Lizzie Borden, Ellan Eagan, Pete Peterson and William S. Borden

30 Jun


From the Spectator comes this series on Lewis “Pete” Peterson’s remembrances of Lizzie Borden. Extracts only, but included is the rare photo of John Morse which I don’t believe appears anywhere else except in these articles written by Linda Andrade Rodrigues 1996 & 1997. We are indebted to “Pete” for the information conveyed in these articles. Here’s a picture of him from an earlier blog entry.

Much of the information contained here were the seedlings that Arnold Brown so insideously morphed into his book, Lizzie Borden, The Final Chapter. Pete married Ellan Eagan’s grandaughter so much of what “she said”-“he said”. The content in these articles, however, is important because it gives us further glimpses into Lizzie Borden, such as her continued attendance at Central Congregational Church after her acquittal, thus disputing what has been a “Lizzie Legend”, i.e. that once shunned upon her return to Church she never went back again. Florence Brigham (Curator Emeritus of the Fall River Historical Society) had written to me many years previous to these articles that Lizzie had, in fact, attended CCC and related information of those who told her about it. Several years later, through these articles, I was seeing it publically published.

I recommend a cautionary approach in reading these articles. For example, the friendship connection between Ellan Eagan and the Borden’s maid, Bridget Sullivan. I think Ellan made up a lot of stuff – good story telling that she enjoyed and embellished over the years….something her own son-in-law, Henry Hawthorne, did as well. For example, he says Ellan says the police contacted her 5 times and said she was going to be a key witness….humbug. Ellan’s questioning by the Fall River Police at the time of the murders was swift and dismissive. Dear Ellan was never called, let alone considered, a witness for the prosecution OR the defense.

I doubt Bridget and Ellan Eagan corresponded for nine years after Bridget moved to Montana. Where are those letters, eh? Besides, Bridget was supposedly illiterate.

In another section of this series (not scanned here), Peterson relates how Lizzie was buried at night and that his parents went to her service the following day. Really? It’s true Lizzie was buried at night but her “service” was completely private, almost secretive. I’ve yet to find it in print anywhere else that these people, let alone anyone else attended any such service. We know Vida Turner came and sang the evening Lizzie died and was quickly ushered out and cautioned not to speak of it. And yet Peterson asserts his parents were there – “the next day”.

And here’s the photo of Uncle John Vinnicum Morse. Too bad the article didn’t cite where it came from.

I think it highly unlikely Bridget was a friend of Ellan Eagan. There is no supporting documentation to this assertion other than this article.

Arnold Brown’s book was published in late 1991 and was quite the talk at the 1992 Conference. I was swept up in this vast conspiracy theory for a while until this 3-part series came out in The Spectator. Further research led me to the conclusion that Arnold Brown embellished upon embellishments, but he wrote in such a convincing way that the less informed would give it undue credibility.

So in The Spectator Series, we see some of the pictures Brown used in his book, including that of William S. Borden. And we learn what may be some truths but we’re served up a whole swagbag of minformation based on myth bred on embellishments and presented by someone whom I think, swallowed it hook, line and sinker. And we know about sinkers, don’t we? 😉


Posted by on June 30, 2011 in Collectibles, The Borden Family


19 responses to “Lizzie Borden, Ellan Eagan, Pete Peterson and William S. Borden

  1. Patricia Mattison

    October 29, 2008 at 7:11 PM

    Please e-mail a complete copy of the three-part series from the Spectator regarding Lewis “Pete” Peterson’s mother, Ellen Eagan, Lizzie Borden, and William S. Borden.

  2. Gina

    December 20, 2008 at 5:45 PM

    Please email a copy of the three-part series from the Spectator regarding Lewis “Pete” Peterson’s mother, Ellen Eagan, Lizzie Borden, and William S. Borden.

    • phayemuss

      December 22, 2008 at 7:36 AM

      Ok, but please remind me again after the holidays. I leave day after Christmas for Fall River.

  3. Rickie

    June 26, 2009 at 6:35 PM

    Please mail me the 3 part articles series.


  4. carolyncholland

    July 11, 2009 at 9:25 AM

    Please email a copy of the three-part series from the Spectator regarding Lewis “Pete” Peterson’s mother, Ellen Eagan, Lizzie Borden, and William S. Borden.

    I am Carolyn C. Holland, the author of the post · LIZZIE BORDEN—A REENACTMENT that is in your list of possibly related posts. Thank you.

  5. E.J.

    July 1, 2011 at 9:51 PM

    If Ellen Eagan heard the clock strike eleven while she was talking to Bridget, then Ellen Eagan was in Bridget’s room where Bridget heard the clock strike eleven! Maybe she bumped into William Borden on the stairs?

    • phayemuss

      July 2, 2011 at 2:06 AM

      One has to believe Eagan told the truth in the first place, let alone William Borden theory.

  6. Vicki Kramer

    March 12, 2016 at 9:02 AM

    I would very much appreciate an emailed copy of the three-part series from the Spectator about
    Lewis “Pete” Peterson’s mother, Ellen Eagan, Lizzie Borden, and William S. Borden. Thank you in advance.

    • phayemuss

      March 12, 2016 at 1:05 PM

      I don’t have that in digital form anymore. But you are free to print from the images in this blog post.

      • Vicki Kramer

        March 13, 2016 at 5:39 PM

        Thank you. I appreciate your willingness to share.

  7. Jersey

    December 17, 2016 at 8:06 PM

    Do you believe this theory?
    It does have possibilities, I have always believed
    Lizzie did not have enough time to do the murders
    and clean herself up completely, doesn’t make sense!
    And there’s that neighbor at the back – she & her
    daughter heard someone jumping the fence the night
    before, they could have hidden in the barn, which had
    running water, and simply walked into the basement door
    at the back of the house the next morning, after everyone
    emptied their slop pails.
    And I believe Abby came across him hiding upstairs, and
    he killed her & then hid until Andrew came home.
    Then slipped back out the basement door, cleaned up
    & left.

    • phayemuss

      December 19, 2016 at 8:22 AM

      Hi. No, I don’t believe that theory. The cellar door was locked from the inside. We know this because the first arriving officer (Allen) checked it on his FIRST trip to the house. He gave testimony to that fact.

      • Jersey

        June 19, 2017 at 7:06 AM

        That doesn’t make any sense to me –
        anyone in that house could have locked the basement door before the police got there,
        and I recall reading other testimony stating that the basement door was open.
        I’m not sure if it was Bridget stating this or who it was,
        Bridget had used that door to go out into the yard to vomit, earlier that morning.

  8. dennis hursey

    February 5, 2017 at 4:50 PM

    cellar door was locked ,but side door was not.

  9. dennis hursey

    February 5, 2017 at 4:54 PM

    to all out there a three day happening is going on for august 2,3,&4. i’m writing the play and anyone who believes as i do that lizzie didn’t do it please contact me.


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