On the morning of the murders, Lizzie informs the family maid of a cheap sale of yard goods down at Sargent’s on North Main Street. This nugget of information was offered to Bridget Sullivan in the diningroom as she was finishing up the windows and Lizzie was seeing to her ironing of handkerchiefs. Not feeling any too well after her exertions washing windows, Bridget proclaims her wish to have a new frock but turns down the opportunity to run down to buy the fabric and goes to the third floor to her room to rest before the midday meal.
Walking at an average pace, the time needed to reach Sargent’s is about 12-15 minutes, considering a long dress and the heat. Had Bridget gone shopping, she would have required roughly 25 minutes just in coming and going there, plus time to shop. Leaving at approximately 10:55, she well may have not returned until nearly noon.
Sargent’s Dry Goods building still stands on North Main Street, only a short distance south of the public library. One half of the building is gone, now the site of a vacant lot, but half of the familiar facade with its arches still exists and is the address for a surveying company. The advertisement for the famous dress goods sale can be found prominently displayed in the newpaper for August 4, 1892. Was Sargent’s sale planned as an alibi for Lizzie, a convenient lure to get Bridget Sullivan out of the house, or was Lizzie just idly chitchatting with the maid ? We’ll never know.