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Category Archives: Collectibles

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

09Nov

(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! 🙂

 

CARA W. ROBERTSON – THE TRIAL OF LIZZIE BORDEN

Twenty years in the making, this promises to be the next best thing to the Fall River Historical Society’s Parallel Lives – A Social History of Lizzie Andrew Borden and Her Fall River.

Cara Warschaw Robertson

This book

You can pre-order (as I did weeks ago) on Amazon.   Cara has been a great and long-time contributor to the FRHS’s Borden collection.  Her background is absolutely stellar. She was admitted to the California Bar in 1997 – but here’s a brief recap:

“Ms. Robertson earned her B.A. from Harvard College (summa cum laude), her Ph.D. from Oxford University and her J.D. from Stanford Law School (with distinction). After law school, she clerked for the Honorable James R. Browning, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and for the Honorable John Paul Stevens and the Honorable Byron White of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Ms. Robertson has been an associate legal officer for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, a visiting scholar at Stanford Law School and a fellow at the National Humanities Center.”

I knew of Ms. Robertson because in my own research on the case  I had come across her  work published in the Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities (Summer 1996, Vol. 8, No. 2) entitled:  “Representing Miss Lizzie: Cultural Convictions in the Trial of Lizzie Borden”.

DSCN8361

However,  I actually met her during one of my twice annual visits to Fall River through an introduction by Curator Michael Martins.  It was in 2001, in the basement of the FRHS  where she was engaged in deep research for this book.  A few days later we chatted outdoors on the FRHS property (inside the gazebo) about all things Lizzie.  She struck me as a lovely person and a most serious scholar.  She also struck me as off-the-charts smart.  Thus, I have been awaiting this book ever since.

Here’s the promo text from the Amazon site – enough to get all Borden case enthusiasts salivating:

“The Trial of Lizzie Borden tells the true story of one of the most sensational murder trials in American history. When Andrew and Abby Borden were brutally hacked to death in Fall River, Massachusetts, in August 1892, the arrest of the couple’s younger daughter Lizzie turned the case into international news and her trial into a spectacle unparalleled in American history. Reporters flocked to the scene. Well-known columnists took up conspicuous seats in the courtroom. The defendant was relentlessly scrutinized for signs of guilt or innocence. Everyone—rich and poor, suffragists and social conservatives, legal scholars and laypeople—had an opinion about Lizzie Borden’s guilt or innocence. Was she a cold-blooded murderess or an unjustly persecuted lady? Did she or didn’t she?

The popular fascination with the Borden murders and its central enigmatic character has endured for more than one hundred years. Immortalized in rhyme, told and retold in every conceivable genre, the murders have secured a place in the American pantheon of mythic horror, but one typically wrenched from its historical moment. In contrast, Cara Robertson explores the stories Lizzie Borden’s culture wanted and expected to hear and how those stories influenced the debate inside and outside of the courtroom. Based on transcripts of the Borden legal proceedings, contemporary newspaper accounts, unpublished local accounts, and recently unearthed letters from Lizzie herself, The Trial of Lizzie Borden offers a window onto America in the Gilded Age, showcasing its most deeply held convictions and its most troubling social anxieties.”

Oh, goody, goody, goody.  New stuff.  New author.   BUT NOT A NEW RESEARCHER.  And there’s the difference my friends.  This woman knows her stuff inside and out.   I’m certain one will be hard pressed in the reading of her book to find misquotes or misinformation.

And don’t forget:  She’s smart – really, really smart.  And, oh, so nice.

Buy the book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lizzie Borden – One Book, Lots of Good Reads

 

Could Edmund Pearson Have Hastened Lizzie Borden’s Death?

(I originally wrote this post back in 2010)

Edmund Lester Pearson (1880-1937)

 

Edmund Lester Pearson

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.

Hosea Morrill Knowlton

 

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:

John Wellington Knowlton born February 28, 1874.
Abby Almy Knowlton born March 30, 1876
Frank Warren Knowlton born August 1, 1878
Edward Allen Knowlton born April16, 1883

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

Frank Warren Knowlton


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.

Herbert Parker, a very handsome man

Frank Warren Knowlton, Jr. donated his grandfather’s papers to the Fall River Historical Society in 1989.  (He died in October 11, 2002).

Edit

 

Cara Robertson Donates Historical Document to Fall River Historical Society

 

 

As a follow-up to my previous post, here is the final disposition of those two documents.  THANK YOU, Cara, for ensuring they were secured for the Fall River Historical Society.

You can read about it HERE.

 

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LIZZIE BORDEN POWER OF ATTORNEY ON AUCTION BLOCK

 

Break open your piggy bank.  LOL!

Click HERE.

Also to be auctioned, same day, same auction house, is a document signed by Emma Borden settling her 1/2 share of the 1917 sale of the Second Street home.

 

June 1893 Timeline of Lizzie Borden’s Trial

 

Mayor

Above image is from my CD “Threads That Bind”.

BOOKMARKS3

I used to sell the bookmarks shown in the above image.

**************************************************************

HISTORIC TIMELINE
LIZZIE BORDEN – FALL RIVER, MA
1612 – 2005

1998-2005 Faye Musselman – All Rights Reserved

Inclusive dates of the Superior Court Trial – held in New Bedford – composed from extracts of my Historic Timeline.

June 5, 1893-June 20, 1893
THE TRIAL OF LIZZIE BORDEN

June 5, 1893 Monday
1st Day: Court convened at 11:28 am. 111 were questioned before the 12 were selected. Charles I. Richards selected as jury foreman.

June 6, 1893Tuesday
2nd Day: Indictment is read; William Moody opens for the Prosecution. Lizzie faints and is revived.

June 6, 1893Tuesday
Civil Engr. Thomas Kieran called, gives measurements, testifies man could have hid in front entry closet.

June 6, 1893Tuesday
Jurors travel to Fall River; visit Kelly’s house, Wade’s store, Crowe’s stone yard, Chagnon’s house, Kirby’s yard, Alice Russell’s house, Gorman’s store, Clegg’s store and banks. Tour finished at 4:00 pm.

June 6, 1893Tuesday
Jurors taken to Mellen House, Franklin & North Main Street where they spend the night.

June 7, 1893 Wednesday
3rd Day: James A. Walsh, photographer testifies as to the accuracy of the pictures he had made of the victims and the house on the day of the killing.

June 7, 1893 Wednesday
John Vinnicum Morse examination conducted by Moody, not different from that as the preliminary hearing. Lizzie smiled as her uncle tried to calculate her age and shook her head vigorously when he came out as 33.

June 7, 1893 Wednesday
Abram G. Hart, treasurer of Union Savings Bank, testifies as to Borden’s movements on morning of the 8/4.

June 9, 1893Friday
John Minnehan, patrolman assigned to follow John Morse on August 5, 1892, dies at age 48 in Fall River.

June 12, 1893 Monday
Lizzie’s Inquest Testimony ruled inadmissible.

June 13, 1893Tuesday
AG Pillsbury arrives by train from Boston, consults with Knowlton & Moody & returns same evening. (ES)

June 13, 1893Tuesday
Skulls of Andrew and Abby are presented in court, Lizzie leaves the courtroom.

June 14, 1893 Wednesday
John T. Burrill, cashier of the Union National Bank, Everett M. Cook, cashier of the First National Bank, Jonathan Clegg, a hat dealer, Joseph Shortsleeves, a carpenter, and John Maher, a carpenter

June 14, 1893 Tuesday
Judges ruling excludes Eli Bence’s prussic acid testimony .

June 14, 1893
At Knowlton’s request during Dr. Draper’s testimony, Dr. Dolan brings in the skulls of Andrew & Abby. Lizzie is allowed to retire from the courtroom. (TT1046)

June 14, 1893 Wednesday
9th Day: C. C. Potter’s son (Freddy) finds hatchet w/gilt on roof of Crowe’s barn. Carpenter Carl McDonnel claims it is his hatchet; prussic acid testimony (Eli Bence) ruled inadmissible.

June 15, 1893
FR Evening News reports hatchet found on roof of John Crowe’s barn. ( FREN18)

June 15, 1893 Wednesday
Opening statements by Defense are given by Andrew Jennings.

June 15, 1893 Wednesday
Opening statements by Andrew Jennings.

June 16, 1893 Wednesday
Emma Borden testifies.

June 16, 1893
Governor Robinson reads from Bridget’s Inquest Testimony (a missing document) (TT)

June 19, 1893 Wednesday
Governor Robinson gives closing arguments; Knowlton begins his closing.

June 16, 1893 Wednesday
Emma Borden testifies.

June 20, 1893 Tuesday
13th Day:

3:24 pm
The Jury retires to deliberate.

4:32 pm
The Jury returns. Lizzie Borden pronounced “Not Guilty” at 4:35 pm. (TT1928) )

June 20, 1893

8:15 pm
Lizzie & Emma arrive by coach w/Mrs. Holmes at 67 Pine St. in FR; small reception follows. Lizzie spends night there. Large crowd gathered at 92 Second St. (CaseBook228)

June 22, 1893
Reupholstered sofa is delivered back to the house on Second Street.

June 23, 1893
Lizzie visits the Wm. Covell’s in Newport, RI, has classic picture of her “standing behind the chair” taken.

June 23, 1893
Morse attempts to get mileage reimbursement from Iowa to New Bedford from Co. Treasurer. (FRHN)

June 27, 1893
Lizzie & Emma go to Taunton to visit Sheriff Wright’s wife.

July 3, 1893
Lizzie and Emma purchase house on French Street.

July 19, 1893
Lizzie’s 33rd Birthday.

July 19, 1893
FR Weekly News reports Lizzie won trip to Chicago World’s Fair via coupon write-in from public.

July 23, 1893
Lizzie escorted to CC Church by Dr. Bowen & Mr. Holmes. (Chicago Daily Tribune 7/24/1893)

August 4, 1893
First of annual articles about crime appears in The Globe.

August 10, 1893
Deed recorded for purchase of French Street house by Lizzie & Emma. (LR556)

August 12, 1893
New Bedford Standard prints Lizzie’s Inquest Testimony.

August 13, 1893
Lizzie & Emma transfer their deed for ½ interest of Whitehead house (Abby’s share) to Sarah & George.

August 14, 1893
Reporter Joseph Howard publishes his criticism of Judge Dewey’s charge to jury.

August 17, 1893
Lizzie and Emma sold for $1 the ½ house on 4h St. to Sarah whitehead & Priscilla Fish. (LR556)

August 21, 1893
FR Police announce case is closed.

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