The Gardner Cemetery – Swansea

25 Apr

Add on:  There’s a wonderful article in yesterday’s Fall River Herald News written by Linda Murphy titled:  “Gardner’s Neck – Bountiful  Beginnings”

giving a history of this area which figures so prominently in the Lizzie Borden case due to her father’s (Andrew Jackson Borden)  land purchases.   This is the first time I’ve come across the fact – in a printed newspaper article – that the property at 1205 Gardner’s Neck Road  was originally built by the sons of Peleg Gardner.  (The house can be seen in the second post referenced below.) It was more than two decades ago I was first shown this area by the late and beloved historian Helen Pierce of Swansea, Ma. who gave me a history of Peleg Gardner and showed me the lands common to his decendents and the Bordens.

Another related post to Swansea’s historical ties to the Borden family can be found at another earlier post of mine.

(Recycled post)

Fall River has it’s Richard(s) Borden, and Swansea, Mass. has it’s Peleg Gardner. Lots of Bordens, lots of Gardners. Like the Richard Bordens, old Peleg split his vast property holdings to his sons and it was through their descendents that Lizzie Borden’s father, Andrew, acquired much of his Swansea property. Most of the “founding” Gardners are buried at the Gardner Cemetery, not far from the “lower farm” at 1205 Gardner’s Neck Road.

There are many associations ‘twix the Bordens and Gardners within the Andrew J. Borden family, be they legal, familial or scandalous. As previously stated on this blog, it was a cousin, Orrin Gardner, who inherited much of Emma Borden’s estate, including the early (and recently discovered) portraits of Lizzie & Emma’s biological parents, Andrew Borden and Sarah Morse, as well as family albums and the Borden bible – all shown here.

Carl Becker, Swansea Historical Society President, ponders the “Borden Bible”. The portraits are available for public viewing at the Luther’s Museum in Swansea and the albums available to the public at the Swansea Library.

It was Preston Gardner who rescued Lizzie from the notorious Tilden-Thurber shoplifting incident of 1897. Years ago, Florence Brigham of The Hill People’s Historical Society (whoops, that’s Fall River Historical Society) told me of the story related below which was typed up after Mrs. Dawson came in and told it to Florence so as to be a “matter of record for our archives” as she (Florence) put it.  Elizabeth Brayton Dawson was listed as an Honorary Director with the FRHS.

(The two paintings on porcelain were “Love’s Awakening” and “Love’s Dream”.) The image below is “Love’s Awakening”.

Preston is buried between his two wives with a whole slew of other Gardners at Mt. Hope Cemetery in Swansea.

A couple of unrelated items of interest: The Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast finally has a replacement screen door, much to the welcome of case “purists”as well as lending to more accuracy for those annual August 4th re-enactments. 🙂

And the Central Congregational Church, dba International Institute of Culinary Arts, has got a not-so-tattered mesh fabric protecting it’s steeple from spilling forth more bricks.

Getting the Fall River community vested in “what they’ve lost, what they’ve destroyed and what they have left” is something that culinary institute owner Chef George Karousos is passionately interested in and finalizing his booklet of that title. He showed us the booklet and its absolutely wonderful. I would describe it as a simplistic cross between Judith Boss’s Pictorial History of Fall River and the Historic Fall River book illustrating the architectural types of structures in the city.

After lunch at the Abbey Grille, myself, Doug Tweedy, General Manager WSAR Radio and Chef George discussed the malaise in Fall River with regard to historic preservation and how he can best get underwriting for printing and publicity for the booklet through community outreach.

1 Comment

Posted by on April 25, 2009 in Swansea, The Borden Family


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One response to “The Gardner Cemetery – Swansea

  1. wayne Gardner

    December 11, 2009 at 1:39 PM

    I am a son of Hamilton M. Gardner and Doris E. Gardner of Swansea, and as a child remember seeing the Borden portraits in my grandmother’s house ( Edith May Buffington Gardner) in Fall River. I think it was my father who donated these portraits sometime in the late 1950’s.
    Orrin gardner raised my father from age seven and was the recipient of much of Orrin’s estate and perhaps these portraits were included.


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