Hypocrisy of the Central Congregational Church

Originally posted March 31, 2012. But my opinion hasn’t changed.

Tattered Fabric: Fall River's Lizzie Borden

We all know Lizzie Borden was very active in the Central Congregational Church of Fall River.  When she was suspected, accused, charged, incarcerated, and stood Trial for the murders of her father and stepmother, the Church stood by her.  But it wasn’t long before they “cut” her as explained in Parallel Lives.  Only a few of its members remained her friends, most all abandoned her after her acquittal.

In 1905 “History Annals and Sketches of the Central Congregational Church, Fall River, Mass”  written and compiled by Mrs. William Carr, Mrs. Eli Thurston, and Mrs. Charles J. Holmes was published. Mrs. Holmes had been especially supportive of Lizzie during the scandal and Trial. She was, in fact, like a surrogate mother bellowing her belief in Lizzie’s innocence. The Church stood behind her until it was all over. These women were all so prominent in Lizzie’s parallel church life and their…

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Posted by on August 17, 2022 in Uncategorized



From Suzanne’s Facebook page today:

“It’s official, Lizzie Borden’s (Lizbeth’s) Maplecroft is UNDER AGREEMENT, exactly a year to the date of closing on Lizzie Bordens Bed and Breakfast. I think she’d be thrilled to hear the laughter of children in the rooms of this beautiful historic home. Daryl, the family you brought couldn’t be a more perfect fit!

“Maplecroft, the historic former home of Lizzie Borden, is being purchased by artist and professor Brooke Mullins Doherty, who will be moving her home and studio from New Bedford. She and her husband Michael, a polymath, along with their three children look forward to respecting the house’s unique history while they restore Maplecroft to a single family residence.”

Suzanne St. John

Century 21 The Seyboth Team


For more information on Lizzie Borden’s connection and history of the house, click HERE.


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Early Visits to Fall River

Tattered Fabric: Fall River's Lizzie Borden

Before it was the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum, the house at 92 Second Street was the home of John and Josephine McGinn.  The history of the owners and occupants of the property can be found HERE.

Following are some photos of my early visits beginning in 1977.  Click on images for larger views.

scan0026Above views are looking south up Second Street with the old bus station on the west side of the street.    I used to conduct taped interviews of the old timers waiting for the bus and still listen occasionally to their remembrances of the old neighborhood.

scan0034The “House” always had gawkers but few ever allowed inside. Note the wrap-around Leary Press where the barn was once located.




Maple-Gray“Today” means the early 1980’s.

scan0013Note I received from John McGinn with their “new” postcard.


scan0038The Kelly’s wouldn’t recognize the place.

scan0015Thank you note from Josephine McGinn referencing the…

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Posted by on May 20, 2022 in Uncategorized


To All The Lame-brain, Lazy-ass, Semi-literate People Who Think Lizzie Borden “Killed her parents with an axe”……

Tattered Fabric: Fall River's Lizzie Borden

….because you’ve watched all those paranormal ghost chasing shows, or you saw the TV film with Elizabeth Montgomery or you’ve googled “Lizzie Borden” and seen her image as a teenager or twenty-something dripping in blood and wielding an axe.  Maybe it was a documentary, or you just heard it so much (she did it) that you’ve come to believe it.   — Well, I have this to say to you:

Click image for larger view.


And preferably, THIS ONE.

Maybe the book is beyond your financial reach, but you could at least read the Review.  At least indulge yourself to become significantly more enlightened in just the time it takes you to read the Review.   Oh sure, you can skip it.  You might say it “Would take too much of my time and I need to text my BFF on something really important.”  Or maybe you’re…

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Posted by on February 22, 2022 in Uncategorized


Lizzie Borden Won’t Be At The London Olympics But I Will!

Tattered Fabric: Fall River's Lizzie Borden

Please join me on Sunday for my live reporting of the Opening Ceremonies of the London Olympics.  Selected by Facebook as one of two designated Special Correspondents, I will be typing LIVE as it happens.  If you have a Facebook account, enter Faye Musselman.  If you don’t have one, get one.  It’s free.  Or, just Google “Faye Musselman” and scroll to where it says Facebook.  I will be covering this LIVE as shown on NBC.  It will be great fun!  🙂 🙂 🙂

Some reflections on the 1984 LA Olympics:

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Posted by on February 4, 2022 in Uncategorized


Vintage Fall River

Reblogged 2/2/22 – Just because I can.

Tattered Fabric: Fall River's Lizzie Borden

Here are more images:

1st Congregational Church 1900’s

Durfee Textile School 1910 on Davol St.

City Hall 1950’s

Main Street 1950’s

Notre Dame 1907

City Hall 1908

South Park 1860’s

Globe Corners 1908

Main Street 1930’s

Post Office 1910

Fall River Hospital 1910

New Union Hospital 1910

Main Street 1900’s

South Park Pavillon 1908

Talbot store photo

EXTREMELY RARE PHOTOGRAPH – Showing the east side of a cornerstone Fall River business- the Talbot & Co. Clothing House. It is labeled on the back in pencil simply “1916- Second & Pleasant St.” Talbot’s, with its main entrance at 60-66 South Main St. in the former Pocasset Block, operated from early 1900 until about 1940 when Paul Woltman bought the business and moved his existing men’s store from the List Building on Third Street to the more visible location on City Hall Square. In the photo a young man dressed in overalls but wearing a bow tie can be seen leaning on…

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Posted by on February 2, 2022 in Uncategorized


Arthur Sherman Phillips – Lizzie Didn’t Do It

Tattered Fabric: Fall River's Lizzie Borden

(Recycled post from June 2008)

Arthur Sherman Phillips wrote the impressive 3-Volume History of Fall River and was a junior attorney assisting on Lizzie’s defense team. The case haunted him all his life and he never gave up on the belief that she was innocent.

As late as June 3, 1939, he wrote to Homans Robinson (1894-1973) of the Robinson-Donovan law firm. He was the son of 3-times Governor George Robinson, Lizzie’s lead attorney at her Trial.   In his 3-page letter shown below, Phillips cites so many of the sources of speculative theories surrounding this case and ones that surface repeatedly in books, articles, and arguments towards her innocence.

It is not known if Homans Robinson, a 1916 graduate of Amherst college, replied to this letter. Surely if he had complied with Phillips request for a copy of the questions Attorney George Robinson presented to Lizzie, along with her…

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Posted by on December 12, 2021 in Uncategorized


Random Nuggets – John W. Coughlin & Josephine McGinn


As Mayor of Fall River


Mayor Coughlin is back row, second from right.  Franklin D. Roosevelt is seated, center.

Coughlin, John W. (1861-1920) — of Fall River, Bristol County, Mass. Born in Fall River, Bristol County, Mass., June 9, 1861. Democrat. Physician; mayor of Fall River, Mass., 1891-94; defeated, 1889; Massachusetts Democratic state chair, 1896; candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts, 1901; member of Massachusetts Democratic State Committee, 1901-20; delegate to Democratic National Convention from Massachusetts, 1904, 1912 (speaker); member of Democratic National Committee from Massachusetts, 1912; candidate for U.S. Representative from Massachusetts 15th District, 1912.  Clearly, he was a

He died December 3, 1920 (age 59 years, 177 days), less than 3 months after the above group picture was taken.


John McGinn purchased the home at 230 Second Street in 1948 but did not tell his wife, Josephine. The Leary Press was already a business abutting the house itself since the 1930’s. There was no yard, grass, or garden and Josephine was not happy. John bought a small home in Westport to appease her and they enjoyed retreating there to “their summer place” in a country setting from time to time. In 1978, when I was first inside this house, Josephine was upstairs in their bedroom (the Andrew and Abby bedroom) but I did not meet her then. In 1992 during the Centennial Conference I called her and we spoke briefly. She remembered me from that very first visit. 


I was in Fall River during the demotion of the Leary Press.  Exploring through the rubble I found this check receipt laying in plain sight payable to Josephine McGinn, written in 1993 by her grand-daughter and my friend, Martha McGinn , in the amount of $10,000.  Martha ran the Leary Press after John died and made periodic payments to her.  (Note:  There’s a certain symmetry to the fact the check is drawn on the Citizen Savings Bank – the bank which Andrew Borden was President when he died.)

Mayor Coughlin died when Josephine was just a little girl.  The Leary Press no longer stands.  The House at “92 Second Street” still stands.  And the enduring fascination of Lizzie Borden grows stronger with each generation.


The Most Factual Telling on the Lizzie Borden Case Has Not Yet Been Produced

One specific letter in The Knowlton-Pearson Correspondence pretty well sums up where we are today relevant to the most interesting book on this case.  Written 35 years after the murders by the son of the prosecuting attorney to the prolific true crime writer who published the first widely read book on the murders we have this:

                         Knowlton to Pearson October 28, 1930

It was only six years after Studies in Murder was published but over three and a half decades since the Superior Court Trial when Frank Knowlton wrote to Edmund Pearson that: 

         “The really interesting book About the Borden case has not yet been     written,”

He could be saying that today, 128 years later.   Knowlton says most of what has been written relates to the circumstances and tries to reason back to find the cause.  He posits that it should be a psychological study of Lizzie imagining her life, comprehensive and in depth.  (We get a shadow image of that through Parallel Lives – Fall River Historical Society – but even that was limited to her society and not the psychology or dynamics of Lizzie and her household).  If a book did deal precisely as Knowlton suggests, we would have a completely different image of this most enigmatic character of American unsolved crime  – now evolved into a bloody icon of almost epic status in the occult pop culture.

What we have today is represented by the very latest of Lizzie Borden t.v. docudramas with an emphasis on the paranormal.  It’s the “Curse of Lizzie Borden” premiering this date but I do not recommend it nor provide any information to promote it.  But like so many that have come before it, it has a “hook”.

“Demons” is the hook with this one. When renewed interest in the paranormal exploded in the early 1990’s, the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast became a recurring focal point for “investigations”. As books, documentaries, films, and t.v. programming grew, so did the need for program content. Productions metastasized and distribution poured into various entertainment programming channels. The caveat is always “entertainment” but the minions of those interested in the occult usually accept the productions as fact. Lizzie Borden, due to her mystique as a person and the case being a classic unsolved crime, was a natural for exploitation. Regurgitation of misinformation has necessitated “hooks” to sustain an audience eager to be thrilled and shriek  with things that go bump in the night.

Spin-off websites and podcasts are part of the metastasizing process. Lizzie Andrew Borden’s evolution from the virginal, church-going middle class daughter of a well-to-do banker and real estate investor, has morphed into a crazed axe-wielding psychopath who haunts 92 Second Street. Thus, the parade of paranormal investigators and their followers continue. “If you build it, they will come.” Alas, we live in an America where half believe in the falsities media presents to them. The subject of Lizzie Borden is a simple case in point to this cancer among us.

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Where did that Lizzie “Noisy Bird” Letter go?

From September 2010.

Tattered Fabric: Fall River's Lizzie Borden

The below image is of a display that once adorned the office wall of Reverend Robert Lawrence, past minister of the First Congregational Church in Fall River.   It contains the 2-page letter Lizzie Borden wrote on May 31, 1900 to John Summerfield Brayton about his crowing bird that disturbed her.  The letter was found tucked in a desk drawer many years later by his son.

First Congregational Church when it was on Main Street at the time Lizzie wrote her letter.

First Congregational Church on Rock Street as it looks today and where the Reverend Lawrence ministered.

On a visit to Fall River late last year, I once again went to view this.  It was gone.  I inquired earlier this year by phone to the Church office as to the whereabouts of this display and was told it was gone.  I was told that “Reverend Lawrence took it with him…

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Posted by on September 1, 2021 in Uncategorized


Lee-ann Wilber Imposter Posts on Her Facebook Account

UPDATE: Mystery solved. Click HERE

An outbreak of indignation followed a posting on Lee-ann’s Facebook account from some “mystery person” writing as if they were Lee-ann herself reaching out from the afterlife. Thank you, Tim Westberg of Spooky Southcoast for reporting on this so promptly. The game’s afoot to identify this sick person.

Read about it HERE.

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Posted by on August 25, 2021 in Lee-ann Wilber


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Knowlton-Pearson Correspondence

Huzzah! Huzzah! The Fall River Historical Society has announced their new publication on the collection of letters regarding the Lizzie Borden case. Before this the only access to copies of the letters was to purchase the entire collection in single photo-copy sheets from the FRHS – which is what I did directly from curator emeritus, Florence Brigham, in the early 1990’s. I recall paying $15.00 at that time – no doubt to cover the copying costs – but I believe the FRHS suspended that access nearly 20 years ago. Having that collection available now for $20 is quite a treat. There is much to be learned from these letters as we follow Edmund Pearson’s journey of discovery. His growing friendship with Frank Knowlton evolves to guide Pearson to those involved, in various measure, with the case and those that knew Lizzie and shared their public and private remembrances.

The finished project first edition looks like this:

What follows are some pages from my collection of the photo-copies. Open image for large type. Let this not deter you from buying the new publication – I’ll be adding it to my bookshelves on our beloved Lizzie. 🙂 In the meantime, here’s the first letter (from Pearson) that started it all……and towards the end.


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Newspapers of August 4th – 10th, 1892

Well, another August 4th has come and about to be gone and we can be done with the regurgitations in the telling of perhaps the most startling, notorious and unsolvable crimes in American history. Yep, it’s her: Our beloved Lizzie Borden of Fall River. Most of us get our news from online or television these days, but in 1892 it was the newspapers – and the Fall River Herald and Fall River Globe, rivals, went nuts with the story that spread across the country – and beyond – like wildfire.

The only thing new this year is the Fall River Historical Society announcing the soon to be published Andrew Jennings Journal donated to that august organization in 2011. Oh, and of course the “virtual” tours/re-enactments by the Lizzie Borden House.

The Fall River Historical Society states: “Included in the Appendix of this volume is the complete transcript of an interview with Andrew J. Jennings that appeared in the Fall River Daily Globe on August 6, 1892.” I believe the image shown here is that article:

Part of my collection of Bordenia stuff is a 10 volume set of most all the regional newspapers who reported on the crimes, the legal procedings, and Lizzie’s post-trial life. These copies of articles were collected and organized by Ed Thibault, donated to Donald Woods in 2004 and given to me by Donald later that year. Put on your reading spectacles because I’m posting here just a tiny fraction of those reports. The 10-volume set starts before the crimes and goes up and through 2012, when I stopped collecting. Remember, I’m only showing partial extracts from the Index to Volume I and only some selected pages of the hundreds of articles in that one Volume. Click images to enlarge OR OPEN IN A NEW TAB – to read the articles. Enlightening.

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Posted by on August 4, 2021 in Uncategorized


Timeline of Events Around and During the Borden Murders

Tattered Fabric: Fall River's Lizzie Borden


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.

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…

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Posted by on August 1, 2021 in Uncategorized


Lizzie Borden House: August 4th Re-enactments

Many of you may know of – or even attended – the annual August 4th re-enactments of the discovery of the murders of Lizzie Borden’s father and stepmother on that same date in 1892 in Fall River, Ma. Well, so much has changed since the new owner took over. For example, they no longer accept phone calls so if you know (and/or communicate) with people who work there, you’ll get some information, slim as it is. Here’s a tidbit from a friend of a friend on Facebook:

Lance Zaal, new owner

Vic Leo Hey everyone! I work at the house and am directing this year’s re-enactment. In order to keep things safer and less crowded in the house (covid cases here in MA are beginning to spike again 😞) we are doing things a little differently this year. There are going to be three days of reenactment events. It’ll be performed live inside the house and live-streamed out to a projector in the parking lot where more people will be able to view it safely. The events are on August 8th, 15th, and 29th. I’m unsure if it’ll be online, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t be. Let me double check that and I’ll update asap.”

In the meantime, check out this Timeline on the events that happened the two weeks before and the day of August 4th, 1892. As you read it, put yourself in the action. Click HERE.


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Still Thrills and Delights 161 Years Later

The woman who gave birth to Lizzie 161 years ago. Sarah Morse Borden

Had Lizzie Borden lived she would be 161 years old today. Well, she didn’t live but she endures. In the hearts, minds, and revenue generating creations of those who contribute to the perpetuation of her compelling mystique, Lizzie continues to intrigue one generation after the other. For 131 years. (She was 31 when the murders happened and 32 when she went to Trial).

I often give pieces of my Lizzie and Bordenia collections to those who have fallen victim to her spell. Kate Lavendar was one such person. She made this video upon the shipment’s arrival. I think her excitement is a true and appropriate example of the impact this enigmatic woman has had on people all over the world.

An enduring – and endearing – fascination.

View it here.


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Erika Mailman wrote a lengthy piece for the online Smithsonian Magazine in which she describes more changes to take place as stated by new owner Lance Zaal. Opinions of its transformation shared by Shelley Dziedzic and myself were given in interviews for the same article.

What I’ve often referred to as “Mecca” is now a chrysalis morphing into a place where “mindless paranormalizers who pretend to see ghosts to get TikTok likes” (-Erika Mailman) is its current destiny. Now guests can squeal with contrived delight while case purists who’ve spent the night before will shake their heads and say what the f*ck?

From replacing the antique replica stove with a modern one, to adding a bedroom in the basement – these changes can be read in the article HERE.

Clearly, the experiences of those who booked overnight stays at this iconic edifice have been terminated. The factual historic residue has dissipated under the weight of contrived ghostly and paranormal experience options.

The House has been a tourist destination under three “generations” of Innkeepers. The first was Martha McGinn and Ron Evans from 1996 to 2004. They purchased most of the furnishings and fixtures that still remain, ensuring the House retained its 1890’s feel. The gift shop was in the abutting Leary Press. People came from all over the world.

The second generation was with Donald Woods (75% owner) and Lee-ann Wilber from 2004 to 2021. It was Donald’s money and Lee-ann’s oversight that gave southern exposure to the first floor windows, and freed up space for the barn replica to be constructed when the entire Leary Press was demolished. People came from all over the world.

Now comes the third generation with U.S. Ghost Adventures (aka Lance Zaal). His planned changes will transform the essence of The House forever, or at least for as long as he owns the property. And who can say how long that will be? Will people bother to come to Fall River from all over the world?

Mr. Zaal says he wants to “export” Lizzie to those who can’t visit Fall River, meaning an emphasis on online content.” “Lizzie Borden needs to adapt and move into a different century if it’s going to appeal to a new generation.” (Note: Lizzie Borden has continued to fascinate generation after generation since 1892). Oh, Mr. Zaal, informed perspective is so often absent in the minds of the unread.

Meanwhile, for me, it’s as if Godzilla surfaced from Mt. Hope Bay, stomped his way over to 92 Second Street (230) and fell, full body, on that iconic drab green structure. The gawking crowd weeps – for it was Lizzie he loved.


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Lizbeth-A Victorian Nightmare

Ric Rebelo, award winning documentarian and Fall River resident, created this film over 11 years ago. This week he posted the film and promos on YouTube, making it available for the first time to the general public. He also posted my 16-minute interview bonus feature, “Tattered Fabric” in which I tell of my theory as to how the murders were committed.

The Special Feature is HERE.

The full, 56-minute film is HERE.

When Mr. Rebelo completed this project he gave me CD’s of the raw footage of each of the people interviewed. I’ve enjoyed these over the years. I hope you will enjoy the finished product.


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Update on the Lizzie Borden House

(Note: On all my previous blog posts, click the title and you’ll be able to see Comments in the column to the right).

Read about the latest changes HERE.

Image from Spooky Southcoast

Clearly, a new era. I feel as if Godzilla surfaced from Mt. Hope Bay, stomped his way over to 92 Second Street (230) and fell, full body, on that iconic drab green structure.

The most novice of Borden researchers can spot the obvious error here. But more to the point are the changes.

Mr. Zaal continues to cast aspersions on the way the B&B was operated under the prior management. He fails to realize the lack of marketing was because it marketed itself, resulting in repeat customer visits.

Also, reviews in Trip Advisor, newspaper reports, etc., guests frequently remarked how comfortable the beds were. He states he has replaced the mattresses. Perhaps he has wired them for spooky sounds in the night.

He says he’ll be doing a re-enactment of the crimes on August 4th. Oh boy. Some sequels fail miserably when compared to the classic original.

Goodbye Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast. Hello Son of Godzilla.


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Remembrance of Lee-ann Wilber?

UPDATE 6/8/2021: Official Obituary Notice

Lee-ann Wilber, long time General Manager and part-owner of the “Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum” passed away on June 5, 2021.

For over 17 years, the excellence in service, operations, and exceptional visitor care were primarily due to this lady. Bountiful praises can be read on Trip Advisor. All comments reflect when Lee-ann operated this iconic structure. I believe strongly the “Lizzie Borden House” – as it is now referred – should have some kind of acknowledgment as a tribute to the “Lee-ann Era”.

I have been approached by a woman who has offered to make a plaque (at no charge) in remembrance of Lee-ann. She is a professional who makes gravestones for a living and knew Lee-ann quite well. I have prepared a letter to Lance Zaal asking if he would approve such a plaque being placed inside the Lizzie Borden House. Before I proceed further, I am curious to know what those who knew her would want the wording to say. Suggestions would be much appreciated.

Example: “Lee-ann Wilber 1970-2021. Beloved part owner and General Manager of the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast. Her heart and spirit remains in this place.”

Please email me at with your responses. Thank you.

Operating the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast was her life. The residue of her heart and spirit must surely reside there.

I’m hoping Mr. Zaal will respond.


Posted by on June 6, 2021 in Fall River, MA, Lee-ann Wilber


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