Author Archives: phayemuss
Who knows what this is?
It is still inside the closet in “Bridget Sullivan’s bedroom” at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum.
Tim Weisberg‘s Spooky Southcoast podcast episode entitled: “The Real Lizzie Borden” was broadcast shortly after the publishing of Parallel Lives. The featured guests on that episode were Michael Martins and Dennis Binette (curator and assistant curator of the Fall River Historical Society). They help identify just what this is.
Advance to 46.10 to the relevant call in.
Next door to “Maplecroft” this house was once owned by Lizzie Borden. This Victorian is and always has been a three family home but was once known as the James Davenport House and was built in 1879 by the ninth mayor of Fall River.
Painted last summer with lovely new landscaping and planters added – among other improvements – it was listed for $315,000 last August but sold just before Christmas last year for $282,000.
See full information HERE.
Michael Thomas Brimbau
I wrote about this last October but had wrong information. Michael Brimbau, the owner since 1992 (and author of The Girl With The Pansy Pin) moved out to work on the charming fixer-upper he purchased on Charlotte White Road in Westport. Stefani Koorey remained until it was sold.
One of those very old homes built with one bathroom on first floor but second bedroom on the second floor. Improvements have been made.
Mr. Brimbau has also written a clever comedy By the Naked Pear Tree: The Trial of Lizzie Borden, actually a play in which two of the scenes had been performed at the Somerset Library by the Pleasure of Poetry Club .
And yes, that’s Stefani Koorey in the front. The one with the moustache. Judging by the photos on the link above, looks like this group had a lot of fun. By the way, I highly recommend Mr. Brimbau’s book. It is quite funny and very well written.
(I originally wrote this post back in 2010)
Edmund Lester Pearson (1880-1937)
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.
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:
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
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.
Frank Warren Knowlton, Jr. donated his grandfather’s papers to the Fall River Historical Society in 1989. (He died in October 11, 2002).
The photo of Alice in old age is the only known photograph of her to date. Here’s hoping Parallel Lives will have more. The below article is from the Fall River Historical Society’s website, taken from their Summer 2002 newsletter, also posted online. They are all worth reading so check them out.
“Lizzie’s Turncoat Friend”
“Frank B. Hadley has recently donated a rare and important photograph of Miss Alice M. Russell to the Fall River Historical Society. It is the only photograph of Miss Russell known to exist, depicting the subject as an elderly woman. Miss Russell was the first cousin of the donor’s grandmother, Ida Russell.
Ida’s husband, Dwight Minor, took the photograph at 3:46 pm on September 4, 1931, with the subject sitting in her comfortably furnished room at…
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Last posted in 2011 – The Gardner connection is essential to understanding Lizzie and Emma.
Recycled from 2011
Emma Borden, Lizzie’s sister, left most of her personal property to Orrin Gardner. He, in turn, gave much to his nephew, Hamilton, son of Orrin’s brother. Before we go further, please note I’ve written about the Gardners of Swansea many times and you should review these posts HERE and HERE.
The following images of letters and notes gives us a glimpse of what happened. Indeed, the recently discovered portraits of a young Andrew and young Sarah were donated to the Swansea Historical Society by Hamilton Gardner. (You’ll remember those portraits, possibly done at the time they were married – a true love match.)
You have to wonder if these portraits hung at Maplecroft and if Emma took them when she left Lizzie in 1905. Anyway….as to her other…
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Originally posted in May, 2010
Lizzie Borden lived as many years before her Trial as she did after her Trial. She was born the year the Pony Express started, Elizabeth Cady Stanton addressed the state’s legislature on the subject of women’s suffrage, and Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities was published. There were only 33 states in the Union, and public conveyance was mostly by steamship and horse-drawn wagon. She died the year two-way television was first demonstrated, “The Jazz Singer” premiered, and when the whole world was celebrating Lindberg’s solo flight across the Atlantic to Paris.
At the time of the murders Lizzie Borden was just on the cusp of the inner circle she so much wanted to penetrate. She longed to be accepted and a part of what author Victoria Lincoln referred to as “that highly stratified society.” She was a Borden with impeccable lineage and was acutely…
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