Category Archives: Oak Grove Cemetery

Things left at the Borden gravesite; notables buried there; happenings, etc.

Fall River Cemeteries

Lizzie Borden is buried at Oak Grove Cemetery, and while it is the most known – and the most beautiful – there are other cemeteries with interesting histories in Fall River.

Here’s info on a wonderful picture book of several Fall River cemeteries. 


Jack Foley – Fall River Herald News

  1. Notre Dame Cemetery

    1540 Stafford Rd
    Fall River

    (508) 673-1561
  2. 2233 Robeson St
    Fall River
    (508) 679-2535

    St Patrick’s Cemetery

  3. Amity St
    Fall River
    (508) 679-2535

    St Mary’s Cemetery

  4. 462 N Main St
    Fall River
    (617) 244-6509

    Temple Beth El Cemetery

  5. 440 Newhall St
    Fall River
    (617) 244-6509

    Agudas Achim Cemetery


    The Fall River Historical Society is having a big sale on all their items.  Check it out!


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Andrew Borden and the Missing Prince Albert

(Recycled from March 2008)


James E. Windward, “funeral director to the stars” or at least to all the best Fall River families (translation: Bordens, Braytons, Durfees, Chaces, etc.) during Lizzie’s time, was at the Borden house with his assistant around 4:00 pm on August 4, 1892. As Doctor Dolan testified, it was Undertaker Winward who removed the money from Andrew’s clothing and gave it over to him.

Winward had to wait until the in-situ crime scene photographs were taken and preliminary autopsies were concluded before he could claim possession of the bodies for preparation for Saturday’s funeral services. Could it be that Lizzie told him directly or had it conveyed to him as a discreet request by another (Alice? Uncle John?) that she wished her father to be “laid out” in his Prince Albert coat because it was such a signature garment to all those that knew him? The same Prince Albert coat that was photographed crumbled up under his head on the sofa. The same Prince Albert coat that his usual custom was to hang on a hook when switching to his more comfortable coat in which he wore in death? The same Prince Albert coat that is not on the list of clothing buried nor presented at Trial. The same Prince Albert coat that magically disappears like socks in the dryer. The same Prince Albert coat that District Attorney Knowlton alluded to as a possible shield against the assailant’s own clothing during his Trial summation? The same coat that had it been laid out and studied would have had telling blood splatters and not just a large stain from the seeping wounds of the ten hatchet blows to his head.

Let us assume that the Prince Albert coat was indeed removed from the premises by Undertaker Winward at Lizzie’s request. Let us further assume it was subsequently cleaned, pressed and put back upon the corpse of Andrew Borden. It would seem such an appropriate thing to do that his open coffin next to Abby’s in the Sitting Room would warrant narry a comment pertaining to evidence. “How peaceful he looks with his head on the side, and isn’t it natural that he should be wearing that oh so familiar coat?”, one might have commented to another.

Fast Forward – Oak Grove Cemetery:

The mortal remains of Andrew Jackson Borden lay crushed from a collapsed coffin, wood fragments embedded in the decomposed and tattered fabric of a certain Prince Albert coat. A high school ring dangles from his skeletal finger and his skeletal foot stretches out to just inches above Lizzie’s head. Each day at the stroke of 11:00 am, he shoves his foot against her head and in a muffled but strident voice only the dead can hear he speaks out to her: “Bad girl, Lizzie. Bad, bad, girl.” Thus, every day throughout eternity she hears those words at the stroke of Eleven – Lizzie’s own hellish, eternal doom.

I’d be willing to bet if Andrew’s grave were dug up, the collapsed coffin opened, there we would find the mortal remains of Andrew Borden. His head would be detached and displaced but he’d be dressed in that Prince Albert coat.

Clever girl, Lizzie. Clever, clever girl.

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Posted by on March 6, 2013 in Legal & Forensics, Oak Grove Cemetery


Lizzie Borden Ponderables

Have you ever wondered why:

Winnie French was so adamant to testify on behalf of Grace Howe & Helen Leighton at the Probate Hearing against Charles Cook’s claim of ownership of the Henry House?

Orrin Gardner had so little tribute in ink when he died, although it was highly deserved?

What specifically Bailey Borden sold of Lizzie & Emma’s possession in his Fall River store acquired from Hamilton Gardner?

Why there was so little reporting of Lizzie writing a blank check to Ernest Terry as she lay dying on her last day of life?  (All those people at the bank knew.)

Why Charles Cook parked his car in Lizzie’s garage and then charged the heating to her estate?

Why Ernest Terry went to work for Charles Cook after Lizzie died?

Why Grace Howe, with a keen eye for antiques, left so much of it?

Why so many of Lizzie’s good books ended up with Marian Reilly?

Well, I hope to have answers to some of this to post later.

Back home and much to catch up with.


Note:   Some people wonder the same thing as stated in this comment I received from “Norman Pound”:

“Inquisitive thirst comes on strong as I wait for your book and/or screenplay! This theatrical passage is evidence that it is impossible to endure another year without the pleasure of your literary talent and aptitude for investigation collected in manuscript form. Us Lizzie lovers await, chatting numerously, “When Phaye? When?””

The answer is:  “I don’t do things in a hurry.”   ;)

There’s much to wonder about in the Lizzie Borden case, whether at its core or on the periphery.  Here’s just a few things:

Have you ever wondered if Lizzie knew Nance O’Neil had married Alfred Devereaux Hickman in 1916, becoming his second wife?   (A widower for only one year, his first wife died in 1915).

And, have you ever wondered if Lizzie went to any of those movies Nance O’Neil was in?  She certainly lived long enough to read, if not actually see, Nance’s transition from the theatre to the silent screen and then in speaking roles.

And – as to those movies – here’s an interesting tidbit:

John B. Colton (1889–1946),  was a New York dramatist whose plays include Nine Pine Street (1933), based on the Borden murder case.  (He also co-wrote Rain (1922), based on a Somerset Maugham story).   But here’s the thing – Colton co-wrote “Call of the Flesh”, a film featuring Nance O’Neil released August 16, 1930.  And less than 3 years later on April 27, 1933, Nine Pine Street premiered at the Longacre Theatre and starred Lillian Gish as “Effie Holden.”  It played for 28 performances and closed in mid May, 1933.  Do you wonder if  Colton spoke to Nance about Lizzie Borden and was thereby inspired to write Nine Pine Street?  Something to ponder.

Here’s what was going on around that time:

February 18, 1933 New York Magazine article on LMH “the mysterious alter ego of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
March 24, 1933 4th & Final Probate Court acctg. filed by Cook on Lizzie’s Will – period Nov. 28, 1932 thru March 3, 1933.
March 3, 1933 Grace Hartley Howe & Helen Leighton sign 4th & Final Account of Probate.
March 4, 1933 Franklin Delano Roosevelt is inaugurated as the 32nd U.S. president.
April 13, 1933 Emma’s estate sells Maplecroft.                                        (LR561)
April 27, 1933 The play: Nine Pine Street opens on Broadway at Longacre Theatre starring Lillian Gish as Lizzie Borden.

And here’s something else I have always wondered about:

Why didn’t Abby have Bridget fix eggs on that August 4, 1892 Thursday morning instead of the 5 day old cold mutton and mutton soup?  After all, Uncle John Morse had picked them up from Frederick Eddy at Andrew’s farm in Swansea just the evening before and brought them back per Andrew’s request.  Those eggs were most likely in the kitchen pantry Wednesday night and Thursday morning.  I wonder if Abby asked Andrew what he wanted for breakfast and suggested the eggs.  I wonder if Andrew, with both testeronic and assertive dominance said: “No.  I’ll be selling those eggs.  Serve the mutton.  Waste not, want not.”   If so, one cannot help but wince and sigh yet again for poor Abby.

Too bad Lizzie didn’t get up earlier.  Abby might have asked her what she wanted for BREAKFAST instead of (according to Lizzie’s Inquest Testimony) what she wanted for dinner, i.e., the noon day meal.  I wonder if Lizzie would have stomped her foot and said: “Mutton?!!  No!!! I want eggs!”

Just a few things to wonder about.  There’s more, but I’m out of time and American Idol is on with the results of the next four to get booted off.

Hmmm, something to ponder.



Shelley Dziedzic’s Oak Grove Cemetery Walking Tours

UPDATE: Here’s info on a wonderful picture book of several Fall River cemeteries. 


Jack Foley – Fall River Herald News

  1. Notre Dame Cemetery

    1540 Stafford Rd
    Fall River

    (508) 673-1561
  2. 2233 Robeson St
    Fall River
    (508) 679-2535

    St Patrick’s Cemetery

  3. Amity St
    Fall River
    (508) 679-2535

    St Mary’s Cemetery

  4. 462 N Main St
    Fall River
    (617) 244-6509

    Temple Beth El Cemetery

  5. 440 Newhall St
    Fall River
    (617) 244-6509

    Agudas Achim Cemetery

The Fall River Historical Society is having a big sale on all their items.  Check it out!

Shelley Dziedzic can usually be found doing her once weekly Friday night tour for the overnight guests at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum.  She makes sure the guests get their money’s worth because she knows both the case and the House at 92 Second Street better than most.   Shelley has several passions she pursues, least of which is her attraction to old cemeteries foremost being Fall River’s Oak Grove Cemetery.   She has spent years amassing gorgeous photos of the grounds, seeking out headstones of those related to the case and beyond.

A History of Oak Grove Cemetery & Walking Tour of Borden Related Graves and Buildings” is a 65-page booklet chock-full of information about the history, regulations, symbolisms, and Victorian Celebrations of Death, in addition to featuring Borden related burial sites.

She includes the standard map of Oak Grove and places numbers with identifying personages as to their location of burial.  Alas, the cemetery’s map does not have the street nor walking paths identified which can make locating the exact spot sometimes problematic.  But part of the journey’s enjoyment is in the discovery and if it were too easy we would not be as joyful upon shouting: “Eureka!”

There is also good information about Undertaker Winward, Oak Groves’ “undertaker to the stars” as I like to call him.  He is just one of the many people she highlights.

Shelley has included a sleeved CD affixed to to the inside back cover of the booklet with some stunning images she has taken over the years.  I would have liked to have seen captions and a cross-reference on some but here again, it makes you want to seek out those you are not familiar with.  Additionally, by looking at the images and reading about the symbolism on the stone markings helps educate us to obtain a greater insight into what surviving family members treasured about their departed love ones.

This is truly a wonderful piece of work and I highly recommend its purchase to those who have a love of old cemeteries in general, an interest in the Borden case, or even just a student of headstones and monuments.

You can purchase this booklet at Shelley’s Friends of Oak Grove Cemetery site.  If you reside in or near Fall River, it can also be purchased at the Fall River History Society and the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum for a good value price of $20.

(Note: Shelley has performed in a series of mini films by Richard Behrens, Garden Bay Films, and those can be viewed HERE.)

Many of us have given thought as to what other era we would have liked to have been born in.  Myself, for example, would have liked to have lived in Deadwood, South Dakota in the 1880’s, or in Paris in the 1920’s when I was IN my twenties.  Shelley, on the other hand, would most probably have preferred the Victorian era.  I see her as the Elsa Maxwell of Fall River’s Victorian and Edwardian era.

If she had been born into a family residing in one of those great Victorian houses in the Highlands neighborhood of Fall River, she would have grown into quite the society lady.  She would have had wonderful, chatty teas with her lady friends, organized and been President of the Victorian Home Gardens Society of Fall River, invited the “Hill people’ to her fabulous costumed parties and soirees, been active in a number of charities, and a formidable member of the Central Congregational Church.  Her tireless pursuits of grand special events throughout the Victorian and Edwardian eras would have made her a local legend with several mentions in Philip T. Sylvia, Jr.’s Victorian Vistas.  Yes, she definitely would have been the Elsa Maxwell of that time.  I think she even resembles her a bit, yes?


        Shelley Dziedzic                                   Elsa Maxwell

So a big shout-out to Shelley and all she does to enrich the experience of B&B guests, the August 4th re-enactments (which probably wouldn’t happen without her – or at least not nearly as well produced), and going about her successful endeavors quietly, creatively, and without regard for personal notoriety and/or media exposure..  Thank you, Shelley!

Check out Shelly’s websites:


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Lizzie Borden Link to JFK and Harry Truman

And there she is, the link – well, sort of a link:   Grace Hartley Howe, cousin to Lizzie Borden, sitting behind John F. Kennedy and Harry S. Truman.   1st Row: Governor Paul Dever, JFK, Truman, Eddie Doolan; 2nd Row: Tom Kitchen, Mary Kane, Grace, City Councilor John Arruda, and David Talbot.  This photograph was taken in Fall River in 1952 during JFK’s campaign for the Senate and is on display in the dining room cabinet at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast/Museum.  Grace died in 1955, three years after this photograph was taken.

Grace lived her last years at this cottage on Martha Street in Fall River.

It has a lovely view of the Taunton River, which would have been even more exposed in her time there.

When a boy, Fall River author Leonard Rebello (Lizzie Borden Past & Present) used to deliver papers to Grace here.  He never knew her connection to Lizzie Borden until he was doing research for his book.

Oak Grove Cemetery grave site of Cook and Mary Borden – Grace Borden Hartley Howe’s maternal grandparents.  (Right click for larger image)

Grace’s grandfather, Cook Borden, was a brother of Abraham Borden – Andrew Borden’s father.  Grace’s mother, Mary Borden Hartley, was named after Grace’s grandmother (Cook Borden’s wife).  Grace’s own daughter, Mary Hartley Baker, who died many years before Grace, was also named after *her* grandmother.  Mary’s son, (Grace’s grandson) Robert Baker, inherited family property in Westport and also much of Lizzie’s personal property – as did Grace’s own son, Hartley, which Grace had inherited from Lizzie.  When Hartley died in 1996, some of what *he* had was left to his wife, Rosella Hartley Howe.

Grace is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery with her husband, Louis McHenry Howe (d.1936)


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The Skulls of Andrew & Abby Borden

DrDolanPhoto Dr. William Andrew Dolan

The autopsies of Lizzie Borden’s father and stepmother were conducted one week after the murders – August 11, 1892, in the “ladies waiting room” at Oak Grove Cemetery.  It is the structure to the left in this picture postcard below.


Here is a more contemporary view:oakgrovevault1The little building is now used to house gardening tools and supplies and also serves as a break room for the grounds-keepers.



Upon the instruction of District Attorney Hosea Knowlton, the heads of Andrew and Abby were severed and taken home by Dr. Dolan.    They were unceremoniously boiled of their flesh on his kitchen stove (much to the fright of his two young sons), and maintained in his home until presented in court at the Preliminary Hearing.   The sisters were not informed, nor the media – one of the better kept secrets of the prosecution’s case. 

Below is the link to the letter from Dr. Dolan’s grandson, Donald Dolan, to Robert Flynn dated March 6, 1992.   (Don Dolan was a teacher, and a Presenter at the 1992 Lizzie Borden Centennial.  He passed away May 15, 2002 and is buried at Rutland Town Cemetery in Mass.  His widow, Joyce, still resides in the same home they shared for 50 years).


A thorough reading of the actual typed autopsy reports, including hand written notes, is available from the images below.

(Right click on the text below for larger view).




The Preliminary Hearing commenced on August 25, 1892 and once the revelation of the heads being severed hit the papers, it brought forth the indignation and revulsion of some readers.   As an example, also in my collection is this letter from one John E. Gray written to Dr. Dolan, referring to him as a “vile wretch”.  First is an image of the actual letter and then a translation done by his grandson, Don, to Bob Flynn:  brutal

It wasn’t until after the Trial in July of 1893, when Hosea Knowlton wrote to Dr. Dolan stating that Lizzie and Emma’s legal counsel, Andrew Jennings, wanted the skulls returned.   Click to see returnskulls.

Another letter in this collection remembers this occurrence as conveyed by Dolan’s grandson to Bob Flynn.   He also mentions visiting his Aunt Ellen who lives near Oak Grove Cemetery.      Porter-Skulls

The skulls were subsequently buried in boxes about 3 feet below ground.  Placement was a “guestimate”.

Note1:  Robert Flynn is a publisher, author and former bookseller.

Note 2:  Joyce Dolan told me Don Dolan remembered his father (Dr. Dolan’s son)  telling him of seeing Abby’s hair switch in the attic of their home where other “evidence” was kept.

Note 3:  Dr. William A. Dolan had 4 children; 2 sons (Tom and William A. Dolan, Jr. – Don’s father) and 2 daughters (Ellen, called “Nellie” and Mary – both were spinster school teachers in Fall River).




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Like it or Not – Fall River is Synonymous with Lizzie Borden

Fall River remains one of those cities best viewed from a distance.  Up close her blemishes neither beckon nor embrace.  Lizzie Borden, on the other hand, forever beckons, blemishes and all.

From a historical perspective, Fall River is as associated with Lizzie Borden as Dallas is to the JFK assassination. Both horrific and shocking events, both forever embedded in American history.

The Lizzie Borden story is not just about a 32 year old spinster who wielded a hatchet, (let me repeat that – HATCHET) on a highly humid August 4th day, but is a case about class structure in a stratified society with the poor deferring to the power and control of the founding families.  It is the incredulity of the circumstances of such a heinous crime in broad daylight with suspicion of a Borden – and the younger daughter at that – which gives this Victorian patricide its compelling and enduring mystique.  It is a case that was so out of the bounds of reference for local law enforcement and the public’s imagination in general that weaves into  the tapestry of Fall River’s history.

To Fall River residents who are little charmed or largely exasperated by the “Lizzie Borden” association to their city, like it or not this case has legs – and has for 117 years.  Like it or not dozens of books on the Borden case, hundreds of dedicated chapters in compendium books, numerous plays, an opera, a ballet, musicals, documentaries, a made for TV film, thousands of websites, blogs and YouTube uploads have continued to feed the hungered curious.

Morphed into the popular culture this mystifying maiden has had her face and form replicated into Goth dolls, bobble heads, woodcuts, miniature die caste game pieces, original “Lizzie art” offered on eBay, CafePress, Itsy, and more.  These all serve as the cemented footprint that this case is destined for durability and forever associated with Fall River.

It is a case that gets discovered by every succeeding generation of those who have an interest in true crime, specifically unsolved true crime.  In all the world and in all the world’s issues, conflicts and topics be they political, social, environmental – cumulative scholarly interest in the Borden case is but a small niche.  A mere pimple upon the landscape of life’s Bigger Issues.  But for pockets of society drawn to  classic unsolved murders and readers of true crime this case endures, spawning new devotees with each successive decade.  Indeed, of all classic unsolved true crimes two names emerge unchallenged with worldwide recognition:  Lizzie Borden and Jack the Ripper.   So like it or not Fall Riverites – Lizzie Borden is there to stay.

People flock to Fall River just because of Lizzie Borden.  And more often than Fall River’s office of tourism would like, only because of Lizzie. Whether a weekend or just a day long visit they want to see four things and four things only:

  • The house at 92 Second Street where the murders happened (and in more recent years, some signs of the ghostly and paranormal).
  • “Maplecroft” – the house on French street where she lived after the Trial and until her death.
  • The Borden gravesite at Oak Grove Cemetery.

    The Fall River Historical Society which has possession of evidence offered at Trial.

      Image by photoshy

      They travel cross-country and beyond just to stay at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum.  Few bother ascertaining what else Fall River has to offer and once arrived, they might have except for their disappointment in the look and feel of Fall River today.  More than a century passed its prime, the tawdry downtown and surrounding neighborhoods reflect a city ridden with crime and long without sustainable economic development.

      Yet, Lizzie’s home town still has more to offer than just “Lizzie”.  Visitors can drive through “the Highlands” and see one of the greatest concentrations of Victorian homes in the country, Battleship Cove, the Martime Museum, the Fall River Historical Society (if you’re lucky enough to be there when they’re open),  music and art at The Narrows, the mills and factories – though most standing silent and unoccupied – as testaments to Fall River’s once grand and thriving past. Then there’s the incredible food, beautiful vistas, and some wonderful people – 3rd, 4th, and 5th generation blue collar working class people.  But alas, too often for too long these have been bypassed by those drawn to the Borden sites.

      Long after more iconic structures have been torn down, long after we have crystals embedded in our foreheads, long after communication requires neither digits nor the digital, humankind’s interest in Lizzie Borden will endure.

      Whether on her back looking upwards or above looking down, surely she chuckles; the knowledge of “who dunnit” hers and hers alone.


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