It was a perfect weekend to journey out to Tyngsborough to get a glimpse of what was left of the charm Nance O’Neil found at her farm. The town, which is nestled between the Merrimack River and Flint Pond is a sleepy little place, filled with quiet backroads and rustic appeal, meadows and wildlife. Nothing remains of Nance’s stately manse, called various names over time but Brinley Farm or Brinley Manse when Nance was there. She took up summer residency in May, 1904 but the name of Benjamin Levy was also on the deed. Between her manager, McKee Rankin’s mismanagement of Nance’s finances and Nance’s spendthrift ways, she declared bankruptcy by May 1906 and sold the property in 1907 to the Sisters of Notre Dame. The nuns erected a school on the property of 220 acres, still there today. The mansion burned to the ground in 1977 when it was owned by the Marist Catholic Brothers. It is said that a couple small outbuildings from the farm still exist from Nance’s time. Here are some views from the property and some town buildings still around that Lizzie and Nance would recognize.
Beginning on January 1st, W&W will begin featuring fascinating short clippings from the Fall River papers and other newspapers from 1892 through the present which concern Lizzie herself or the endless parade of personalities involved in the case. They will remain accessible here in a sort of clippings archive. There is much to be learned from these small snippets in print!
Fall River Globe, June 1892
Just in time for Christmas, Lizzie gets a new frock. This will fit your Lizzie paper doll. Be sure to print in color at 100% on matte photo paper or 28 pound copy paper for best results, portrait paper layout. I am sure you recognize the dress as do visitors to the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum! Click on the following link to download a high resolution PDF file of the dress here > christmas-dress
Lizzie’s Old School Chum, Augusta Poole (Mrs. Cyrus Tripp)
Shelley M. Dziedzic, October 2019 (all rights reserved)
During the hot summer week of July 13, 1891, Mrs. Borden decided to spend the week at the Borden farm over the river in Swansea which always seemed to have a breeze on the warmest of days. With Mrs. Borden out of the house, Lizzie and Emma invited Lizzie’s old school chum, Augusta Poole, whom she had known since 1875 to spend the week with them at the house on Second Street. Bridget was there to cook for the young ladies and privacy was assured. Miss Poole was about to be married to Cyrus Tripp of Westport and one can only imagine the “girls” giggling and chattering about the upcoming nuptials, married life, the wedding, setting up house in Westport and all the things ladies of that era enjoyed discussing. It’s fun to imagine this side of Emma and Lizzie, perhaps sitting up in the guest room with Augusta in their night gowns having a good gossip. One year later something terribly different and horrifying would transpire in that same room.
The girls drifted apart over that year as Augusta, now Mrs. Cyrus Tripp, settled down to housekeeping in the Tripp homestead on Old County Road in Westport where her new husband was a sign, carriage and house painter. His father, Preserved Tripp, had built the house in the eclectic Victorian style in 1874. The house and barn are still standing today. Cyrus Tripp had been married before to the daughter of George H. Gifford.
The Cyrus W. Tripp house on Old County Road
On July 21, 1892, Emma and Lizzie packed their traveling bags for an adventure and some fun away from the Second St. home. Emma parted company from Lizzie in New Bedford and continued on to nearby Fairhaven to stay with Helen Brownell and her widowed mother on Green Street. Lizzie split off to #20 Madison Street, which was a boarding house, to stay with Augusta’s mother and invalid sister, Carrie Poole. During her stay with the Pooles, Lizzie went out with the family except for one morning, Saturday, July 23rdwhen Lizzie ventured out downtown to do some shopping all alone. She was out for about an hour and a half and returned with a parcel of cheap yard goods to be made up into a house dress.
On Tuesday, July 26th, Mrs. Poole, Carrie Poole and Lizzie traveled out to Westport to visit Augusta at the Tripp farm. The group enjoyed a happy visit together and Lizzie left in time, with Mrs. Poole and Carrie to catch a connecting train back to Fall River. Later, Officer Medley of the Fall River Police Department would interview Augusta Tripp about the visit.
On August 8, 1892, Augusta Poole Tripp would give her interview to Officer Medley remarking, ““Lizzie told me she thought her stepmother was deceitful, being one thing to her face, and another to her back.” Mrs. Tripp further went on to say that Lizzie said that her stepmother claimed of having no influence over Mr. Borden, but Lizzie believed that Abby did or Mr. Borden would have never given Abby’s half-sister a large sum of money; Lizzie and her sister Emma did not know if they would get anything if Father should die. “ This conversation had been brought up on several occasions with the exception of the July 26, 1892, visit.
More information about the Borden house family dynamics came out at the inquest as Augusta expanded her recollections: “Testimony of Augusta D. Tripp My name is Augusta D. Tripp, and in 1875, when I was a little girl, I began to frequent the Borden home. Lizzie and I were schoolmates, but throughout the years, I had never really become acquainted with Mrs. Borden.
By the summer of 1891, I had visited and slept over the Borden’s house during the week of Monday, July 13 thru Saturday, July 18. Now during the course of that week, Emma, Lizzie and Bridget Sullivan who they referred to as Maggie stayed with me. Mrs. Borden at that time was in Swanzey, and I did not see their Uncle Morse at the house. By the spring of 1892, I had spoken with Emma and Lizzie for about an hour; but since then, I became married and moved out of the city with having less contact with both girls.
When Emma, Lizzie, and Abby were together in the same room, Lizzie would speak to Abby more than Emma. I did notice that the relationship between them was not agreeable, but they always ate together at the dining room table. Throughout the years though, I had never heard Mrs. Borden say anything about the girls. Well! I do remember some years ago when Lizzie had made a couple of remarks to me regarding her stepmother, Abby. First of all, Lizzie never liked someone who was a two-faced liar, and secondly, she assumed that I was convinced by her into believing that she had sustained a higher level of influence over her own father, influence that her stepmother, Abby, did not possess. Even though, at one time, her stepmother had convinced Mr. Borden into purchasing property for Abby’s stepsister, Mrs. Bertie Whitehead; Lizzie’s feelings, I believe, remained the same.
When I think about the remarks that Lizzie had stated, it is my opinion, those remarks were targeted toward Mrs. Borden only, which has led me to believe that Lizzie was not overly fond about her stepmother, revealing an appearance of an unfriendly nature toward her. Now, if you do not mind, I just want to say a little something about what I had heard from my invalid sister and, of course, what I stated to Officer Medley when he had questioned me. When I do speak of Officer Medley’s interview, I can only say that I did answer several of his questions, but I do not remember all that was said or the answers that I had given him at that time. I know that I did tell him that I would try to the best of my ability to recollect such past events that I thought would never resurface again. It was with much difficulty for me to search my memory and to try to recall these events that I believed to be nothing more than just talk among us women.
As for my invalid sister who is a feeble woman, Miss Carrie M. Poole of Madison Street in New Bedford , she had made a statement regarding Lizzie as saying something in the order of what may happen to her father’s estate if he were to die. Now, I cannot say for sure if Miss Poole actually heard that remark from Lizzie, it is only something that I am assuming was said. “
The portrait of Augusta Tripp was taken at Jamieson Studios at 173 Tremont St.in Boston and was sent Christmas 1913 to someone who had been in her Sunday School class. The back of the photograph gives this date and the inscription “Mrs. Cyrus W. Tripp, my Sunday School Teacher”. It is in the online photo collection of the Westport Historical Society and may be seen at this link in higher resolution. https://westhist.pastperfectonline.com/photo/D68BA21D-2E4A-4550-98A7-211567792616
Thanks and appreciation go to the Westport Public Library and the Westport Historical Society for their assistance in research materials for this article.
One has to wonder if Lizzie and Augusta kept up their friendship after Lizzie was acquitted. Augusta was a very elegant and distinguished-looking lady in 1913.
The Tripp headstone, Linden Cemetery, Westport, Massachusetts
By Jo Anne Giovino with photography and research by Barbara Morrissey and Kristin Pepe *(All rights reserved, August 2019)
Although it was a dark and stormy night, the Intrepid Trio, Jo Anne Giovino, Kristin Pepe and Barbara Morrissey was dauntless in their pursuit of Lizzie A. Borden. This mission took us to Haverhill, Massachusetts, a city about forty minutes from our home base, Billerica, MA. Destination: Buttonwoods Museum, for a presentation on Lizzie Borden. After a brief stop for sustenance and pumpkin ale at the Barking Dog, we arrived at our appointed time. Unfortunately, the talk was a bust – but do not despair! The effort was not in vain.
While Barbara was conversing with a newly-found distant cousin, Kristin and JoAnne spotted a lighted display cabinet in the rear of the room and went to investigate. What we saw left us bewildered and amazed. In the cabinet was an original full set of the transcripts of the case, “The Commonwealth of Massachusetts vs. Lizzie A. Borden”. Printed on the display card was “From the collection of William H. Moody”. Obviosuly it never occurred to us that there would be a privately –owned copy of the transcripts outside of Fall River or New Bedford.
This discovery begged the question, “Why were the transcripts here and how is Moody connected to Haverhill?”
Thus began our journey of Finding Moody.
As we know, Wm. H. Moody was one of the prosecutors for the Commonwealth in the Borden case. He was appointed by Massachusetts Attorney General Pillsbury to assist the District Attorney of the Southern District of Massachusetts, Hosea Knowlton. Mr. Moody gave the opening statement to the jury which concisely and cogently laid out a strong case against Lizzie A. Borden. Moody was praised for his effort and many believed Lizzie to be doomed. As a peripheral character in the case, our personal knowledge of Mr. Moody was limited. But, as Charter Members of The Second Street Irregulars (Muttoneaters) , we knew there had to be more to Wm. H. Moody than this. As we have learned from other personalities in the case, no person is a one-dimensional individual. There was a rumor after the trial that Lizzie sent a packet of newspaper clippings and photos to Moody with a note that read, “ As a memento of an interesting occasion.” Was that true? Will the Intrepid Trio discover the truth? There was only one way to find out. Channeling Sherlock Holmes, our investigation began.
“The Game’s Afoot”
Finding Mr. Moody proved to be quite an endeavor. After searching the Internet and making numerous phone calls, we got some leads. Our first stop, the Haverhill Public Library, was a treasure trove of information. The Special Collections Department had newspaper clippings, scrap books kept by Moody and his sister, letters, photographs, and most impressively, the trial transcripts. Next, we went to the Buttonwoods Museum located in historic Duncan House, which is the home of the Haverhill Historical Society. The museum has a room dedicated to Wm. H. Moody with furnishings and personal belongings donated by his sister after his death. The staff and volunteers were very generous with their time and opened the room to us despite the museum being closed to the public at that time. Seeing these tangible objects and knowing that they belonged to Mr. Moody was very poignant. One realizes that he was an individual with a life, friends, and family and not simply a footnote from some celebrated case. In searching census records we were able to discover an address for Moody’s residence. Not knowing for sure if the house was still standing, we went in search of the home. With the assistance of GPS, we were successful in finding his home. Mr. Moody owned a large, beautiful Federal style house in a very prestigious section of Haverhill, akin to Lizzie’s house on the hill, Maplecroft. Luckily it is still standing and we were able to take pictures and envision how it must have looked in its heyday. Our final stop was definitely the most time-consuming in research, but the most rewarding – locating Moody’s final resting place. Contrary to what one may think, this distinguished gentleman is interred in a small family plot in a rural cemetery in Byfield, Massachusettts, a village north of Haverill. He lies with his mother, father, brother and sister. As with Lizzie and Emma, none of the children ever married.
We are appreciative of those who graciously assisted us in our research. The following is the pertinent information we found about William H. Moody.
William Henry Moody was born to Henry Lord Moody and Melissa Augusta Emerson ( a distant relative of the poet Ralph Waldo Emerson) on February 23, 1853 in Newbury, Massachusetts, a small fishing village outside of Haverhill. His father was a farmer and came from agrarian stock. Similar to the Borden family, the Moody family settled in America sometime in the 1600s. At this time we did not determine from which country the family emigrated. William was one of three children.
When William was quite young, his father, valuing the importance of education, moved the family to Haverhill. He attended the prestigious boys school, Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts where he graduated with a diploma in 1872. After graduation he attended Harvard University and graduated in 1876. While attending Harvard, William became acquainted with an underclassman, Theodore Roosevelt. Although Teddy was a few years below William, they had outdoorsmanship, sports, and friends in common. This developed into a life-long friendship which would prove to be quite valuable to William’s future. Moody was an excellent baseball player and was captain of the Harvard baseball team. He was also an avid debater on the Harvard debate team. After graduation he attended Harvard School of Law. However, he chose to leave school and practice law under the guidance of Richard Henry Dana, Jr. William successfully passed the bar and became a lawyer.
Being a very prominent lawyer and politician, in 1888 he gained his first elected position, Solicitor for Haverill, Massachusetts. Later he was appointed U.S. Attorney for Eastern Massachusetts (1890-1895). It is during this time Bordenphiles are introduced to Mr. Moody. In 1893 he was chosen by Attorney General Pillsbury to be associate prosecutor in the Borden trial. This was his first murder trial. Although the Commonwealth did not prevail in the Borden case, Moody continued on with a distinguished career. By 1895 Mr. Moody was elected federal representative of Massachusetts (1895-1902). By this time his old Harvard classmate was elected President of the United States. President Roosevelt called upon Moody to be his Secretary of the Navy (1902-1904), U.S. Attorney General (1904-1906), and the ultimate achievement, Justice of the Supreme Court (1906-1910), serving until the severe rheumatism forced Justice Moody to retire from the bench. William returned home to Haverhill where he stayed active in politics and renewed friendships until his death on July 2, 1917, President Roosevelt attended his friend’s burial.
William H. Moody was a beloved resident of Haverhill. Over his lifetime he was feted for his many accomplishments by his fellow townsmen with parades and dinners held in his honor. In 1919 the U.S.S. Moody, a destroyer, was commissioned in his honor. His sister, Mary, christened the ship which was built at the Squantum Victory Shipyard in Quincy, Massachusetts.
He served our country with distinction and was a valued and dedicated public servant.
Sometimes life takes us on unexpected journeys and this is one of them. We have been fortunate to make Lizzie Borden-related discoveries in “our neck of the woods”. I say fortunate because these adventures allow us all to gain knowledge and realization that those we read about from the case are more than a name on a page or a mere character cast in a murder mystery.
By the way, we did not find that letter and packet from Lizzie to William – at least not yet.
Sources: Buttonwoods Museum, Haverhill, MA
Haverhill Public Library, Haverhill
Lizzie Borden Past and Present, Leonard Rebello, Al-Zach Press, 1999.
Various Internet articles and newspapers
In honor of Lizzie’s birthday, one, in what will become a series of free downloads to augment your Dressing Miss Lizzie paper doll book is released today, Lizzie’s birthday. Here is an imagined walking suit for Lizzie to wear on her visit to Chicago during the Columbian Exposition in October, 1893. White matte photo paper, card stock or 28 lb. regular copy paper is suggested for printing out the pdf file on your home printer. Click on the link below to print out Lizzie’s new duds! Results, will of course vary from printer to printer.
Still in the news, still the talk of Fall River. Would she ever have dreamed she would still be remembered in 2019?
Signing party with Q & A and refreshments, July 13th, Saturday 12 -4 p.m. Jules Antiques and General Store, Rt. 138 in Richmond, R.I. (Exit 3 East off 95). Copies of Dressing Miss Lizzie are now available exclusively in Rhode Island at Jules! Miss Lizzie is getting out of town this summer!
Yes! Even the props are for sale at Jules Antiques!
Dressing Miss Lizzie, which is a paper doll book featuring Lizzie’s garments described in newspapers of 1892 -1893 is now available through Hollisterpress.com as well as at the Second St. Borden home and the Fall River Historical Society if you live near Fall River. The Fall River Herald News recently featured a story about the new publication. https://www.heraldnews.com/news/20190524/lizzie-borden-paper-dolls-depict-story-through-clothing
Coming in May! Warps and Wefts is excited to announce the publication of “Dressing Miss Lizzie”, a collection of paper dolls featuring clothing Lizzie wore as described in newspapers of the day. The collection includes the famous Bedford cord dress, the pink wrapper, the funeral ensemble and other garments described during the trial and acquittal and some surprises.
The Savoy bookstore in Westerly, R.I. was cram-packed with Borden case enthusiasts this evening as author Cara Robertson held forth on her new book, The Trial of Lizzie Borden. The author is currently on a book tour in New England and will be at the Fall River Historical Society tomorrow, Wednesday, at 5 pm. There were eager questions and much lively discussion tonight which is sure to be the case at every stop along the tour.
If you are anywhere near Fall River tomorrow evening- do not miss the book signing and a chance to hear Cara Robertson. Lizzie B. has not lost her luster!
So- did Lizzie have a sweetheart? It would seem one Curtis I. Piece had high but unrequited hopes of winning Lizzie’s heart. Lizzie had met the ambitious itinerant preacher around 1882 at the Tripp’s house in Westport. Curtis was never one to turn down a possible single lady prospect from a well-heeled and connected family. His advances were tenacious if not welcomed by Lizzie. Although he had not written to her for several years before the murders, he fired off a letter to her while she was incarcerated in the Taunton Jail :
“Westport, Sept. 20, 1892,
To Miss Lizzie with friendly greetings, I am very anxious to meet you and cannot presume upon your presence without your permission, will you be so kind as to appoint a day for me to visit you as soon as convenient? I can come any day or hour. Please do not deny me this one request, believe me, you have my deepest sympathy and constant prayer. I am sincerely yours, Curtis I. Piece.”
Lizzie handed the note over to her family attorney, Andrew Jennings who told Curtis, in short- to bug off! Although grateful for his sympathies, Jennings added, ” She has told me of your previous conduct and I am surprised that any man should attempt to renew it under the current circumstances” and to ” cease your attempts to force yourself upon her notice”! Poor Curtis. He finally gave up.
(Rebello, Lizzie Borden Past and Present, p. 14, Alzach Press, 1999)
Lots of Lizzie to look forward to in the early months of the new year. Available in March and ready to pre-order on Amazon now
In addition to the hoped for opening of Maplecroft in the very near future is the debut in NYC of the rock musical LIZZIE. Follow the production news on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/LizzieMusical/
The third printing is now available at https://www.ebay.com/itm/323423665855 and includes some updates on the gate restoration which was completed earlier this year. The publication features three separate walking tours of graves of Borden-related personalities as well as information on the history of the 1855 cemetery. Autumn is coming- the perfect time to visit Oak Grove Cemetery.
Excitement is building all around town as Maplecroft is preparing to open its doors to the public. Important safety features, porch renovations, and other structural projects and improvements are underway while enthusiastic devotees of the Borden case are counting the days until they might see with their own eyes the place where Miss Borden spent the rest of her life after her acquittal in 1893. The hope is that it shall not be much longer- perhaps three or four weeks until this Victorian gem of French Street will be receiving visitors.
Oh my! Is that Miss Lizzie! ?
It’s been a while since we’ve had an update and many things have fallen into place recently. The big news, of course, is that Maplecroft has been sold to the owners of the Second Street Bed and Breakfast Museum and will probably be open early this Spring. This is exciting for many who have wanted to see inside Lizzie’s home after the acquittal and the place where she passed away in 1927.
LIZZIE, the upcoming film with Chloe Sevigny and Kristen Stewart was sold at Sundance and is to debut on the big screen sometime this summer. August 4th would be a good date! There’s a lot to Google about the film including mixed reviews. A good many liberties have been taken with the history of the case but it should find an appreciative audience.
Kristen Stewart as Bridget Sullivan
A new Lizzie play is previewing March 1st in Ontario at The Black Door.
Also in March, the Travel Channel will present a documentary by the British production company ICON which will travel all around Lizzie country: Taunton, Swansea, New Bedford and of course Fall River and the house on Second Street. No air date known at this time. Stay tuned. Looks like a very Lizzie summer ahead.
Nothing new to report on the sale of Maplecroft. The price was recently lowered but no takers so far. It’s never looked better, inside and out!
Seems like we’ve been waiting forever for the upcoming Lizzie film. Here’s what Fall River Development News has to say.
“The city of Fall River will be receiving worldwide attention soon with the release of the Hollywood film Lizzie. The new film will have its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2018. Lizzie is a biographical thriller film directed by Craig William Macneill and written by Bryce Kass. The film is based on the true story of Lizzie Borden, who was accused and acquitted of the ax-murders of her father and stepmother in Fall River, in 1892. The film stars Chloë Sevigny, Kristen Stewart, Jay Huguley, Fiona Shaw, Jamey Sheridan, Kim Dickens, Denis O’Hare, and Jeff Perry.
The film could be a boon for tourism in Fall River, but the city will first need to come up with a plan to capitalize on the momentum. The city has been looking for a signature event for years to replace Fall River Celebrates America. Could a yearly Lizzie Borden event or convention be the answer?
The new look at the Borden mythos is billed as a “gothic psychological thriller with an indelible romance at its core.” The film will explore “the events that led up to the notorious murders of the Borden family — and reveals the many layers of the strange, fragile woman who stood accused of their brutal murder” and will pick up “when Bridget Sullivan, a young maid, comes to work for the Borden family, [and] Lizzie finds a sympathetic and kindred spirit, and what begins as innocent companionship eventually escalates into attraction, love and bloody vengeance.”
A new documentary for the Travel Channel just wrapped in Fall River. Look for it in March. You will be pleasantly surprised to see Lizzie-related locations seldom visited and hear a few new angles. Things to look forward to in 2018!
Looking for a stocking stuffer for Lizziephiles? Can’t go wrong with these two recent releases!