Tag Archives: MA

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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Inside Andrew Jennings House

Here’s a chance to get a peek inside Andrew Jennings house; Jennings was on Lizzie Borden’s defense team at her Trial and had been a family attorney for many years.

This video was on Craigslist for Fall River rentals

The video only shows the second floor where the bedrooms and study were in Jennings time.  As with so many lovely Victorians in Fall River, this one has been renovated for apartments.  But I always like looking inside them and do every time I visit Fall River and rentals are available.  I love the hardwood floors, intricate woodwork, tile work and stained glass windows so common to these stately homes.

I did a blog post a while back about Lizzie’s neighbors and who would have visited her, featuring this house.

The house sits on the southeast corner of French and June, just a couple blocks down from “Maplecroft”.  When I look up at the stone steps leading to the front door I usually think about Marshall Hilliard and Mayor Coughlin who, arriving by carriage after the Inquest, came to inform Jennings that Lizzie Borden was to be arrested.


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“The Monster Beside Me” – Lizzie Borden

NEWS: I’ve started another blog and added it to my Blogroll:  Insoymada.  Check it out.

Architecturally speaking, Scale and Form can be utilized to transcend the historic into new visuals of beauty.  But not in the case of the new court house across the street from where Lizzie Borden used to live.

In 1892, Lizzie could step out the front door of her humble but adequately furnished below-the-hill home onto the granite steps and peer directly across the street – straight ahead – to a small orchard, and from there scan left to a Chinese laundry, then fixing her eyes  diagonally right to the Dr. Bowen-Southard Miller double house.  All familiar.  All as it should be.

Fast forward to 2010:  The new grotesque Superior Court building, bounded by Second Street on the east and Main Street on west,  looms over a whole city block and can be seen in this new Google ariel showing the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum right across the street.  You’ll notice right off Google has the wrong location named “Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast”. (Google often gets the labeling wrong on these aerials, i.e., my own house in Payson, AZ is located at the wrong end of the horseshoe loop).  Anyway, you’ll have to use the “hand grasp” thingy and move it to the right to get the proper fix, but you’ll find it easy enough – then just increase the size on the scale thingy to the left.

From the architectural rendering:

Through construction phases:

St. Mary’s Church can be seen at the far left.  (“Windows?  Windows?  We dun’t need no stinkin’ windows”.)

My forearm covers my eyes, pained by the penetrating brilliance of its genius design.  (Hark!  Is that Mssrs. Cortlandt and Enright sharing a cigar of victory behind the truck?)   (I can see Howard Roark atop the crane, planting explosives, no doubt).

So there it is.  In all it’s majestic splendor.  There is, however, something to be said for this edifice of justice being sited almost directly in front of the town’s most infamous and compelling former resident.  There’s a certain symmetry regarding the purpose of this structure and the fact her legend has loomed large for over a century – out of scale and form to the facts of the case and her character in general.   That this odious structure, so out of scale and form with the neighborhood, is planted square where the crime took place is as if a gigantic concrete, chalk-coated foot stomped down to implant its not so-subliminal message:  “To hell with historic preservation – let justice be served!”   To those that see no symmetry but only lament about the lack of parking, you can join with me in my other concern:  What if the new court building is haunted?    (A current rumor has it ectoplasm wafted its way across the street and now the Court’s fourth floor is haunted by the Reverend Avery and the lobby by Lizzie).  Eeeeeyaaaaaaaa.

Far cry from the look of the court house (“same court”,  i.e., the State of Mass. Superior Court) in which Lizzie was tried in 1893 in New Bedford.

And it looked this way for a long time – even long after Lizzie died in 1927:

The August 4th anniversary is rapidly approaching and for those out-of-towners who trek to the annual B&B re-enactments – well, they’re sure to be impressed as they gaze upwards from those granite steps in front of 92 Second Street.

Anyway, architecturally speaking, Lizzie would not approve.


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The Genealogy Link of the Gardners of Swansea to Emma and Lizzie Borden

(Click on image for larger view: The home of Henry Augustus Gardner, called “Riverby” in Touisset, can be located on the very bottom left of the above map).

Across the Taunton River in South Swansea and adjacent to Mount Hope Bay in Touisset, Ma. lived a branch of Swansea’s founding Gardners who became relatives through marriage to Emma and Lizzie Borden.

Emma would be the one to maintain relationships – and very close ones – with her Gardner cousins after “The Trial” and her 1905 separation from her sister.  Indeed, she knew all of those in the picture below.  Their own children were her contemporaries and some would become helpful guides in her later life and benefit from her financial legacy after her death.

From my collection on the Gardners, here’s an old group photo.  I’ve placed their names onto the photo for quick identity reference.

The Gardners of Swansea and Touisset, MA

(Click on image for larger view)

Handwritten names found back of oval picture shown above.

The genealogical link that bound Emma and Lizzie to these Gardners was the marriage between Henry Augustus Gardner and Caroline Cole Mason Gardner.   Caroline’s sister, Ann Frances,  had married William Bradford Morse eight years previous.  William Bradford Morse was the brother of Sarah Anthony Morse and John Vinnicum Morse, Lizzie and Emma’s mother and uncle.

Henry Augusts Gardner and Caroline Cole (Mason) Gardner

Wedding certificate for Henry & Caroline – Married on December 11, 1864.  (Emma was nearly 14 and Lizzie 4-1/2 years old when they wed; her future financial advisor, Preston, nephew of Henry & Caroline, was then a one year old baby).

Ann Frances (Mason) Morse         William Bradford Morse

William married Ann, age 21, on June 8, 1856, in Excelsior, Minnesota when Emma was five years old.   It would be interesting to know how Ann’s younger sister, Caroline, came to first meet (and subsequently marry) Henry Augustus Gardner whose roots were Swansea and not Excelsior.

I’ll have to add that task to my list.


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What Pushed Lizzie Over the Edge?

I’m sorting over some old journals, photos, and newspaper articles about the Gardners of Swansea and Touisset, MA., which have recently come into my possession. These include events that Emma Borden attended after separating from Lizzie in 1906. I’ll be posting about a particular one that illustrates Emma was not so much the recluse thought to have been.

Swansea was an important part of Lizzie & Emma’s lives, not the least of which involved – give or take – the following (recycled from an earlier post):

Most scholars on the Lizzie Borden case believe she was guilty and that money was the motive. But why were the murders done in broad daylight on the very next morning after an unexpected visit from John Morse?

District Attorney Hosea Knowlton was quoted after the Trial as saying if he knew what Andrew Borden and John Morse (uncle to Lizzie and Emma) discussed the afternoon before the murders (August 3, 1892) he “would have convicted somebody.”  We have Lizzie herself  (in her Inquest Testimony) saying she stayed in her room all day that Wednesday because she wasn’t feeling well, and that the voices of her father and uncle “disturbed” her.

The curving staircase in the front hall affords one the ability to linger part way down and not be observed while listening to a conversation in the Sitting Room.

I’ve often said the “Rosetta Stone” to this case is what was said during that Wednesday afternoon conversation between Andrew and John.

If we assume Lizzie guilty and that money was the motive, the following exchange extracted from an old screenplay I wrote could have occurred which Lizzie, indeed, would have found extremely “disturbing”.

(Morse has shown up unexpectedly that afternoon, and after eating in the dining room, he and Andrew and Abby go into the Sitting Room and engage in conversation.  Lizzie is upstairs in her bedroom.)

MORSE reaches over to a small table and picks up a newspaper.

I see in here where Carnegie is selling his yacht.  Might be a good
purchase for you, Andrew.

Ha!  What would I do with such a thing?

I got your letter of the 25th, Andrew, about wanting to talk to me on getting a man for the farm.

I’ll be going upstairs and lay down a while.  This heat has wore me down.  And that stomach sickness we told you about.  I’m just a little poorly.

Abby gets up and leaves the sitting room through the door to the dining room.  Andrew watches Abby leave and waits until Abby is out of hearing distance.

I didn’t want you making arrangements on a man for the farm at Swansea until I talked to you.

That’s what you wrote.

You know, John, I’ve been thinking about making a Will.  When I’m gone Abby is never going to be able to live under the same roof with Lizzie and Emma.  Things have gotten worse than when  you were here two weeks ago.  Emma took off to Fairhaven, staying over at old Moses Delano’s place.  Lizzie went with her, far as New Bedford, but
came back early.

Haven’t seen Lizzie last few times here.  How is she?

Sulks in her room all day.  They can’t live together those three. And I won’t be around forever to keep things together.

Never have taken to Abby, have they?  Maybe they should have separate houses.  How ‘bout Swansea?

No, I won’t be going over there until things get settled here. Time’s not right.  Too much trouble right now.

I meant how about giving the girls the Swansea place in your Will.

I’ll not leave them any property. Abby will get this house and my property.  She wants to live near her sister anyways.  The Swansea place –  well I’ve been thinking of maybe donating it the Old Folks Home.  As for the girls, I’ve settled on $25,000 each.   They can both buy their own house with that and manage to live comfortably.

Lizzie on the staircase, leaning over and listening. She has heard every word. She blanches.  She is deeply shaken by what she has just heard.

(registers surprise)
But no property Andrew?

They can’t manage property.  Made a mess on the rentals of the Ferry Street homestead.  And I took a big loss on it when I bought it back of them just two weeks ago.  You know that, you were here then. Remember the fuss?  No, they can’t be trusted with property.  They haven’t got the heads for it.

And Abby does?

Not much more.  But of the three, she’s the more deserving.  Besides, she’s my wife.  I need the Will to make sure she gets her due. Fact is, I’ll most likely have one drawn up in a day or two.

ANGLE ON Lizzie, almost tottering on the staircase, grips her hand around the railing.


Andrew, don’t you figure this a bit unfair? These are Sarah’s daughters. And your own flesh and blood as well.  Seems with the money you have the girls should get a better share. I’m only suggesting, mind you.

It’s my money.

True.  Your money.  Your daughters.


(raising his voice)
MY money!  Mine!  To do with as I see fit!

(raises voice)
You expect them to be happy with that?

I expect them to be grateful for whatever I choose to give them. They’ve gotten plenty from me.  Plenty. There’s trouble in the house over my money and I aim to set it out, plain and solid, in a Will.

I’ve known you a long time, Andrew.  I know when to end an argument with you.

(Morse rises from the chair.)

I better see about getting a rig and drive over to the farm.  Expect I’ll be back before nine. I’ll get your eggs. Probably take supper at Luther’s.



Lizzie is pacing in her room, then sits at her desk and takes a piece of stationery and begins writing “Dear Emma”.  We don’t see what else she writes, but in a few moments she crumbles up the paper and throws it in her wastebasket.   She is extremely distraught.  Emotionally on edge.    Almost out of control, but not quite. Something inside her steels her nerves.


(quietly to herself)
Alice. I’ll go talk to Alice.


So if Lizzie *did* hear such a conversation and feared her father would write a Will favoring Abby – and that he was going to do it in the next day or two – she would have to act immediately. But the good and evil forces were at bay within her. Her forebodings of “something terrible will happen” to Alice Russell was clearly a cry for help while also setting the stage.

The next morning on August 4, 1892, at the very first opportunity Lizzie had to be alone with Abby, she killed her. An hour and a half later, at the very first opportunity Lizzie had to be alone with her father, she killed him.

Never so much a “who dunnit” as a “how dunnit” to me, the real mystery is what happened to the murder weapon and how could Lizzie be seen within 10 minutes of her father’s murder and no blood found upon her person?

“It was a terrible crime. It was an impossible crime. And yet it happened.” -Hosea Knowlton, 1893.


Posted by on March 2, 2010 in The Borden Family, Time Portals


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Emma Borden’s $45,000 Trust Made on January 14, 1925

Emma Borden in her early 60’s

At age 69, on November 20, 1920, Emma Borden signed her Last Will & Testament.  It would be greatly enhanced with a Codicil signed less than two years later, on June 27, 1922.  Her Will and Codicil have been uploaded as a separate page to this blog.  Click that selection at the top of this page to view them.

Subsequent to the Will and the Codicil, and something never written about before, is the fact that on January 14, 1925, Emma created an initial $45,000 investment Trust with the Rhode Island Hospital Trust Company that benefited – while she lived and beyond –  an interesting assortment of selected individuals.

In addition to providing an income for Emma herself, the four primary recipients of 10/45th income derived quarterly from the Trust were:

A.  Orrin A. Gardner (upon his death to Hamilton M. Gardner)

Orrin Gardner – July, 1930

(It was at Orrin’s home in Touisset, known as “Riverby” that Emma was taken upon her death for her wake prior to burial in Fall River.)

“Riverby” in the early 1920’s

B.  Hamilton M. Gardner (nephew of  Orrin who raised him as a young boy when his own father died).

Hamilton Gardner – July, 1930

C.  Maude G. Dawson (married daughter of  Mary & Preston Gardner)

D.  Annie C. Connor (the trained nurse and woman who would look after Emma in her last last few years of life in Newmarket,  New Hampshire — and upon her death to her son, John M. Conlon).  Note:  Annie C. Connor died at the age of 75 on October 11, 1936 in neighboring Lee, New Hampshire.

In addition, Emma allows for 5/45th to go to Mary Kelly (employed by Emma when she lived at The Minden Apartments in Providence, RI; and upon Mary’s death, the income to her son, John).

Emma could not know she would be dead in 2-1/2 years, so why was this established at this time?  Her Will & Codicil had already been written and witnessed a little more than five years previous to this Trust Fund.

Here are a few things that happened the year before the establishment of the $45,000 Trust Fund:

1924 Helen Leighton moves from Boston to Brookline, MA.
February 24, 1924 1924 Woodrow Wilson dies.
1924 The Society for Human Rights in Chicago becomes the country’s earliest known gay rights organization.
1924 Machinery from the Borden controlled Fall River Iron Works to their mills in Kingsport, Tennessee marks the unofficial demise of the cotton industry in Fall River.
April 14, 1924 Lizzie forms a partnership with Jacob Dondis in her half share of the AJ Borden Bldg on So. Main.                                                                                 (LR56)
1924 Adolf Hitler publishes his Nazi political tract Mein Kampf (My Battle).
April 29, 1924 Hannah B. Reagan, former police matron, dies at the age of 73 in Fall River.
1924 Studies in Murder by Edmund Pearson is published.  (Did Lizzie read it?)
1924 Decline in Fall River textile mills begins; Fall River is no longer the “Cotton King”.
December 4, 1924 David Anthony, Jr. dies at Truesdale Hosp from injuries from a fall from his motorbike in Somerset on 11/24/24.

The year before, 1923, Emma boarded for the summer in Newmarket with Annie Connor and then in 1924 lived there permanently.  It was, in fact, through Preston Gardner that the Emma-Connor connection was made.  So it would appear Preston Gardner saw to it that Emma had a nice place to live with someone who could care for her.

The Trust Fund was undoubtedly administered by Preston Gardner, an officer and Vice President of the Rhode Island Hospital Trust Company that figures so prominently in Emma’s actual Will.

Here is the actual Trust Fund document. Click on image for larger view.

It strikes me that Emma may not have  been very wise in the handling of her money in terms of investing it.  Perhaps she just kept it in a bank not earning much interest.  For the first 42 years of her life she never had to think about large purchases or any type of financial management involving significant sums.   Maybe she never learned how.  Her relationship with Charles Cook, who handled Andrew’s properties and subsequently “the girls”, does not seem to be as lasting as it was with Lizzie.

It is possible that Emma was already showing signs of senility and her cousins, Preston and/or Orrin, prompted her to invest at least some of her net worth.   In any event, this Trust ensured those named  individuals of receiving income prior to her death and beyond.


Posted by on January 24, 2010 in Descendents & Relations


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Armstrong Circle Theater & Lizzie Borden


The Armstrong Circle Theatre was an anthology drama television series which ran from 1950 to 1957 on NBC, and then until 1963 on CBS. Considered by many to be one of the best anthology series during the “Golden Age” of television, it featured original dramas by noted writers, and its guidelines specifically called for the avoidance of violence.

Their aim was “to combine fact and drama–to arouse interest, even controversy, on important and topical subjects. Using a news story or idea was not enough: the series also had to be able to present some potential solution, some hope for your citizens to consider, to think about.”

The Legend of Murder: The Untold Story of Lizzie Borden was the premiere episode of the 12th season and aired on October 11, 1961.

The cast included:

ClariceClarice Blackburn as Lizzie

Anne Hegira as Emma, Stats Cotsworth as Knowlton,

mary_doyleMary Doyle as  Bridget, and

McGrath-Andrew Paul McGrath as Andrew

This episode can be downloaded HERE.

Here’s a list of all the episodes from Armstrong Circle Theater.

Many of the episodes from the Armstrong Circle Theatre can be found at the Museum of Broadcast Communications Archives.  Just log in for a free account, then click TV Drama and enter series search “Armstrong Broadcast Theatre” and the list of episodes will come up.   Select an episode and play it immediately online for free.   Click HERE.


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