Category Archives: Books – Good and Not So Good

Book Review: “Did Lizzie Borden Axe for It?” by David Rehak

Book Review: “Did Lizzie Borden Axe for It?” by David Rehak


(Recycled post)

The third and revised printing of David Rehak’s 270 page softcover book, Did Lizzie Borden Axe for It?, contains a never before seen note written in Lizzie’s hand shortly after the sinking of the Titanic. This book is now available (along with Mr. Rehak’s other books) thru Lulu Press as seen by clicking HERE.

This is a different kind of Lizzie book. Traditionally, the Lizzie books have a sequential, narrative progression, spilling forth the saga of the murders of Andrew and Abby Borden against the backdrop of Fall River, Massachusetts and peppered with some new (and often outrageous) theory of who dunnit. Not this book. No long, flowing narratives here. No in-depth research filling chapter after chapter. Instead Dave takes us on a thoroughly enjoyable Mr. Toad’s wild ride weaving in and out, up and down, over and around and back again, giving us punches of “in your face” data to quickly absorb, question, and quickly move on.

In the Introduction he says he deals with the facts “as we know them”. Well, not entirely. For example, an early error is in the constricted Timeline that has John Morse visiting his niece and nephew, “the Emerys” on Weybosset street. Nonetheless, with almost bullet-point speed he whisks us through “Lizzie didn’t do it”, then rebounds with “Lizzie did it” having laid out the basics and offers conclusions – not opinionated but taken from reportings of the day.

Then we are off and flying again into the skies of “whys”. Why was Lizzie thought to be a lesbian – featuring Nance O’Neil; why does Lizzie linger; why was Lizzie a romantic being, and so on. Along the read-ride we bump into Lizzie’s alledged boyfriend (David Anthony), the alleged illegitimate son of Andrew (William S. Borden), her disloyal friend (Alice Russell), her loyal supporter (Mary Livermore). If television’s TMZ and “Access Hollywood” were turned into a book on Lizzie, this would be it. Fast flashes that move from one salacious tidbit to another, the reader learns something new, re-processes something already known, and finds points to question and challenge – depending upon the level of expertise of the reader.

While Mr. Rehak asserts he makes no claim as to her guilt or innocence, it is clear he has a real affection for the inscrutable Miss Borden and sways from an unbiased hand more than once. For this we can forgive him. Most authors attempting to maintain neutrality often write with a slight transparency allowing the reader to draw the correct conclusion.

There are two things that have never been published in any book on the Borden case before and they appear in this book only. One is revealed to the public in printed form for the first time.

First, this portrait of Andrew J. Borden as a young man – perhaps taken at the time he married Sarah Morse Borden. Neither this image or similar image has appeared in a book up to this time. Second, and more importantly, something “new” in Lizzie’s own hand: a note she wrote not long after the sinking of the Titantic wanting the initial “B” placed on toiletry items for her matching case. It gives us insight into Lizzie’s own vanity, her keen eye for quality, and maybe even tells us how much that “B” as in B O R D E N meant to her.

I have permission from author Dave Rehak to include that note in this blog so here it is as introduced in his book.



Below are images from my own digital copy of the original note.

I would recommend to any Bordenia collector to purchase Dave’s book for these images alone. However, as the reader traverses through the uneven flow of these pages, he/she will come upon many new images not published previously except in his own editions. In addition, one can’t help but chuckle at some of the fantasy in the form of poems, psychic contacts with meeting Lizzie, and particularly “Lizzie’s New Hat”, all the more solidifying the fact this is like no other Lizzie book and stands as an “Anomaly of Audacity” to put a twisted contemporary pun on it.

David Rehak has done us all a favor, regardless of the factual accuracy and lack of scholarly research and citations. He has given us a marvelous compendium representative of the orbit that spins around our Miss Lizzie, and he’s done it with originality, good humor, and a fast track ride wholly entertaining and worthy of our attention.

I wrote about this new edition coming out in a previous blog entry where I explained the facts of why a second edition was “rushed to print.” This third edition has corrected the abysmal editing errors that were an unfortunate result. You can read why this happened HERE. If you have the first edition – hold on to that baby – it’s value just soared! And having a collection of all 3 is what the true Borden collector aspires.

It was my pleasure to provide Dave with several of the images in the book, some not published before. In the 7 years I have known him, I’ve found him to be a kind man – a sensitive man, and one I’m proud to call a friend. I recommend you purchase this unique collectible and treat yourself to that wild ride! 🙂

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2 responses to “Book Review: “Did Lizzie Borden Axe for It?” by David Rehak

  1. Nell Driscoll

    June 19, 2008 at 8:40 AM

    I have a mantle clock that Andrew Borden dropped off at the Fall River Clock repair and when it was not picked up (for obvious reasons) the clock maker gave it to his daughter Betty Chapman who gave it to my father. It still has the repair slip on the back with Andrew Borden’s name and I have a provenance to go with it- i would like to sell it and wanted to give you right of first refusal.. don’t know the worth (after much market research) but am willing to negotiate a fair market value if you are – please let me know if you are interested- Please let me know as soon as possible-you can reach me at (401-348-0700. Thank you for your consideration in this matter.
    Nell Driscoll
    Watch Hill. RI

  2. phayemuss

    June 29, 2008 at 3:55 PM

    I sent a separate email on June 19th to Ms. Driscoll asking for more information and some images of the clock.

    As of this date, I am still waiting.

    See post of June 29, 2008.

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Posted by on January 16, 2017 in Books - Good and Not So Good


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.


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




DSCN6685  I was surprised at her exploratory nature at my friend’s 5 acre estate just north of Hilo.


“Lizzie get down from there, you’ll hurt yourself.”


“That’s better.”


One day we drove straight across the middle of the island on the new between the two volcanoes.





Lizzie was in awe of its beautiful terrain.


We lunched in Kailua Kona.



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


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


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


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.”





At the famous Rainbow Falls.

LB Rainbow


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


“Thank you.”






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



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



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


Aloha and Mahalo.




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Leonard Rebello is Dead!!!


Leonard Rebello, Fall River native and author of Lizzie Borden Past & Present


Leonard Rebello has been proclaimed dead by certain Lizzie Borden Forum sleuths from the Lizzie Borden Forum.  I kid you not.   It has to do with the silver cup Mr. Rebello’s states was a gift from Abby to Lizzie.

The posting LBCUPexchanges evolve from speculation that the claim is not authentic and the veracity of Rebello is questioned because he did not give a provenance to the cup, to the cup being meant for another “Lizzie” by another “Borden” and ends with the assertion that no wonder he couldn’t cite his source of the cup because he is dead!  (BTW, he is alive and well).

Now what I find excruciatingly funny is that these sleuths, laboring over layers of minutia to solve the case, fail to apply the most readily available techniques and processes for verifying facts.  For example, they could Google Mr. Rebello and look for his death certificate or newspaper reports of his unexpected passing, or even called the Fall River Herald News.  Instead, they remain fixated on the misspellings and even assert such a cup would only be presented to a person of the Jewish faith because of the decorative engraving on the bottom!

See for yourself:  I have underlined key sentences in this evolution of error.

Re: Breaks in the Pattern

Postby Curryong » Tue Mar 04, 2014 6:30 pm

Back to breaks in the pattern! In court Emma did a good, very equivocal job on her sister’s behalf didn’t she? Skate, skate over the very uncomfortable truth (as Lizzie did at the Inquest) that neither of them called Abby ‘mother,’ or that they went nowhere with her unless they had to, and that, for the last five years of Abby and Andrew’s life, the tension in the home was getting worse.

Incidentally, hadn’t Andrew stopped going to Church? I can’t remember the details but it was something to do with having to pay some tax and he objected so much he didn’t go anymore, as the man who imposed the tax was a Church elder he would have to meet every Sunday. So Andrew became a heathen!

Postby debbiediablo » Tue Mar 04, 2014 6:56 pm

Andrew seems to have worshiped at the Altar of the Almighty Dollar.

Postby Mara » Wed Mar 05, 2014 10:00 pm

Sorry, Curryong, my trail stopped there! I wasn’t ab;e to determine what a “youth cup” was used for. At first, I thought maybe a punch cup of some sort. I don’t know. I’m swamped with work right now, but I’ll put this on my list for something fun to do this weekend. 🙂

Postby Curryong » Thu Mar 06, 2014 12:01 am

I’ll look forward to it! It sound like the sort of thing that might be handed over, unengraved, of course, as a Sunday School prize, or something of that sort. I got the book ‘What Katy Did’ once, but a cup sounds nicer!

Postby PossumPie » Thu Mar 06, 2014 6:39 am

I still think we need to exercise caution. First it could be another Lizzie and Abbie. Leonard Rebello who presented the cup (as far as I can tell) never proves beyond reasonable doubt that it is BORDEN. 1868 date strengthens the claim, BUT it is easily added later, or the whole engraving may be forged. Most of the time items like this come with a letter of authenticity, often tracing who owned it, showing a relationship to the original owner. If Rebello could show HOW the current owner came to be in possession of it, I would be less skeptical. Either way, it’s authenticity does nothing for the case.

Postby Curryong » Thu Mar 06, 2014 6:54 am

Isn’t Mr Rebello dead, or have I got hold of the wrong end of the stick? I thought he died some time ago.

Postby Mara » Thu Mar 06, 2014 5:09 pm

The only youth/child cups I’ve been able to find that have a grapevine or grapes motif are intended for Jewish children’s use at the formal Shabbat meal celebrated weekly in observant homes, or for the special Passover Seder. (Children are given watered down wine.)

Further enlightening us along Jewish traditional lines, “Abbie” can be a Hebrew name, either on its own or short for Abigail (which was the name of one of King David’s wives). It can also be a male Hebrew nickname (think Abbie Hoffman). Some of you might remember “Abie’s Irish Rose,” about a cross-cultural romance.

So I think this cup was a gift to a Jewish young lady/girl named Lizzie by a family friend, beau or sibling named Abbie in a Jewish household in 1868, rather than from our Abby to our Lizzie.

Postby Curryong » Thu Mar 06, 2014 5:19 pm

Wonderful work, Mara! Well done! So the cup (probably) isn’t our Lizzie’s after all. No wonder Rebello couldn’t answer questions about the provenance. There wasn’t any!

By the way, Mara, I posted a link with information on your favourite girl, (Nance,) on the ‘Life after Murder’ link!

Postby Mara » Thu Mar 06, 2014 7:04 pm

I see that, Curryong, thank you!

Postby twinsrwe » Thu Mar 06, 2014 9:45 pm

Good job, Mara! I agree with you; I think this cup was a gift to a another Lizzie, from another Abbie. If our Lizzie disliked Abby as much as we are led to believe, then I highly doubt she would have kept the cup for sentimental reasons.

Postby Catbooks » Fri Mar 07, 2014 11:40 am

i didn’t know mr. rebello had died 😦

he was so meticulous about being accurate, it surprises me he’d include the cup in his book if there wasn’t good reason to think it was lizzie’s. but i thought it odd that in the other thread apparently people had or were going to contact him about it, and then nothing more was said.

the only thing i can think of is perhaps the owner or donor of the cup was absolutely convinced it really was lizzie’s, and mr. rebello didn’t want to offend him or her, so included the photo in the book. without a caption, just the photo itself.

thanks for all of your detective work, mara 🙂

Postby PossumPie » Fri Mar 07, 2014 1:12 pm

As I said earlier, for something that vague (two first names) to be included in the book, one would almost have to be able to trace it’s ownership back. If we were told that it came from the grandson of a known friend of Lizzie, THEN we could be more sure. But a cup without a “pedigree” is meaningless.


What are the odds a woman named Abby would be giving a silver cup to both a Lizzie AND an Emma in 1868?  In any case, I know Mr. Rebello.  I’ve known him for almost 20 years.  I’ve been to his home.  He showed me the cup.  Mr. Rebello is an expert on the case, fastidious, generous, and completely honest.  He did not cite his source for the cup – which he owns – as it was a condition of anonymity by the person from whom it was acquired.  (Much like items that have been donated to the Fall River Historical Society).

There is a unique dynamic intrinsic to internet forums.  Cliques are formed. The desire and need to be included in the clique makes one conform to opinions of the others, even to the extent of making judgements of others without all known and available facts.  It reminds me of high school.
Within the irony is the humor.  It is ironic the people posting are supposed to be “investigating” the Borden case.  The humor is that they would appear to share the same gene pool as Inspector Clouseau.  😉


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