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Emma Borden Not Such a Recluse

15 Dec

The following Recycled post will be of added new interest to those who purchased Parallel Lives.  Indeed, as we’ve learned from that book, Emma was no recluse.  Beginning on page 748, I believe, the writers go into depth of the Gardners from the Henry Augusta Gardner line.  Enjoy.

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One of the urban legends in the Borden case is that Emma Borden became a recluse, rarely went out, and had no family after departing from her infamous sister, Lizzie.  Not true – at least not until the final few years of her life, when she was infirm and senile.

I’ve written before of the Gardners of Swansea who became a sort of surrogate family to Emma Borden when she departed forever from her sister, Lizzie in 1905.

On December 11, 1914, Henry Augustus Gardner (the patriarch of the family) and his wife, Caroline Cole Mason Gardner, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at their home “Riverby” in Touisset.  They had put together this little commemorative booklet (from my collection) for each of their guests which included Emma Borden as she attended and received such a booklet.

(Click on all images below for larger views)



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Emma attended this event and her signature can be seen 4th down on the left side.  Little Hamilton Gardner, son of William, left his “mark” on the bottom of the right side.  At the top you see Doris Gardner’s name and her mark.  Having parallel lives, she and Hamilton ended up husband and wife.  More on her later.

William Wilson Gardner and son, Hamilton

(and was he a little cutie or what?)

When Hamilton’s father died, he was raised by his uncle, Orrin Gardner.  Emma was particularly fond of and close to Orrin.  And from evidence of her including him in an income trust and mentions elsewhere, she was also fond of Hamilton, who was a teenager when Emma died.

Emma, in fact, attended birthday parties, clam boils, weddings, funerals, and holidays with many of the people and their children shown in the oval picture below.  If you study the names and compare it to the guest signatures above, you’ll note most of them attended this event, as well as many of their offspring.

Father William Gardner (standing), Grandfather Henry Augustus Gardner, and Grandson Hamilton Gardner

“Riverby” about 1914

Here is a full account of the event as reported in the newspaper.

The quote of Henry Augustus speaking of how the area was when he first moved there to the “present” (i.e. 1914) is particularly interesting.

As stated above, this was not the only Gardner family event Emma attended.  My collection includes other documentation of Emma’s surrogate family and travels.  She spent a lot of time with Preston Gardner’s wife, Mary and their daughter, Maude, all of whom she favored in income trusts and her will.

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