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Author Archives: phayemuss

About phayemuss

If you've stumbled across this blog, I hope you will enjoy in the musings, images, and perspectives as much as I enjoy sharing them. As a writer, scholar and collector of the infamous Lizzie Borden case of Fall River, MA (1892), I have spent over 40 years collecting rare books, journals, letters, photographs and memorabilia on this most compelling case. I like to say: "Some people play golf - I do Lizzie." My first read on the case was Victoria Lincoln's A Private Disgrace, and my first visit inside 92 Second Street(when it was numbered 230)was in 1978. For the next 15 years, I traveled to Fall River doing research and meeting with long time residents. In 1992, I was a presenter at the Lizzie Borden Centennial Conference in Fall River. Since 1998, I have stayed at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast two to three times a year, often serving as tour guide and night manager. I've lectured at University campuses, women's groups, genealogical societies, civic clubs and fraternal organizations, and libraries conducting multi-media presentations on Lizzie Borden and Fall River's history. I am the creator of the Lizzie Borden board game: "Journey to Maplecroft" and have produced several research and reference materials in both print and CD formats, some of which are available at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast. My personal images are copyrighted and not intended for other blogs or internet sites or print publications or any commercial use without permission, however, please feel free to copy them for your own personal collection. Also, feel free to email email me at phaye@npgcable.com. -Faye Musselman Cypress, California

Inside Lizzie Borden’s Renovated Maplecroft

Created by author Rebecca Pittman – The History & Haunting of Lizzie Borden.  Enjoy.

BTW, while I think Kristee Bates has done a very good job in renovating “Maplecroft”, I still do not think this is how Lizzie had it furnished and decorated in her day.  Lizzie selected only the very best of furnishings, fixtures and equipment because she could well afford it.  Her home, which she nurtured and lovingly maintained as if it were her child, had the very best appointments.  She bought only “the very best”.   Kristee worked on a budget and it does not escape the discerning eye.  Nonetheless, it is still beautiful and representative of Victorian homes of the 1890’s.  However, one only has to go to the Fall River Historical Society  or the Easton Tea Room (1870 Alexander Dorrance Easton residence also owned by the FRHS) to see the high quality wallpaper and exceptional quality furniture donated over the years.  The difference is remarkable and unmistakable.  There one will find furniture and fixtures inside these two establishments closer to what “Miss Lizbeth” would have had in her own home.

While the precise decade (1893 to 1927)  Maplecroft’s renovated interior  is reflecting is unclear, the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum is furnished exactly as it would have been on August 4, 1892.  Aspiring and inspired detectives can play out what they know or suspect of the crimes with a full and thoroughly captivating  “stage”.   Kudos to the original “set decorators” and Kudos to General Manager Lee-ann Wilber  (since 2004)  and owner, Donald Woods,  who have not altered  its base authenticity.

And a special Kudo to Rebecca Pittman for providing us with the first ever video showing the interiors of both the Second Street and French Street homes in which Lizzie lived the entire first half and entire second half of her life, respectively.   Well done!

 

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Lysistrata – “Lizzie” to You

Tattered Fabric: Fall River's Lizzie Borden

Lizzie Borden, five years deceased, would have been appalled by the 1932 Carthay Circle Theater advertisement below.

Aristophane’s comedy Lysistrata (written in 411 BC) was performed at the Carthay Circle Theater in New York with Nance O’Neil in the lead role. The program ad below has “LIZZIE TO YOU” written below the title. One would think that a diminutive or nickname of Lysistrata was “Lizzie”, but Lysistrata really means “releaser of war” or “she who disbands armies”.

Lizzie might have even have found the play itself distasteful, classical Greek literature notwithstanding.

Anyway, 75+ years later, perhaps only those of us absorbed in all things Lizzie find the double entendre humor in this reference.

Here’s a brief synopsis of the play – hardly our “Lizzie” at all. Then again, in another life – she could have been. I can see that. Can you? 😉

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Posted by on February 13, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Book Review: “Did Lizzie Borden Axe for It?” by David Rehak

Book Review: “Did Lizzie Borden Axe for It?” by David Rehak

09Nov

(Recycled post)

The third and revised printing of David Rehak’s 270 page softcover book, Did Lizzie Borden Axe for It?, contains a never before seen note written in Lizzie’s hand shortly after the sinking of the Titanic. This book is now available (along with Mr. Rehak’s other books) thru Lulu Press as seen by clicking HERE.

This is a different kind of Lizzie book. Traditionally, the Lizzie books have a sequential, narrative progression, spilling forth the saga of the murders of Andrew and Abby Borden against the backdrop of Fall River, Massachusetts and peppered with some new (and often outrageous) theory of who dunnit. Not this book. No long, flowing narratives here. No in-depth research filling chapter after chapter. Instead Dave takes us on a thoroughly enjoyable Mr. Toad’s wild ride weaving in and out, up and down, over and around and back again, giving us punches of “in your face” data to quickly absorb, question, and quickly move on.

In the Introduction he says he deals with the facts “as we know them”. Well, not entirely. For example, an early error is in the constricted Timeline that has John Morse visiting his niece and nephew, “the Emerys” on Weybosset street. Nonetheless, with almost bullet-point speed he whisks us through “Lizzie didn’t do it”, then rebounds with “Lizzie did it” having laid out the basics and offers conclusions – not opinionated but taken from reportings of the day.

Then we are off and flying again into the skies of “whys”. Why was Lizzie thought to be a lesbian – featuring Nance O’Neil; why does Lizzie linger; why was Lizzie a romantic being, and so on. Along the read-ride we bump into Lizzie’s alledged boyfriend (David Anthony), the alleged illegitimate son of Andrew (William S. Borden), her disloyal friend (Alice Russell), her loyal supporter (Mary Livermore). If television’s TMZ and “Access Hollywood” were turned into a book on Lizzie, this would be it. Fast flashes that move from one salacious tidbit to another, the reader learns something new, re-processes something already known, and finds points to question and challenge – depending upon the level of expertise of the reader.

While Mr. Rehak asserts he makes no claim as to her guilt or innocence, it is clear he has a real affection for the inscrutable Miss Borden and sways from an unbiased hand more than once. For this we can forgive him. Most authors attempting to maintain neutrality often write with a slight transparency allowing the reader to draw the correct conclusion.

There are two things that have never been published in any book on the Borden case before and they appear in this book only. One is revealed to the public in printed form for the first time.

First, this portrait of Andrew J. Borden as a young man – perhaps taken at the time he married Sarah Morse Borden. Neither this image or similar image has appeared in a book up to this time. Second, and more importantly, something “new” in Lizzie’s own hand: a note she wrote not long after the sinking of the Titantic wanting the initial “B” placed on toiletry items for her matching case. It gives us insight into Lizzie’s own vanity, her keen eye for quality, and maybe even tells us how much that “B” as in B O R D E N meant to her.

I have permission from author Dave Rehak to include that note in this blog so here it is as introduced in his book.

 

 

Below are images from my own digital copy of the original note.

I would recommend to any Bordenia collector to purchase Dave’s book for these images alone. However, as the reader traverses through the uneven flow of these pages, he/she will come upon many new images not published previously except in his own editions. In addition, one can’t help but chuckle at some of the fantasy in the form of poems, psychic contacts with meeting Lizzie, and particularly “Lizzie’s New Hat”, all the more solidifying the fact this is like no other Lizzie book and stands as an “Anomaly of Audacity” to put a twisted contemporary pun on it.

David Rehak has done us all a favor, regardless of the factual accuracy and lack of scholarly research and citations. He has given us a marvelous compendium representative of the orbit that spins around our Miss Lizzie, and he’s done it with originality, good humor, and a fast track ride wholly entertaining and worthy of our attention.

I wrote about this new edition coming out in a previous blog entry where I explained the facts of why a second edition was “rushed to print.” This third edition has corrected the abysmal editing errors that were an unfortunate result. You can read why this happened HERE. If you have the first edition – hold on to that baby – it’s value just soared! And having a collection of all 3 is what the true Borden collector aspires.

It was my pleasure to provide Dave with several of the images in the book, some not published before. In the 7 years I have known him, I’ve found him to be a kind man – a sensitive man, and one I’m proud to call a friend. I recommend you purchase this unique collectible and treat yourself to that wild ride! 🙂

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2 responses to “Book Review: “Did Lizzie Borden Axe for It?” by David Rehak

  1. Nell Driscoll

    June 19, 2008 at 8:40 AM

    I have a mantle clock that Andrew Borden dropped off at the Fall River Clock repair and when it was not picked up (for obvious reasons) the clock maker gave it to his daughter Betty Chapman who gave it to my father. It still has the repair slip on the back with Andrew Borden’s name and I have a provenance to go with it- i would like to sell it and wanted to give you right of first refusal.. don’t know the worth (after much market research) but am willing to negotiate a fair market value if you are – please let me know if you are interested- Please let me know as soon as possible-you can reach me at (401-348-0700. Thank you for your consideration in this matter.
    Nell Driscoll
    Watch Hill. RI

  2. phayemuss

    June 29, 2008 at 3:55 PM

    I sent a separate email on June 19th to Ms. Driscoll asking for more information and some images of the clock.

    As of this date, I am still waiting.

    See post of June 29, 2008.

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Posted by on January 16, 2017 in Books - Good and Not So Good

 

It’s Lizzie Borden’s Hair Again – This Time Being Sold on eBay

UPDATE: Some fool paid $260! http://www.ebay.com/itm/291990475406?_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

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Well, it’s been nearly 8 years but the scam has surfaced again – this time on eBay. 

Before you get too excited take note I was contacted via an email from one “Robert S——” on May 15, 2009, looking to sell the very same thing as evidenced below:

From: Robert S——
Sent: Friday, May 15, 2009 6:50 AM
To: Faye Musselman
Subject: Emma Borden Letter

Greetings from Baltimore.   I have a purported Emma Borden letter.  I am wondering if I sent you a scan of it, if you could just see  if it looks like it is real.  Nothing official, just an off the record opinion.  Thank you for your time.  Regards,

Robert S——

I replied and we communicated further – and I did a little investigation on this which supported my immediate skepticism.  Read all about here in this blog posting I did at the time.

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2017 in Collectibles, Just for Laughs

 

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The Gardners of Swansea – Emma Borden’s Surrogate Family

Tattered Fabric: Fall River's Lizzie Borden

(Recycled from 2010)

Long  before Emma Borden abandoned her sister, Lizzie, in late May of 1905, she had very close ties to many Gardners in Swansea, Ma.   But after she split from Lizzie, some of those Gardners  became a surrogate family to her.

The progenitors of those that Emma would embrace, socialize with, attend major family events, and help financially in trusts and her will, are those in the oval picture below (click it to enlarge).

The births, marriages and deaths of these people were recorded in William  Gardner’s family bible:

Why were these people and their children, and even some of their children’s children important to Emma?  Well, the  genealogical link was addressed in this blog post.

If you’re interested, study the names and who married who….there’s more to come about events she attended.

The direct line of Henry Augustus Gardner is the most important – and closest –…

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Posted by on December 30, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

The Fall River Tragedy – Rare Book FREE Online

Tattered Fabric: Fall River's Lizzie Borden

(Recycled from March, 2009)

The first book to be published on the Lizzie Borden case was right after her Trial in 1893 by Edwin Porter, a reporter for the Fall River Globe and a chum of some of the police officers who provided some inside information.

BK-FRTragedy-multi pages

The first edition, the original, is not easily found and when it does appear, such as on eBay, usually sells for $300 or more.  Some antique book dealers list it as high as $2,000.  The book itself is really not all that rare.  I addressed this issue in detail in a previous blog which can be found by clicking HERE.

Lizzie’s lawyer, Andrew Jennings, on behalf of the Borden sisters and John Morse,  threatened Porter and the publisher with legal action if any pictures of “the family” appeared.  Well, pictures of the “dead family” appeared and no suit followed.

When the book was first…

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Posted by on December 29, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Lizzie Borden in Hawaii

Tattered Fabric: Fall River's Lizzie Borden

I decided to take Lizzie Borden with me to Hawaii this year.  Aside from bringing the most inappropriate clothing and a few surprising missteps in behavior, she was a most agreeable travel companion.

I usually stay on the more touristy side of the Big Island, Kona, but this year opted for Hilo – the only place in the entire State that is still representative of old time Hawaii.

DSCN6467DSCN6421From the balcony of our hotel room we had a view of the cruise ships harbored in the distance.

Lizzie so enjoyed watching them sailing in and out and told me of her voyage on the Grand Tour in 1890.DSCN6657DSCN6652DSCN6660

DSCN6685  I was surprised at her exploratory nature at my friend’s 5 acre estate just north of Hilo.

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“Lizzie get down from there, you’ll hurt yourself.”

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“That’s better.”

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One day we drove straight across the middle of the island on the new…

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Posted by on December 26, 2016 in Uncategorized