NOTE: I HAD THE ORIGINAL LETTER IMAGED BELOW IN MY ‘LIZZIE BORDEN ” COLLECTION FOR YEARS. I TOOK IT ON ONE OF MY TRIPS TO FALL RIVER AND HAD THE FALL RIVER HISTORICAL SOCIETY PHOTOCOPY EACH PAGE FOR THEIR COLLECTION. EXCERPTS OF THIS LETTER NOW APPEAR IN THE FALL RIVER HISTORICAL SOCIETY’S BOOK, PARALLEL LIVES – A SOCIAL HISTORY OF LIZZIE A. BORDEN AND HER FALL RIVER.
LATER, I SOLD THE ORIGINAL LETTER ON EBAY (AND I’M STILL SMILING).
(THIS POST WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON THIS BLOG PAGE OVER A DECADE AGO BUT WARRANTS A NEW ISSUE).
When Lizzie Borden was in her teens and early 20′s she did attend parties with her contemporaries. She may have attended a party not unlike the one described in the handwritten letter below by Florence Borden, daughter of Spencer Borden. Flushed with the excitement of the evening’s events, the 15 year old Florence wrote “November 30, 1896″ at the top of the letter, but the postmark shows when it was mailed the next day, “December 1, 1895″.
Shortly after acquiring this letter for my collection, I took it with me on my next visit to Fall River and left a photocopy for Fall River Historical Society Curator Michael Martins to help me identify those named within the letter. He wrote a 9-page response and I include the first two pages here to save me time (and space) in providing background and identification particulars of a few mentioned: (Click on all images for larger view)
Note: Parker Hooper (born 1877) was the son of William S. and Isabella Hooper who resided on French Street, three houses east from Lizzie.
Bertha Borden (born 1882) was the 15 year old daughter of Jerome Cook Borden & Emma Borden. Jerome was Lizzie’s cousin who supported her during her Trial.
Young Florence is clearly thrilled with the costumes and those attending. Her letter reflects an almost giddiness in her descriptions. She lived in one of the two grandest homes in Fall River: Interlachen
……and she spent that night with Marion Osborne at the other grand house: the Carr-Osborne House
One generation behind Lizzie, these young ladies and gentlemen were the sons and daughters of Fall River’s elite society on “The Hill”. And while they were only around 8-12 years old when the Borden murder case exploded upon the Fall River scene, they would know of Lizzie all their lives. (Most would live long enough to have read Edmund Pearson, Edward Radin and even a fellow B.M.C. Durfee High School graduate, Victoria Lincoln.)
It would be less than two years after this party that Lizzie would be trumpeted again on the front pages: the Tilden-Thurber shoplifting incident. An oh, how these fine, cultured young people must have gossiped about that at other parties.
Note: Florence doesn’t tell us if any of the ladies came dressed as Lizzie Borden with a hatchet sewed onto their skirt. That would have been shockingly inappropriate. Never would have happened. But today? Hell yes.