Was Lizzie Borden Afraid She Wouldn’t Be Allowed Burial in Oak Grove Cemetery?

Image by Faye Musselman, Tattered Fabric

Something to ponder: In Lizzie’s Will, Item 6 (below) she uses the phrase …”to give her the privilege, so far as I have the same…..” regarding Oak Grove Cemetery. Could it be Lizzie was concerned her notoriety might impede or deny her this final resting place? For a woman who, in her younger days, felt so entitled, why would she sound doubtful about this when writing her Will a year and a half before her death? Did she include this bequeath to her cousin, Grace, to add leverage because Grace had status as the wife of Louis McHenry Howe? Louis was the personal secretary to Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had been Asst. Secretary to the Navy in 1920. He was “connected”. It just strikes me as quite odd the phrasing Lizzie uses here. “….so far as I have the same…”

6. To my cousin, Mrs. Grace H. Howe, my diamond and amethyst ring and I direct that she shall have second choice of my rugs, books, china, pictures and furniture, and I also give to her the privilege, so far as I have the same, to use the Oak Grove Cemetery lot for burial purposes. I also give and devise to her one-half of my share in the A. J. Borden Building in said Fall River, to her, her heirs, executors, administrators and assigns forever.”



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; Emma stopping at Fairhaven to visit the Brownell’s.
July 21, 1892 Lizzie travels to New Bedford, staying with Mrs. Poole and her daughter at 20 Madison Street.
July 23, 1892 Lizzie went on street alone (New Bedford) to buy some dress goods (gone from rooming house 30 minutes). (WS31)
July 25, 1892 AJB writes letter to Morse to wait about getting a man to run his farm. (CI98)
July 25, 1892 Lizzie visits the girls at Marion at Dr. Handy’s cottage.
July 26, 1892 Lizzie, Mrs. Poole & Mrs. Poole’s daughter ride to Westport to visit Mrs. Cyrus Tripp (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. (VVII-331)
July 31, 1892 Bridget prepares first serving of the infamous mutton.
August 2, 1892 Andrew 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

8:00 am Abby goes across street to Dr. Bowen; tells him she fears she’s been poisoned.
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. (PH310)
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. (CI98)
1:30 pm John Morse walks from train station & arrives at Borden house; Bridget lets him in front door.
2:00-4:00 pm John Morse and Andrew talk in Sitting Room; Lizzie hears their conversation. (TT141)
4:00 pm John Morse hires horse and wagon at Kirby’s Stable and drives to Swansea in late afternoon. (CI 99)
7:00 pm Lizzie visits Alice Russell in the early evening, states her fear “something will happen”.
8:45 pm Morse returns from Swansea, talks in sitting room with Andrew and Abby. (CI99)
9:00 pm Lizzie returns from Alice Russell’s 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 to bed. (CI 00)

August 4, 1892

(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 iceman.
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 while8:30 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 am Morse leaves for Post Office and then to visit niece 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.
9:55 am Everett Cook talks to Andrew at First National Bank.
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. (TT173)

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. (WS10, 43)
10:30-10:40 am Joseph Shortsleeves sees Andrew.
10:40 am James Mather sees Andrew leave shop (fixes time by City Hall clock)
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.
10:45 am Mary Chase, residing over Wade’s store, sees man on Borden fence taking pears. (WS45)
10:35-10:45 am Bridget sees Lizzie go into Dining Room and speak “low” to her father.
10:35-10:45 am Andrew goes upstairs to his bedroom and returns in a few minutes, going to Sitting Room sofa.
10:45 am Mary Chase, residing over Wade’s store, sees man on Borden fence taking pears. (WS45)
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 Sargeants.
10:50-10:55 Mark Chase observes man with open buggy parked just beyond tree in front of Borden house.
10:55–10:58 am Bridget goes up to her room in attic and lies down on her bed. (WS3)
10:55-11:10 am Andrew Borden dies from blows to the head with a sharp instrument.
11:00 am Addie Churchill leaves her house for Hudner’s grocery store on South Main. (WS8)
11:00 am Bridget hears City Hall clock chime 11:00.
11:05-11:10 am Hyman Lubinsky drives his horse cart past the Borden house. (TT1423)
11:10 am Lizzie hollers to Bridget to come down, “Someone has killed father”. (TT244)
11:10-11:12 am Lizzie sends Bridget to get Dr. Bowen. (TT245)
11:10-11:13 am Bridget rushes back across the street from Bowen’s, tells Lizzie he’s not at home. (TT245)
11:10-11:13 am Lizzie asks Bridget if she knows where Alice Russell lives and tells her to go get her. (TT245)
11:10-11:13 am Bridget grabs her hat & shawl from kitchen entry way and rushes to Alice Russell’s. (TT245)
11:10-11:13 am Mrs. Churchill observes Bridget crossing street, notices a distressed Lizzie and calls out. (PH281-282)
11:10-11:14 am Mrs. Churchill to side door, speaks briefly, and then crosses street looking for a doctor. (PH283)
11:12-11:14 am John Cunningham sees Mrs. Churchill talking to others then uses phone ay Gorman’s paint shop to call Police.
11:15 am Marshall Hilliard receives call from news dealer Cunningham about disturbance at Borden house.
11:15 am Marshall 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. (PH284)
11:16 – 11:20 am Dr. Bowen pulls up in his carriage, met by his wife, rushes over to Borden’s. (PH 273)
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 arrives at Borden house, sees Andrew, asks for sheet; alone with Lizzie for approx. one minute.
11:20 am Office 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. (PH274)
11:25 am Off. Patrick Doherty, at Bedford & Second, notes City Hall clock time enroute to Station. (T589)
11:23-11:30 am Lizzie asks to check for Mrs. Borden; Bridget & Mrs. Churchill go upstairs, discover body. (PH29-30)
11:40 am Bowen returns to Borden house. Churchill tells him they’ve discovered Abby upstairs. (TT322)
11:34 am Bridget fetches Doctor Bowen’s wife, Phoebe. (T250)
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. (T447)
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. (PH330)
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. (T686)
11:42 am Doherty moves bed out 3 feet to view Mrs. Borden. (PH330)
11:44 am Doherty runs to Undertaker Gorman’s shop around corner and phones Marshall Hilliard. (PH331)
11:45 am Doherty returns; Officers Mullaly. Allen, Denny, and Mr. 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.
11:50 am Asst. Marshall Fleet arrives; sees bodies; talks to Lizzie in her room w/Rev. Buck, says “…she’s not my mother, she’s my stepmother” (PH354)
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. (TT452)
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. (WS6)
12:25 am Officer Harrington interviews Lizzie in her bedroom (she wears pink wrapper). (WS6)
12:45 am Marshall Hillliard & Officers Doherty & Connors drive carriage to Andrew’s upper farm in Swansea.
3:30 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. (CI107)
4:00 pm Stomachs of Andrew and Abby removed and sealed.
5:00 pm Emma returns from Fairhaven and arrives at the Borden house. (TT1550)
5:00-5:30 pm State Detective George F. Seaver arrives from Taunton. (PH453)
5:30 pm Dr. Dolan “delivers” bodies of Andrew and Abby to Undertaker James Winward. (PH388)
6:00 pm Alice leaves 92 Second Street to return home for supper. (CI149)
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.

ASPI, II, III = The Phillips History of Fall River
AB = Arnold Brown
Beasley = David Beasley, McKee Rankin & Heyday of American Theatre
CI = Coroner’s Inquest
D-C = The Democrat & Chronicle Newspaper
DK = David Kent, Forty Whacks
ER = Edward Radin
ES = The Evening Standard (New Bedford)
Fenner = History of Fall River
FREN = Fall River Evening News
FRHN = Fall River Herald News
FRI = A Fall River Incident
KP = Knowlton Papers
KPC = Knowlton-Pearson Correspondence
LR = Leonard Rebello, Lizzie Borden Past and Present
NYT = New York Times
PH = Preliminary Hearing
TT = Superior Court Trial Transcript
VL = Victoria Lincoln, A Private Disgrace
VVI = Victorian Vistas, Volume I
VVII = Victorian Vistas, Volume II
VVIII = Victorian Vistas, Volume III
WP = Washington Post
WS = Witness Statements Advertisements


Tags: , ,

Lizzie Borden And Other Facial Matches

I recently stumbled across dozens of old images uploaded to Photobucket long ago — some as long ago as almost two decades.  Yes, indeedy.

Click on the link below. Can you spot the look a-like images of Lizzie and others more contemporary?  If you can, pat yourself on the back for being smarter than a 6 year old.   Or, as Facebook postings often tell us:  “You have an IQ of a genius if you can do this.”   I leave you to it. BTW, they aren’t *all* about Lizzie.

Click HERE.

(Note: there are 4 pages of images, click the page numbers to advance).


Tags: , , , ,

The Haunting of Lizzie Borden’s grave

Tattered Fabric: Fall River's Lizzie Borden

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…

View original post 182 more words

Leave a comment

Posted by on May 21, 2019 in Uncategorized



Tilden Thurber Bldg-Providence

The image above shows the store from which Lizzie Borden stole two porcelain paintings, “Love’s Echo” and “Love’s Awakening”.  She kept one for herself and had it on display in her home (“Maplecroft”) and gave the other away to Mrs. Preston Gardner.  When that one,PO-107.1L “Love’s Awakening” broke, and was taken to the store for repairs, it came out that Lizzie had given it as a gift.  Subsequently, a warrant for her arrest was issued and she made headlines again on




Still housed in its original 1857 painted and decorated iron-facade building, Tilden-Thurber today is an anomaly amid adult video stores and cell phone suppliers. It’s a remnant of the 19th century grandeur and bustle of Providence, Rhode Island’s downtown commercial district.  The business grew from a showroom for locally produced Gorham silver to a classy, four-story department store – Providence’s version of Tiffany’s.

After the store closed in 1991, the building was purchased by real estate businessman Stanley Weiss, who installed the antique business on the first floor and his offices on the upper floors. Now, collectors and connoisseurs come to this stately, hushed store for fine 18th and 19th century American furniture and estate jewelry. You’ll still find Gorham silver here as well as a variety of ceramics, from Chinese export porcelain to 19th century English bone china. — Joellen Secondo

Hannah Gorham
Gorham Thurber
Lydia Lancaster Herbert

William Herbert Thurber
Family Links

William Herbert Thurber

  • Born: 19 Sep 1859, Providence RI
  • Died: 23 Jan 1924, Providence RI

General notes:


Events in his life were:

• Continued in the footsteps of his father as director of TILDEN-THURBER & Co. Helped to develop the creation of original jewelry and flatware designs, as well as expanding the companies other lines. 1

• He appeared on the 1880 census taken at Providence RI, listed as a dealer in silverware.


Posted by on May 16, 2019 in Uncategorized


Lizzie Borden’s Dying Act of Kindness

Re-post. Note, must read the newspaper report of her dying act of kindness – scroll down.

Tattered Fabric: Fall River's Lizzie Borden

 (Originally published in June 1st, 2010)

Lizzie Borden died 84 years ago today.  She died at 8:30 pm on June 1, 1927  (a Wednesday) in her home in Fall River, MA.  She had been lingering all day, surrounded by her chauffeur and two servants:  Ernest Terry, Ellen Miller, and Florence Pemberton.  There were others who came to the house as well.

The Reverend Cleveland from the nearby Church of Ascension – a few doors down from Central Congregational  Church on Rock Street – would execute the wishes Lizzie had written out on March 31, 1919.   Vida Turner would come in and be instructed to sing “My Ain’ Country”, tell no one she had been there and then leave immediately.

The reporting a few days later of Lizzie’s Will was regional front page news and appeared in many newspapers across the country recounting the horrific hatchet murders of August 4, 1892…

View original post 727 more words

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 28, 2019 in Uncategorized


Book Review: Cara Robertson’s The Trial of Lizzie Borden

UPDATED 3/27/19 – Note:  The inscribed copy arrived March 20th – postmarked March 12th.  I wrote the following review March 13th.



Cara Robertson has written a fine book that wonderfully weaves the context of the Trial proceedings into a “you are there” narrative flush with new insights and deft storytelling, exposing the female-suppressed culture of the Gilded Age.  Drawing heavily from the Trial transcript and newspapers of the day, she tells this oft-told tale in a new way that forces the reader to reflect on the cultural influences of the era and the why and how of its sensationalism, final outcome, and enduring appeal.

Well read Lizzie Borden scholars will hear in the narrative echos of previously published books on the case which have been “go to” resources for decades, but probably my favorite sentence in the whole book is this:  “Combining the enduring emotional force of myth and more prosaic intellectual challenge of a detective story, it is a ‘locked door’ mystery written by Sophocles.”  (Kudos, Cara)

The book credits almost all the photographs therein to the Fall River Historical Society where, sadly, the wrong image of a purported Uncle John Vinnicum Morse is actually that of his (and sister Sarah’s) brother, William Bradford Morse.  I know this to be a fact because William’s photograph is included in one of several family albums to be found at the Swansea Historical Society, housed at the Swansea Public Library – a place where I have visited for research several times.  William’s name is handwritten in pencil above his image.


23017445_119566315824                                  notmorse

The image on the left is the actual John V. Morse and has appeared in countless books and documentaries.  William,  who was in Excelsior, Minnesota during the murders (as he had been most of his life) did, however, resemble his brother, John.  (It should be noted that when I brought this error to the attention of the FRHS,  I was informed they had documentation from a relative of the Morse family asserting the photograph of William was John.  This fails to explain the decades of the other photograph being cited as John with credit to the FRHS).

A more blatant error appears on page 278 where the author writes of post Trial notoriety and states “Papers printed improbable reports of engagements, including a betrothal to one of her former jurors.”  There is no source citation in the end notes to this statement, however, it has been widely reported of the December 10, 1896 Fall River Herald News report citing a “Swansea school teacher” as the subject of this rumor.  That person was, in fact, Orrin Gardner.

Crowds gather outside the Superior Court house in New Bedford during the 1893 Trial

Ms. Robertson’s deft handling of Knowlton’s lengthy summation strips his elegant oratory to the persuasive essentials:  the prosecution’s case was based on Lizzie’s exclusive opportunity and that the victims did not die at the same time -and that these were the controlling facts of the case.

As to why Lizzie remained in Fall River the entire second half of her life, the author speculates with an allegorical reference to Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter:  “It may seem marvelous, that, with the world before her….this woman should still call that place her home, where and where only, she must needs be the type of shame.  But there is a fatality, a feeling so irresistible and inevitable that it had the force of doom, which almost invariably compels human beings to linger around and haunt ghost-like, the spot where some great and marked recent event has given color to their lifetime, and still the more irresistibly, the darker the tinge that saddens it.”  (And here one can pause to ponder Donald Woods’ appropriate marketing of Maplecroft).

While I was impressed with Cara Robertson’s fresh narrative point of view, my overall expectations of the book fell short considering the author’s background.  There were far too many errors.  There was no new information, and indeed it seemed peppered with the redundancy of other known works.  I had been anticipating more given her years of research on the case and her impeccable credentials.   That said, I still highly recommend this book to anyone interested in this case and specifically to those interested in the Gilded Age and its cultural impact on women.