Where did that Lizzie “Noisy Bird” Letter go?

20 Sep

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 when he left.”  Now perhaps the young lady in the office who told me that was in error, but if not, it begs the question: “Where is it now?”

The recipent’s great-grandson, John Summerfield Brayton,  Jr. died in 1997, prior to Reverend Lawrence’s retirement and while I’m not certain how the original letter got into the hands of the church, it may have been John, Jr. or John the III, who donated it.

In this Fall River Herald News salute to Reverend Lawrence no mention of the Lizzie Borden case, let alone the display.  It just may have been that a member of the Brayton family (whose family for over 150 years attended this Church and whose civic and social contributions to the city have been numerous for four generations), simply told the Reverend to keep it.

Frankly, if no decendents of this branch of the Brayton family want it, I think the display  should be donated to the Fall River Historical Society (of which a copy of the letter can be seen).   Had the entire display been given to them, it surely would have been placed  in their special Bordenaphilia exhibit now available for  public viewing.

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Posted by on September 20, 2010 in Fall River Historical Society


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