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If You Could Have Only One Book on Fall River’s Lizzie Borden – This Would Be It.

Click HERE

 

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Prepare yourself – – this book is justly warranted, as well as worthy, of such a lengthy review.

Exquisitely produced, brilliantly structured, thrilling and groundbreaking in its content, Parallel Lives – A Social History of Lizzie A. Borden and Her Fall River is a seven pound, 1,179 page, ten-years- in-the-making epic that had it been written as a historical novel it would be right up there with Roots, The Secret Magdelene, and Gone With The Wind. It is a book of transformation and revelation – transforming in the way it compels readers to alter their mental landscape when thinking of Lizzie Borden, and filled with stunning revelations that meticulously dissect rumors and legend long thought to be truth. It is so rich and full it would constitute several Master’s Thesis, multiple biographies, and even a few individually published books based on its title. Indeed, it is so spectacular in scope and content, all future authors who write of Lizzie Borden must incorporate information from Parallel Lives or find their work irrelevant.

The book is a treasure trove of new information about Lizzie taken from the journals, letters, cards, photographs, artifacts and remembrances of those that knew her personally, much of which was coveted by their owners who were resolved in their belief that Lizzie “could not have committed those crimes.” Their beliefs and tangible mementos were passed down to third and fourth generation descendents who continued to keep them sequestered and private until trusted relationships were established between them and the authors.

Masterfully woven within the new information are expanded stories of known individuals and events (some prominent, some little or previously unknown) that had an impact on Fall River’s history and society.  The authors have beautifully crafted the world in which Lizzie Borden lived (from her birth in 1860 to her death in 1927). And while the crimes of August 4, 1892 are presented, allusions to or fresh insights on whether or not Lizzie was guilty are not presented. In fact, the murders and who did them become almost inconsequential to the broader tapestry presented throughout the chapters with its more than 500 photographs and other images, including 5 new images of Lizzie never seen before. Who committed the crimes or the case itself, are overshadowed by the depth and breadth of all that which deals with the people and stories within.

The book progresses almost chronologically in terms of events of each decade. People are often introduced in chapters with no mention of Lizzie but later re-introduced in the decade in which they factored into her life. The chapters are so beautifully written and the photographs so beautifully reproduced within the book that we can almost feel the silk and lace as we read their wonderfully detailed descriptions. We can rub our finger across the image of a pocket watch and feel the grooved indentations, or one of Lizzie’s traveling suitcases and feel the contrast of the brass to the leather. We can smell and see the wedding flowers and the sparkle of jewelry at the Assemblies and grand parties. The meticulous effort in the use of adjectives is remarkable. It is fairly obvious the authors wanted to be as accurate and precise as possible when applying descriptors to people, places and things.

The “reveals” of new information and closure of legends are bountiful and thoroughly engaging. We learn so much of Mary Ella Sheen (Mrs. George S. Brigham) and her sister, Anne Eliza Sheen (Mrs. William Lindsey, Jr.), two sisters whose lives took very different trajectories. Mary was Lizzie’s friend since girlhood and the future mother-in-law of Florence Cook Brigham, but Anne had been her friend as well for most of their lives. Anne was a “Grand Dame” and lived the kind of life that Lizzie most probably would have wanted for herself. We also learn that not only was Grace Hartley Howe such a close and devoted second cousin to Lizzie, we discover that Helen’s mother had a friendship that also was life lasting with Lizzie.The reveal of the true identity of “Todd Lunday” would have been anticlimactic had it not been for the intriguing story associated with it, or the story of Officer Phillip Harrington and police reporter Edwin Porter who penned the Fall River Tragedy and why Porter may have left Fall River so soon after its publication. Nor have we read anywhere the connection of reporter McHenry and City Marshall Hilliard. (I suspect that many “reveals” were derived from the so called “Hilliard Papers” which have been in the Society’s hands for 22 years).

We learn certain elitist members of the seven “first” families did a fine job in two-facing Lizzie after the Trial; they “cut” her quite severely and most obviously spoke of her “guilt”- handing down their opinions to their children who maintained those opinions and passed them down to their children. On the other hand, those that kept friendships and believed Lizzie was not and “could not” be guilty passed that info down to their children. The difference was that many of those who believed in her guilt spoke out, influenced by a biased press and the embryonic beginnings of misinformation that would grow with a sinister sustainability. Between those that “cut” (socially banished) her and the relentless and continuous newspaper coverage, the damage had been done. She endured that damage throughout her post-Trial life, and it subsequently served to give us a Lizzie Borden that is so grossly mis-characterized in contemporary pop culture.

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Mr. Martins and Mr. Binette have stated it was only when they explained the kind of book they were writing and, more importantly, after a solid basis of trust was established, that the possessions and remembrances were revealed. I strongly suspect much of what may have been was done so with soft-spoken caveats or perhaps some asserted caveats along the lines of:“Well, you may use these journals (or photos, or letters, or cards, or remembrances) but I trust you will present Auntie Borden (or Lizzie) in a good light because she never could have done those murders.”And/or:”I would consider it a great injustice to finally make this information known if it were used to give a poor impression of this wonderful woman or lend any credibility to the horrible reputation she endured during and after her life.”For decades, the curators of the FRHS have been meticulous in documenting the “drop in” visits or phone calls from people – many descendents of the principals – as to what they had to say and when. These “notes to file”, so to speak, have been preserved in their respective file folders and filed with the relative topics. These contain more of the “reveals”, some as surprising as finding out JR getting shot was only a dream, or Scarlett realizing she loved Rhett all along, or Edward glistening out of the cloud bank. As stated, the revelations are thrilling and and transforming.

The authors were literary craftsmen in the way they told these stories, presenting the information from the journals or letters, and in detailing information about the people involved without trumpeting a new path but sufficient to give you pause. The book is peppered with phrases such as: “Is it possible that…”, or “Although we can never know for certain, could it be that…”, or “Would it seem likely that…” and we pause on the page and hearing ourselves utter “hmmmm” and suddenly realize we are thinking things differently.

The End Notes are extraordinary and I found them thrilling to read. When reading, one says: “Where did they get that from?” and we go to the End Notes which are flush with information. Our eyes don’t just stay on the sight bite but naturally scroll downward until we know where most all the information for that chapter came from. The End Notes tell us more about relationships and just who had what information and for how long. The End Notes help us identify what came from FRHS “notes to file” as opposed to who held on to what for decades and allows us to identify from where the bulk of new information came.

Lizzie Borden has long been encapsulated in pop culture based on an inaccurate quatrain characterizing her as a one dimensional psychopath wielding a bloody axe. Parallel Lives has irrevocably transformed and revealed Lizzie Borden to be a three dimensional flesh and blood human being with heart, spirit and soul. Indisputably, this is the new “go to” book which researches and scholars studying the history of Fall River during its rise and decline, as well as the woman herself, will discover impossible to find anything more definitive or comprehensive, more exciting or enlightening.

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Parallel Lives is a monumental achievement and a body of work to make the entire Fall River Historical Society proud. It is representative of that level of excellence consistent in all endeavors of Messrs. Martins and Binette. It is truly a remarkable and unique work – the likes of which we shall not see again.

 
 

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Lizzie Borden’s Maplecroft: To B or Not to B&B

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Photo by Deborah Allard, Fall River Herald News

It’s been over a month since the Facebook page “Lizzie Borden’s Maplecroft” has revealed an update of the renovation progress or information on planned opening date for tours.

It is still most likely the residence where Lizzie lived the entire second half of her life will NOT be operated as a Bed & Breakfast as first indicated by Kristee Bates.   

While curators Rebello and Pavao have been on the hunt for furniture, fixtures and artifacts associated with the home during the period Lizzie lived there (1893-1927), they have yet to discover and acquire items with the “Wow” factor, such as the bed in which Lizzie died. 

Unlike 92 Second Street, the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum, where the murders of Andrew and Abby Borden took place on August 4, 1892, there is not one fixed date of historical significance at 306 French Street.  Lizzie lived there for 35 years but only 12 with her sister, Emma (1893-1905).  So will the furnishings depict that period or post Emma?  Will it depict furnishings and artifacts of the elderly Lizzie?  Styles in home decor differed greatly from the mid and late 1890’s as cultural shifts in society changed from the Edwardian era to World War I to the Jazz Age.  Definitely a curating – let alone a seek and obtain – challenge.

One of the basic tenants of marketing an event is to build excitement.  If the event is to draw attention and excitement about a future tourist attraction, titillating “teasers”  are essential.  No doubt whenever the opening, there will be significant local interest.  Local media reporting will feed into the regional news, but with ongoing good marketing appeal would extend to national and international interest.   And our treasured Lizzie Borden and her story is not landlocked within our own shores.

Early on in Ms. Bates renovation endeavors she sent me nearly a dozen short videos of her sweat equity.  From the “steeple” room where she plans (planned?) to have “tarot card readings”, to the 3rd floor (attic, i.e., servant’s quarters), to kitchen, to basement, to enclosed porch “where I’ll serve tea and crumpets” these videos show exactly what was being done and explained by Kristee herself.    IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE THESE VIDEOS, EMAIL ME AND I’LL SEND THEM TO YOU.

There are those who do not think “Maplecroft” will open to the public at all.   Perhaps it will be a seasonal thing and for tours only.   Whatever the use it should be marketed effectively.  The Lizzie Borden B&B Museum is self-marketing – Maplecroft is not.

 

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Translation of Newly Found Letter Written by Lizzie Borden

Translation of Newly Found Letter Written by Lizzie Borden

Since improved images of a letter written to Frances Willard dated July 23, 1893, have been posted on the Frances Willard House Museum website, I can provide a translation.

frances

Frances Elizabeth Caroline Willard (1839-1898) was an American educator, temperance reformer, and women’s suffragist. Her influence was instrumental in the passage of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

My translation is as follows:

Fall River
July 23 – 1893

My Dear Friend

I can hardly
tell you how much
comfort and joy
your letter gave me.

Borden_letter1-compressed-

I thank you and
Lady Henry Somerset
from my heart for
the love and trust
you give me.
I appreciate it all

 

Borden_letter2-compressed

the more as you
did not know
me yet still had
faith in me.
We have again
offered a reward
but our senior

counsel Ex. Gov. Robinson
did not deem it
wise to increase
the amount.
We have little hope
of our finding the
guilty one after so
long a time has
elapsed.
I hope some time
you and Lady
Henry Somerset
may come to America
and that we may
visit face to face.
With sincere regards
to you both, I am
yours in loving hands

Lizzie A. Borden

 

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Lady Henry Somerset

 

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2016 in Collectibles, lizzie borden

 

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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 Retrial of Lizzie Borden

basement(Basement of Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast/Museum)

 What a cool event!  Good use of the property.  Hope they have it several times a year for more people to take part and enjoy.

Click HERE   A 

(Give time for Cano’s page to load then scroll down).

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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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.

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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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Posted by on June 12, 2014 in Investigations & The Trial

 

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NEW PHOTO INSIDE “MAPLECROFT” TAKEN DURING LIZZIE BORDEN’S TIME

 

From the Fall River Historical Society Facebook page:

Lizzie Borden’s home: Extremely rare photograph discovered! Lizzie Borden had this green and gilt “Maplecroft” seal made for use on her correspondence — a rare example of her personal style during her years in that residence. Now we are excited to report that a truly unique photograph taken inside the French street mansion while Lizzie lived there has been given to the FRHS! It’s the only such photo ever to have surfaced, and anyone with an interest in Lizzie will find it fascinating. For the first time, we have a partial but revealing glimpse of the interior of her home. And the subject of the photo – something Lizzie apparently cherished — helps to debunk one of the biggest myths perpetuated about her.

Donated by a descendant of Lizzie’s personal maid, Ida S. Carlson, the photo came to us with impeccable provenance. Lizzie hired a professional photographer to capture the compelling image and had it mounted in an ornate frame, and around 1899 she gave it to Ida, who displayed the treasured piece in her home until her death, at which time it was acquired by a relative.

The photo will make its debut at the FRHS at a special exhibit opening on August 4, 2014, where it will join a collection of other recently acquired Borden-related items of note. Mark your calendar, and be sure to come and take our informative tour about the life and trial of Lizzie Borden!

Lizzie Borden’s home: Extremely rare photograph discovered! Lizzie Borden had this green and gilt “Maplecroft” seal made for use on her correspondence -- a rare example of her personal style during her years in that residence.  Now we are excited to report that a truly unique photograph taken inside the French street mansion while Lizzie lived there has been given to the FRHS!  It’s the only such photo ever to have surfaced, and anyone with an interest in Lizzie will find it fascinating. For the first time, we have a partial but revealing glimpse of the interior of her home.  And the subject of the photo – something Lizzie apparently cherished -- helps to debunk one of the biggest myths perpetuated about her.

Donated by a descendant of Lizzie’s personal maid, Ida S. Carlson, the photo came to us with impeccable provenance. Lizzie hired a professional photographer to capture the compelling image and had it mounted in an ornate frame, and around 1899 she gave it to Ida, who displayed the treasured piece in her home until her death, at which time it was acquired by a relative. 

The photo will make its debut at the FRHS at a special exhibit opening on August 4, 2014, where it will join a collection of other recently acquired Borden-related items of note. Mark your calendar, and be sure to come and take our informative tour about the life and trial of Lizzie Borden!
 
 

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