Lizzie Borden’s Mystery Friend & Deborah Blum: Separated at Birth

02 Jul

The Fall River Historical Society’s much anticipated book, Parallel Lives has served up another teaser with this photograph of a “dear friend” of Lizzie Borden.

The FRHS writes:

“Friendship, lasting and true,  was something that Lizzie A. Borden treasured and clung to; sadly, having been shunned by many, she new its value all to well.

Depicted here is a rare photographic portrait of an important figure in Lizzie’s life, a woman who was there for her during a very difficult period, lending assistance, a sympathetic ear, companionship, and, above all, loyalty.

Until her dying day, Lizzie would never forget this woman’s many kindnesses, and would hold her memory sacred and dear.

The discovery of this photograph, hidden away in a family album, and the particulars of a relationship about which very little was previously known, are a revelation – and yes, a particularly poignant one at that.

And who was she, you may ask?

Well, we’re not revealing that, not just yet, but soon, their story will be told in the pages of . . .”

When I saw this woman’s picture I was struck by the uncanny resemblance to Deborah Blum, author of The Poisoner’s Handbook.

As to who this “mystery woman” is, a logical conclusion would be that if she was a person Lizzie held dear “to her dying day” and above all her “loyalty”, Lizzie would have remembered her in her Will.  A simple check of those bequests (and you can read it by clicking on that page at the top of this blog) would reveal several names as possibilities.  Here are the most obvious ones:

Winifred French, married, testified at the special probate hearing when Helen Leighton and Grace Hartley Howe contested the executor’s claim regarding the Henry House.

Alice I. Soderman, another beneficiary in Lizzie’s Will who received $2,000 and some of her jewelry.  Alice lived near Lizzie on High Street.  Never married.

Catherine MacFarland, who received $5,000, and according to probate hearing testimony of Lizzie’s chauffeur, Ernest Terry, Lizzie wanted to have Catherine live next to her in the Henry House.

Of course, it could be someone Lizzie did not name in her Will but may have been “taken care of” by Lizzie in monetary and other ways.  Lizzie’s generosity throughout her post-Trial life is often referenced, particularly to those whose loyalty she valued.

Anyway, they say we all have a double somewhere and I think Deborah Blum and this loyal friend of Lizzie’s bear an uncanny resemblance.

Check out these other uncanny resemblances.

Perhaps a tad off topic, but lest we forget – here’s another pair separated at birth.


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