Carrie and Anna Borden and Lizzie all applied for passports on the same day. Ellen Shove’s application comes from 1889 as does Elizabeth Brayton’s. The hunt is still on for Miss Cox and Sarah Brayton’s passport application. Unfortunately, photos were not required at the time. Interesting to note the average height of ladies was 5′ 3″-5’4, with “Roman” nose and “fair” complexion listed as descriptions of personal traits. Lizzie’s passport application is included in the March article at the link above, and lists her hair as light brown – putting an end to Lizzie the Redhead myth.
Some have speculated that had Lizzie not experienced a taste of the Good Life on her 19 week Grand Tour adventure, she may not have become so disenchanted with life at #92 in Fall River. Sadly, we do not know much about all of the places Lizzie visited, but it is possible, based on travel diaries and journals of the period, to piece together what it may have been like to make the transatlantic crossing in 1890 with a band of girlfriends for the first time, and imagine what fun Lizzie must have had. Maybe one fine day a diary or journal will come forth with more details, penned by one of the ladies who accompanied Lizzie. Until then, the Mutton Eaters Online article for March can be found at the top of the page- Making the Grand Tour!
Patrick Doherty arrived at the Borden house slightly after 11:30. His observations about the crime scene in the guest room are worthy of note, especially his remarks on the blood of Abby Borden, which would give good indication that her death was considerably before the death of Andrew Borden. Doherty was in the thick of things that morning, first having a good look at Andrew Borden’s wounds:
“I noticed there was one wound down here, across the eye, that was very deep. It looked to me on the left side of the face, the right side was on the sofa, and the eye seemed to be knocked out, hanging by some thread or something. There was another wound came down by the nose, or down by the cheek bone, the cheek bone was open wide, by the cheek bone clear down to the neck was laid right open.” (Preliminary)
Then Doherty followed Dr. Bowen upstairs to examine the body of Abby. Doherty moved the bed. His was the first examination, before the arrival of medical examiner, Dr. Dolan:
” I went to the foot of the bed; I looked at her. She was laying face downwards between the dressing case and the bed. I noticed three or four blood spots on the pillow sham, and a bunch of hair on the bed.
Q. How large a bunch?
A. Well, it was a small bunch.
Q. It was not a switch or false hair?
A. No, I think it was human hair that had been pulled out, or something, been cut out, or something.
Q. Give me some idea how much.
A. About half as big as that, I should think.
Q. On the bed?
A. On the bed. I wanted to examine the woman, but there was not room between the bed and dressing case to walk. I walked back to the foot of the bed, up around the north side of the bed, and I pulled it out about three feet, away from her.
Q. Towards the street?
A. No, pulled it against the north wall, away from her head.
Q. So to make the space between the bed and the dressing case, wider?
A. Yes. I pulled it away, and I went in, and I stooped down and I saw that she was lying in a pool of thick black blood, and her head was all cut.
Q. Face down, or back down?
A. Face down.
Q. How were her arms?
A. This way, something like that. I just put one finger here, and raised this a little bit so I could see under the hair around the ear better.”(Preliminary)
Afterward, Doherty ran down Spring St. to place a call to the city marshal. The telephone was in the undertaker’s shop which was opposite the Catholic Church (St. Mary’s). When Doherty returned to #92 Dr. Dolan was on the spot, and after speaking with the maid, Bridget Sullivan, Doherty enlisted Officer Mullaly in making a search of the house. The cellar door was locked, and rooms were searched with the exception of Emma’s room.
“Q. What did you find in your search?
A. We did not find anything.
Q. Were you one of those who assisted in finding the hatchets?
A. I was there when the officer had the hatchet; I did not find it.
Q. And the axes?
A. Yes sir.
Q. What officer had it when you first saw it?
A. Mr. Mullaly.
Q. You did not see where he got it?
A. I did not see where he got it. I saw him take it from a shelf about as high as his head.
Q. Did you make any examination of the hatchet yourself?
A. I just looked over his shoulder at it, that is, stood by his side and looked at it. ” (Preliminary)
Doherty also had an interview with Lizzie:
“A. I said “Miss Borden, where were you when your father was killed”? She said “I was in the barn”. I said “is there any Portuguese working on the farm over the River for your father?’ She said “no sir”.”Who works for your father?” She says “Mr. Eddy, and Mr. Johnson; and Mr. Eddy has been sick.” I asked her if either Mr. Eddy or Mr. Johnson were in town this morning, or up here to the house this morning. She said “no sir.” “Neither Mr. Eddy nor Mr. Johnson would hurt my father.”
Q. Anything more?
A. No Sir.
Q. Did she say anything about a noise, or hearing any noise?
A. Yes Sir. I asked her, I said “Miss Borden, did you hear any screams, or outcries”? She said “No sir. I heard some kind of a peculiar noise”. I says “can you describe the noise”? She says “no, not very well; something like scraping”. That is all the conversation I had with her.”(Preliminary)
Doherty was also sent to inspect the properties surrounding the Borden house and went to examine the views from the Chagnon house behind the Borden barn. Doherty would also give a good description of the dress Lizzie had on that morning as being a light blue background, a “challie” cotton print with a dark blue figure or spot on it, a description which is similar to that given by others.
The fire started in the basement of the Steiger store in the evening of February 15, 1916 Over thirty businesses were destroyed and the losses totaled over 1.5 million.The fire burned for over 5 hours and consumed several acres of the business district.
Pear Essential Players Appear in Recent House Promo
Ric Rebelo has produced another great Lizzie video, this one promoting the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast. The Pear Essential Players, a “Bordenian” Acting Troupe which performs only on August 4th, is featured in in 2008 and 2009 performances. The video is accompanied by wonderfully atmospheric music and commentary by co-owner, Lee Ann Wilber.
Most “Boomers” will recall the big hit Lloyd Price had with Stagger Lee back in the 60’s but few probably know that there is a true story of Victorian crime connected to the pop tune. St. Louis, Missouri was the place where Stack Lee Shelton and Billy Lyons had some kind of disagreement on Christmas night- whether over gambling, politics, or a woman, is not clear. The final insult came when Billy took Stack’s fine Stetson hat, and Stack pulled out his gun and shot Billy dead on the spot in a bar room.
Stack Shelton did time for the murder, ultimately dying in prison of tuberculosis in 1912. Their story has been immortalized in song in many versions over the years. Thanks to Murder by Gaslight for shining a light on this case. For much more about the details visit their link at http://murderbygasslight.blogspot.com/2009/09/staggerlee_05.html
The night was clear, and the moon was yellow
And the leaves came tumblin’ down. . .
I was standin’ on the corner
When I heard my bull dog bark.
He was barkin’ at the two men
Who were gamblin’ in the dark.
It was Stagger Lee and Billy,
Two men who gambled late.
Stagger Lee threw a seven,
Billy swore that he threw eight.
“Stagger Lee,” said Billy,
“I can’t let you go with that.
“You have won all my money,
“And my brand-new Stetson hat.”
Stagger Lee went home
And he got his .44.
He said, “I’m goin’ to the ballroom
“Just to pay that debt I owe.”
Go, Stagger Lee
Stagger Lee went to the ballroom
And he strolled across the ballroom floor.
He said “You did me wrong, Billy.”
And he pulled his .44.
“Stagger Lee,” said Billy,
“Oh, please don’t take my life!
“I’ve got three hungry children,
“And a very sickly wife.”
Stagger Lee shot Billy
Oh, he shot that poor boy so hard
That a bullet went through Billy
And broke the bartender’s bar.
Over the decades since Lizzie Borden’s death in 1927, the pansy has become the flower associated with her. She herself never claimed that this was her favorite, and we have only the well-known photograph of her wearing the pansy brooch at her throat as any indication that she liked the flower. Whether it was a favorite of Lizzie’s or merely a favorite blossom of the era cannot be known with any certainty. Postcards, other ephemera, jewelry, household decorations, needlework, painted china, and such are all lavished with pansies. It was a sentimental favorite, probably second only to blue forget-me-nots. Violets, which signify faithfulness, and rosebuds of varying colors were other flowers most often seen. The Language of Flowers was a popular code of the times, of which most ladies were very knowledgeable. Pansies, from the French “pensees” means “thoughts”. Naturally this was an ideal flower to associate with card sending and gift-giving. There is a very good possibility that Lizzie’s pansy brooch was a gift given to her by a lady friend of close acquaintance. Lizzie seemed to have a great many dresses in her closet which featured blue, so perhaps the blue-violet shades of pansies appealed to her for that reason. Another well-know name for the tiny johnny-jump up, a diminuative pansy cousin, was “heart-ease”. The motif was very popular in handwork for ladies of the time. A lady reporter who wrote about Lizzie’s neat bedroom mentions a pale blue coverlet worked in embroidered flowers by Lizzie. Too bad she did not mention what kind of flowers! Today a vase of silk pansies is kept in Lizzie’s bedroom on Second Street, a Victorian oil painting of pansies hangs above her bed and pansies are always planted in the garden at #92.
Here is a poem by Louisa Don Carlos, born in 1874, one of many Victorian verses about the beloved pansy.
O give me not red roses,
That early dews have wet!
They speak to me of kisses
That are remembered yet.
O bring me not white roses,
That summer winds have drest!
For once I placed white roses
Upon a quiet breast.
But bring me purple pansies
If so you wish to please,
For them I have affection;
For pansies are “heart’s ease”.