Lizzie Borden and an Unhappy Family

Tattered Fabric: Fall River's Lizzie Borden

(Recycled from 2008)

The period immediately after the crime up through the end of the Preliminary Hearing has always been of more interest to me than the Trial itself. So many clues into the twisted fabric of this enigmatic case can be found in that span of time.

This particular New York Times article of August 24, 1892 has always been one of the most interesting to me because it is so generously sprinkled with the seeds from which grew so many speculative theories on this case. First, read the article about Lizzie’s letter.

While Lizzie testified to writing such a letter to Emma, it embellishes beyond that to which she actually testified at the Coroner’s Inquest held August 9th thru 11th, 1892. The day following the NYT article, the Preliminary Hearing began and, of course, Lizzie did not testify nor Emma. Keep in mind that it was the day…

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Posted by on September 22, 2016 in Uncategorized


Emma Borden’s Death & Wake at Riverby

Tattered Fabric: Fall River's Lizzie 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. …

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Posted by on September 18, 2016 in Uncategorized





Unlike certain TV documentaries, this one has an expanded cast including Uncle John Morse and Nance O’Neil – real life characters.  This “Spindle City.…” musical takes into account the mill workers – something most often ignored in prior plays and T.V. documentaries on the case itself.  This is the second musical I’ve heard, the first being “LIzzie Borden the Rock Musical” which has enjoyed a good measure of success.

JohnMorse-olderUncle John Morse

Nance O'Neil

Nance O’Neil

Judging by this casting call, artistic license once again will run rampant.  As with so many TV depictions of the case, there are many fictional characters  However,  I’m looking forward to the singing and dancing.  It is, after all, a musical – –  not some 10 part PBS Documentary by Ken Burns or a major theatrical release directed by Martin Scorcese.   (sigh)

I’ve been to the Secret Rose Theater in North Hollywood before.  Its very small.  Can’t imagine the dancing on that small stage but we’ll see.  Maybe they go into the audience.

I still maintain that the VERY  BEST PLAY on Lizzie Borden is “Lizzie Borden Took An Axe” by Garrett A. Heater, which premiered at the Covey Theate Company in Syracuse, NY, played at BMC Durfee H.S., and continues to be produced in New England.  But that was a drama with age appropriate actors.


Blood Relations by Sharon Pollock continues to be the most produced of all Borden-related plays.

I’ll write a review in after seeing Katrina Wood’s production.

Meanwhile, I await Rebecca Pittman’s new book.






Maplecroft Update

The photos say it all but I’ll elaborate in a follow-up post later today or tomorrow.

Update on Maplecroft



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Posted by on September 12, 2016 in Kristee Bates, Maplecroft


New Lizzie Borden Letter Discovered

Tattered Fabric: Fall River's Lizzie Borden

The next best thing to finding a new photo of Lizzie is finding letters she had written. Well, readers, you are all in for a treat in the very near future.

Some months ago, my friend and author David Rehak brought to my attention a letter never before seen or published written by Lizzie. Since he was working on a re-write of his book Did Lizzie Borden Axe For It?, I encouraged him to include the letter in his new edition. The provenance has been established and I myself have been in contact with those who factor in the “trail of possession”. I have also carefully scrutinized my copy of this letter and there is no doubt in my mind it is written by Lizzie. Additionally, two other Lizzie experts have confirmed that it is, indeed, written by Lizzie. Not wanting to spoil it for Dave and its premiere…

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Posted by on September 8, 2016 in Uncategorized



Tattered Fabric: Fall River's Lizzie Borden

Note:  See comment by “Fiz” below.

“Did Lizzie Borden Dispose of the Murder Weapon By Dropping it in the Privy of the Borden Barn?”


Faye Musselman

“I am not at all satisfied that any such search has been made for the weapon as absolutely to exclude the presence of it somewhere on the premises. But to make an absolutely thorough search for it might involve the total destruction of the buildings; and this, doubtless, is not worthwhile, especially as the weapon when found cannot absolutely settle the identify (sic) of the murderer.”

-Knowlton Papers, pgs. 61-62. Final paragraph of a letter written by Attorney General Pillsbury to District Attorney Hosea Knowlton, dated 9/3/1892

The most puzzling and compelling case in the annals of American murder mysteries is the Lizzie Borden case of 1892, Fall River, Massachusetts. Less challenging to the vox populi mind of “Did She or…

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Posted by on August 27, 2016 in Uncategorized


Annette Holba – The Most “Cerebral” of Lizzie Authors

Tattered Fabric: Fall River's Lizzie Borden

The newest book out on the Lizzie Borden case is Annette Holba’s (pictured above) Lizzie Borden Took an Axe, or Did She?- A Rhetorical Inquiry, <teneo>// press, 2008, 170 pages, softcover.

I met Annette Holba online as a result of her interest in attending the now cancelled “Lizzie Borden Conference 2008” although I had been familiar with her writing for several years. As Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Plymouth State University, New Hampshire, she also holds a B.A. in Law & Justice Studies from Rowan University, an M.A. in Liberal Studies from Rutgers, and obtained her Ph.D. in Rhetoric from Duquesne University. Published in a number of Journals, including The Lizzie Borden Quarterly, The Hatchet, World Leisure Journal, Journal of Social and Natural Philosophy, Pennyslvania Speech Communication Annual, New Hampshire Journal of Education, and Florida Communication Journal among others, I have found her to be the most “cerebral” of…

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Posted by on August 26, 2016 in Uncategorized