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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

Could Edmund Pearson Have Hastened Lizzie Borden’s Death?

(I originally wrote this post back in 2010)

Edmund Lester Pearson (1880-1937)

 

Edmund Lester Pearson

He was a noted librarian and prolific writer on true crime.  In 1924 he began a correspondence with Frank W. Knowlton, son of Hosea Knowlton, the district attorney who prosecuted Lizzie Borden in her 1893 trial.   Known as the “Knowlton-Pearson Correspondence” it is a remarkable assemblage – rich in content it clearly shows the eagerness with which Frank accommodated Edmund’s request.  They were contemporaries, and Frank provided the author with “open sesame” to Lizzie’s contemporaries and others still living who knew her and/or were involved in the case.   Pearson had access to all of Hosea Knowlton’s papers on the case, and also the preliminary hearing and Trial transcript. (Knowlton was unsuccessful, however, in tracking down Bridget Sullivan’s inquest testimony – a document still missing after all these decades).

In any event, Pearson’s investigative research resulted in Studies in Murder, first published in 1924, three years before Lizzie’s death.  The book was a series of essays on notable cases, the first and expanded essay was on the Borden case.  This would be the first of many writings in subsequent books by Pearson on Fall River’s most notorious citizen.  But this first book was published while Lizzie still lived.

It is fairly certain that Lizzie Borden had read the very first book on the case published in 1893:  Fall River Tragedy by Edward H. Porter.  I think it further fairly certain she had read Studies in Murder. In the twilight of her years she was at least relieved of the awful annual editorials in the Fall River Globe commemorating the infamous crimes with their consistent innuendos that she had gotten away with the double murders.

Her life had been lived quietly and with the refinement and deportment that were her hallmarks of character.  Her closest associates were her servants and a few loyal friends and relatives.  But now came this publication.  It must have been the talk of the town when it came out.  Knowledge of Pearson’s meetings and inquiries with Lizzie’s contemporaries had proceeded the book itself, and those that assisted Pearson must have discussed it with their own associates.  Perhaps it had been talked about in hushed circles long before its publication and perhaps Lizzie had heard as well through reports of who was talking to whom.  The long essay left no doubt in the minds of the reader that the deed must have been done by Lizzie and only Lizzie.

Think for a moment how this must have affected her.  Guilty or innocent, it must have been a devastating event to have this book circulating in Fall River, the region and all over the country, stirring up painful memories of a horrible time while also serving to provide  interest to a whole new generation.   Lizzie had been described as nervous and depressed, unhappy with her decision to have lived all the rest of her life in Fall River – and now, this.

Could the book have hastened her demise?  Stress, nervous anxiety, depression.  Lizzie had always wanted to be accepted by her peers.  She lived her life kind to others and animals, generously giving and always thoughtful of the needs of others.  And now, this.   It must have played upon her mind and heart, a heart already long burdened and weakened by worry.    Not long after the book’s success and wide readership, Lizzie would be hospitalized for gall bladder surgery and never fully recover.

Hosea Morrill Knowlton

 

Knowlton, Hosea M., white, b. May 1847, 53 yr., b. Maine
Sylvia B. Wife, Jan. 1850, b. Mass.
John W. son, March 1874, 26 b. Mass.
Abby A. dau, mar. 1876, 24, mass.
Frank W., son Aug 1878, 22, Mass.
Edward A., son April 1883, 17, b. mas.
Helen S., dau. Aug. 1884, 14, b. mass.
Sylvia P, dau. may 1890, 10, Mass.
Benjamin H., son, Jun 1892, 8 yr, b. mass.

SYLVIA BASSETT, b. New Bedford, MA, 20 Jan 1852; d. Watertown, MA, 31 Mar 1937; m. New Bedford, 22 May 1873, HOSEA MORRILL KNOWLTON, b. Durham, ME, 20 May 1847; d. Marion, MA, 18 Dec 1902; son of Isaac Case and Mary Smith (Wellington) Knowlton.

Their children, all born in New Bedford were:

John Wellington Knowlton born February 28, 1874.
Abby Almy Knowlton born March 30, 1876
Frank Warren Knowlton born August 1, 1878
Edward Allen Knowlton born April16, 1883

The younger siblings were:

Helen Sophia Knowlton; August 1, 1885
August I. Knowlton;
Sylvia Prescott Knowlton born Ma7 29, 1890
Benjamin Almy Knowlton born June 13, 1892

Frank Warren Knowlton


Attorney General Herbert Parker is not only included in this correspondence but was also one of Pearson’s primary sources for his last essay in his book, Studies in Murder, titled “The Hunting Knife” concerning Mabel Page.

Herbert Parker, a very handsome man

Frank Warren Knowlton, Jr. donated his grandfather’s papers to the Fall River Historical Society in 1989.  (He died in October 11, 2002).

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Maplecroft Update: Updated Details & Code Requirements

 

Here’s an awesome article in the Fall River Herald  News with lots of new photos.

Also take note of the short video showing Manager, Ryan Woods.    Click HERE

and HERE

You won’t find short cuts on expenditures here –  but that is the way of owner Donald Woods.  He has spared no expense in his updates and maintenance  to the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast Museum either.  And THAT prime Fall River tourist attraction has been exceptionally well managed for the past 14 years by Lee-ann Wilber.

The two Maple trees removed mentioned in the article create more enhanced spring and summer site lines for the easterly neighbors who remain vigilantly perched to criticize and spread misinformation.

Some photos have been shown before but click through them anyway.  A feast to the eyes..

 

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Lizzie Borden & the Dutiful Escort

Tattered Fabric: Fall River's Lizzie Borden

Copy of 1892-1Lizzie Borden circa 1890

(Note: this image has not been photo-shopped by a  50 year old, financially strapped, unemployed spinster in Fall River).

1057152123313_MA_Fall_River_Cen_Cong_ChCentral Congregational Church

In various interviews at the time of the murders, Lizzie Borden had been described as “odd” by some who knew her.    During her younger years it has been said by Michael Martins, Curator of the Fall River Historical Society, she did not have the proper dresses to attend the elegant grand parties up on “the Hill”.  But it is now known Lizzie did attend some parties – according to the private journal of an old school chum of Lizzie’s – owned by an elderly descendant who is still living in Fall River.   However, there is nothing on record, as yet, of Lizzie ever having a boyfriend or romance during her teens and early twenties.  I suspect her alleged moodiness and being “odd” was…

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Posted by on April 20, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Maplecroft Opening Delayed

 

It’s been a harsh winter for Fall River.   Severe snow storms have prevented new owner, Donald Woods (also owns the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast) from proceeding with electrical and plumbing repairs and upgrades for an early April opening.

Read HERE.

Be sure to click thru the many interior photos by Dave Souza of the Fall River Herald News and previous articles written by that intrepid “all things Lizzie,” reporter, Deborah Allard – all of which will bring you up to date.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Newspaper Reports When Lizzie and Emma Purchased “Maplecroft”

Tattered Fabric: Fall River's Lizzie Borden

maplecroftpenink1“Maplecroft” as it looked when Lizzie purchased it – showing shutters

Lizzie Borden was pronounced “Not Guilty” on June 20, 1893.  In less than two weeks, she and Emma were looking for a home “on the Hill” to purchase.  Within 3 weeks they had bought one, and less than a month later, they took possession.

The French Street home was not the first they considered, and when they did purchase #7 French Street, on August 10, 1893, they became the 3rd owner of the property.

July 1st  – less than 2 weeks after her acquittal this report on the Alfred Butterworth estate – neighbors weren’t happy with the prospect.  (Click on images for larger view and use “magnifying glass” feature).

ScannedImage-4

On July 6th came this report:

ScannedImage-5

Five days later – July 11th, the first report of the sale

ScannedImage-3

The next day – this report – The property sold for close…

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Posted by on March 21, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Anna & Laura Tirocchi – Dressmakers to the Elite

Reblogged from February, 2013

Tattered Fabric: Fall River's Lizzie Borden

(Recycled post)

The Prentice Mansion at 514 Broadway, Providence, site of the shop operated by sisters Anna and Laura Tirocchi from 1915 to 1947.

Anna Tirocchi

Anna & Laura Tirocchi were a famed and successful dressmaking sister team I  happened to come across because of my interest in a British t.v. series called The House of Elliot (apparently, partly based on the Tirocchis).

What a complete surprise it was to find her business was patronized by some  Braytons,  Mrs. Dwight Waring (daughter of  Lizzie’s defense attorney, Andrew Jennings) et.al. of Fall River.  And from Providence, we have Preston Gardner’s wife Mary, and daughter, Maude, all of whom received considerable money and jewelry from Emma’s Will.

Another notable from Providence is Mrs. William G. Thurber, whose husband was Vice President of  Tilden-Thurber, the store where Lizzie shoplifted two paintings on porcelain only 4 years after her acquittal.  An incident in which…

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Posted by on March 1, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Update on “Maplecroft” Opening Prep with Ryan Woods

Here’s another update on status of opening Lizzie’s home to the public.

Click HERE.

In the Comments section at the end of the article, I make a few suggestions.

 

Fall River Herald Photo