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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

Translation of Newly Found Letter Written by Lizzie Borden

Translation of Newly Found Letter Written by Lizzie Borden

Since improved images of a letter written to Frances Willard dated July 23, 1893, have been posted on the Frances Willard House Museum website, I can provide a translation.

frances

Frances Elizabeth Caroline Willard (1839-1898) was an American educator, temperance reformer, and women’s suffragist. Her influence was instrumental in the passage of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

My translation is as follows:

Fall River
July 23 – 1893

My Dear Friend

I can hardly
tell you how much
comfort and joy
your letter gave me.

Borden_letter1-compressed-

I thank you and
Lady Henry Somerset
from my heart for
the love and trust
you give me.
I appreciate it all

 

Borden_letter2-compressed

the more as you
did not know
me yet still had
faith in me.
We have again
offered a reward
but our senior

counsel Ex. Gov. Robinson
did not deem it
wise to increase
the amount.
We have little hope
of our finding the
guilty one after so
long a time has
elapsed.
I hope some time
you and Lady
Henry Somerset
may come to America
and that we may
visit face to face.
With sincere regards
to you both, I am
yours in loving hands

Lizzie A. Borden

 

a

Lady Henry Somerset

 

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2016 in Collectibles, lizzie borden

 

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New Letter Revealed Written by Lizzie Borden

Another letter written by Lizzie Borden was pictured and posted in the Frances Willard House and Museum website  today.  The letter is written to “Frances Willard and Lady Henry” according to the website.

Lizzie-Borden-Letter-656x324

The letter appears to be written July 23, 1893 (Lizzie was acquitted on June 20, 1893).

“Frances Willard was a radical social progressive who stood out against gender inequality and fought to give a voice to society’s disenfranchised.  She exposed the inherent hypocrisies of the status quo and forever changed accepted societal norms.

Willard forged a prototype for community organization and social reform that transformed our cultural landscape. The basis of our modern social welfare policies can be found in the initiatives fomented by Willard. Her life’s work is an example of what can be done when one is devoted to a cause.  Her ability to work hard and to mobilize others to work hard is a model of personal determination and amazing leadership skills.  To this day, Frances Willard continues to be “re-discovered” as the prototype of the modern, forward-thinking woman.”

This could be a letter expressing her gratitude for her  support.  It would seem Frances Willard may have championed Lizzie’s cause much as Mary A. Livermore, American journalist and womens’ rights advocate had done.  If simply a thank you letter, I find it interesting it is rather lengthy.

Four days earlier, Lizzie had turned 33 on July 19th, the same day the Fall River Weekly News reported Lizzie won a trip to the Chicago World’s Fair via a coupon write-in from the public.  (Lizzie kindly rejected the award.)   On the same date as the letter, July 23, 1893, and as reported in the Chicago Daily Tribune, Lizzie Borden was escorted to church by Dr. Bowen and Mrs. Holmes.

In any event, let us hope the Museum will sell – and the Fall River Historical Society will buy – this letter as they are the most logical and appropriate repository to archive this document with her other known letters.

 (Update 1/10/2016 – The following statement was included in the email I received

“As the letter is part of the very large “Papers of Frances E. Willard” collection, we have no intention of deaccessioning any part of the collection.”
Thank you,
Glen Madeja
Executive Director

 

 

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The Kind of Party Lizzie Borden Would Have Wanted to Attend as a Teenager

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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″.

scan0001

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)

scan0008

scan0009

Page1 Page2

Page3 Page4

Note:  Parker Hooper (born 1877) was the son of  William S. and Isabella Hooper who resided on French Street, three houses east from Lizzie.

Page5

Page6 Page7

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.

Page8 Page9

Page11 Page12

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

interlaken

……and she spent that night with Marion Osborne at the other grand house:   the Carr-Osborne House

C-OHouse

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.

 

Christmas Greetings from Andrew & Lizzie Borden

REPOSTED

Lizzie, Emma, Andrew and William

And let us not forget this JibJab goodie from a couple years ago:

It’s A Wonderful Life With the Bordens

(click text above to begin video)


 
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Posted by on December 11, 2015 in Just for Laughs

 

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Kristen Stewart and Chloe Sevigny in Talks for Lizzie Borden Feature Film

kristen-stewart-chloe-sevigny

It’s been 40 years since those of us old enough to remember the first broadcast of Paramount’s Made-for- TV movie, The Legend of Lizzie Borden starring Elizabeth Montgomery.  Ever since, we’ve been waiting for another feature length, theatrical release.   Recently, there was a fluttering of hopeful excitement concerning the prospect of an Indie film, Defending Lizzie, based on Karen Poulsen’s play – but that project is now on hold pending funding.

As of yesterday we have learned that there are “talks” and “negotiations” of a possible feature length film.  Let the speculative salivating begin.   You can read about it  HERE.   

But you can track the rapid fire news releases HERE, being sure to click “News” on the menu bar for all the latest reportings.

It is already getting funny. The script hasn’t even been written but the speculations are running amuck. This bit has Lizzie and Bridget being lovers- a plot line surely to draw the male audience demographic of 13 to 90. (snort, chuckle, snort).  I can see the promos now.

stewart

chloe

Like amoeba, the trending multiples begin and, like the whisper game, each reporting has a new smattering of embellishments, twists, misinformation and well….it’s a phriggin’ circus is what it is.

I say it’s best to keep your drool inside your mouth until the project has at least been green-lighted or contracts written.  It is one thing to be in negotiations or talks about a project and quite another for that project to be in pre-production.  I’ll keep a dry mouth until the latter commences.

Meanwhile, let’s ponder Chloe playing a modern day Lizzie…...

lbwhite

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2015 in TV

 

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Barbara Walters Presents American Scandals – Lizzie Borden?

barbara-walters

My guess is that if there were a living bloodline relative of Lizzie or Emma Borden, Barbara Walters would be interviewing that person on Investigative Discovery’s new show, American Scandals”, produced by Lincoln Square Productions. The biggest and most popular branch of The Discovery Channel, Investigation Discovery has many cousins, such as Deadly Women where our Miss Lizzie has been featured.

But Barbara’s fort’ is in the interview of the subject or those who are significantly relevant to the subject. So we have Kato Kaelin on OJ; John Ramsey on his son, Burke; Mark David Chapman on John Lennon and – well, you get the idea. (see article)

I have written to Lincoln Square Productions giving a special appeal they do an episode on the biggest and longest lasting American Scandal, Lizzie Borden. Barbara Walters does Lizzie Borden. Let that waft over your cerebellum for a moment. Of course, Babs would have to speak to Michael Martins and Dennis Binette because nobody, repeat nobody, knows Lizzie better than they do. As to the impact on contemporary times the episode would naturally draw in Donald Woods who would be a refreshingly new face. So I’m hoping, just hoping.

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2015 in Theatre & Film, TV, Theatre & Film

 

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The Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast – Boston Herald Article

The Borden home on Second Street in Fall River, Mass., where the murders of Lizzie Borden's parents occurred, is now a bed and breakfast. (Donna Hageman/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

The Borden home on Second Street in Fall River, Mass., where the murders of Lizzie Borden’s parents occurred, is now a bed and breakfast. (Donna Hageman/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

HERE is a very good article on the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast from the Boston Herald. The lack of current info on Maplecroft is what happens when reporters can’t get in touch with Kristee Bates. I’ve told her she needs to embrace those relationships because their reportings are all free publicity. I’ve had reporters contact me asking for her phone # to do interviews. I pass on the info to Kristee, but she is always too busy. Hope that changes.

The B&B is self-promoting and gets repeat business because of what happened there and the total experience for the guests. Maplecroft’s marketability is more a one time visit without an appeal to see again – because Lizzie only lived there the second half of her life – nothing significant really happened compared to 92 Second Street. Experiences from the two different structures are like going to Disneyland versus going to Walt Disney World.

Anyway, the more references now on the internet about Maplecroft opening up in the near future to the public will pay dividends later.

 

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