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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

Lizzie Borden’s Maplecroft: To B or Not to B&B

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Photo by Deborah Allard, Fall River Herald News

It’s been over a month since the Facebook page “Lizzie Borden’s Maplecroft” has revealed an update of the renovation progress or information on planned opening date for tours.

It is still most likely the residence where Lizzie lived the entire second half of her life will NOT be operated as a Bed & Breakfast as first indicated by Kristee Bates.   

While curators Rebello and Pavao have been on the hunt for furniture, fixtures and artifacts associated with the home during the period Lizzie lived there (1893-1927), they have yet to discover and acquire items with the “Wow” factor, such as the bed in which Lizzie died. 

Unlike 92 Second Street, the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum, where the murders of Andrew and Abby Borden took place on August 4, 1892, there is not one fixed date of historical significance at 306 French Street.  Lizzie lived there for 35 years but only 12 with her sister, Emma (1893-1905).  So will the furnishings depict that period or post Emma?  Will it depict furnishings and artifacts of the elderly Lizzie?  Styles in home decor differed greatly from the mid and late 1890’s as cultural shifts in society changed from the Edwardian era to World War I to the Jazz Age.  Definitely a curating – let alone a seek and obtain – challenge.

One of the basic tenants of marketing an event is to build excitement.  If the event is to draw attention and excitement about a future tourist attraction, titillating “teasers”  are essential.  No doubt whenever the opening, there will be significant local interest.  Local media reporting will feed into the regional news, but with ongoing good marketing appeal would extend to national and international interest.   And our treasured Lizzie Borden and her story is not landlocked within our own shores.

Early on in Ms. Bates renovation endeavors she sent me nearly a dozen short videos of her sweat equity.  From the “steeple” room where she plans (planned?) to have “tarot card readings”, to the 3rd floor (attic, i.e., servant’s quarters), to kitchen, to basement, to enclosed porch “where I’ll serve tea and crumpets” these videos show exactly what was being done and explained by Kristee herself.    IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE THESE VIDEOS, EMAIL ME AND I’LL SEND THEM TO YOU.

There are those who do not think “Maplecroft” will open to the public at all.   Perhaps it will be a seasonal thing and for tours only.   Whatever the use it should be marketed effectively.  The Lizzie Borden B&B Museum is self-marketing – Maplecroft is not.

 

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Random Shots of Fall River

Tattered Fabric: Fall River's Lizzie Borden

Here’s some shots I just picked at random from my different digital albums of Lizzie Borden’s home town – Fall River. Also some of nearby locales. Enjoy.

maryhartley1Mary Borden Hartley rests near her father, Cook Borden – the mother and grandfather of Grace Hartley Howe.

p8280037The beautiful church seats at The Narrows, 45 Anawan Street.

p8280038Staircase at The Narrows – imagine the millions of steps up and down by the factory workers, holding the railing, descending after a 14 hour day.

p4230038_0003_003Central Congregational Church

446656-r1-016-6a_008Academy Building Courtyard fronting on Second Street

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p4240110_0027_027Sitting Room closet shows bounded Trial transcript. and my “Journey to Maplecroft” game on second shelf.

p4250016_0028_028Rear view of the “Kelley house”, directly south of 92 Second.

446656-r1-010-3a_005The “Henry House”

pa200074Kennedy Park

p9100014Main Library, post renovation.

court-me-sept04Sitting at the bench, New Bedford Superior Court

p8070030Oldest house in Fall River

p1010006One of the few remaining “grand” carriage houses

p1010012Lafayette-Durfee House

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Posted by on March 19, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Lizzie Borden’s Impeccable Taste at “Maplecroft”

Time to revisit Maplecrof – Lizzie Borden’s home for the entire second half of her life.  She had great pride in this house which she nurtured, maintained, and coveted  as if it were the child she never had.

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Former owner, Bob Dube and current owner Kristee Bates – Fall River Herald News photo

House was purchased on November 21, 2014 by Twilight Enterprises (actually Howard and Kristee).

While its been written and often stated that Lizzie and her sister moved into a mansion on The Hill, the Charles M. Allen house was not a mansion.  Newport had mansions –  Fall River had stately Victorian homes.  “Maplecroft” was purchased in November 2014.

The house even has its own Facebook Page.  (A webpage by the new owner is being developed and you can set up a Google alert to stay current.  It’s aptly named “Lizzie Borden’s Maplecroft.”)

The Fall River Herald News ran this article on early discoveries Kristee made of her renovation endeavors.

Last year, Kristee sent me fragments of the original wall paper and drapes from Lizzie’s front bedroom which I framed and show here:

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Lizzie seems to have favored the darker colors, unlike her dining room paper shown below.

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Front Foyer Nov --2000

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There are attempts to identify and acquire books Lizzie owned  which, when signed by her, can cost several thousand dollars.  Copies on display in Maplecroft would most certainly lack the “oooohh” and “aaahhh”  factor as only things that really belonged to her will deliver satisfaction to visitors.  For example, having a tour guide correctly state: “And this is the bed that Lizzie Borden died in.”

The house – as a tourist attraction – will have to be furnished with exquisite and tasteful furniture, fixtures, and other appointments that Lizzie herself would have purchased. Such acquisitions will be costly and difficult to find or otherwise acquire, however, will grant great credit to the new owners if achieved.  I wish them the best of success in these endeavors and look forward to their progress.

 

 

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Lizzie Borden in Hawaii

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.

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DSCN6421From 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.DSCN6657

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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 between the two volcanoes.

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Lizzie was in awe of its beautiful terrain.

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We lunched in Kailua Kona.

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We visited the old stone church across from the Queen’s Palace…….

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….where Lizzie suddenly became distressed that no one was in the pews.  I had to remind her it was Thursday.

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At one point she even climbed aboard the display of the ship on which the missionaries sailed from Boston in the 1870’s.

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Lizzie loved the many beaches and when she asked “Will we see more up the roadway?” , I answered “Since we’re on an island, I’d be saying Yes.”

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At the famous Rainbow Falls.

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“Lizzie, you’re too far out…..come in closer to shore.”

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“Thank you.”

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Sunrise.

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Moonrise.

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Always conscious of her deportment, I was surprised on one occasion having to say:  “Lizzie, get up off the table, you’re embarrassing yourself.”

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But in all fairness, this is what occurred a little earlier.

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Aside from that misstep, the trip was amazing for both Lizzie and myself.   I may even take her next year.

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Aloha and Mahalo.

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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

 

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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

 

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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″.

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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)

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Page1 Page2

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

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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.

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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

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

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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.

 
 
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