"Lizzie Folks",  Just Plain Lizzie,  Potpourri

Lizzie & Nance- A Passion for Animals

From the January 1911 American Primary Teacher Actresses and Their Pets by Grace Agnes Thompson (excerpt).

“Miss Nance O’Neil is another actress who has made friends with animals under unusual circumstances, and she has, perhaps, more pets at any one time, and of a greater variety, than any other actress.

On one occasion when Miss O’Neil was playing in Denver, where Magdalena, a very favorite cat, had just died, and thereby deeply grieved her mistress, she returned from the theatre late in the evening and found a very pretty, woe-begone stray Angora kitten cuddling for refuge from the icy cold and falling snow against her door. The sight of the draggled gray fur and the sound of the pitiful mewing went straight to Miss O’Neil’s heart, and from that moment pussy had a good home. Miss O’Neil tried in vain to find out whose lost pet the little creature was, and decided to keep it herself.

Among the more interesting of her other pets have been the Turquoise donkey, which used to carry her about so cheerfully in Egypt; Teazle, the white Angora cat, which now lives in Bedford street, London; Jim, the orang-outang, which,, though delightful company at any time, was so big and bothersome to journey about with one on a tour, that he had to be given away; and the Manling (named from one of the Jungle Tales), one of the only two black cockatoos ever brought north across the equator, and now to be seen in the London zoo, to which he was sold about four years ago. The other of these two black cockatoos is kept at the Berlin zoo. Miss O’Neil has also a specimen of the white cockatoo, the more common variety, in Binkie, now kept at her beautiful country home in Tyngsboro, Mass. Binkie is rather a traveled bird, for he has crossed the equator twenty times, and journeyed all the way around the earth in the company of his mistress.

On the Tyngsboro estate also live Kintaro, a big yellow coon cat, found once upon a time in Lawrence; and Tom and Jerry, the famous driving span of horses; and a small multitude of chickens, sheep, pigs, cats, canaries, dogs, and fine cows. Miss O’Neil’s farm contains two hundred and sixty splendidly cultivated acres, with a large and very charming country house, which she is able to visit for scarcely more than two weeks out of each year, but leaves in charge of capable caretakers during her absence.

Togo and Nogi, two handsome dogs, named for the distinguished Japanese admiral and general, are Miss O’Neil’s latest favorites, and they have been her companions during the last few months of her tour. Their Japanese names are accounted for by the fact that Miss O’Neil, through her liking for Oriental philosophy and peoples, is attended always by a dear little Japanese maid, called Toto, who says she has “a awful fond to animals,” and who is constantly in charge of all the pets.—Our Dumb Animals.”

Perhaps the great friendship between Lizzie Borden and Nance O’Neil was prompted by a mutual love of animals.


  • Lizzie Borden

    I have bonded with many people over the years because of our mutual love of animals and I believe your last statement to be 100% authentic as a basis for their relationship. So glad I browsed over here.

  • Barbara Morrissey

    I am sure Nance and Lizzie’s mutual love of animals was one of the building blocks of their relationship. The area in Tyngsboro where her home was is beautiful. I can’t imagine owning that mush property, and that many animals. Nice article, Shelley, you always educated and enlighten.

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