Yearbooks & Obituaries – Fall River Notables

This was originally posted June 11, 2011.

Tattered Fabric: Fall River's Lizzie Borden

Although Lizzie Borden never attended BMC Durfee High School (built when she was 27 years old), we can search through the yearbooks and find plenty of contemporaries and decendents of those who factored in her life.

The original structure of BMC Durfee High School was built as a donation from Mrs. Mary B. Young to the people of the City of Fall River, in memory of her son Bradford Matthew Chaloner Durfee, who had died at a young age in 1872.

Image by Marcfoto on Flicker

The Yearbooks of BMC Durfee H.S. can be found online through the Ambrose F. Keeley library.   I’ve been to this library (and online site) many times over the years and it’s resourcesare wonderful for studying the history of Fall River.

Ambrose F. Keeley Library at BMC Durfee

If, like me, you enjoy looking over very old yearbooks you will love looking at…

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Posted by on August 12, 2018 in Uncategorized


Maplecroft Meeting ADA Requirements

Maplecroft Update:

Handicap ramp being installed today and a chair lift for main staircase later. These are necessary to meet ADA requirements for permit issuance to operate as a B&B.

The Second Street location did not have to comply back in 1996. New time, new council.

Some may think a chair lift in the foyer may take away from the Edwardian era ambience.  Some may be right.  But hey, do you want to see it open to the public or not?

Bless Donald and Ryan Woods for doing what it takes.

It was my pleasure recently to review and edit the tour script.  Thank you, Ryan.  🙂


Posted by on August 7, 2018 in Maplecroft Bed & Breakfast


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Borden Murders: Comprehensive Timeline May 9, 1892 thru August 4, 1892

Tattered Fabric: Fall River's Lizzie Borden

(Originally posted August 2, 2016 – Be sure to click link at bottom left for “…..As It Happened” minute-by-minute Timeline of day of murders.)



WS = Witness Statements (Fall River Police Dept.)

CI = Coroner’s Inquest (Second Distrct Court, Fall River)

PH = Preliminary Hearing (Second District Court, Fall River)

TT = Trial Testimony – Superior Court (New Bedford)

LR =  Lizzie Borden Past & Present (Len Rebello)

VV = Victorian Vistas – 3 Volumes (Philip T. Silvia, Jr.)

May 9-10, 1892 Painting of Borden house begins by John W. Grouard; Lizzie selects “drab” color.                           (LR32)
May/June 1892 Andrew kills pigeons roosting in the barn.  Morse visits end of June.
June 30, 1892 Morse spent 1 day at Borden’s; takes Butcher Davis daughter &Emma for ride.                      JohnMorse-older          (CI 96)
July 10, 1892 Morse again visits Bordens.  AJB asks Morse if  he knows of manto run Swansea farm.                  (CI 96)

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Posted by on July 30, 2018 in Uncategorized


Lizzie Borden: Timeline of Significant Prior Events and the Murders

Tattered Fabric: Fall River's Lizzie Borden

(RECYCLED POST from July 2014)


Lizzie’s motivation and the trigger to the murders can be found here. As the August 4th date approaches and all things Lizzie resurface and regurgitate, you may enjoy using this source as a focal point and research reference.


July 10, 1892 Morse again visits Bordens. AJB asks Morse if he knows of man to run Swansea farm. (CI 96)
July 11, 1892 Union laborers in Fall River celebrate new 58-hour workweek with giant parade.
July 18, 1892 Emma and Lizzie deed back house on Ferry Street to Andrew and receive $2,500 each. (LR556)
July 19, 1892 Lizzie’s 32nd Birthday.
July 20, 1892 Grover Cleveland passes thru FR enroute to NYC for Democratic Convention. (VVII-326)
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…

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Posted by on July 27, 2018 in Uncategorized


Lizzie Borden’s Meatloaf Recipe

This article in the Fall River Herald News today by Deborah Allard includes several informative links (see my Timeline) and gives us the super bland recipe for Lizzie Borden’s meatloaf.


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Chloe Sevigny Interview on Lizzie Borden

In this very recent Town & Country mag interview Chloe Sevigny admits her film “Lizzie” is fiction but it’s what she says about Lizzie the person where she gets it all wrong.

First of all let me say that whenever I ready ANYTHING about Lizzie Borden where it states unequivocably that an “axe” was used (instead of a hatchet), a red flag goes up in my critical, case purist mind.  Alas, it was mentioned almost immediately.   The trouble with the content of  remarks made in this interview is that urban legends are reinforced once again.

Sevigny maintains Lizzie Borden was stifled under her father’s rigid control and had no outlets to vent her frustrations.  Truth be told, Lizze at age 32, was just on the cusp of joining the core of that society she so craved.  For the past 7 years she had been active in the Congregational Church, taking part in almost all it’s departments, i.e., Fruit and Flower Mission,  also Reverent Buck’s Mission where she taught Chinese children, Womens’ Board of the Fall River Hospital, etc. etc.  She pretty much came and went as she pleased, entering and existing by the front door as her sister, Emma, did while her father and stepmother used the back door.  Lizzie went out frequently to make calls but most of her social engagements involved the Central Congregation Church.  And just the year before she had gone a 16 week Grand Tour to Europe.   She was no captive of her father’s doman, that’s for sure.

I have repeatedly said Sevigny’s film is soft porn.  Just as there are books with hooks there are films produced for targeted audiences.  This film is no exception.  But I’ll still go see it.  And I’ll keep buying those books.


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(Recycled post)

Jun. 29th, 2007



George Dexter Robinson Blue Flo Plate of Gov. Robinson

3X Governor of Mass. private collection of Faye Musselman

Headed Lizzie’s defense team On loan to Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast


from South Coast Today April 14, 1998

“By Paul Edward Parker, Providence Journal-Bulletin

FALL RIVER — In a locked storage room on the 16th floor of a high-rise office building in Springfield, a five-drawer file cabinet may hold the secrets of Fall River’s most enduring mystery: Who killed Andrew and Abby Borden. Only one man has the key to that locked filing cabinet, an administrator in the law firm that, more than a century ago, represented Lizzie Borden when she was acquitted of murdering her father and stepmother. Since June 1893, the papers inside that filing cabinet have remained a secret between Lizzie and her lawyer, former Gov. George D. Robinson. But all that may soon change.

The U.S. Supreme Court is considering a case involving former White House aide Vincent W. Foster, who committed suicide in 1993. Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth W. Starr has demanded to see notes of a conversation between Foster and his lawyer just days before the suicide. The high court will hear oral arguments in that case on June 8, with a decision expected in late June or early July. The court will decide whether attorney-client privilege, which protects the secrecy of the relationship between lawyers and their clients, continues after the client dies. It is the attorney-client privilege that has kept the Robinson papers out of the public eye for 105 years. Though Lizzie is long gone, her lawyer lives on, in the form of Robinson, Donovan, Madden & Barry, the law firm that succeeded Governor Robinson’s firm.

The Supreme Court’s pending ruling opens a tantalizing possibility to historians and Borden buffs. “Would we like to look at Robinson’s papers? Absolutely, of course,” said George E. Quigley, president of The International Lizzie Borden Association.

Said Michael Martins, curator of the Fall River Historical Society: “Any documents that pertain to a case as notorious as the Borden case, a great unsolved murder mystery, would be of tremendous interest to researchers and scholars.” The historical society is home to the largest collection of Borden material, including the papers of prosecutor Hosea M. Knowlton and City Marshal Rufus B. Hilliard, Fall River’s police chief at the time of the murders. “I’m sure it’s an interesting collection,” Martins said of the Robinson papers, “but I doubt there’s anything that’s going to prove the case.”

The types of documents in the collection are as mysterious as what they might say.
Bruce Lyon, administrator at the Robinson firm, said the collection includes newspaper clippings and other materials that were publicly available. It also includes a lot more material, he said, all of which is privileged.

Around the time of the 100th anniversary of the murders, in 1992, the firm consulted with the Board of Bar Overseers, the agency that oversees the conduct of lawyers. The board informally advised that not only does the attorney-client privilege bar the firm from releasing the papers, it prevents the firm from disclosing the nature of what it holds. Lyon said the Robinson papers have been catalogued and placed in protective document holders, but he could not say anything more.

Speculation is that the files might contain letters between Lizzie and Robinson; letters between Robinson and other lawyers involved in the case; Robinson’s notes, both strategic preparations and documenting how the trial progressed; and other documents relating to testimony at the trial and preliminary proceedings.

Few expect to find anything directly incriminating Lizzie, such as a signed confession. But the papers may hold bits of information that may have seemed inconsequential at the time that, viewed with a modern understanding of the case, might bolster one or more theories of the crime.

“Some things in there might be historical,” Quigley said. “There might be statements in there that might be damning or might be helpful to her. There would be notes that Robinson wrote about the case that would be telling. Who knows.”

The Supreme Court’s ruling will probably only deal with whether lawyers can be ordered to divulge material relating to dead clients. A ruling paving the way for release of the papers would only be the first step to their becoming public. If the Robinson papers became publicly available and the law firm wanted to lend or donate them to the historical society, Martins would be happy to accept them, but added, “we wouldn’t go after them.”

Martins said the society, in such a case, would probably seek to publish the papers, a painstaking process involving years of transcribing handwritten notes. The society published prosecutor Knowlton’s papers in 1994, and has been preparing the roughly 600 documents in Hilliard’s papers, which are still several years from publication. Despite the keen historical interest in the material, even Martins and Quigley are hesitant to advocate that the Supreme Court extinguish the attorney-client privilege upon a client’s death.

Quigley noted that Foster has living relatives, who could be hurt by the release of confidential material. “Lizzie, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “She’s dead. She’s dead a long time.”

Martins thinks the privilege should be extended even to the long-dead accused ax murderess. “Personally, I think Lizzie Borden bought and paid for her defense,” he said. “Isn’t it important that they protect the documents of their former clients? I think it’s important that they do that.”

The Supreme Court, using the case of Vincent Foster, ruled that lawyers must still maintain the attorney-client privilege, even when the client is dead. Personally, I can see the merits of this with regards to private correspondence. But the firm most likely has what remains the only surviving copy of Bridget Sullivan’s Inquest Testimony. Testimony from all others called by District Attorney Knowlton has long since been made public via the “Jennings hip bath collection” sold by the Fall River Historical Society. The Inquest was a legal proceeding and if this firm does have Bridget’s testimony, it surely is not “material between lawyers and their client” and, IMHO, should be released and made public.

About 5 years ago I sent an email to attorney Jeffrey McCormick (no longer with the firm) following up on Jules Ryckebusch’s earlier plea in 1992 to release the files. I received a prompt and courteous email response citing their standard reply as indicated above.

The firm has evolved and grown, now known as Robinson Donovan P.C. Check out their website:

Tags: george dexter robinson, robinson donovan p.c., robinson law firm




Posted by phayemuss on July 27, 2007 in Fall River Police Department, Investigations & The Trial, Legal & Forensics, Newspaper Coverage, The Borden Family



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Posted by on June 23, 2018 in Investigations & The Trial