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Harrington makes Lizzie Smile

Officer Harrington of the Fall River Police Department had some serious doubts about Lizzie Borden from the very hour after Andrew Borden’s death.  Called to give testimony on a number of observations he had made on August 4th- none brought so much reaction from Lizzie as Harrington’s precise description of what she was wearing when she changed her clothing up in her room shortly after the body of Abby Borden had been found in the guest room by neighbor, Addie Churchill.

“It was a house wrap, striped with pink and light stripes, alternately.  Pink was the predominate color.  In the light stripe was a diagonal formed by lighter stripes, some parallel and others bias.  It was fitted to the form in a tailor-made manner.  It had a standing collar.  It was closely shirred, gathered closely at the front.  From the waist to the neck it was puffed with a number of folds.  On either side, directly over the hips, was a narrow red ribbon.  This was brought around in front and tied in a bowknot.  It was cut with a demi-train or bell skirt which the ladies were in the habit of wearing last year.”

 Newspapers reported that Lizzie smiled broadly at this unusually detailed report issuing from a male, and actually laughed softly and turned around in her seat to see what the crowd which was packed into the small courtroom thought about it all.

Trial Testimony of Officer Phillip Harrington, June 8, 1893.

Phillip Harrington was born on April 17, 1859, making him just one year older than Lizzie Borden.  The son of Irish immigrants, James and Mary Harrington, Phillip was one of four children born to the couple in Fall River.  He was appointed to the police force on March 2, 1883.  He was well-liked by his associates and very popular in Irish and Catholic social circles in the city.  On February 10, 1893 he was appointed Captain and went on to duty at the central station first as a night officer, then on to daytime duty.  His marriage to Kate Connell, daughter of John Connell, ticket taker for Old Colony Steamboat Company, was quite an event in fashionable Catholic circles and was performed at St. Mary’s , right across the street from the Borden house.  Capt. Harrington had not been well for some time but was feeling better the day of his nuptials.  Stopping off in Newport before taking the night boat to New York to commence his honeymoon, Harrington was taken violently ill and could not continue.  He lingered some days in excruciating pain, nursed faithfully by his bride. He passed  away on October 28th  at the home of Councilman McCormack, who had been one of the wedding ushers. The wake held on Whipple Street continued right up until the hour of the Requiem Mass- 6,000 passed by the coffin.  The funeral on Halloween was one of the largest seen at St. Mary’s, with the city marshal, police force and friends packing the church to capacity. A thousand more stood outside the church and joined in the procession to St. Mary’s Cemetery on Amity St.  Harrington lived long enough to see Lizzie Borden acquitted.  He was 34 at the time of death.  As far as his knowledge of ladies’ clothing- he had lived with his sister Mary before his marriage, and no doubt learned much about the topic from her.

On his birthday Saturday, April 17th, the Second Street Irregulars will be visiting the grave of Capt. Harrington to leave a pillow of white carnations, the floral tribute given by his bride.

Fall River Globe, Oct. 31, 1893

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