Who Was “Todd Lunday”?

07 Oct

The Fall River Historical Society (FRHS) is to reveal who the real “Todd Lunday” was in its new book:  Parallel Lives: A Social History of Lizzie A. Borden and Her Fall River.

Here’s a “teaser” from their site:

“Todd Lunday, the pen name for . . .

framePortrait of _______ (1858-1923)

The “Mystery” will soon be “Unveiled” . . .

“Since 1893, the true identity of Todd Lunday, the author of The Mystery Unveiled:—The Truth About the Borden Tragedy, has been just that; a mystery!

Countless researchers, historians, and Borden afficionados have searched extensively, but to no avail.  Now, for the first time, the identity of Todd Lunday will be “unveiled.”


This book was first published by J. A. & R. A. Reid, Providence, Rhode Island in 1893.  It was re-printed in facsimile form in 1989 with a one page Foreward by Robert A. Flynn, King Philip Publishing Co. and limited to 1,000 copies.   In the Foreward, Mr. Flynn wrote:   (Click on image for larger view.)



In the “teaser” by the FRHS, (shown under the blank portrait frame) are what would be the birth and death years of the true author:  1858-1923. This means the author was 35 years old when the 56-page book was published,  and 65 years old when he died in 1923, four years previous to Lizzie’s own death.

By process of elimination we can now discard some of those previously thought by Bordenia scholars as the identity of “Todd Lunday”.  These are in no particular order.

1849-1930Albert Enoch Pillsbury, Mass. Attorney General at time of Trial.  Reluctant to personally prosecute this capital case, he was an anti-feminist undistinguished as Attorney General.

1861-1920Dr John William Coughlin, Mayor of Fall River at time of murders.

1864-1904:  Edwin H. Porter, police reporter for Fall River Globe, wrote The Fall River Tragedy: A History of the Borden Murders published in 1893.

1846-1923Leontine Lincoln, FR banker, President of Kilburn, Lincoln & Co.,  and grandfather of author Victoria Lincoln (A Private Disgrace, Lizzie Borden by Daylight).

1847-1902Hosea Morrill Knowlton, District Attorney who prosecuted Lizzie.

1863-Unknown:  Professor John Henry Wigmore, lifelong professor of Law at Northwestern University, he wrote critical essays on the Borden charge to the jury.

1853-1917William Henry Moody, assisted Knowlton;  subsequently became U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

1846-1905Edward Stickney Wood, Harvard medical doctor who testified as to no poison found in the stomachs, blood evidence, etc. at the Trial.

Unknown-1918:  James Dennan O’Neil, Managing Editor of the Fall River Globe (and my previous personal favorite).

1858-1922Dr. William Andrew Dolan, FR Medical Examiner – my second personal favorite.   (The dates are the closest and Dolan *did* have that quality of sarcasm, but unless the FRHS death year is wrong, he’s also not in the running).*

1848-1916: John Fleet, FRPD Inspector and later Chief of Police, early on suspected Lizzie.

1859-1893Philip Harrington, FRPD officer who also suspected her in the beginning of the investigations.

1853-1917:  William H. Medley, FRDP officer and later Chief of Police. His confusion in trial testimony did not deter him from future promotions.  (Note the same birth and death years as William Moody)

1849-1912Rufus Bartlett Hilliard (City Marshal 1886-1909)

1849-1923Andrew Jackson Jennings (Lizzie’s family attorney – no joke, I know people who believe it was him!)

I suspect the true author will turn out to be someone whose true name has not appeared in the better books on the case, i.e., The Knowlton Papers, Lizzie Borden Past & Present, but one who had a legal, medical or law enforcement background – or a combination of the three.  It will also be someone who had a firm grasp of the case and a caustic sense of humor.

*The FRHS could have gotten the date(s)  wrong, as they did with Mary Doolan, “the Kelly maid”, listed in The Knowlton Papers, p428, as being born in 1893 and died 1896.

P.S.  I have this book in digital format.  If you’d like to read it, send me an email.



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