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Category Archives: Fall River Historical Society

Primary source for newspapers, letters, journals, city directories, artifacts, etc. on Fall River and Lizzie Borden case.

Cara Robertson Donates Historical Document to Fall River Historical Society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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“What Is That Thing?” A Lizzie Borden Querry

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.

Here’s the link.

 

 

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Inside Lizzie Borden’s Renovated Maplecroft

UPDATE:  “MAPLECROFT” FOR SALE AGAIN.

http://www.heraldnews.com/news/20170906/lizzie-bordens-maplecroft-on-market-again

 

Created by author Rebecca Pittman – The History & Haunting of Lizzie Borden.  Enjoy.

BTW, while I think Kristee Bates has done a very good job in renovating “Maplecroft”, I still do not think this is how Lizzie had it furnished and decorated in her day.  Lizzie selected only the very best of furnishings, fixtures and equipment because she could well afford it.  Her home, which she nurtured and lovingly maintained as if it were her child, had the very best appointments.  She bought only “the very best”.   Kristee worked on a budget and it does not escape the discerning eye.  Nonetheless, it is still beautiful and representative of Victorian homes of the 1890’s.  However, one only has to go to the Fall River Historical Society  or the Easton Tea Room (1870 Alexander Dorrance Easton residence also owned by the FRHS) to see the high quality wallpaper and exceptional quality furniture donated over the years.  The difference is remarkable and unmistakable.  There one will find furniture and fixtures inside these two establishments closer to what “Miss Lizbeth” would have had in her own home.

While the precise decade (1893 to 1927)  Maplecroft’s renovated interior  is reflecting is unclear, the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum is furnished exactly as it would have been on August 4, 1892.  Aspiring and inspired detectives can play out what they know or suspect of the crimes with a full and thoroughly captivating  “stage”.   Kudos to the original “set decorators” and Kudos to General Manager Lee-ann Wilber  (since 2004)  and owner, Donald Woods,  who have not altered  its base authenticity.

And a special Kudo to Rebecca Pittman for providing us with the first ever video showing the interiors of both the Second Street and French Street homes in which Lizzie lived the entire first half and entire second half of her life, respectively.   Well done!

 

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NEW FALL RIVER HISTORICAL SOCIETY WEBSITE IS A STUNNER!

The Fall River Historical Society has just premiered their long awaited re-constructed website and it’s a stunner!  Of course the menu tab has “Lizzie Borden” but contained therein will be found thrilling to Borden case researchers.

The curating and organization are exemplary.  Outstanding all around.

 Here’s a photo sampling from the various “Collections”.  I’m not going to explain what they are or who they are because if you are reading this you need to go to the site and emerge yourself.   Here’s the LINK.

fleet2web21 elmstweb frankknowlton1 holmes-pine-street lindsey3web

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“HISTORICAL NOTE

Mrs. George S. Brigham was an intimate friend, confidante, and staunch supporter of both Emma and Lizzie Borden and, as such, figured prominently in events following the Borden murders. She remained a lifelong friend of Emma Borden, but severed ties with Lizzie subsequent to the Borden sisters’ estrangement in 1905. Privy to a great deal of personal information pertaining to the Borden sisters, she decisively refused to discuss, either publicly or privately, her friendship with the two women, or her involvement in the case.”  -from the FRHS website – Lizzie Borden Collections – The Brigham Collection

 

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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

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.

 

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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