Built by Southard Miller in 1845, the house has remained in the same location and virtually unchanged for nearly 170 years. Since this aerial was taken, however, the house has changed ownership, been painted green, the L-shape Leary Press has been demolished, the bus terminal directly across the street has been relocated and an architectural monstrosity known as the Superior Court towers in its place, Subtle symmetry? Perhaps.
Tag Archives: Emma Borden
(Repost from March, 2013)
Emma Borden died in the early morning hours 9 days after her sister, Lizzie. Members of her surrogate family saw to her funeral/burial wishes. Her wake was held at Henry and Caroline Gardner’s home. Unlike Lizzie, family and friends gathered to pay their respects and the details of how things were handled was published in these papers. (Click for larger views).
Seated left is Henry Augustus Gardner and his son Orrin to the right. In the back is Hamilton Gardner (raised by Orrin since he was about 10 years old) and his best friend “Buck”. These 3 Gardners, and many more, were at her Wake.
Where we read that Emma had made her wishes known to “Mrs. Gardner”, that would be Caroline Cole Mason Gardner who died in 1918, just seven years after celebrating her 50th Wedding Anniversary with Henry, an event which Emma attended. (Henry would go on to live until 1931). It was Caroline’s sister, Susan Francis Mason who had married Sarah Morse Borden’s brother, William Bradford Morse (they moved to Minnesota and lived all their lives there). That marriage began the bloodline connection to Lizzie between the Morses and the Gardners and the Bordens (still with me here?).
In the article below it states Emma’s wishes were to be buried by her father and stepmother. She is, in fact, buried right along side her sister which can be seen in the image of the family plot at the end of this post. It’s somewhat curious that Emma did not specify “beside my mother”. Emma had been informed of Lizzie’s death by Orrin Gardner but due to her weakened condition did not attend her burial. Unless the sisters spoke of the exact placements of their own future graves prior to Emma’s 1905 departure from Lizzie, Emma would not know of this layout. (Note: Lizzie, in her funeral instructions, requested to be buried at her father’s feet).
In this next article we note that Jerome C. Borden and his family attended the wake. Jerome, of course, was the son of Cook Borden who was Andrew’s uncle. Andrew’s father, Abraham, and Cook were brothers. Jerome, Andrew’s nephew, had several daughters several years younger than the previously departed Lizbeth of Maplecroft. Two of those daughters were close cousins withGrace Hartley Howe, Jerome’s sister’s daughter and thereby his niece. (No mention if Grace was present at the wake though I doubt it as her husband,Louis McHenry Howe was absorbed in pursuits to get Franklin Delano Roosevelt elected President). (I wonder if Jerome thought maybe Emma might have left him some money or property since Lizzie left plenty to his niece Grace as shown in her will which had been printed in the papers just that week). But she didn’t leave anything to Jerome who had been a staunch supporter of Lizzie during the Trial. She left plenty for the Gardners, though whereas Lizzie left them nothing.
The State of New Hampshire’s Record of Death for the year ended December 31, 1927, has a July 1, 1927 entry recording her death on June 10, 1927 and internment on June 13th at Oak Grove Cemetery. The cause of death is “chronic nephritis” and “duration 2 years”. Indicated as the cause is “senility” and “unknown duration”. No mention of any fall. Note that under “Occupation” is written “Retired”. Indeed.
Below: Riverby (pronounced River”bye”) as it looked in the late 1920′s.
This property was originally in Caroline’s family but she and Henry lived there most of their lives operating it as a successful farm. It passed on to Orrin then to Hamilton Gardner and was sold and subdivided in the 1950′s. Few of the extra out-buildings remain. The current owner of Riverby has partitioned off several rooms, making them into apartments although the neighborhood is not zoned for that. An artist lives on the first floor, a couple on the second and a musician on the 3rd floor attic rooms.
Recycled from 2011
Emma Borden, Lizzie’s sister, left most of her personal property to Orrin Gardner. He, in turn, gave much to his nephew, Hamilton, son of Orrin’s brother. Before we go further, please note I’ve written about the Gardners of Swansea many times and you should review these posts HERE and HERE.
The following images of letters and notes gives us a glimpse of what happened. Indeed, the recently discovered portraits of a young Andrew and young Sarah were donated to the Swansea Historical Society by Hamilton Gardner. (You’ll remember those portraits, possibly done at the time they were married – a true love match.)
You have to wonder if these portraits hung at Maplecroft and if Emma took them when she left Lizzie in 1905. Anyway….as to her other stuff, read these:
I sure would like to see that photo of Emma “with a girlfriend at church bazaar” Maybe it’ll be in Parallel Lives).
(Scanned documents from the Swansea Historical Society)
NEWS FLASH: Stefani Koorey wrote on her forum (regarding her partner’s new novel on Lizzie, “The Girl With the Pansy Pin” the following:
“To give you a brief history about Lizzie Borden novels, there are 3 full-length titles written since 1939 centered and structured around the actual Borden murders. It began with Marie Belloc Lowdes, LIZZIE BORDEN A STUDY IN CONJECTURE, published by Longmans, Green Co. Then, in 1984, Evan Hunter came out with his block-buster best seller LIZZIE, published by Arbor House. This was followed in 1991 by Elizabeth Engstrom’s LIZZIE BORDEN, published by Tom Doherty Associates Book. Now it’s the PearTree Press’s venture with, LIZZIE BORDEN, THE GIRL WITH THE PANSY PIN. “
She forgot to mention Walter Satherwait’s Miss Lizzie, which was originally published in 1989 – 24 years ago, and shown here in a Kirkus Review. I’ve had this book (autographed) for years. It has recently been reprinted for Kindle. I’m surprised Ms. Koorey missed this as it appeared in the same issue of the that featured her research on the Preliminary Hearing.
UPDATE: As I said, there will be many articles acknowledging the anniversary of these gruesome murders. Here is a sampling. Also news about the upcoming Lifetime Movie Channel presentation on the Trial starring Christina Ricci.
And this is the BEST.
And also this from the FRHN. Debbie Alard Dion has for many, many years been the go-to local reporter for writing all things Lizzie Borden as the stories develop. This is her (pretty much stock) annual recap. Depending upon what happens Sunday, August 4th at US embassies overseas, it may or may not be a slow news day, relegating Ms. Borden to page 2 in some local papers.
It’s almost that time of year when focus on Fall River, MA is dominated by Lizzie Borden and the unsolved hatchet murders of her father, Andrew, and her stepmother, Abby on August 4, 1892.
A regurgitation of media mentions, short site and sound bytes, videos of the “murder house” (a Bed & Breakfast Museum since 1996) accompanied by eerie music and bloody graphics, and the gratuitous recitation of that inaccurate quatrain, “Lizzie Borden took an axe, gave her father……” (please, don’t make me go any further) will surely play out on various TV channels throughout the country.
The Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum will be having its annual re-enactments which is always very entertaining and worth the price of a ticket. The Fall River Historical Society will have its special display of Lizzie Borden artifacts – another “must see” if you’re anywhere in the area during its exhibition. And of course the Andrew J. Borden burial plot at Oak Grove cemetery, as well as the high volume “drive-bys” in front of “Maplecroft” in the Highlands neighborhood of Fall River will thrill both newcomer and repeat OCD’r.
Also, it’s this time of year new books on Lizzie come out and this year it’s an attractively packaged fiction hardback by first time author, Michael Brimbau titled: The Girl With the Pansy Pin. Limited edition with color photographs (most all of which we’ve seen before) and its own slip case for a mere $85.00 (or the standard black and white paperback for $22). In my opinion, if you’re going to buy any book on Lizzie Borden – invest heavily right off the bat and get to know about the real Lizzie Borden and her Fall River. Buy THIS book: Parallel Lives. I’ve written about it myself several times HERE. Trust me. It should be your FIRST book if you haven’t read anything about her before.
In the upcoming days, TV’s will be saturated with all the WRONG information about the “notorious” Lizzie Borden, depicted as a maniacal, axe wielding psychopath. And the masses buy into it because they don’t bother reading the facts that are available in a multitude of books, let alone free access to online primary source documents such as the police “witness” statements, Coroner’s Inquest, and Preliminary Hearing. In fact, the Preliminary Hearing is available at this blog site.
So…. before you indulge yourself in the hash and rehash (pun intended) put down the bong and get a focus on what was going on in Lizzie’s Fall River and her life in general before, during and right after the crimes. Below is an extract from my “Lizzie Borden Historic Timeline” which is a comprehensive document focusing on local, U.S. and world events from1610 to 2010.
Let’s take a look specifically at what was going on starting just two weeks before the murders. The windows of time that the killings could have taken place for first Abby, and then Andrew, are shown in RED. The Timeline was developed over a number of years involving comprehensive study and analysis of the primary source documents mentioned above. (The more expanded Timeline book cites the sources).
Visualize the events at 92 Second Street in a different way – factual details that won’t be shown or reported on TV.
|July 18, 1892||Emma and Lizzie deed back house on Ferry Street to Andrew and receive $2,500 each.|
|July 19, 1892||Lizzie’s 32nd Birthday.|
|July 20, 1892||Grover Cleveland passes thru FR enroute to NYC for Democratic Convention.|
|July 20, 1892||Lizzie supposedly sees a stranger at the back door when she returns from being out that evening.|
|July 21, 1892||Lizzie & Emma leave Fall River; Emma stopping at Fairhaven to visit the Brownell’s.|
|July 21, 1892||Lizzie travels on to New Bedford, staying with Mrs. Poole and her daughter at 20 Madison Street.|
|July 23, 1892||Lizzie went on the street alone (New Bedford) to buy some dress goods gone from rooming house 30 minutes. (Did she buy a new hatchet?).
|July 25, 1892||AJB writes letter to Morse telling him to wait about getting a man to run his farm in Swansea.
|July 25, 1892||Lizzie visits the girls at Marion at Dr. Handy’s cottage.|
|July 25, 1892||FR Daily News reports on ladies (including Lizzie) vacationing in Marion.|
|July 26, 1892||Lizzie, Mrs. Poole & Mrs. Poole’s daughter ride to Westport to visit Mrs. Cyrus Tripp (Augusta, old schoolmate).|
|July 26, 1892||Lizzie takes train from Westport to New Bedford to connect with Fall River.|
|July 30, 1892||Fall River Board of Health reports 90 deaths due to extreme heat, 65 are children under age 5.|
|July 31, 1892||Bridget prepares first serving of the infamous mutton for Sunday supper.|
|August 2, 1892||Andrews tells associate there is “trouble” in the Borden household.|
|August 2, 1892||Swordfish is served for supper and served again warmed over for dinner.|
|August 2, 1892||Andrew and Abby vomit during the night.|
|August 3, 1892||
THE DAY BEFORE THE MURDERS
|8:00 am||Abby goes across street to Dr. Bowen; tells him she fears she’s been poisoned.|
|9:00 am approx||Dr. Bowen crosses street to check on the Bordens; Lizzie dashes upstairs; Andrew rebuffs his unsolicited visit.|
|10:00-11:30 am||Lizzie attempts to buy prussic acid from Eli Bence at Smith’s pharmacy on Columbia Street.|
|12:00 Noon||Lizzie joins Andrew and Abby for the noontime meal in the dining room.|
|12:35 am||Uncle John Vinnicum Morse leaves by train from New Bedford for Fall River.|
|1:30 pm||John Morse walks from train station & arrives at Borden house; Abby lets him in front door.|
|2:00-4:00 pm||John Morse and Andrew talk in Sitting Room; Lizzie hears their conversation.|
|4:00 pm||John Morse hires horse and wagon at Kirby’s Stable and drives to Swansea in late afternoon.|
|7:00 pm||Lizzie visits Alice Russell in the early evening, states her fear “something will happen”.|
|7:00-8:00 pm||John Morse visits Frederick Eddy at Borden farm in Swansea, brings back eggs.|
|8:45 pm||Morse returns from Swansea, talks in sitting room with Andrew and Abby.|
|9:00 pm||Lizzie returns from Alice Russell’s, locks front door, and goes upstairs to her room without speaking to father or uncle.|
|9:15 pm||Abby Borden retires to bed.|
|10:00 pm||Andrew and Morse retire for the night. Morse sleeps in the guest room next to Lizzie’s room.|
|August 4, 1892||
THE DAY OF THE MURDERS
(Note: Times given are based on various testimonies taken primarily from the Preliminary Hearing held August 25-September 1st, 1892, and are approximated as close as possible).
|6:15 am||Bridget goes downstairs, gets coal and wood in cellar to start fire in kitchen stove, and takes in milk.|
|6:20 am||Morse goes downstairs to Sitting Room.|
|6:30 am||Abby comes downstairs, gives orders for breakfast to Bridget|
|6:40-6:50 am||Andrew goes downstairs, empties slops, picks up pears, and goes to barn.|
|6:45 am||Bridget opens side (back) door for the ice man.|
|7:00 am||Bordens and Morse have breakfast in dining room. (Lizzie is still upstairs).|
|7:15 am||Bridget sees Morse for first time at breakfast table.|
|7:30 am||Bridget eats her breakfast, and then clears dishes.|
|7:45-8:45||Morse and Andrew talk in sitting room; Abby sits with them a short while before beginning to dust.|
|8:30 am||Morse sees Abby go into the front hall.|
|8:45 am||Andrew lets Morse out side door, invites him back for dinner.|
|8:45-9:00 am||Morse leaves for Post Office and then to visit a niece and nephew at Daniel Emery’s, #4 Weybosset Street.|
|8:45-9:00 am||Andrew goes back upstairs and returns wearing collar and tie, goes to sitting room|
|8:45-9:00 am||Abby tells Bridget to wash windows, inside and out.|
|8:45-8:50 am||Lizzie comes down and enters kitchen.|
|8:45-9:00 am||Bridget goes outside to vomit.|
|9:00 am||Andrew leaves the house.|
|9:00 am||Bridget returns, does not see Lizzie, sees Abby dusting in dining room, does not see Andrew.|
|9:00 am||Abby goes up to guest room.|
|9:00-9:30 am||Bridget cleans away breakfast dishes in kitchen.|
|9:00-10:00 am||Abby Borden dies from blows to the head with a sharp instrument.|
|9:30 am||Abraham G. Hart, Treasurer of Union Savings Bank, talks to Andrew at Bank.|
|9:30 am||Morse arrives at #4 Weybosset Street to visit his niece and nephew.|
|9:30 am||Bridget gets brush from cellar for washing windows|
|9:30 am||Lizzie appears at back door as Bridget goes towards barn; Bridget tells Lizzie she need not lock door.|
|9:30-10:05||Andrew visits banks.|
|9:45 am||John P. Burrill, Cashier, talks to Andrew at National Union Bank.|
|9:40 am||Morse arrives at the Emery’s on Weybosset Street.|
|9:50-10:00 am||AJB deposits Troy Mill check with Everett Cook at First Nat’l Bank; talks with William Carr. (|
|9:30-10:20 am||Bridget washes outside windows, stops to talk to “Kelly girl” at south side fence.|
|10:00-10:30 am||Mrs. Churchill sees Bridget outside washing NE windows.|
|10:20 am||Bridget re-enters house from side door, commences to wash inside windows.|
|10:29 am||Jonathan Clegg (fixed time by City Hall clock) stated Andrew left his shop heading home.|
|10:15-10:30 am||Andrew stops to talk to Jonathan Clegg, picks up old lock; Southard Miller (at Whitehead’s Market) sees AJB turn onto Spring St; Mary Gallagher sees AJB at corner of South Main & Spring; Lizzie Gray sees AJB turning north on Second Street.|
|10:30-10:40 am||Joseph Shortsleeves sees Andrew.|
|10:40 am||James Mather sees Andrew leave shop|
|10:30-10:40 am||Mrs. Kelly observes Andrew going to his front door.|
|10:30-10:40 am||Andrew Borden can’t get in side door, fumbles with key at front door, and let in by Bridget.|
|10:30-10:40 am||Bridget hears Lizzie laugh on the stairs as she says “pshaw” fumbling with inside triple locks.|
|10:35-10:45 am||Bridget sees Lizzie go into dining room and speak “low” to her father.|
|10:45 am||Mark Chase, residing over Wade’s store, sees man on Borden fence taking pears.|
|10:45-10:55 am||Lizzie puts ironing board on dining room table as Bridget finishes last window in the dining room|
|10:45-10:55 am||Lizzie asks Bridget in kitchen if she’s going out, tells her of note to Abby & sale at Sargeant’s.|
|10:50-10:55||Mark Chase observes man with open buggy parked just beyond tree in front of Borden house.|
|August 4, 189210:55 am||Bridget goes upstairs to her room to lay down.|
|10:55–10:58 am||Bridget goes up to her room; lies down on her bed.|
|10:55-11:00 am||Andrew Borden dies from blows to the head with a sharp instrument.|
|11:00 am||Bridget hears City Hall clock chime 11:00.|
|11:05-11:10 am||Hyman Lubinsky drives his cart past the Borden house.|
|11:05-11:10||William Sullivan, clerk at Hudner’s Market notes Mrs. Churchill leaving the store.|
|11:10 am APPROX.||Lizzie hollers to Bridget to come down, “Someone has killed father”.|
|11:10-11:12 am||Lizzie sends Bridget to get Dr. Bowen.|
|11:10-11:13 am||Bridget rushes back across the street from Bowen’s, tells Lizzie he’s not at home.|
|11:10-11:13 am||Lizzie asks Bridget if she knows where Alice Russell lives and tells her to go get her.|
|11:10-11:13 am||Bridget grabs her hat & shawl from kitchen entry way and rushes to Alice Russell’s.|
|11:10-11:13 am||Mrs. Churchill observes Bridget crossing street, notices a distressed Lizzie and calls out to Lizzie who tells her “someone has murdered father.”|
|11:13 am||Mrs. John Gormely says Mrs. Churchill runs through her yelling “Mr. Borden is murdered!”|
|11:10-11:14 am||Mrs. Churchill goes to side door, speaks briefly to Lizzie, and then crosses street looking for a doctor.|
|11:12-11:14 am||John Cunningham sees Mrs. Churchill talking to others then uses phone at Gorman’s paint shop to call Police.|
|11:15 am||Marshal Hilliard receives call from news dealer Cunningham about disturbance at Borden house.|
|11:15 am||Marshal Hilliard orders Officer Allen to go to Borden house. (Allen notes exact time on office wall clock).|
|11:16 – 11:20 am||Mrs. Churchill returns from giving the alarm.|
|11:16 – 11:20 am||Dr. Bowen pulls up in his carriage, met by his wife, rushes over to Borden’s.|
|11:16-11:20 am||John Cunningham checks outside cellar door in Borden back yard, finds it locked.|
|11:18-11:20 am||Dr. Bowen sees Andrew, asks for sheet; alone with Lizzie for approx. one minute.|
|11:20 am||Officer Allen arrives at Bordens, met at door by Dr. Bowen. Sees Lizzie sitting alone at kitchen table.|
|11:20–11:21 am||Allen sees Andrews’s body at same time Alice Russell and Mrs. Churchill come in. (Where was Bridget?)|
|11:20-11:22 am||Allen checks front door and notes it bolted from inside, checks closets in dining room and kitchen.|
|11:20 am||Morse departs Daniel Emery’s on Weybosset Street, takes a streetcar back to the Borden’s.|
|11-22-11:23 am||Officer Allen leaves house to return to station, Bowen goes out with him. Allen has Sawyer guard back door.|
|11:23-11:33 am||Dr. Bowen returns home, checks rail timetable, goes to telegram Emma, and stops at Baker’s Drug store. Telegram is time stamped at 11:32.|
|11:25 am||Off. Patrick Doherty, at Bedford & Second, notes City Hall clock time enroute to Station.|
|11:23-11:30 am||Lizzie asks to check for Mrs. Borden; Bridget & Mrs. Churchill go upstairs, discover body.|
|11:32 am||Officers Doherty & Wixon leaves police station for Borden house. Reporter Manning on rear steps, Sawyer inside at screen door. (Bridget in s/e corner near sink)|
|11:34 am||Bridget fetches Doctor Bowen’s wife, Phoebe.|
|11:35||George Petty, former resident of 92 Second Street, enters the Borden house with Dr. Bowen.|
|11:40 am||Bowen returns to Borden house. Churchill tells him they’ve discovered Abby upstairs.
|11:35-11:40 am||Officer Patrick Doherty & Deputy Sheriff Wixon arrive at house; see Manning sitting on steps, met at back door by Dr. Bowen, who lets them in.|
|11:35-11:40 am||Francis Wixon and Dr. Bowen check Andrew’s pockets and remove watch.|
|11:35-11:40||Officer Doherty questions Lizzie who tells him she heard a “scraping” noise.|
|11:35-11:40 am||Officer Doherty views Abby’s body with Dr. Bowen pulls bed out to view her better.|
|11:35-11:45 am||Morse arrives at Borden house, first going to back yard.|
|11:37 am||Officer Mullaly arrives.|
|11:39-11:40 am||Officer Medley arrives at 92 Second Street.|
|11:44 am||Doherty runs to Undertaker Gorman’s shop around corner and phones Marshal Hilliard.|
|11:45||Dr. Bowen shows Doherty Andrew, then Abby. Pulls bed out 3 feet.|
|11:45 am||Doherty returns; Officers Mullaly. Allen, Denny, and Medley arrive.|
|11:45 am||Dr. Dolan arrives, sees bodies.|
|11:45 am||Morse talks to Sawyer at side door, later testifies he heard of murders from Bridget.|
|11:45-11:50 am||Morse sees Andrew’s body, then goes upstairs and sees Abby’s body.|
|11:50 am||Morse speaks to Lizzie as she lays on lounge in dining room. Lizzie goes from dining room to her room and changes into a “pink wrapper”.
|11:50 am-Noon||Asst. Marshal Fleet arrives; sees bodies; talks to Lizzie in her room w/Rev. Buck, says “…she’s not my mother, she’s my stepmother”|
|11:50 am||Morse goes out to back yard and stays outside most of the afternoon.|
|11:50 am –Noon||Deputy Sheriff Wixon climbs back fence and talks to workmen sawing wood in Chagnon yard.|
|11:50-Noon||Doherty, Fleet and Medley accompany Bridget to cellar where she shows them hatchet in box on shelf.|
|12:15-12:20 am||Officer Harrington arrives at the Borden house.|
|12:25 am||Officer Harrington interviews Lizzie in her bedroom (she wears pink wrapper).|
|12:45 am||Marshal Hillliard & Officers Doherty & Connors drive carriage to Andrew’s upper farm in Swansea.|
|2:00 pm||Dr. Dedrick arrives at Borden house.|
|3:00-4:00 pm||Crime scene photographs are taken of Andrew & Abby.|
|3:40 pm||Emma leaves on New Bedford train for Weir Junction to return to Fall River.|
|4:30 pm||Stomachs of Andrew and Abby removed and sealed.|
|5:00 pm||Emma arrives in Fall River. )|
|5:00-5:30 pm||State Detective George F. Seaver arrives from Taunton.|
|5:30 pm||Dr. Dolan “delivers” bodies of Andrew and Abby to Undertaker James Winward.|
|5:35 pm||Winward & assistant remove sofa from house and store it in a room at his building.|
|6:00 pm||Alice leaves 92 Second St. to return home for supper.|
|8:30 pm||Mrs. Charles Holmes leaves the Borden girls and returns to her home on Pine Street.|
|8:45 pm||Officer Joseph Hyde, observing from a northwest outside window, sees Lizzie & Alice go down cellar.|
|9:00 pm||Officer Hyde observes Lizzie in basement alone.|
(Originally posted March 11, 2010)
Andrew Jackson Borden, from all we can surmise, loved his wife, Sarah Anthony Morse Borden. Sarah was a pretty little thing when they married on Christmas Day, 1845. He was 23 and she was 22. Probably a true love match. But it would be five years before they had any children.
Emma Lenora Borden, born March 1, 1851 was older sister to Lizzie Borden. Unlike Lizzie, Emma knew her mother. Knew her and loved her.
Just before Emma’s 6th birthday, a second daughter was born, Alice Ester. Emma must have loved holding and helping to care for this little sister. She would be taught how to nurture and protect her younger sibling by her own loving mother. It was the “formative years” for Emma when so many character traits are instilled. It was a sweet time, but a short time because baby Alice was to die just two years later, on March 10, 1858 of hydrocephalus (water on the brain).
After two more years, the sad loss of baby Alice would find some solace with the joy of another baby sister born on July 19, 1860. The gender may have been a disappointment to 38 year old Andrew, but surely Sarah and Emma were thrilled and delighted with baby Lizzie Andrew.
Emma, now 9 years old, was even more prepared to handle and help take care of little Lizzie, again with the gentle guidance of her dear mother. To Sarah, it may have seemed that God himself answered her prayers with this special gift. Showered with love, affection and tender care, this little baby would be spoiled in getting her way.
Tragedy struck again in the Andrew Borden family when 3 weeks after Emma’s 12th birthday, Sarah Borden died of uterine congestion, leaving Emma and toddler Lizzie without a mother. And although their grandfather and step grand-mother, as well as their Aunt Lurana lived next to them, it was Emma who took care of Lizzie. Shortly before she died, Sarah had extracted a promise from Emma to always look after little Lizzie. A duty she would never take lightly nor relinquish easily.
The marriage of Andrew and Abby Durfee Gray could not have been a love match. For Andrew, he had found a capable, respectable and sturdy woman to take care of the house and someone to look after his growing daughters. Emma, especially, needed a woman’s hand to teach her the charming attributes of a proper Victorian young lady. Yes, for Andrew it was a sound acquisition.
For Abby, at age 37, she was happy to be married and have her own home and family. Her maternal instincts immediately embraced little Lizzie to whom she hoped to be a loving mother as well as a good wife to the stern but prosperous Andrew Borden. Emma, the teenager, was cool and distant, and did not embrace Abby’s attempts to teach her.
For Emma, it could not have been a pleasant change. She had been “in charge” of baby Lizzie. But now she had been trumped by the intruder. Her animosity towards Abby would be transparent and viral to her younger sibling.
One can almost imagine Emma holding toddler Lizzie on her knee and showing her the above picture of the mother she never knew. “This is our real mother, Lizzie. Her name was Sarah and she loved you very much. Not like our steppie ‘Abby’. She can never be our real mother. This is our REAL mother.”
When the “young Emma” went off to Wheaton Female Seminary, she was separated from “young Lizzie” for a year and a half, except for holidays. Plain and reserved Emma would not complete her studies at Wheaton. She lacked the charm and experiences of her school mates. Perhaps she feared the affect “Mrs. Borden” (as she called her) would have on Lizzie during her absence and would rather be at home in Fall River, resuming her role as the surrogate mother.
Her absence did afford Abby a chance to bond with Lizzie. Little Lizzie may have written letters to big sister Emma about “mother did this for me”, or “mother took me here”, all much to Emma’s dismay. This was also a time when Abby gave an engraved silver cup to Lizzie.
The oddness of Lizzie became a character trait along with her intermittent haughtiness – the latter perhaps derived from her growing knowledge she and her sister were “blood Bordens” and what that meant. But Abby, her “steppie”, ugh. Her class was beneath theirs.
“I had never been to her as a mother in many things. I always went to my sister, because she was older and had the care of me after my mother died.” -Lizzie Borden, Inquest Testimony
Abby’s attempts would fail, and as Lizzie grew into a woman Abby would find herself living in a home divided. The bond between the sisters was formidable. For Abby, she would no longer be interested in engendering herself to the girls.
“A. I was speaking to her of a garment I had made for Mrs. Borden, and instead of saying Mrs. Borden I said “Mother.” and she says: “Don’t say that to me, for she is a mean good for nothing thing.” I said: “Oh Lizzie, you don’t mean that?” And she said “Yes, I don’t have much to do with her; I stay in my room most of the time.” And I said, “You come down to your meals, don’t you?” And she said: “Yes, but we don’t eat with them if we can help it.”” -Trial Testimony of dressmaker Hannah Gifford
“And we always thought she persuaded father to buy it. At any rate he did buy it, and I am quite sure she did persuade him. I said what he did for her people, he ought to do for his own children.” -Lizzie Borden, Inquest Testimony
“Q. Can you tell me the cause of the lack of cordiality between you and your mother, or was it not any specific thing?
A. Well, we felt that she was not interested in us….” -Emma Borden, Inquest Testimony
Lizzie’s disdain for her stepmother became more pronounced as she grew older. It had long been embedded in her psyche. She fretted and brooded. Her fearful anxiety about the disposition of her father’s wealth always had Abby, the usurper, as its focus.
No outlet for social intercourse save her church affiliation, a rapidly diminishing prospect for marriage, and an escalating highly charged atmosphere within the territorial home was a stew bubbling to spill over. Suddenly her future financial security and independence was about to be threatened beyond retraction. The knowledge unleashed a rage long dormant and deep within her psyche. And at its core was her hatred of Abby.
-conjectured thought of Emma Borden by the writer
Anna & Laura Tirocchi were a famed and successful dressmaking sister team I happened to come across because of my interest in a British t.v. series called The House of Elliot (apparently, partly based on the Tirocchis).
What a complete surprise it was to find her business was patronized by some Braytons, Mrs. Dwight Waring (daughter of Lizzie’s defense attorney, Andrew Jennings) et.al. of Fall River. And from Providence, we have Preston Gardner’s wife Mary, and daughter, Maude, all of whom received considerable money and jewelry from Emma’s Will.
Another notable from Providence is Mrs. William G. Thurber, whose husband was Vice President of Tilden-Thurber, the store where Lizzie shoplifted two paintings on porcelain only 4 years after her acquittal. An incident in which Preston Gardner came to the rescue and an action for which Emma Borden was eternally grateful.
Anyway, back to the Tirocchi sisters. They operated a shop in Providence from 1911 to the mid 1930′s. The stock market crash was the beginning of it’s demise. Anna said that 1927 was their “best year ever.”
If you’ve already read the basic background linked above, consider their elite client list that reads like a Who’s Who of Fall River’s and Providence’s upper crust.
When you click on Client list you can then click on a woman’s name. You then find out who her husband was. Then you can click on “Transactions” for what she purchased (keep in mind that a dress costing $200 had the equivalent purchasing power of nearly $2,400 in today’s money), and “Correspondence” for letters she wrote and/or received.
Tirocchi’s clientele is addressed HERE. (then click “The Clients”)
One notable is Jessie Brayton – John Summerfield Brayton, Sr.
It was Jessie’s husband who was the recipient of the well known letter written on August 31, 1900 by Lizzie Borden about his noisy bird that crowed so loudly and made her nervous. My, my. Talk about dress threads that bind!
Her grandson was extremely accomplished, and it was his father, John Summerfield Brayton III, who was the discoverer of that above mentioned letter.
Not only did Anna keep precise records of sales and who these women were married to but she had all their measurements – not surprising for a dressmaker but enlightening to Borden researchers. Here’s the one for Mrs. Elizabeth Brayton.
This entire website is a marvel to explore and a person can spend a good two hours finding out who these women were. I was getting visions of that film “The Women” directed by George Cukor – the early scenes of the ladies in the dressing rooms …. but I digress.
The contents of the Tirocchi dress shop at 514 Broadway was offered to the Rhode Island School of Design Museum by sister Laura’s son, Dr. Louis Cella, Jr. No wonder the staff, inventorying for over year, was thrilled with what they found!! Indeed, so was I.
And a big THANK YOU, DR. CELLA!!!
P.S. If Lizzie had an account there, she certainly didn’t use her real name.
If you’re still one who salivates over anything that might have been owned by, touched by, seen by, walked passed by, yaddayaddayadda on Lizzie Borden, check this out:
Scroll thru and take particular note of the “Lizzie Borden as a baby”, and “Lizzie Borden’s compact”, complete with her L.A. B. initials.
I swear, this feces never stops. I would be curious, however, to know how much the “baby lizzie” framed image went for.
BTW, I have a pansy broach that belonged to Lizzie, inscribed “Daphne”.
That’s an inside joke if you’ve read Parallel Lives.
(Recycled post. It’s been a year. Time to remind you how to spend your Christmas $$).
You can order Parallel Lives (and my own Historic Timeline book) at this sight Click HERE
Items in the book and on display at the FRHS:
(Unfortunately, the scrapbook, so carefully put together by Lizzie after her 1890 Grand Tour is not on display and remains in a private collection. *That’s* what I would like to see more of!)
Exquisitely produced, brilliantly structured, thrilling and groundbreaking in its content, Parallel Lives – A Social History of Lizzie A. Borden and Her Fall River is a seven pound, 1,179 page, ten-years- in-the-making epic that had it been written as a historical novel it would be right up there with Roots, The Secret Magdelene, and Gone With The Wind. It is a book of transformation and revelation; transforming in the way it compels readers to alter their mental landscape when thinking of Lizzie Borden. It is filled with stunning revelations that meticulously dissect rumors and legend long thought to be truth. Lizzie Borden has been encapsulated in pop culture based on an inaccurate quatrain characterizing her as a one dimensional psychopath wielding a bloody axe, Parallel Lives has irrevocably transformed and revealed Lizzie Borden to be a three dimensional flesh and blood human being with heart, spirit and soul. Indisputably, this the new “go to” book which researches and scholars studying the history of Fall River during its rise and decline, as well as the woman Lizzie Borden who lived through that age: 1860-1927, will discover it impossible to find anything more definitive or comprehensive, more exciting or enlightening.
The book is a treasure trove of new information about Lizzie taken from the journals, letters, cards, photographs, artifacts and remembrances of those that knew her personally, much of which was coveted by their owners who were resolved in their belief that Lizzie could not have committed those crimes. Their beliefs were passed down to third and fourth generation descendents who continued to keep their possessions or memories conveyed private and sequestered until trusted relationships were established between them and the authors.
Masterfully woven within the new information are expanded stories of known individuals and events (some prominent, some little or previously unknown) that had an impact on Fall River’s history and society. The authors have beautifully crafted the world in which Lizzie Borden lived. And while the crimes of August 4, 1892 are presented, allusions to or fresh insights on whether or not Lizzie was guilty are not presented. In fact, the murders and who did them become almost irrelevant in the broader tapestry presented throughout the chapters with its more than 500 photographs and other images. Who committed the crimes or the case itself, becomes an irrelevancy overshadowed by the depth and breadth of all that which deals with the people and stories within.
We learn so much of Mary Ella Sheen (Mrs. George S. Brigham) and her sister, Anne Eliza Sheen (Mrs. William Lindsey, Jr.), two sisters whose lives took very different trajectories. Mary was Lizzie’s friend since girlhood and the future mother-in-law of Florence Cook Brigham, but Anne had been her friend as well for most of their lives. Anne was a “Grand Dame” and lived the kind of life that Lizzie most probably would have wanted for herself. We learn that not only was Helen Hartley Howe such a close and devoted second cousin to Lizzie, we discover that Helen’s mother had a friendship that also was life lasting with Lizzie. The reveal of the true identity of ‘Todd Lunday” would have been anticlimactic had it not been for the intriguing story associated with it, or the story of Officer Phillip Harrington and police reporter Edwin Porter who penned the Fall River Tragedy and why Porter may have left Fall River so soon after its publication. Nor have we read anywhere the connection of reporter McHenry and City Marshall Hilliard. I suspect there are many “reveals” that were derived from the so called “Hilliard Papers” which have been in the Society’s hands for 22 years.
For decades, the curators of the FRHS have been meticulous in documenting the “drop in” visits or phone calls from people – many descendents of the principals – as to what they had to say and when. These “notes to file”, so to speak, have been preserved in their respective file folders and filed with the relative topics. These contain more of the “reveals”, some as surprising as finding out JR getting shot was only a dream, or Scarlett realizing she loved Rhett all along, or Edward glistening out of the cloud bank. As stated, the revelations are thrilling and transforming.
The chapters are so beautifully written and the photographs so beautifully reproduced within the book that we can almost feel the silk and lace as they as we read their wonderfully detailed descriptions. We can rub our finger across the image of a pocket watch and feel the grooved indentations, or one of Lizzie’s traveling suitcases and feel the contrast of the brass to the leather. We can smell and see the wedding flowers and the sparkle of jewelry at the Assemblies and grand parties. The meticulous effort in the use of adjectives is remarkable. It is fairly obvious the authors wanted to be as accurate and precise as possible when applying descriptors to people, places and things.
I strongly suspect much of what was revealed may have been with soft spoken caveats or perhaps some asserted caveats along the lines of: “Well, you may use these journals (or photos, or letters, or cards, or remembrances) but I trust you will present Auntie Borden (or Lizzie) in a good light because she never could have done those murders.” And “I would consider it a great injustice to finally make this information known if it were used to give a poor impression of this wonderful woman or lend any credibility to the horrible reputation she endured during and after her life.” Mr. Martins and Mr. Binette have stated it was only when they explained the kind of book they were writing, and after trust was established, that the possessions and remembrances were revealed.
We learn certain elitist members of the seven “first” families did a fine job in two-facing Lizzie after the Trial; they “cut” her quite severely and most obviously spoke of her “guilt”– handing down their opinions to their children who maintained those opinions and passed them down to their children. On the other hand, those that kept friendships and believed Lizzie was not and could not be guilty passed that info down to their children – or the children knew her first hand and formulated the same opinion; the difference being they did not speak openly about it. They protected her privacy. But between those that cut her and the relentless and continuous newspaper coverage, the damage had been done.
The authors were literary craftsmen in the way they told these stories, presenting the information from the journals or letters, and in detailing information about the people involved without trumpeting a new path but sufficient to give you pause. The book is peppered with phrases such as: “Is it possible that…”, or “Although we can never know for certain, could it be that…”, or “Would it seem likely that…” and we pause on the page and hearing ourselves utter “hmmmm” and suddenly realize we are thinking things differently.
The End Notes are extraordinary and I found them thrilling to read. When reading, one says: “Where did they get that from?” and we go to the End Notes which are flush with information. Our eyes don’t just stay on the sight bite but naturally scroll downward until we know where most all the information for that chapter came from. The End Notes tell us more about relationships and just who had what information and for how long. The End Notes help us identify what came from FRHS “notes to file” as opposed to who held on to what for decades and allows us to identify from where the bulk of new information came.
Parallel Lives actually constitutes many books. It is so rich and full it would constitute several Master’s Thesis, multiple biographies, and even separate books on the nefarious acts and scandals in the persons of Mr. Scully and Mr. Barnard, let alone a book on comparative lifestyles of The Hill people and The Mill people.
Parallel Lives is a monumental achievement and a body of work to make the entire Fall River Historical Society proud. It is representative of that level of excellence consistent in all endeavors of Messrs. Martins and Binette. It is truly a remarkable and unique work - the likes of which we shall not see again.
Michael and Dennis took a pen
And wrote an epic with a satisfying end
For when The Book was finally done
Rumors died and reality won.
“Lizzie Borden Took an Axe and….” WHOA! STOP RIGHT THERE!. NO SHE DIDN’T! NO, SHE DID NOT! IT WASN’T AN AXE – IT WAS A HATCHET! CAN YOU PEOPLE GET THAT STRAIGHT ONCE AND FOR ALL???!
LOOK, I’LL ILLUSTRATE THE DIFFERENCE FOR YOU:
Here, let me illustrate a little further:
Now, granted, that’s just the head of a handle-less HATCHET, but it’s STILL a hatchet. Oh, I know, “hatchet” doesn’t fit into that inaccurate quatrain quoted more often than reruns of that Elizabeth Montgomery made-for-TV movie. But look, here she is and what is she holding?
A HATCHET!! And a pretty good replica of what was presented at the Trial, sans the handle, of course. Anyway, it was a HATCHET. A HATCHET, AND NOT AN AXE.
Point is, that particular quatrain and the images from that specific movie have created a mindset of Lizzie Borden not only being guilty, but a one dimensional, psychopathic persona with whom most of the “cult” followers are familiar. People who read books and who have studied the case know differently. However, those gawd-awful paranormal shows and misinformation regurgitated from one documentary to another have permanently encapsulated the poor woman into a blood-drenched, demented killer. But no matter.
Perhaps we can start by re-writing that “haunting melody”????
LIZZIE BORDEN TOOK A HATCHET
AND GAVE HER MOTHER 19 WHACKITS
WHEN SHE SAW HER WORK WAS FINE
SHE GAVE HER FATHER ANOTHER NINE.
Come on. Give it a try. It has a nice beat and you can skip rope to it. Any bibliophiles out there wanna put it on YouTube? Be my guest.
A friend recently wrote me that Lizzie Borden was a replicant cyborg sent from the future to kill Mr. & Mrs. Andrew Borden. I found that interesting and began thinking: What if she was a 19th Century Doomsday Prepper in Fall River?
Just as modern day Doomsday Preppers, Lizzie Borden would have contemplated her reasons: A collapse of the economy and the loss of her father’s fortune and what that would mean to her own financial security; a hostile takeover of the drunken Irish mill workers; an aerial attack by France dropping exploding cheese and wine bottles from giant air-filled balloons killing two thirds of the town’s population and half its horses. Or maybe she just felt she had to prepare for *something* because doom and gloom was a recurring characteristic of her basic personality. After one adopts this premise, it follows she would have begun her preparations with the planned elimination of dour Andrew and long-suffering Abby. I think those plans would have included disposing of the hatchet in such a manner it would never be found. After all, she came from the future (OUR future) and she may have studied on reverse engineering of manufactured steel and bio-chemical reconfigurations and transformed the hatchet into handkerchiefs. Hey, it’s possible.
It was her July 26, 1992 article by which I was informally introduced to Mary Cantwell. I was in NYC on July 26th and 27th of that year enroute to Fall River for the 1992 Centennial Conference on Lizzie Borden. I was so struck by her humor (let alone accuracy in her column) and thrilled she had spoken to my friend, the late John Corrigan.
When I first arrived in Fall River, I showed the article to Florence Brigham, then Curator of the Fall River Historical Society. Florence put me in touch with Mary Cantwell and we subsequently enjoyed a correspondence over many years. We shared the fact we had raised our children on our own as working mothers in two decades (70′s and 80′s) where workplace policies were not considerate of our situations. One of her low points was being dumped by James Dickey, (he wrote Deliverance) for a “ravish me now’ much younger blonde. Men. Can’t live with ‘em. Can’t kill ‘em. (I forget who originated that). Which brings me to this next random selection.
I have this theory about why men are pigs.
Men have their sexual organs outside – usually perpendicular and on the hunt. Women, on the other hand, have their sex organs placed internally. “Internalized sex.” Get it? Oh they gather, sure, but they think differently. We like the romantic aspect of the act – men just like the act. Gross generalizations here, but this post isn’t supposed to be more than a paragraph or two and look what I’ve done?
So I’ll shut up for now and go back to writing Lizzie Borden’s Burn Book Diaries. Boy, oh boy, is *she* gonna have her day!!!
Recycled Post – Another trunk – this one owned by Lizzie. Maybe the hand of Helen Leighton once touched it.
On June 21, 1890 Lizzie Borden embarked on a 19 week Grand Tour of Europe. A month and two days later, she would celebrate her 30th birthday while on that Tour. It must have been her best birthday ever. However, according to reports, she would also have to wire home for additional funds, a necessary appeal that must have been a source of great embarrassment to her considering her travel companions.
Lizzie was enjoying the thrilling sights of England, Scotland, France, and Italy with sisters Carrie Lindley Borden and Anna Howland Borden, daughters of Colonel Thomas J. Borden (of the “Greater Bordens” and related to Lizzie, albeit somewhat distantly); Elizabeth Hitchcock Brayton, daughter of David Anthony Brayton, (and who later owned and resided in the structure which is now the Fall River Historical Society); Sarah Brayton; Ellen “Nellie” Shove, whose father was President of the Shove Mill; and a chapperone, Miss Cox. Lizzie was truly emershed with the upper crust, i.e., “the cultured girls” who lived on the coveted “Hill”, i.e, the Highlands of Fall River’s elite.
Lizzie certainly didn’t have the cash on hand her companions did for purchasing souveniers. It has been reported she brought home common reprints of cathedrals and famous paintings, but its likely Carrie, Anna, Sarah and Elizabeth bought more expensive items such as fine lace, small sculptures, perhaps even designer clothing. So when Lizzie, who always had a keen eye for quality and exquisite taste found herself cash strapped, it has been reported she wired home for more.
Below is a page from the September 17, 1892 The Illustrated American telling us something a little different and who actually sent her the money needed for her return passage. (Right click image for easier reading and note yellow highlight). I have several issues of The Illustrated American from this era and have found their reporting to be remarkably accurate. However, I find it curious that her passage would not have been booked as “round trip” in the first place. Perhaps the ladies had not booked return passage when they arranged to begin their journey. After all, crossings were frequent and if they decided to return “sometime in November”, there would be plenty of time (and for most of them, plenty of cash) to purchase the return fare.
This issue was released after the Coroner’s Inquest (August 9-11) and the Preliminary Hearing (August 25-31), and Borden scholars will recognize precise testimony from those proceedings.
It is my long time personal belief that it was this trip – the first abroad for Lizzie – that changed her forever. She was transformed during those four months into a woman who, having lived the life of what money could bring – i.e., fine food in restaurants, hot running water, luxurious bathtubs, culture – became steeled in her determination to “have more.” (See my essay in Jules Rychebusch’s Proceedings book of the 1992 Lizzie Borden Conference, “Why We Don’t Know Lizzie”). Less than a year after her return to her unstylish home below “the Hill” in Fall River, the Borden house was burglarized in broad daylight. Shortly after that, Emma “offered” Lizzie her larger bedroom. A year after that Andrew and Abby were murdered. And a year after that – Lizzie, indeed, got “more”.
In the same issue, which is extensive about the Borden case up to that date, are the following images we have become familiar with. The top photo shows the Borden house and part of the Churchill house to the left. This photo was used for the cover of Marie Belloc Lowndes book: Lizzie Borden – A Study in Conjecture.
What has always puzzled me is what exactly is that thing outside the fence in front of Mrs. Churchill’s house? This is the clearest photograph I have seen and I still can’t figure it out. Couldn’t be a resting spot to tie up a carriage because it is set too far back on the sidewalk. Anyway, it’s driven me nuts for years so if anybody knows, please enlighten me.
The following Recycled post will be of added new interest to those who purchased Parallel Lives. Indeed, as we’ve learned from that book, Emma was no recluse. Beginning on page 748, I believe, the writers go into depth of the Gardners from the Henry Augusta Gardner line. Enjoy.
One of the urban legends in the Borden case is that Emma Borden became a recluse, rarely went out, and had no family after departing from her infamous sister, Lizzie. Not true – at least not until the final few years of her life, when she was infirm and senile.
On December 11, 1914, Henry Augustus Gardner (the patriarch of the family) and his wife, Caroline Cole Mason Gardner, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at their home “Riverby” in Touisset. They had put together this little commemorative booklet (from my collection) for each of their guests which included Emma Borden as she attended and received such a booklet.
(Click on all images below for larger views)
Emma attended this event and her signature can be seen 4th down on the left side. Little Hamilton Gardner, son of William, left his “mark” on the bottom of the right side. At the top you see Doris Gardner’s name and her mark. Having parallel lives, she and Hamilton ended up husband and wife. More on her later.
(and was he a little cutie or what?)
When Hamilton’s father died, he was raised by his uncle, Orrin Gardner. Emma was particularly fond of and close to Orrin. And from evidence of her including him in an income trust and mentions elsewhere, she was also fond of Hamilton, who was a teenager when Emma died.
Emma, in fact, attended birthday parties, clam boils, weddings, funerals, and holidays with many of the people and their children shown in the oval picture below. If you study the names and compare it to the guest signatures above, you’ll note most of them attended this event, as well as many of their offspring.
“Riverby” about 1914
Here is a full account of the event as reported in the newspaper.
As stated above, this was not the only Gardner family event Emma attended. My collection includes other documentation of Emma’s surrogate family and travels. She spent a lot of time with Preston Gardner’s wife, Mary and their daughter, Maude, all of whom she favored in income trusts and her will.
Emma Lenora Borden, sister to our gal Lizzie, has long been cited as the subject of an interview in the Boston Sunday Post of April 13, 1913. The by-lined reporter, one Edwin Joseph McGuire, however, has never been confirmed as a reporter, let alone the validity of the interview itself. The interview came just one week after an extensive article by Gertrude Stevenson of the Boston Sunday Herald who wrote of what life was like for Lizzie twenty years after the crimes. It has been speculated *that* article encouraged Emma to come forward from her self-imposed exile and speak for the very first time, ever, publicly – and “Lucky” McGuire got the gig.
Reference to this astonishing interview with Emma was, however, flatly denied by her through the “Buck family”. The Buck family (once headed by that revered Reverend Edwin Augustus Buck who had died a decade before on March 9, 1903) was apparently now led by his spinster daughters, including Alice Buck, who was the closest to Emma.
We don’t know for certain if it was Alice Buck who was the member of the Buck family who said the McGuire article was “not authentic”, though it very well could have been. But the point is this: McGuire’s article is mentioned in so many books of the “first generation” authors and so little is mention, even with contemporary authors on the case, as to the subsequent denial of its authenticity.
Why in the world would Emma agree to such an interview after more than 2 decades of silence? Were there events before or close in time to the interview that influenced or motivated her? Let’s check. Let’s go back to a little more than one year previous:
|March 1, 1912||John Vinnicum Morse dies in Hastings, Iowa at the age of 79.|
|April 15, 1912||White Star liner Titanic sinks on her maiden voyage after hitting an iceberg; 1,500 die.|
|June 10, 1912||Grisly axe murders of 2 adults and 6 children, all while they sleep, in Villisca, Iowa.|
|July 19, 1912||A meteorite with a mass of 19,000 kg landed in the town of Holbrook, Navajo County, Arizona.|
|July 29, 1912||Lizzie writes letter to Stomell & Co. requesting “B” be engraved on her suitcase “toilet items”.|
|December 30, 1912||Rufus B. Hilliard (FR Chief of Police) dies.|
|1913||Woodrow Wilson is President of the United States.|
|1913||Ford develops first moving assembly line.|
|1913||Alice Paul and Lucy Burns form the Congressional Union to work toward the passage of a federal amendment to give women the vote. The group is later renamed the National Women’s Party.|
|March 10, 1913||Harriet Tubman dies of pneumonia in Auburn New York.|
|1913||Louis McHenry Howe becomes Chief of Staff to FDR who is appointed Asst. Secretary to the Navy.|
|April 6, 1913||Boston Sunday Herald special edition: “Lizzie Borden 20 Years After the Tragedy” by Gertrude Stevenson.|
|April 13, 1913||Boston Sunday Post publishes interview with Emma Borden by reporter Edwin Joseph McGuire. (Was this a hoax?|
The little article above about McGuire’s article not being “authentic” was included in a packet of material on the case from Orrin Augustus Gardner. Contents of the packet can be found in the Swansea Historical Society’s research nook at the Swansea Library. Orrin Gardner was a close to Emma all her life and was a major legatee in her Will.
(Recycled from October, 2009)
Those who choose to believe Lizzie Borden was innocent cite the various theories to be found in dozens of books on the case. From the villainous “Intruder” to the illegitimate son, Billy Borden, there is none more preposterous than the “Emma did it” theory.
That Lizzie’s older sister, visiting in Fairhaven – a good 15 miles distant in horse and carriage days – committed the dastardly deed was never considered in the slightest by the Fall River police or District Attorney Hosea Knowlton. It was only many decades after the crimes and Lizzie’s acquittal that this theory took hold. But how did it come about? How did it start? Was it Alfred Hitchcock’s teleplay, “The Older Sister“? Just when and from whom did this theory first appear in print or any other media?
I made a delightful discovery a couple years ago from my expanded readings of the Lizzie Borden-Franklin Roosevelt connection. That connection has always intrigued me because had Lizzie lived six more years she might had taken tea with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, an invitation arranged by her cousin, Grace. Imagine that. Lizzie Borden in the White House.
I think it’s time to reveal the genesis of the “Emma did it” theory. The source is none other than Lizzie’s own cousin’s husband, Chief political strategist and advisor, personal secretary to President Franklin D. Roosevelt – Louis McHenry Howe.
Louis McHenry Howe and President Franklin Roosevelt
Louis was, of course, married to Grace Hartley Howe. Grace was born November 9, 1874 in Fall River making her 14 years younger than Lizzie. Grace’s maternal grandfather, Cook Borden, and Lizzie’s paternal grandfather, Abraham Borden, were brothers. Grace married Louis on May 6, 1899 at age 24. Louis had been a newspaper man and he surely had read about the murders, the legal proceedings and Lizzie’s ultimate acquittal. After his marriage to Grace, there must have been discussions with his wife about her notorious relative.
On December 11, 1931, writer Fulton Oursler went to meet Franklin Roosevelt, then Governor of New York, at his home at 49 East 56th Street. The meeting was a result of Oursler’s writing two recent articles for the influential Liberty Magazine, (of which he was about to become editor) one of which was entitled “Another Roosevelt in the White House?” It was a time when Governor Roosevelt was about to engage in the year long campaign for the presidency under the tireless guidance of his closest friend and chief political strategist, Louis Howe.
Upon Oursler’s arrival he was greeted by Louis who was living in the Roosevelt home while his wife lived in Fall River. The two men waited for FDR’s return from the dentist. The conversation that took place – remarkable in and of itself - can be read in the book shown below – an autobiography competed by his son, Fulton Oursler, Jr. :
Behold This Dreamer! Fulton Oursler, Little, Brown & Company, 1964, 1st Ed.
Click on images for larger view.
Now, to any serious reader of the life of Louis Howe, one would know how he often played gags on people, toying with their head so to speak. I can imagine Louis saying all this with a straight face but with an undetected twinkle in his eye that the very straight-laced and conservative Oursler would not recognize.
Here was a man (Louis) whose wife was named as a primary legatee in Lizzie’s Will just 4 years previous (but due to the six years of probating had not yet received her cash windfall). Perhaps Louis had Lizzie on his mind because of the fact the first Probate accounting had just been held less than two months previous on October 31, 1931 in a Fall River court. Or perhaps he was just full of glee knowing his man, Governor Roosevelt, was on the threshold of becoming “President Roosevelt” in a year’s time, mainly due to his own efforts.
Whatever his reasons for saying what he said, Louis was a man who surely knew at least the basic facts of the case. But he told this story and it stuck. Not only did he tell it to Oursler but he repeated it to that prolific writer and librarian, Edmund Pearson at a subsequent luncheon arranged by Oursler. Now Pearson, being an expert on the case, didn’t believe a word of it. How he must have cringed over that bit about Emma being crazy and suffered from epileptic fits, and had been out of town in “Marion” but snuck back. Either Louis had scant knowledge of the particulars or Oursler got that wrong, but oh, how Louis much have enjoyed that luncheon! And Louis most certainly knew beforehand that Pearson had written that long essay on the Borden case in Studies in Murder, published in 1924. Oh yeah, Louis knew what he was doing, all right. I would love to have been at that luncheon – invisible and silent but taking in every word of the Messrs. Oursler, Pearson and Howe.
There’s a lot more misinformation in those quoted remarks of Louis attributed by Fulton Oursler – almost comical in its ridiculous assertions – as any scholar of the case will readily recognize. Could Louis, always the visionary and strategist, have deliberately wanted to eradicate any thought that the cousin of the wife of the chief advisor to the future President of the United States was a murderer, and by so doing, misdirect guilt to the sister?
Oh, Louis, you dishevled, asthmatic, chain-smoking, strategizing scamp, you. Look what you’ve done. Your contrived tale told nearly 80 years ago continues to surface and provide an outlandish alternative theory.
So there you have it, the source and genesis of the “Emma did it” theory first appearing in print.
Often named as complicit in the murders of Lizzie Borden’s father and stepmother, Uncle John Vinnicum Morse is pictured here in this article posted before. Morse was the brother of Lizzie & Emma’s mother, Sarah Morse Borden.
The Vinnicums and Morses‘ were the genealogical link to the Gardner family. Most of those pictured, and their offspring, were a major part of the Borden sisters lives, particularly Emma Borden when she split from Lizzie in 1n the spring of 1905.
When Hamilton died, his son, now living, received and still keeps these possessions. (The scattering of their property near the time of Orrin & Hamilton’s deaths will be addressed in the next post). These included the “missing” photo albums of the 9 known to exist, 7 of which are resident with the Swansea Historical Society housed in their alcove at the Swansea Library.
Anyway, I don’t think old Uncle John had anything to do with the murders. But I think he came to suspect it was Lizzie. An observant and cautious man, he knew when best to keep secrets known to himself.
It started almost even before Lizzie Borden’s Trial was over. First there was the newspaper contest to name your “favorite” and win a trip to the Chicago World’s Fair. Lizzie won for “favorite school teacher” but she modestly (and rightfully) declined the honor and suggested they skip on down to the next.
On July 8, 1893, the Fall River Globe related an article in the New Bedford Journal about the “Lizzie Borden Club” wherein a delegate from the Brockton chapter of the Emma Borden club came to present them with a hatchet. The paper referred to the members as “freaks and lunatics”. Initiation to the club was quite a hoot – read about it below.
Then on August 21, 1893 the Fall River Herald reported – with obvious disdain – about the “very poor taste” of the young men – a group of “wheelmen”, aka bicycle riders whose club made signs and wore pins of axes in a rather transparent reference to the Borden case. The reporter cited that men who have the good reputation of Fall River at hand would be glad to have the wheelmens shenanigans “buried forever beyond human recollection.” (Yeah, how’s that working out?)
Wonder if these clubs ever wrote Lizzie inviting her to be a guest speaker at one of their meetings or annual conventions? Most certainly she would have declined.
Lizzie Borden’s Trial ended with a Not Guilty verdict on June 20, 1893. By July 12 it was reported in local papers that Lizzie and Emma had purchased the French Street house. They had first considered the “Butterworth” house but the deal didn’t go through.
The papers had been filled with articles about the sisters, the case, the verdict, the upcoming election for Attorney General, Lizzie’s visit to Taunton, the “bombshell” about a new suspect never brought foreward in court (will post soon), challenges to the FR Police to begin a new search for the killer, etc. etc.
Less than two months after the Trial, Lizzie and Emma were purchasing the property at (then) 7 French Street.
On August 10, 1893 the below document conveying the property from Charles W. Allen and his wife Atta was written in the hand of Charles C. Cook, Lizzie and Emma’s property manager. (Cook had served their father for years, became Executor in Lizzie’s will and was a subsequent legatee in both their wills 34 years later.)
Click on images for larger view.
This Deed was written only 6 days after the first of the Fall River Globe’s anniversary articles on the Borden murders. Reports of Lizzie and Emma’s move into the so called “mansion” didn’t circulate until wagon loads of their furniture and other possessions were observed being moved out of the 92 Second Street property. There were raised eyebrows and wagging tongues within the society on the Hill about the speed in which the girls moved there.
The article below is from the New York Times, most likely read by Julian Ralph, Sun Reporter who wrote about the girls post Trial on September 24, 1893.
Well, that last sentence sorta says it all, doesn’t it? Also, if it was true that as Executrix of Andrew’s estate, Emma was required to do those filings to account for it, where are they? Hmmm. Good job, Mr. Jennings.
A little over a week ago I spotted this assortment of cabinet card photos on eBay and recognized Orrin Gardner, Lizzie & Emma’s cousin from Swansea who was a primary legatee in Emma Borden’s Will. The Seller said she got it at a flea market many years ago where there were dozens in a box and she picked these out at random.
I didn’t bid because I already have it and had included it in a previous blog. It is, in fact, Orrin’s high school graduation picture. Original issues are in a Gardner family album archived at the Swansea Historical Society in Swansea, MA.
Perhaps a cabinet photo of Lizzie, many years post Trial, is now residing in a box or tray on some dusty shelf at an antique store still unrecognized by the many eyes who finger through it. Oh well, we’ll have plenty to salivate over when the Fall River Historical Society’s Parallel Lives is published.