• Officer Medley

    All rights reserved 2010  Photography by Kristin Pepe

    On the Road With The Second Street Irregulars 

    Three “Mutton Eaters” Search for Officer Medley.

    By Barbara Morrissey, JoAnne Giovino, & Kristin Pepe

    Ascending the steps to the hayloft of the Borden barn on August 4, 1892, Officer William H. Medley of the Fall River Police Department climbs just high enough so that his eyes are level with the hayloft floor. He looks around the hot upper story of the barn, and something strikes him as very odd; the layer of dust on the floor of the hayloft appears to be undisturbed. There are neither visible footprints nor any trail left in the dust left by the swishing of a lady’s dress hem.  As an experiment, Officer Medley reaches up and places his own hand, palm down, on the dusty floor. As he lifts his hand, he quite clearly sees the impression it left on the unspoiled layer of hay dust. “Very odd – very odd indeed,” he mutters to himself.

    Medley furrows his brow and recalls what Lizzie Borden, not more than fifteen minutes ago, had told him: she was in the barn when her father was murdered. She was on the second floor of the barn – the very hayloft where Officer Medley just left his own mark on the dusty floor. She had been there looking for a piece of lead for a sinker, as she planned on going fishing in Marion on Monday. While up there in the smoldering loft, she ate some pears.  However, Officer Medley sees no evidence that anyone has been in the oven-like upper story of the barn. Could Lizzie be lying about her whereabouts when her father was being murdered inside 92 Second Street? Thus began Officer William H. Medley’s investigation into one of history’s most infamous murder cases.

    Shortly after the alarm was raised that murder, two murders in fact, had been committed at 92 Second Street, Officer William H. Medley of the Fall River Police Force arrived at the murder scene. From that point on, and for several days after the murders, Officer Medley worked tirelessly investigating leads and questioning possible witnesses. As the Fall River Herald reported on the day after the murders,

    “Officer Medley was one of the busiest men about town Wednesday night and every remark or Idea Connected with the tragedy was thoroughly sifted by him.” (Fall River Herald, 8/5/1892).

    It was this same Officer Medley who, upon quickly touring the Borden residence upon arriving at the scene, asked Lizzie about the blood-covered cloths in a pail in the “wash cellar” and was told by Lizzie that it “was all right; she had told the Doctor all about that.”  Upon learning from Lizzie that she had supposedly been in the barn when her father was murdered, Medley made his famous trip out to the barn to check for signs or prints in the dust to confirm or disprove Lizzie’s story.

    Medley testified about his trip to the upper story of the Borden’s barn, which is re-imagined at the beginning of this story, at Lizzie’s trial:

    “I went at once up stairs in the barn, but found no footprints in the dust except what I made myself.”  (Trial Transcript Vol. 1, p. 28.).

    A few days after the Borden murders, on August 8, Officer Medley was present at 92 Second Street again when Officers Edson, Desmond, Conners and Quigley , along with Charles H. Bryant (a mason and contractor, there to assist if necessary) searched the house. While searching the cellar, Officer Medley found the head of a hatchet lying in a box with other objects. The hatchet head had no handle. Officer Desmond testified at Lizzie’s trial:

    “At the outset of the search of the cellar, Officer Medley found a small hatchet. I wrapped it up in a newspaper, and gave it to Medley to put in his pocket. It had no handle to it.” p. 38)

    “Medley carried the wrapped hatchet head to the city marshal’s office and showed it to Marshal Hilliard.” (Trial Transcript, Vol. 1, p.697.) 

    The years following the Borden murders were successful ones for Officer Medley. In December, 1892, Medley had been promoted to inspector. (Trial Transcript, Vol. 1 p. 716.) By 1910 he had become Assistant City Marshal. That same year, when City Marshal Fleet retired, Medley replaced him, becoming City Marshal Medley.

    Medley held this position, becoming Chief Medley in 1915 when the Fall River Police changed the title from Marshal to Chief, until his death in 1917 at age 63. Chief Medley was the victim of an automobile accident at the corner of Locust and Linden Streets in Fall River. Medley’s wife Mary, and their daughter, were with him in the car, but survived the crash.

    The corner of Locust & Linden today (photo Shelley Dziedzic)

    William H. Medley was buried, not in Fall River, but with members of his wife’s family in Edson Cemetery in Lowell, Massachusetts on September 19th, 1917.  It is this small detail that started three members of the Second Street Irregulars on the quest to find Officer Medley’s final resting place.

    The Second Street Irregulars or, the Muttoneaters, as we are also known is advertised as “A Cordial Society of Armchair Sleuths”.  The Irregulars was a term coined by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle  in his immortal tales of Sherlock Holmes.  Irregulars were a rag-tag band of street urchins and everyday London tradesmen whom Holmes employed to help in solving his cases.  Their very ordinary-ness was an asset in moving unobtrusively all over the city while gathering vital information.  Today, Sherlockian Baker’s Street Irregulars provide the template for the Mutton Eaters. The Second Street Irregulars meet yearly for a banquet in Fall River, MA. The Irregulars also visit sites related to the Borden case, share stories, conduct research, and enjoy general merriment.  Members come from all over the United States, and are of all ages and occupations.  The three of us, who live in the area north of Boston close to Lowell, MA., were thrilled to discover a local link to the Borden case, and we quickly planned to do some Lizzie-related research close to home.

    Those familiar with Fall River would feel at home touring the streets and neighborhoods of Lowell (and vice versa). Lowell, like Fall River, is a New England mill city.  It was designed as a textile manufacturing center, with an intricate system of canals that were used to provide power to multiple textile mills. Lowell has experienced the same cycle of prosperity and decline that Fall River and other New England manufacturing cities and towns have. Ever-visible are the huge granite or brick textile mills, some with their uniform rows of windows covered with green plywood, some converted into apartments or museums, and some crumbling into ruin. Lowell’s neighborhoods contain a mixture of  multi-family homes covered in modern vinyl siding, 19th century single-family wood-frame homes, 20th century raised ranches, apartment buildings and condo complexes.  Of note is the Belvedere neighborhood (located, incidentally, on  a large hill), where Lowell’s elite business-owning upper-class families lived during the city’s industrial Heyday. If the Bordens had lived in Lowell, Lizzie would have wanted to live in a house in Belvedere. Lowell is also home to multiple churches and cemeteries.

    Our quest for Officer Medley’s resting place began at JoAnne’s house.  It was a raw, overcast, March day, with cold winds blowing, appropriate weather for exploring an old cemetery. Sitting around the kitchen table, we gathered our materials: a printout of “The Sad End of Officer Medley from Lizzie Borden: Warps & Wefts, the name of a contact in the Cemetery office whom JoAnne had spoken to by phone, a handwritten note and a rose to place at Officer Medley’s gravesite, and our adventurous spirits.  We jumped into the car, wearing our deerstalker caps and toting our cameras, and made our way, via back roads and neighborhoods of Lowell, to the Edson Cemetery. We drove through the large main gate, and parked by the small white building that houses the cemetery office.

    Upon entering the office, we met Anne, our contact person. Anne was very enthusiastic and more helpful than we could have imagined. She was able to locate William H. Medley’s original burial record from 1917. The record indicated that William H. Medley’s remains are buried in Range 30, Lot 13, Grave 7. His wife, Mary E. Medley occupies Grave 6 beside him. William H. Medley is listed as the owner of the lot, and there is a monument at the site. Not all graves in the Edson Cemetery have monuments, we learned; some have flat stone markers, and some have no marker at all.

    In addition to the Medleys, there are two other occupants in Lot 13: Martha Marks (1819-1889, age 70) and William Marks (1820 -1875, age 55).  Who were William and Martha Marks, and why are they buried with Officer Medley and his wife?  Having known that Officer Medley’s wife, Mary, was from Lowell, we surmised that the Marks must be Mary’s parents.  We decided to extend our adventure that day and find out for sure. We noticed that the Medleys’ daughter is not buried with her parents, and we concluded that she probably was married and is therefore buried with her husband. That will have to be another day’s investigation for the Second Street Irregulars.

    Anne gave us a map of Range 30, marked the Medleys’ gravesite for us and we were soon on our way. However, before leaving the office, we took pictures with Anne who had been so enthusiastic and helpful. I would certainly bet that Anne does not get visitors like the Second Street Irregulars very often in the Edson Cemetery office, and whether she remembers us fondly or not, I am sure we provided a break from her usual routine.

    We took our map and drove along the cemetery roads to find Range 30, Lot 13, which we very quickly located. We got out of the car and spotted our Officer Medley’s resting place in less than a minute.  We found the Marks’ grave beside the Medleys’. William H. and Mary E. Medley’s grave marker is a plain granite slab, with their names and dates engraved in very plain block lettering on one side of the stone. The Marks’s monument was some type of white stone, possibly marble, and clearly older. We placed our rose on the Medley monument, along with the note explaining who William H. Medley was, and his part in the Lizzie Borden case. We took pictures of one another at the grave site, and when the cold wind became unbearable, we ran back to the car.

    Over lunch at a favorite Greek restaurant in downtown Lowell, we discussed what to do next. We decided to go to Lowell City Hall to find out a little more about Mary E. Medley and the Marks family.  Fortified with bowls of hot lentil and lemon-chicken soup, stuffed grapeleaves and spanikopita, we set out once again.

    We went to Lowell City Hall to the Clerk’s office to see if we could find out anything more about Officer Medley’s wife, Mary E. Medley, and her family.  Knowing her date of birth, we asked the clerk to find the birth certificate of Mary E. Marks (Medley). A few minutes later she returned with the requested document. The clerk also gave us some interesting news: Mary E. Marks had a twin sister named Martha.  It cost some money to obtain a copy of a birth certificate, so we opted for Mary’s, and we had to forego Martha’s.

    Here is a summary of Mary Marks’ birth certificate:

    Date of Birth: April 11, 1854

    Name of child: Mary E. Marks

    Sex: Female Color – White

    Place of Birth: Lowell, MA

    Residence of parents: Lowell, MA

    Name of Father: William Marks

    Maiden Name of Mother: Martha—-

    Occupation of Father: Laborer

    Occupation of Mother: ——-

    Birthplace of Father: England

    Birthplace of Mother:  Ireland

    Date of Record: January 11, 1855

    So, we learned that Officer Medley’s wife, Mary, had a twin sister Martha, and that Officer Medley and Mary Medley are buried with Mary’s parents, William and Martha Marks, although Officer Medley is listed as the owner of the cemetery plot.

    We inquired about a marriage certificate for Officer Medley and Mary Marks, assuming they were married in Lowell. However, without an approximate date of the marriage, the clerk would not be able to find a marriage certificate. We were to do more historical research at the Pollard Memorial Library, which is just next door to Lowell City Hall.

    At Pollard Memorial Library we decided to search for Officer Medley’s obituary in the archives of the newspaper the Lowell Sun. the Library has an archive of the newspaper on microfilm. We also intended to find other related information about Officer Medley’s life and family if time permitted.  We found Officer Medley’s obituary in the Monday September 17, 1917 edition of the Lowell Sun, under the heading “Funeral Notices:”

    Medley – Died in Fall River, Sept. 16, William H. Medley, chief of police of Fall River, aged 64 years, 7 months, 11 days. Funeral services will be held from the Edson Cemetery Chapel on Wednesday, Sept. 19, at 2 o’clock. Relatives and friends invited to attend. Arrangements in charge of Undertaker Geo. M. Eastman.

    The average Lowell citizen of 1917 who came across this short obituary in the Lowell Sun would have no idea of the role William H. Medley played in the Borden murder investigation in August 1892. We wonder, did the Medley family choose not to mention that aspect of his career, or did the Lowell Sun choose not to include that information in the obituary? Or is the reason a little of both?  Most likely we will never know. However, I feel like I know Officer Medley a little bit better because of this small bit of research into his life, and having visited his final resting-place in Lowell.

    References:

    Dziedzic, S. (2008).  Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts: A Tapestry of Threads About the Borden Case, Fall River and the Victorian Era.  Retrieved January 21, 2010 from http://lizziebordenwarpsandwefts.com/?s=medley&submit=Search,.

    Obituary, Lowell Sun, September 17, 1917.

    “Thursday’s Affray No Clue as Yet to Its Perpetrator.” Fall River Herald, August 5, 1892. Retrieved January 21, 2010 from http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/LizzieBorden/news2.html

    The Trial of Lizzie Andrew Borden Volume 1

  • The sad end of Officer Medley

    chiefmedley.jpg

    Fall River’s First Chief of Police William H. Medley 1915

    (courtesy of the Fall River Police Department)

    William H. Medley was among the first wave of patrolmen to arrive at #92 on the day of the murders. He heard Lizzie’s tale of being out in the hayloft for a long interval and went out himself to check out her story.

    “I stooped down low to see if I could discern any marks on the floor of the barn having been made there. I didn’t see any, and I reached out my hand to see if I could make an impression on the floor of the barn, and I did by putting my hand down so fashion, and found that I made an impression”
     (Sullivan, 119-120).

    Officer Medley’s attention to detail and powers of observation took him far.  He became assistant City Marshal in 1910 and replaced City Marshal Fleet (also present at the Borden’s on August 4, 1892)when he retired in 1910.  The title changed to Chief of Police in 1915 and Chief Medley held the title until his tragic death in 1917 as a result of a car collision at the corner of Locust and Linden Streets where Chief Medley sustained fatal injuries.  His wife and daughter were in the car but survived the collision.  Chief Medley was buried in Lowell, Massachusetts.

    Below:  The scene of the accident as it is today, Linden and Locust intersection.

    locustandlinden.jpg

  • 10 Things About the Borden Case that Will Keep you Up All Night

    istockphoto-654743270-170667a
    A 19th century story illustration of a lady sitting in a chair with her head and hand draped over the back. Taken from a story in the English Illustrated Magazine of 1892

    There are so many questions and things to ponder when considering the Borden case in its entirety, but let’s just think about August 4th until just a few days prior to the Inquest.  Inquiring minds want to know:

    1. Lizzie was alone in the house at the time of Abby’s murder and saw no other person coming in or going out of the house although she was in the kitchen by the side door most of the time. Bridget was outside washing windows. There are witnesses who saw her washing them.
    2. Bridget came in to fetch supplies and says the screen door was open and did not say she saw Lizzie in the kitchen. Where was Lizzie?
    3. Bridget will say that Lizzie laughed softly from the top of the stairs when she let Mr. Borden in the front door. Bridget will forget all about that 10 months later.
    4. Lizzie sees her father when he comes home around 10:45, and tells him Abby had a note and was gone out which stops him from looking for her. No note is ever found or the writer of the note. Lizzie suggests Bridget might want to go up to North Main St. to a dress goods sale. Bridget declines and goes up to the third floor to lie down. Lizzie is again alone downstairs with Andrew.
    5. Lizzie has admitted to the girls in Marion that she has a sharp hatchet she will bring with her Monday on her fishing trip. Her job will be chopping kindling for the stove.
    6. Lizzie claims to be in the hayloft at the time Andrew is murdered. She has to be out of the house. There is a dead body on the second floor, the dead body of Andrew on the first floor and Bridget is on the third floor napping with both other rooms locked up there. Lizzie gives different reasons for being in the loft and the length of time she says she is up there does not fit the timeline.
    7. Lizzie is in control of the alarm-sounding. Bridget is sent out of the house to fetch help, Lizzie never makes a move to get out of the house where a killer could be lurking. She has time to hide a weapon and tidy up before Mrs. Churchill makes a brief appearance and hurries off to get help.
    8. Lizzie goes upstairs after the body of Abby is found and changes into a pink and white striped wrapper and spends the day upstairs, frequently left alone. She will make two trips to the cellar that night. One is with Alice Russell, a friend staying in the house to help, who tags along, the other right after Alice goes to her room and she can return to the cellar alone.
    9. On August 6th she is told by the mayor that she is a suspect, late in the day after the funerals. On the morning of August 7th, alone in the kitchen for the moment, she tears up and burns a dress in the stove but is discovered by Alice Russell who walks in and Emma who steps out of the sink room to see what is happening. Where had that dress been the day of the search?
    10. Officer Medley, Edson, Desmond and others go back to the Borden house at 10 a.m. Monday, August 8th to resume looking in the cellar. Medley finds a handless hatchet with a short stub of freshly broken handle . It appears to have been recently washed and is coated with dust. Nobody saw this on the main search of the house Saturday.
  • Lizzie Goes Shopping in New Bedford

    window-shopping

    Lizzie and Emma had left Fall River on a hot summer’s vacation to visit friends in New Bedford and Fairhaven on July 21st. The sisters split up in New Bedford as Emma went across the bridge to Fairhaven to stay for an extended visit with Helen Brownell and her widowed mother on Green Street.  Lizzie stayed in New Bedford and called upon Mrs. Poole and her invalid daughter, Carrie Poole. Lizzie had been close chums with Carrie’s sister, Augusta- now Mrs. Cyrus Tripp.  The Pooles lived in a rooming house at 20 Madison Street in the city, not too far from the commercial section.

    On July 23rd, Lizzie went on a short shopping expedition alone to the shops not far from the boarding house on Madison Street. There she purchased some cheap day dress fabric and pattern to be made up by her seamstress back in Fall River. She did not shop very long, then returned to the Pooles.

    In her inquest statement, Lizzie is asked about the last time she was away from home. Interestingly, she overestimates how long ago her trip to the Pooles was:

    Q. When was the last time when you have been away for more than a night or two before this affair?

    A. I don’t think I have been away to stay more than a night or two since I came from abroad, except about three or four weeks ago I was in New Bedford for three or four days.

    Q. Where at New Bedford?

    A. At 20 Madison Street

    Lizzie was asked about the dress goods and pattern she bought on the 23rd.

    “Q. Did you buy a dress pattern in New Bedford?
    A. A dress pattern?
    Q. Yes.
    A. I think I did.
    Q. Where is it?
    A. It is at home.
    Q. Where?
    A. Where at home?
    Q. Please.
    A. It is in a trunk.
    Q. In your room?
    A. No, sir; in the attic.
    Q. Not made up?
    A. O, no, sir.
    Q. Where did you buy it?
    A. I don’t know the name of the store.
    Q. On the principal street there?
    A. I think it was on the street that Hutchinson’s book store is on. I am not positive.
    Q. What kind of a one was it, please?
    A. It was a pink stripe and a white stripe, and a blue stripe corded gingham.”

    The police made a bad show of things when they revealed  on the stand that there was confusion about who searched the attic trunk, when, etc. and not recalling finding a dress pattern and cloth goods. In other words, it was a very unprofessional evidence-gathering  effort which cast an unflattering light on the men in blue. It was thought Officer Medley led the first attic search, then Assistant Marshal Fleet. Marshal Hilliard and Officer Desmond were also up in the attic as part of the search which was woefully uncoordinated.  The missing articles were finally produced very late in the process. Knowlton was satisfied with his examination of the materials but a lingering doubt continued as to whether or not a substitution could have been made.  It was not the first time the police had botched something concerning the search of the Borden house. 

    Much was made about this dress yard goods and pattern. Did Lizzie somehow have the  dress made up, worn it during the double homicides, burn it and then her defense arrange to have duplicate fabric “found” later?  A local newspaper speculated on this scenario.

    From the Evening Standard,  Fall River, Sept. 3, 1892 – Was It Possible For Defense to Have Duplicated the Goods? “The day after the Borden murder City Marshal Hilliard put two New Bedford officers at work in that city with orders to trace Lizzie Borden’s actions during the two weeks previous. They found that she had purchased a dress pattern of cheap material in a dry goods store in that city, and it was to this pattern that reference was made at the trial. Some importance was attached to the matter at the time of the discovery of the purchase. The police failed to find the dress pattern or any dress of it in their search at the Borden house. They made demand on the members of the family to produce the piece of goods or the made-up dress. If they could not do this the police wanted to know what had become of it. The family refused to move in the matter and the police at New Bedford searched the store to get a sample of the goods bought by Lizzie.

    The last day of the trial the defense surrendered the piece of dress goods which Lizzie had purchased and it was still intact. The question has arisen in the minds of some people who believe as the prosecution does whether or not it was possible for the friends of the prisoner to have duplicated the dress pattern and surrendered the last purchased instead of the first, and that the first one might have been made-up and used by Lizzie Borden at the time of the murder and afterwards destroyed or put out of the way.”

    It is, at the least, a very curious business. Lizzie, on the day of the murders, rested in her room dressed in a pink and white striped wrapper. Coincidence- or something else?

  • The Elegant Augusta Tripp

    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.

    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

  • The Elegant Augusta Tripp

    Lizzie’s Old School Chum, Augusta Poole Tripp

     

    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 chu, 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 Home 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 in Linden Cemetery, Westport

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  • Who was new for August 4th ?

    It was a big day at #92 for the cast of the Pear Essential Players as they turned in 10 performances of Lizzie Borden CSI.  Tickets sold out and the gift shop was buzzing with activity from early morning until the end of the day when the evening check- ins arrived.  All  previous records were broken this year.

    Rufus Hilliard                                                 Ray Mitchell

    There were a few new faces this year in the cast including Ray Mitchell who portrayed city marshal Rufus Hilliard and bore an uncanny resemblance to his character!  Michael Brooks took over the role of James Winward, Undertaker and was suitably grave and distinguished.

    (photo courtesy of Lee Ann Wilber)

    For the first time, the bed in the guest room was moved in order to reproduce a lesser-known photo of Abby Borden.

    With a nod to Richard’s Behren’s new book, Lizzie Borden: Girl Detective, Kathryn Woods played Miss Nellie Drew, girl detective and interviewed Uncle John Morse.

    Molly O’Brien took over as Miss Manning from the Fall River Herald and also had a few things to ask Uncle John.

    photo courtesy of Lee Ann Wilber

    The men in blue were out in force this year with Ben Rose reprising Detective Seaver, and new B&B museum employees Justin Dunne and Will Clawson playing Medley and Harrington.  Mustaches were a key element in bringing the characters to life with Hilliard’s famous walrus mustache and Harrington’s “handlebar” stash adding much to the characterization.

     

    Will Clawson                     Phil Harrington

     Justin Dunne played a young officer William Medley.  Medley would become Fall River’s first Chief of Police.

     

    Justin Dunne                              Chief Medley

    Many actors have played Andrew Borden over the years and this year B&B employee Logan Livesey had the tough task of staying perfectly still under the sheet.

    Tomorrow: Set dressing the house, our cast regulars, and the cast trip to Maplecroft!

  • Cast for Annual Presentation at Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum

    Some of the cast will be appearing at the Fall River Public Library on Tuesday, August 3rd at 6:30 for a special reading by Richard Behrens from the new Lizzie Borden: Girl Detective!  Tickets are presently on sale at the museum 508-675-7333.  Advanced ticket purchase is suggested to avoid disappointment on the 4th.  Tickets are usually sold out by noon. First performance at 10: 30 a.m.

    Cast interviews and photos may be found at http://pearessentialproductions.org/

    Lizzie Borden:  Lorraine Gregoire

    Detective Seaver  Ben Rose

    Abby Borden:   Shelley Dziedzic 

    Andrew Borden: Logan Livesey

    Bridget Sullivan  Kathleen Troost-Cramer

    Emma Borden:  Barbara Morrissey

    Addie Churchill:  JoAnne Giovino

    Alice Russell:     Kristin Pepe

    Uncle John:  Joe Radza

    Officer Medley:   Justin Dunne

    Miss Manning from the Herald:   Molly O’Brien

    “Cub reporter and Girl Detective” from the Herald, and Miss Manning’s assistant: Kathryn Woods

    The Distinguished Undertaker Winward:  Michael Brooks

    Officer Harrington:  Will Clawson

    Marshal Hilliard;  Ray Mitchell

  • It’s Hot, It’s Summer, It’s Time Again

    With the arrival of scorching temps and high humidity, the cast of the Pear Essential Players (P.E.P.) layer on the petticoats, corsets and false beards in preparation for the August 4th re-enactment at the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast.  Rehearsals will begin in two weeks, and this year the script is new.  Written every year by night tour innkeeper Shelley Dziedzic, this year’s script will harness the flavor of popular CSI programs.  Here is what the B&B website has to say about the annual event:

    “Thirty minutes have passed since Abby Borden’s body has been found upstairs in the guest room.  #92 has become a beehive of activity with Fall River’s Men in Blue flocking to the crime scene.  Doctors, bystanders, policemen, newspaper reporters, neighbors and friends are all converging on the little drab house on Second St.   Inside on the Second Floor, Miss Lizzie Andrew Borden is reclining on her fainting couch, medicated with bromo caffeine.  Uncle John has wandered bewildered into the dining room, trying to make sense of what he has just heard.  Bridget Sullivan is frightened in the parlor, already planning to pack and flee that very afternoon. The lifeless bodies of Andrew and Abby Borden are covered with bloody sheets, awaiting procedures and the ministrations of the undertaker.  Sister Emma is rushing back home on her way from Fairhaven.  Helpful neighbors mill around looking for answers and trying to be useful in comforting Lizzie and assisting the police. Meanwhile, the police begin the questioning and searching.  Our visitors will be “deputized” as they begin their tour of the crime scene, and will be encouraged to “assist” the police with their photographic equipment and by carefully surveying the crime scenes.  They may even be motivated to ask a question themselves and to be on the lookout for CLUES! By means of the police questioning, the visitors to the house will hear the story as it happened, unfolding through the answers of the family members.  As the tour of the premises ends, visitors will be asked to cast a vote on the GUILTY PARTY, based on what they have seen and heard during their inspection of the scene of the crime. ”

     There will be a few new faces in the cast this year and a few new characters from out of the past.  Information on ticket sales, parking and times will be posted here and on the B&B site soon.  The first performance will be at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, August 4th.  This will be the fourteenth year that the house on Second Street has reproduced the historic details of the famous case in an entertaining and educational way. 
  • Remembering John Fleet

    Died May 10, 1916 (photo courtesy FRPD)

    On May 10, 1916, John Fleet, former city marshal died of heart failure following several months of poor health. On May 9th he had been well enough to visit his daughter Harriet Isherwood and showed no signs at that time that death was imminent. He was stricken after midnight at his home at 85 Park St. and succumbed quickly. He was 69 years old.

    Fleet was born at Ashton-Under-Lyne in Lancashire, England March 29, 1848.  He had been in America for over 50 years at the time of his death, and had begun his working career in the American Linen mills. At the age of 16 in 1864 he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served until the end of the Civil War, taking part in many engagements under Admiral Farragut including the siege of Mobile and the battle against a Spanish fort. Fleet sustained a fractured arm on the same day Lincoln was assassinated when Fleet’s ship was blown up.

    Returning to Fall River after the war, Fleet, who was rated as a “landsman” in the Navy, went back to work in the mills.  He worked at the Fall River Boiler Company on Water St., then began a new career direction as a house painter and decorator until he was appointed to the police force on February 27, 1877 at the age of 29.  His career would maintain a steady rise in this line of work, being promoted to sergeant on March 2, 1883, assistant city marshal on December 22, 1886 and city marshal on November 8, 1909. He retired on half pay May 31, 1915, when Medley, another officer involved in the Borden case became Fall River’s first Chief of Police, replacing the title City Marshal held by Fleet at retirement.

    John Fleet was known as an efficient officer and was held in high esteem by fellow officers and citizens alike. He was the husband of Lydia Wallace Fleet, the father of four sons and a daughter and was also survived by two brothers and two sisters. His daughter was Harriet Isherwood, and sons  were John W. of Seattle, Frank W., the manager of the Westport telephone exchange, Walter R., assistant superintendent of Borden City mills, and Arthur J., a designer. Surviving brothers and sisters were Richard and Samuel Fleet, Mrs. Fannie Lewis and Mrs. Ann Thackery. A third sister, Mrs. Elizabeth Meyers predeceased her brother a month before in Providence.

    Fleet was a member of Richard Borden Post 46 G.A.R. , Mt. Hope Lodge of Masons, Odd Fellows and Puritan Lodge, K.P. 

    Chief Medley ordered the flag at half-mast at all stations and sent the following statement:

    “ . . . His record shows clearly to the members of this department what can be accomplished by persistent effort and fidelity to duty.  In his death the department loses a friend and the community a valued citizen.  The funeral will take place Saturday afternoon, at which time I trust that as many members as can possibly make it convenient will attend.  I have this day forwarded to Mrs. Fleet and members of the family a message of condolence from the department.  As a token of respect the department will forward a floral emblem. “ W. H. Medley, Chief of Police

    The funeral service was conducted from the home at 85 Park St. at 1:30 and was conducted by the Rev. Albert R. Parker of St. John’s Episcopal Church for immediate family and friends.  The body was taken to St. John’s where Fleet had been a member for many years.  The traditional Episcopal  requiem was conducted and “Lead Kindly Light”, “Nearer My God to Thee”, and  “Heart Be Still”were among the musical selections. A large number of police officers were in attendance including Chief Medley and Captain Dennis Desmond who had worked with Fleet on the Borden case in 1892. Following the service, interment took place at Oak Grove where at the grave the ritual for Grand Army members was carried out by Post 46. The Massachusetts Police Association sent a large floral tribute in the form of a policeman’s badge. R.I.P.

    (sources:  Fall River Evening News May 13, 1916, Fall River Globe May 10, 1916)

  • Second Street Irregulars Visit the FRPD

    http://www.frpd.org/history.html

    The annual Mutton Eaters weekend in Fall River 2010  is now just a good memory.  The armchair sleuth group had a jam-packed weekend visiting Lizzie Borden-related sites for three days, beginning with a stop early Friday morning at the Fall River Police Department on Pleasant Street.  Deputy Chief Moniz greeted the group in the entry foyer and took them to the second floor to meet the new Chief of Police, Chief Racine who recently took over the position from Chief Souza.  Chief Racine knew his Bordenia, and solemnly (with a twinkle) swore in 18 new recruits as “official deputies” on the Borden case.  The group enjoyed a great ten minutes chatting with the busy Chief, who mentioned there was a $200 reward on the “tip hot line” for any clue which would assist in solving a case. After reflecting on the FRPD and their involvement in the Borden case, the “Mutton Eaters” were treated, as a special surprise, to a complete tour of the entire facility from the booking room to the dispatch and receivng room to the holding cells.  The Wall of Chiefs, which included Medley, Hilliard and Fleet was a big hit as well as the arrest book showing Lizzie Borden’s name.  They learned that chief and deputy chief badges are turned in when the officer retires, and that the three numbers which appear over the badge are numbers of fallen policemen, killed in the line of duty.  Currently three numbers appear although the force has actually lost  more.  The badge has not changed style since the era of Lizzie Borden as witnessed by the badge of Chief Medley, Fall River’s first titled Chief of Police.  It was learned that the crime scene camera in the archive was not the one used by Mr. Walsh to photograph the Borden house, but was dated slightly after 1892.

    Original blue lantern from the old FRPD building at Bedford and High Streets.

    The facilty was impressive, with the 24 hour dispatch and call -in room a state-of-the art- facility.  The night before the visit, Fall River sustained a large fire in a private residence, with the loss of one four year old child.  The dispatcher took the group through the procedure of how the calls were received, and how the response teams were sent out.  Also on the tour were the booking desk and a tour of the lock-up where sliding doors have replaced bars.  Male and female detainees are separated from each other in different sections of the building. 

     During the visit a review of a recent incident involving the discharging of an officer’s gun during a chase was being conducted, which is general procedure.  The briefing room was included and looked exactly like those seen on so many popular television programs.  The white board showed ongoing activity around the city, using the historic terminology for the sections of the city like Corky Row, Flint, Globe, etc.

    The visit was a highlight of the weekend for the group, and the viewing of the arrest book a special memory along with the great kindness and hospitality of the officers and employees.

  • The Mutton Eaters Online

    Warps & Wefts is pleased to announce a new feature for this site.  Beginning this month, articles and photos of the exploits of the Second Street Irregulars will appear.  The S.S.I. or “”Mutton Eaters” is an informal group of armchair sleuths from all over America who like to go “On the Road” whenever possible to chivvy out obscure and fascinating facts about the many individuals involved in the Lizzie Borden case. When the game’s a’foot there’s no telling what will happen or what they may find-and getting there is half the fun.  This month the spotlight is on William Medley, one of the observant policemen on the scene of the crime August 4th.  Our articles will remain for six months and are for private use only.  To access this month’s feature, click on the tab Mutton Eaters Online Article above or this link http://lizziebordenwarpsandwefts.com/january-mutton-eaters-online-article/  You will feel as if you were riding right alongside!

    For more about the Second Street Irregulars visit http://secondstreetirregulars.org/