• Captain Patrick H. Doherty FRPD

    When Patrick  H. Doherty joined the Fall River Police Department in 1885, he might have been astounded to learn that he would be involved one day in two notorious murder cases- both involving hatchets and axes. 

    Patrick Doherty was born in Peoria, Illinois on August 10, 1859 to John and Mary Walsh Doherty.  Later the family moved east to Fall River, and we find Patrick Doherty living at 104 Columbia St. (off South Main) and working as a laborer for a time employed by Fall River Iron Works and the Fall River Line steamboat company.  He married Honora (Nora) E. Coughlin on April 25, 1887 at the age of 28, when he was employed at the Fall River Police Department as a patrolman.  The couple would have seven children:  Charles T., Frank., Grace, Robert, Helene, Margaret (called Marguerite), and John.

    Doherty, (as were several other patrolmen), was promoted to the rank of captain after their work in the case of the century, the Borden Murders of 1892.  Doherty had arrived at #92 after George Allen on the morning of the murders, and was very quickly in the thick of the action, questioning Lizzie upstairs, looking at the bodies with Dr. Dolan, running down to Smith’s pharmacy with Officer Harrington  to question Eli Bence, prowling the cellar for weapons with Medley, Fleet and Dr. Bowen, and making note of Lizzie’s dress.  Doherty stayed on the job on watch at the Borden house until he was relieved at 9 p.m.  When it came time for the inquest, it was Doherty who slipped down to 95 Division St. to collect Bridget, who had been staying with her cousin, Patrick Harrington after the murders.  He would testify at the Preliminary and the 1893 trial in New Bedford.

    In the midst of the excitement in New Bedford as Lizzie’s trial was about to get underway, yet another hatchet killing took over the front page, the murder of Bertha Manchester on May 30th.  It was a brutal attack to rival the Borden’s with the weapon being most likely a short-handled axe or possibly a hatchet. Doherty went out to the Manchester place with Marshal Hilliard, Captains Desmond, and Connors and Inspector Perron  on June 6th with the  suspect, Jose Correa de Mello, who revealed his hiding place for the stolen  watch taken from the victim and her purse at that time.  De Mello served time and then was sent back to the Azores, banned from stepping upon U.S. soil again.

    The Dohertys moved to 1007 Rock St. in 1897 and Patrick was pleased to walk his daughter Margaret (Marguerite) down the aisle in 1913.

    Patrick Doherty retired from the force in 1915 and succumbed to interstitial nephritis on June 28, 1915.. He, and some of his children are buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Fall River.

    Resources: Ancestry.com, Parallel Lives,: A Social History of Lizzie A. Borden and her Fall River, Find-a-Grave.com. and Yesterday in Old Fall River: A Lizzie Borden Companion

    Fall River Globe June 28, 1915

  • Leonard Rebello 1946-2023

    It is with the greatest sadness we announce the passing of Len Rebello, long known for his valuable research into the Borden case and his important publication of 1999, Lizzie Borden: Past and Present. Len passed away Monday evening at the age of 76 and will be sorely missed by his many friends. His book and research on the Borden case remain the gold standard among Borden case researchers. R.I.P., old friend.


  • It’s Alice Russell Weekend Feb. 3-5

    Be sure to stop by our Facebook page as we take a deep dive into the life of Alice M. Russell this weekend. Alice came in #1 on a poll of all the personalities in the Borden case of whom we would most like to interview! This photo is cropped from one of Alice at Adams House on Highland Avenue in Fall River where Miss Russell spent her last days. Thanks to Artificial Intelligence and colorizing software, Miss Alice has been brought to life once more.


  • Two of a Kind

    This weekend as we look at the life of Southard Miller on our Facebook page, it’s no surprise that the two men were friends. They had a lot in common. Southard H. Miller, a little more than a decade older than Andrew, was also trained as a carpenter and through hard work and ambition, built himself an empire within the city of Fall River. Neither man came from money and both understood the value of a dollar and a strong work ethic. Both could turn a hand to more than one thing if needs be. Andrew farmed, did carpentry, had a furniture business, invested in real estate and development, and took in supplying funeral needs on the side, – just as his own father found ways to make a dollar. At the end of their lives, both men had accumulated a comfortable retirement and the esteem of their peers. We know that Southard Miller not only built the Borden home for Charles Trafton, but had built his own home at 217 Second St. (formerly #91)

    Bowen- Miller house at #91 Second St. built by Southard Miller, later renumbered #217.

    Miller came to Fall River from Middleboro, Massachusetts when he was only 18 and went straight to work. He and Andrew Borden worked on the old City Hall together. Mr. Miller went into business with Mr. Ford and were soon building, doing carpentry and contracting. The duo had a thriving business located at the SW corner of Borden & Second St. They built the U.S. Marine hospital in Portland, ME, an almshouse in Bridgewater, worked at building many of the local mills, (Union, Tecumseh, Davis, Mechanics and Granite) and the entire contracting for Laurel Lake Mills. The Baptist Temple, and many other private residences in the city were constructed by Miller & Ford.

    Mr. Miller was a representative to the General Court in 1851, a city alderman in 1857, a member of the Legislature in 1875 and Chief Engineer 1866-1870 in the local fire department in which he took great interest. He served as director of Massasoit Bank as well as director of two mills (Laurel Lake and Mechanics). You will immediately see the similarities in his civic positions to those of Andrew Borden. Southard Miller died 3 years after Andrew Borden was murdered, after a lengthy period of illnesses and infirmities. He is buried at Oak Grove Cemetery.

  • One who grieved for Andrew Borden

    Southard Harrison Miller 1811-1895 : photo Massachusetts State Archives

    For all of the negative comments about the thriftiness of Andrew Borden and his seeming lack of joviality, there was one elderly gentleman who was very sorry to see the brutal end of his old friend and fellow carpenter on August 4, 1892. He stood helplessly, much distressed, in the Borden driveway, but declining to go inside the Borden house to see his old friend. Southard Harrison Miller lived diagonally across the street from the Bordens and had known the Borden family for many years. He had three children, Reuben, Franklin and Phoebe. Phoebe would marry Dr. Seabury Bowen and live in the large, rambling house with her parents on one side of the structure.

    Son Franklin Harrison Miller studied art in Boston and Paris and worked with the distinguished Fall River School of Art artist, Robert Spear Dunning, noted for still life portraits of fruit and landscapes.

    Franklin Harrison Miller 1843-1911 : photo, Ask Art artist image

    An oil painting by F. Miller in the Fall River School of Art style.

    Mr. Miller had a long and distinguished career as a carpenter and a contractor. It is said that he and Andrew Borden at one time worked together on the building of City Hall. His obituary below indicates the esteem in which Southard Miller was held by his fellow citizens. He is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery directly across from Lawdwick Borden and his family, whose story of his children being drowned in a cistern by his second wife Eliza is well-known.

    S.H. Miller Chief Engineer 1866-1870

    This weekend, on our Facebook page Lizzie Borden Warps and Wefts, we will be featuring more on the Southard Miller family.


  • Lizzie Borden: Tea & Murder February 19th at 7 p.m. with William Meurer

    Kimbra and I are looking forward to interviewing William Meurer about his new play, Lizzie Borden, Life After Death. Who is the unexpected visitor at Maplecroft, thirteen years after the famous murders on Second Street? What secrets will be revealed? What secrets must be kept? See the link below for Livestream tickets for the January 28th performance. Tea & Murder Livestream Interview streaming on Youtube, Facebook and Spotify. Links will be posted on February 18th.


  • New play by William Meurer!

    “Lizzie Borden took an axe, gave her mother forty wacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one.” You know the rhyme, you may even know about the crime, but what happened after Lizzie Borden had been acquitted for the crime of the century?

    “Lizzie Borden: Life After Death” is a new play written by William Meurer, and directed by Jess Reed that takes place thirteen years after the bloody murders of Andrew and Abby Borden in 1892. Lizzie and her sister Emma are now living in a mansion on the hill, trying to escape the shadow of the crimes. However, when an all too familiar face arrives on her doorstep, Lizzie must relive her past and decide what secrets are worth keeping.

    The cast includes Ali Regan as Lizzie Borden, Siubhan Stormont as Emma Borden, Carlyn Barenholtz as Nance O’Neil, Annamaria Christina as Bridget Sullivan, Deborah Rupy as Hannah Nelson/Abby Borden, Isaac Conner as Dr.Bowen/Andrew Borden, and Leslie Renee providing stage directions.

    The play is being presented online as a virtual reading on Jan 28th, 7pm (EST), and be available for all ticket holders to watch for one week after the original broadcast. For tickets, please go to https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/5689078?utm_source=BWW2022&utm_source=BWW2022&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=article&utm_content=bottombuybutton1

  • Happy Thanksgiving

    Wishing you a happy and bountiful Thanksgiving Day! Lizzie is thankful for turkey and all the trimmings – and no mutton broth in sight!

  • A Little Holiday Tea & Murder

    Join us on December 11th when Kimbra and I will be talking to historian (and Second Street Irregular) Kristin Pepe who will shine a light on nurse Jolly Jane Toppan, serial killer! Toppan is quoted as saying that her ambition was “to have killed more helpless people than any other man or woman who ever lived”.

    Kristin was first to discover the connection between Emma Borden and Wheaton Female Seminary as well as adding to the knowledge on Officer Medley and William Moody. We’ll have lots of questions for Kristin about her adventures in sleuthing as well as her plunge into the dark life of Jolly Jane who died in Taunton Insane Asylum, just down the street from the Taunton Jail where Lizzie languished for 10 months. Join us for the disturbing tale of when nurses go BAD- very BAD!

  • January was a Cruel Month for the Fish Family

    The Borden Curse #9 The Fish Family

    There is plenty of documentation that Lizzie and Emma ignored Abby’s half-sister Bertie Whitehead and her family when they came to call on Abby at Second St. But Abby had a full sister, Priscilla S. Gray who married George B. Fish in 1840 and spent her life after in various Connecticut towns. One can only wonder what Priscilla had heard and seen in the Borden home when she visited her sister or what Abby may have written to her in letters about those Borden sisters!. George and Priscilla were at the August 6, 1892 funeral. The couple read about the trial and it would be interesting to know what they both thought about the acquittal.

    January would prove a disastrous month for the Fish family. About six months after Lizzie was acquitted, George, who worked for the railroad as a tallyman on the Trunk Line, died on January 3, 1894. Priscilla, Abby’s sister followed her husband 3 weeks later and died on January 25th. Their one grandson, Frederick (Freddie) H. Fish who also worked for the railroad died on January 7, 1915 at the age of 43, leaving 5 young children. His brother Harry died at age 2. The family is buried at Spring Grove in Hartford. They were a close family. Their home at 20 Canton Street was demolished many years ago.

    Spring Grove, Hartford graves of George and Priscilla Fish
  • Another Fall River Policeman Dies of Pneumonia

    The Borden Curse # 8 Officer John Minnehan

    The week of February 1, 1893 was a rough one for the city of Fall River. There had been many deaths from various things like bronchitis (5) and six deaths from pneumonia. One of them was Officer John Minnehan, who, like Capt. Phil Harrington, died suddenly with pneumonia.

    Minnehan was born in Ireland in on March 25, 1850 and had come to America, boarding the S.S. Siberia in Liverpool-Boston. He was the son of Mary Dempsey and Michael Minnehan. He left a wife, Bridget Lyons Minnehan and a daughter,Nora, born in 1887 and a son, John James Minnehan born in 1892.

    Minnehan was on the spot for much of the day of the murders, part of the first search, standing guard at the house the night of the murders and the next day, and most notably, coming to the rescue of John Morse when Morse was set upon by an angry mob when he went to the post office. Minnehan got Morse safely back to Second St. and suggested he stay put inside #92.

    During Lizzie’s trial, as you can see in the Fall River and Globe newspapers, it is mentioned that Minnehan would have been called as a witness but he had died on February 8, 1893, never knowing that Lizzie would be acquitted. He died at his home on Mulberry St. and is buried, like Harrington, at St. John’s cemetery. Minnehan had quite a grand funeral and send off as described in the clippings below.

    Fall River Globe
    Mention of Minnehan’s death in Lizzie’s June 1893 trial coverage
  • Hosea M. Knowlton- Cut Down in His Prime

    The Borden Curse #7

    In later years Knowlton was often clean-shaven

    Hosea M. Knowlton was a talented and accomplished man. Born May 20, 1847 in Durham, Maine, he excelled at Keene, New Hampshire High School, Tufts College, B.A. 1867, and Harvard Law School, class of 1870. He married an equally accomplished woman, Sylvia B. Almy and produced seven successful children:

    John Wellington Knowlton

    Abby Almy Knowlton

    Frank Warren Knowlton

    Edward Allen Knowlton

    Helen Sophia Knowlton

    August I. Knowlton

    Sylvia Prescott Knowlton

    Benjamin Almy Knowlton- one year old at the time of Lizzie’s trial

    His portrait still hangs in the courtroom in New Bedford where Lizzie’s trial took place, and for all of the accomplishments including District Attorney, he is always remembered as the prosecutor in the Borden trial of 1893.

    In 1902 Mr. Knowlton’s mother died in an horrific accident in Boston. In December of that same year, Hosea himself was struck down suddenly with apoplexy while at his summer home in Marion and died on the 19th, only 55 years old. He and Sylvia had just built a beautiful house there and he was finally enjoying the fruits of his hard labor. Eli Bence and Defense Attorney and former Massachusetts Gov. George D. Robinson would also suffer the same fate, apoplexy- in their prime. Knowlton’s youngest son, Ben, who was just a year old at the time of Lizzie’s trial would die of cerebral hemorrhage in 1960. Knowlton’s remains were cremated and ashes scattered over the harbor of his beloved Marion. His name is on a memorial stone in Rural Cemetery, New Bedford where many of his relatives are buried.

    Memorial stone in New Bedford
    New Hampshire Obituary
  • Lucy (Lucie) Collett- Witness for the Prosecution

    The Borden Curse #6

    Lucy (Lucie Collett) on the stand

    You will remember young Lucie Collett as the girl sitting on Dr. Chagnon’s Third St. porch on the morning of the murders. The doctor had been called out of town and Lucie was to meet his appointments and tell them Dr. Chagnon was called away with his family to an anniversary celebration that day. Lucie had to sit on the porch as the door was locked when she arrived around 10 minutes of 11. She was unsure just how long she stayed outside but it was after 11 o’ clock for sure. She did not recall seeing anyone jump over the Borden fence or hearing any odd noises coming from the Borden house behind the Chagnon house. The prosecution had high hopes of Lucie’s testimony supporting the fact that no stranger came into the Borden yard.

    Dr. Jean Normand, Lucie’s husband

    Lucie was born in Quebec and moved to Fall River where she lived all of her short life. In 1896 she was married to Dr. Chagnon’s clerk, Dr. Jean Normand until her tragic and early death from tuberculosis (Pulmonary phthisis) in 1900 at the age of 26. She was childless. The couple is buried in Notre Dame Cemetery.

  • Doors of Maplecroft

    Maplecroft: Mansion of Mystery #5

    A thoughtful convenience for the iceman at Maplecroft was this ice door on the back porch where the big blocks could be pushed through with tongs without dripping through the kitchen. The back door on the porch contained a one time a panel of glass with a fancy etched “B” in the glass. Over time it has been broken. The side door in the photo was no doubt handy for tradespeople and delivery services as it leads directly into the kitchen.

    Ice door, back porch
    Side door into kitchen

  • Hatchet in the cellar

    Maplecroft: Mansion of Mystery #4

    There’s nothing as creepy as a cellar and this one certainly is, especially after dark. The cellar, as you will see, is divided into numerous rooms filled with pieces of the past – and a hatchet! Run time: 6 minutes!