The Kelly House – Lizzie’s Next Door Neighbors

10 Aug

(This is a recycled post….originally created and posted on:   Published on: Jun 30, 2009 @ 16:24 Edit)

Lizzie Borden’s neighbor, Caroline Cantwell Kelley age 31, was the last person outside the family to see Andrew Borden alive.   She lived with her husband, Dr. Michael F. Kelly, age 36,  in the house just one door south of 92 Second Street – the house previously occupied by Alice Russell. It is from Mrs. Kelly’s third child, her daughter, pictured below, that we have learned some of the things said (and surely speculated upon)  about Andrew and the Borden family by those who did not refrain from discussing “that awful business.”

Eva Kelly Betz 1897-1968

Conjecture Cover2

Caroline, pregnant with their first child (Christopher Cantwell Kelly, 1892-1919), was heading for a doctor’s appointment when she saw Andrew coming from the east side of the house to the front door.

It would only be about 20 minutes later that the first call for help would go out – Lizzie telling Bridget she must have a doctor and sending her across the street to Dr. Bowen’s.   She knew there was a doctor living next door but she didn’t send Bridget there to fetch him.  Like Bowen, Dr. Kelly may not have been at home either.

Second StreetThe Kelly house has had so many changes to the exterior over the past century that it’s hardly recognizable.   However, if you look through the front door as shown above you can see the original steps and front door to the Kelly house as it was in 1892.

Dr Kelly house sitePart of this structure was a Bed & Breakfast even before 92 Second Street became a Bed & Breakfast!  It most recently was a dwelling and hair salon with a paint shop adjacent.  The paint shop was an add-on in an “L” configuration, must like the Leary Press.

Kelly-RearThis is a view of the rear of the Kelly house as it is today with St. Mary’s in the background.

Rear Views Dr Kelly house wSt mary's

1977The so-called Kelly house has been on the market by an unmotivated seller for over a year.  The owners of the LBB&B next door have been inside and concur the old Paint shop business is laid out much like the old Leary Press.  As for what will happen to it, perhaps Bristol County will buy it, tear it down and use it for in-close parking for the new Court House – accommodation for the judges and attorneys.   Wouldn’t suprise me.

demilleBack to Eva Kelly Betz.  We first learn of her from Agnes DeMille’s highly collectible book above, published by Little, Brown & Co., 1968.   (Review of Dance of Death).  It was from Eva that Ms. DeMille obtained so much of the information she used in her book about the Borden family.  Eva remembered growing up there, and while the founding families didn’t talk about the infamous Borden case, the Irish Catholics certainly  did.

Agnes DeMille and Senator Joseph Welch ventured to Fall River in their research of the case, primarily for input for Agnes’ ballet, Fall River Legend, which still plays in New York every year.  While there, their chief hostess was Eva Kelly Betz.  They also met with the granddaughters of the Defense attorney Jennings and District Attorney Knowlton.  The first half of the book deals with the Borden case and the second half with planning and execution of the ballet.  Quite a wonderful book and another collectible.

Both Eva Kelly Betz and author Edward Radin (The Untold Story, Simon & Schuster, 1961 – he believed Bridget did the murders), were invited guests of DeMille’a at the premiere performance of the ballet.

(Click on images below for larger view).




If, as Eva states above, Andrew had some of his first wife’s jewelry “but no one in the family knew about it”, it must have been a startling surprise to Lizzie and Emma.

Although Eva Caroline Kelly Betz was born 5 years after her brother, Christopher Cantwell Kelly, she lived until 1968, nearly 50 years more after his death at the age of 27  in 1919.  Her best known book, William Gaston:  Fighter for Justice was published in 1964, and is considered a collectible.    She mentions she taught school in Fall River and while there is an Eva Kelly in the 1921 FR Directory (she would have been 24), her mother, Caroline, is not listed.  I can’t help but feel sorry for Caroline, having lost first her husband and then two years later her son.

By her own accounts, the Kelly’s were readers and writers.  (You’ll note she does not mention in this piece that growing up she lived next door to the infamous Lizzie Borden).   She characterizes her parents as “intellectual” (unlike Ellen Egan – sorry, had to slip that in).

Michael F. Kelly, M.D., 1856-1916
His wife, Caroline Cantwell, 1861-1951
Their son, Christopher Cantwell Kelly, 1892-1919
Eva Kelly Betz, 1897-1968
Joseph P. Betz, 1895-1965
Peter Betz, 1924-1959

All of the above are buried at St. Patrick’s cemetery in Fall River.


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