phoebe Bowen did it. Nor do they state that it is true that Lizzie was a lesbian, actually strangled or cut off the head of Abby’s cat, or that she was actually a shoplifter. None of this is known to be the truth.
But Leonard Pickel, by virtue of the name of his proposed EXHIBIT and from what he’s stated in newspapers, has the audacity to assert he will exhibit The True Story of Lizzie Borden. What yellow brick road is *he* on? The true story of Lizzie Borden will never be known. Whatever it was, Lizzie took it to her grave. Maybe Mr. Pickel has visited “the other side” and knows something we don’t.
Mr. Pickel is also repeatedly quoted in interviews that Fall River has never “embraced” Lizzie nor had the support of the city. Not true. There was a Lizzie Borden symposium in 1986 of which the city and community organizations supported. But it wasn’t until the highly successful 4-day 1992 Lizzie Borden Centennial that Fall River realized money could be made and that Lizzie was a source of new revenue for tourism dollars that they fully embraced her. She’s in both Chamber and City promotional brochures, city department websites, and the “LIZZIE BORDEN MUSEUM” is a prominently displayed huge BLUE I-95 highway sign on the approach to the Braga Bridge just entering Fall River.
Here’s the August 9th Boston Herald’s report of the current litigation wherein Pickel demonstrates his lack of knowledge regarding the relationship between the City of Fall River and Lizzie Borden.
In my opinion, Mr. Pickel not only does not have his thumb on the pulse of what Lizzie means to Fall River, he doesn’t have his hand on the hatchet to exhibit the True Story of Lizzie Borden.
UPDATED 6/3/08 TO INCLUDE ARTICLE ON “20/20″ TV PROGRAM IN FALL RIVER.
Last month marked thirty years – that’s 30 years of visiting Fall River and the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast.
(Right click for larger image)
Safeguard yourself at Oak Grove Cemetery
The following is from A View of Battleship Cove blogsite:
Friday, May 30, 2008
There I was, discounting the power of WSAR, I thought for sure there was no way 20/20 would visit this little town of Fall River. 20/20 has pointed it’s lens towards little ole Fall River, MA, to show the story of Mixed Martial Arts and Gillett’s studio.
Tonight on 20/20, 10PM Channel 5
Episode Detail: How Young Is Too Young? – 20/20 Reports on age-appropriate behavior and adult pressures placed on youngsters include profiles of two teen paparazzi and a teenage in-line skater who was given steroids by his father. Also: Salma Hayek and Sarah Jessica Parker on how they deal with paparazzi wanting pictures of their young children; John Stossel on campaigns against the teaching of mixed martial arts to minors; and (from 2007) reporter Bill Ritter on child prodigies.
It will be interesting to see how they handle the story tonight. My sources tell me that it is going to have a positive spin, rather than the WSAR intended negative spin. Watch tonight to find out.
Fear and Loathing in Fall River
Radio Station WSAR in Swansea
Keri Rodrigues, Me and Baby Matthew
Both Lizzie Borden and her sister Emma left monies for “perpetual care” of their father’s family plot in their Wills. In fact, is was the #1 item in Lizzie’s itemized bequests:
“1. To the City of Fall River the sum of five hundred dollars, the income derived there from to be used for the perpetual care of my father’s lot in the Oak Grove Cemetery in said Fall River.”
Emma Borden’s second bequest in her Will states:
“SECOND: I give and bequeath to the Treasurer of the City of Fall River, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the sum of One Thousand Dollars ($1,000), the same to be held by said City of Fall River, IN TRUST, the income thereof to be used and applied for the perpetual care and improvement of the family burial lot, and the monuments and stones thereon, in Oak Grove Cemetery, which was owned by my father, Andrew J. Borden, at the time of his death.”
Emma signed her Will on November 20, 1920 (and a Codicil to that Will on June 22, 1922). Lizzie signed her Will January 30, 1926.
Being curious of just what “perpetual care” meant in the 21st Century relative to the Borden plot, I contacted Tom Eaton, Director of Cemeteries with the Fall River Department of Recreational Facilities, Cemeteries and Trees.
Oak Grove Cemetery encompasses over 100 acres of land which was donated to the City of Fall River in the 1840′s. There are several cemeteries in Fall River, but only two are maintained by the City: Oak Grove and North Burial Ground on North Main Street. Many remains and tombstones were removed from the latter cemetery to Oak Grove in the past two centuries, including that of the tragic Sarah Cornell.
(Some other interesting and Borden case-related graves can be found at Find A Grave.)
Back to “perpetual care”:
Operations and Maintenance of Oak Grove Cemetery is primarily funded by “perpetual care” monies, although the City of Fall River does contribute some budgetary funding. “Perpetual care” is mandatory (in Lizzie’s day it was not) for anyone now buried in Oak Grove. For example, if a person purchased a two plot burial site, it would cost $1,000, of which $500 would go into the perpetual care fund. This is a pooled fund from all perpetual care revenue, so the $500 assessment is not exclusive or designated for a specific plot, but rather placed in the fund for general use of operations and maintenance of the entire Cemetery.
The O&M costs primarily covered by “perpetual care” monies include salaries and administrative overhead as well as for weeding and other maintenance activities on the burial plot itself. This includes cemetery maintenance needs such as care of the roads, pathways, fencing, locks, utility costs for the office, the cutting and caring of trees, painting, mowing, debris clean up, etc.
As would be expected, time, nature and vandalism have taken a toll on Oak Grove. The perpetual care fund is insufficient to do more than minimal maintenance, let alone planting of new and replacement trees. The “Friends of Oak Grove Cemetery” is an excellent blog site with beautiful photos of Oak Grove and provides information on how locals and others can help with maintenance and tree planting. (Mary Ann Wordell, president of the Fall River Street Tree Planting Program and a resident of the Highlands donated a tree to be planted in Oak Grove in the spring in memory of her family.)
The $500 and $1,000 that Lizzie and Emma set forth in their Wills for perpetual care has long been depleted according to Tom Eaton. Any maintenance done to the Andrew Borden plot now is from the pooled fund.
In a way, the phrase “Perpetual care” for grave sites and family plots spread over 100 acres seems an oxymoron given the current funding constraints. But in Lizzie & Emma’s time maybe people took it literally – thinking whatever they bequeathed guaranteed maintenance into perpetuity.
The Andrew Jackson Borden family plot is the most visited and photographed of all the grave sites in the Cemetery. It is fortunate that occasionally a visitor will trim the grass around the headstones, clean off the stones, weed the walkways and so forth. While there may be a shortage of “perpetual care” funds for a higher standard of maintenance throughout the Cemetery, continuation of “perpetual visitors” to the Borden family historic grave site seems guaranteed ….and here it comes…..you guessed it…..into perpetuity. ;)
Here is a map of the layout of Oak Grove Cemetery.