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 -Faye Musselman Cypress, California

Lizzie Borden And Other Facial Matches

I recently stumbled across dozens of old images uploaded to Photobucket long ago — some as long ago as almost two decades.  Yes, indeedy.

Click on the link below. Can you spot the look a-like images of Lizzie and others more contemporary?  If you can, pat yourself on the back for being smarter than a 6 year old.   Or, as Facebook postings often tell us:  “You have an IQ of a genius if you can do this.”   I leave you to it. BTW, they aren’t *all* about Lizzie.

Click HERE.

(Note: there are 4 pages of images, click the page numbers to advance).


Tags: , , , ,

The Haunting of Lizzie Borden’s grave

Tattered Fabric: Fall River's Lizzie Borden

Perhaps you’ve heard of the mysterious skulker of Oak Grove Cemetery in Fall River, Ma. On the other hand, perhaps you have not, in which case I’ll tell you.

For over a century people have seen the scurrying to and fro of a woman dressed in a black Victorian dress. She is described as neither attractive nor unattractive, neither young nor old, more short than tall and has pale blue eyes. It’s unknown how she gets into the cemetery as she has never been seen walking through the main gate off Prospect Avenue. When spotted from a distance and called out to, she will turn and look up and then quickly scurry away, disappearing between the headstones and over the little sloping hills.

Some people have claimed they saw her carrying away a bone, thought to be a femur, but at the time there was no evidence of any graves…

View original post 182 more words

Leave a comment

Posted by on May 21, 2019 in Uncategorized



Tilden Thurber Bldg-Providence

The image above shows the store from which Lizzie Borden stole two porcelain paintings, “Love’s Echo” and “Love’s Awakening”.  She kept one for herself and had it on display in her home (“Maplecroft”) and gave the other away to Mrs. Preston Gardner.  When that one,PO-107.1L “Love’s Awakening” broke, and was taken to the store for repairs, it came out that Lizzie had given it as a gift.  Subsequently, a warrant for her arrest was issued and she made headlines again on




Still housed in its original 1857 painted and decorated iron-facade building, Tilden-Thurber today is an anomaly amid adult video stores and cell phone suppliers. It’s a remnant of the 19th century grandeur and bustle of Providence, Rhode Island’s downtown commercial district.  The business grew from a showroom for locally produced Gorham silver to a classy, four-story department store – Providence’s version of Tiffany’s.

After the store closed in 1991, the building was purchased by real estate businessman Stanley Weiss, who installed the antique business on the first floor and his offices on the upper floors. Now, collectors and connoisseurs come to this stately, hushed store for fine 18th and 19th century American furniture and estate jewelry. You’ll still find Gorham silver here as well as a variety of ceramics, from Chinese export porcelain to 19th century English bone china. — Joellen Secondo

Hannah Gorham
Gorham Thurber
Lydia Lancaster Herbert

William Herbert Thurber
Family Links

William Herbert Thurber

  • Born: 19 Sep 1859, Providence RI
  • Died: 23 Jan 1924, Providence RI

General notes:


Events in his life were:

• Continued in the footsteps of his father as director of TILDEN-THURBER & Co. Helped to develop the creation of original jewelry and flatware designs, as well as expanding the companies other lines. 1

• He appeared on the 1880 census taken at Providence RI, listed as a dealer in silverware.


Posted by on May 16, 2019 in Uncategorized


Lizzie Borden’s Dying Act of Kindness

Re-post. Note, must read the newspaper report of her dying act of kindness – scroll down.

Tattered Fabric: Fall River's Lizzie Borden

 (Originally published in June 1st, 2010)

Lizzie Borden died 84 years ago today.  She died at 8:30 pm on June 1, 1927  (a Wednesday) in her home in Fall River, MA.  She had been lingering all day, surrounded by her chauffeur and two servants:  Ernest Terry, Ellen Miller, and Florence Pemberton.  There were others who came to the house as well.

The Reverend Cleveland from the nearby Church of Ascension – a few doors down from Central Congregational  Church on Rock Street – would execute the wishes Lizzie had written out on March 31, 1919.   Vida Turner would come in and be instructed to sing “My Ain’ Country”, tell no one she had been there and then leave immediately.

The reporting a few days later of Lizzie’s Will was regional front page news and appeared in many newspapers across the country recounting the horrific hatchet murders of August 4, 1892…

View original post 727 more words

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 28, 2019 in Uncategorized


Book Review: Cara Robertson’s The Trial of Lizzie Borden

UPDATED 3/27/19 – Note:  The inscribed copy arrived March 20th – postmarked March 12th.  I wrote the following review March 13th.



Cara Robertson has written a fine book that wonderfully weaves the context of the Trial proceedings into a “you are there” narrative flush with new insights and deft storytelling, exposing the female-suppressed culture of the Gilded Age.  Drawing heavily from the Trial transcript and newspapers of the day, she tells this oft-told tale in a new way that forces the reader to reflect on the cultural influences of the era and the why and how of its sensationalism, final outcome, and enduring appeal.

Well read Lizzie Borden scholars will hear in the narrative echos of previously published books on the case which have been “go to” resources for decades, but probably my favorite sentence in the whole book is this:  “Combining the enduring emotional force of myth and more prosaic intellectual challenge of a detective story, it is a ‘locked door’ mystery written by Sophocles.”  (Kudos, Cara)

The book credits almost all the photographs therein to the Fall River Historical Society where, sadly, the wrong image of a purported Uncle John Vinnicum Morse is actually that of his (and sister Sarah’s) brother, William Bradford Morse.  I know this to be a fact because William’s photograph is included in one of several family albums to be found at the Swansea Historical Society, housed at the Swansea Public Library – a place where I have visited for research several times.  William’s name is handwritten in pencil above his image.


23017445_119566315824                                  notmorse

The image on the left is the actual John V. Morse and has appeared in countless books and documentaries.  William,  who was in Excelsior, Minnesota during the murders (as he had been most of his life) did, however, resemble his brother, John.  (It should be noted that when I brought this error to the attention of the FRHS,  I was informed they had documentation from a relative of the Morse family asserting the photograph of William was John.  This fails to explain the decades of the other photograph being cited as John with credit to the FRHS).

A more blatant error appears on page 278 where the author writes of post Trial notoriety and states “Papers printed improbable reports of engagements, including a betrothal to one of her former jurors.”  There is no source citation in the end notes to this statement, however, it has been widely reported of the December 10, 1896 Fall River Herald News report citing a “Swansea school teacher” as the subject of this rumor.  That person was, in fact, Orrin Gardner.

Crowds gather outside the Superior Court house in New Bedford during the 1893 Trial

Ms. Robertson’s deft handling of Knowlton’s lengthy summation strips his elegant oratory to the persuasive essentials:  the prosecution’s case was based on Lizzie’s exclusive opportunity and that the victims did not die at the same time -and that these were the controlling facts of the case.

As to why Lizzie remained in Fall River the entire second half of her life, the author speculates with an allegorical reference to Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter:  “It may seem marvelous, that, with the world before her….this woman should still call that place her home, where and where only, she must needs be the type of shame.  But there is a fatality, a feeling so irresistible and inevitable that it had the force of doom, which almost invariably compels human beings to linger around and haunt ghost-like, the spot where some great and marked recent event has given color to their lifetime, and still the more irresistibly, the darker the tinge that saddens it.”  (And here one can pause to ponder Donald Woods’ appropriate marketing of Maplecroft).

While I was impressed with Cara Robertson’s fresh narrative point of view, my overall expectations of the book fell short considering the author’s background.  There were far too many errors.  There was no new information, and indeed it seemed peppered with the redundancy of other known works.  I had been anticipating more given her years of research on the case and her impeccable credentials.   That said, I still highly recommend this book to anyone interested in this case and specifically to those interested in the Gilded Age and its cultural impact on women.




Lizzie Borden – Actual Trial Transcript



These are random images from my 10-volume set of the original Trial Transcript as transcribed from shorthand taken by Frank Burt’s stenographers in the court room and passed on to the typists in back of the New Bedford Superior Court in 1893.  This is what allowed national papers to transmit over wires all over the country to the public awaiting the next edition of their home town papers.

Each volume includes the index and image(s) I created/assembled that were reflective of the of testimony included for that specific volume.

How I acquired these and produced them for sale on eBay (a couple decades ago) is explained in the first image above.  I have used these volumes countless times when fact-checking various published works on the Borden case and Superior Court Trial.  I’ve referred to them most recently with Cara Robertson’s book, The Trial of Lizzie Borden to be released for sale in less than 2 weeks.

I have always relished in the thrill of reading the actual transcripts exactly as they were typed and made available to reporters in just a matter of hours from when the  testimonies were actually given.    The testimony comes alive, putting you in the court room itself (something, by the way, which Cara’s book does), so much more than reading the contemporary digital recreations into a WORD or .pdf document more than a century later.   So enjoy, and to borrow from today’s vernacular – “let’s keep it real”.






Tags: , , , , ,

“I’m Still Here” – The House at 92 Second Street


Posted by on February 18, 2019 in Uncategorized