By Jo Anne Giovino with photography and research by Barbara Morrissey and Kristin Pepe *(All rights reserved, August 2019)
Although it was a dark and stormy night, the Intrepid Trio, Jo Anne Giovino, Kristin Pepe and Barbara Morrissey was dauntless in their pursuit of Lizzie A. Borden. This mission took us to Haverhill, Massachusetts, a city about forty minutes from our home base, Billerica, MA. Destination: Buttonwoods Museum, for a presentation on Lizzie Borden. After a brief stop for sustenance and pumpkin ale at the Barking Dog, we arrived at our appointed time. Unfortunately, the talk was a bust – but do not despair! The effort was not in vain.
While Barbara was conversing with a newly-found distant cousin, Kristin and JoAnne spotted a lighted display cabinet in the rear of the room and went to investigate. What we saw left us bewildered and amazed. In the cabinet was an original full set of the transcripts of the case, “The Commonwealth of Massachusetts vs. Lizzie A. Borden”. Printed on the display card was “From the collection of William H. Moody”. Obviosuly it never occurred to us that there would be a privately –owned copy of the transcripts outside of Fall River or New Bedford.
This discovery begged the question, “Why were the transcripts here and how is Moody connected to Haverhill?”
Thus began our journey of Finding Moody.
As we know, Wm. H. Moody was one of the prosecutors for the Commonwealth in the Borden case. He was appointed by Massachusetts Attorney General Pillsbury to assist the District Attorney of the Southern District of Massachusetts, Hosea Knowlton. Mr. Moody gave the opening statement to the jury which concisely and cogently laid out a strong case against Lizzie A. Borden. Moody was praised for his effort and many believed Lizzie to be doomed. As a peripheral character in the case, our personal knowledge of Mr. Moody was limited. But, as Charter Members of The Second Street Irregulars (Muttoneaters) , we knew there had to be more to Wm. H. Moody than this. As we have learned from other personalities in the case, no person is a one-dimensional individual. There was a rumor after the trial that Lizzie sent a packet of newspaper clippings and photos to Moody with a note that read, “ As a memento of an interesting occasion.” Was that true? Will the Intrepid Trio discover the truth? There was only one way to find out. Channeling Sherlock Holmes, our investigation began.
“The Game’s Afoot”
Finding Mr. Moody proved to be quite an endeavor. After searching the Internet and making numerous phone calls, we got some leads. Our first stop, the Haverhill Public Library, was a treasure trove of information. The Special Collections Department had newspaper clippings, scrap books kept by Moody and his sister, letters, photographs, and most impressively, the trial transcripts. Next, we went to the Buttonwoods Museum located in historic Duncan House, which is the home of the Haverhill Historical Society. The museum has a room dedicated to Wm. H. Moody with furnishings and personal belongings donated by his sister after his death. The staff and volunteers were very generous with their time and opened the room to us despite the museum being closed to the public at that time. Seeing these tangible objects and knowing that they belonged to Mr. Moody was very poignant. One realizes that he was an individual with a life, friends, and family and not simply a footnote from some celebrated case. In searching census records we were able to discover an address for Moody’s residence. Not knowing for sure if the house was still standing, we went in search of the home. With the assistance of GPS, we were successful in finding his home. Mr. Moody owned a large, beautiful Federal style house in a very prestigious section of Haverhill, akin to Lizzie’s house on the hill, Maplecroft. Luckily it is still standing and we were able to take pictures and envision how it must have looked in its heyday. Our final stop was definitely the most time-consuming in research, but the most rewarding – locating Moody’s final resting place. Contrary to what one may think, this distinguished gentleman is interred in a small family plot in a rural cemetery in Byfield, Massachusettts, a village north of Haverill. He lies with his mother, father, brother and sister. As with Lizzie and Emma, none of the children ever married.
We are appreciative of those who graciously assisted us in our research. The following is the pertinent information we found about William H. Moody.
William Henry Moody was born to Henry Lord Moody and Melissa Augusta Emerson ( a distant relative of the poet Ralph Waldo Emerson) on February 23, 1853 in Newbury, Massachusetts, a small fishing village outside of Haverhill. His father was a farmer and came from agrarian stock. Similar to the Borden family, the Moody family settled in America sometime in the 1600s. At this time we did not determine from which country the family emigrated. William was one of three children.
When William was quite young, his father, valuing the importance of education, moved the family to Haverhill. He attended the prestigious boys school, Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts where he graduated with a diploma in 1872. After graduation he attended Harvard University and graduated in 1876. While attending Harvard, William became acquainted with an underclassman, Theodore Roosevelt. Although Teddy was a few years below William, they had outdoorsmanship, sports, and friends in common. This developed into a life-long friendship which would prove to be quite valuable to William’s future. Moody was an excellent baseball player and was captain of the Harvard baseball team. He was also an avid debater on the Harvard debate team. After graduation he attended Harvard School of Law. However, he chose to leave school and practice law under the guidance of Richard Henry Dana, Jr. William successfully passed the bar and became a lawyer.
Being a very prominent lawyer and politician, in 1888 he gained his first elected position, Solicitor for Haverill, Massachusetts. Later he was appointed U.S. Attorney for Eastern Massachusetts (1890-1895). It is during this time Bordenphiles are introduced to Mr. Moody. In 1893 he was chosen by Attorney General Pillsbury to be associate prosecutor in the Borden trial. This was his first murder trial. Although the Commonwealth did not prevail in the Borden case, Moody continued on with a distinguished career. By 1895 Mr. Moody was elected federal representative of Massachusetts (1895-1902). By this time his old Harvard classmate was elected President of the United States. President Roosevelt called upon Moody to be his Secretary of the Navy (1902-1904), U.S. Attorney General (1904-1906), and the ultimate achievement, Justice of the Supreme Court (1906-1910), serving until the severe rheumatism forced Justice Moody to retire from the bench. William returned home to Haverhill where he stayed active in politics and renewed friendships until his death on July 2, 1917, President Roosevelt attended his friend’s burial.
William H. Moody was a beloved resident of Haverhill. Over his lifetime he was feted for his many accomplishments by his fellow townsmen with parades and dinners held in his honor. In 1919 the U.S.S. Moody, a destroyer, was commissioned in his honor. His sister, Mary, christened the ship which was built at the Squantum Victory Shipyard in Quincy, Massachusetts.
He served our country with distinction and was a valued and dedicated public servant.
Sometimes life takes us on unexpected journeys and this is one of them. We have been fortunate to make Lizzie Borden-related discoveries in “our neck of the woods”. I say fortunate because these adventures allow us all to gain knowledge and realization that those we read about from the case are more than a name on a page or a mere character cast in a murder mystery.
By the way, we did not find that letter and packet from Lizzie to William – at least not yet.
Sources: Buttonwoods Museum, Haverhill, MA
Haverhill Public Library, Haverhill
Lizzie Borden Past and Present, Leonard Rebello, Al-Zach Press, 1999.
Various Internet articles and newspapers
As mentioned in an earlier article on Warps and Wefts, http://lizziebordenwarpsandwefts.com/mutton-eaters-february-article/, Eli Bence and his testimony about Lizzie Borden coming into the pharmacy where he was a counter clerk on the day before the murders was bombshell testimony. Although allowed through the Preliminary, Bence’s important revelations did not make it into the 1893 trial, being ruled as “too far remote in time” from the actual killings. No prussic acid was found in the bodies of either Borden, not surprising as the lady who inquired for the deadly poison could not obtain it without a prescription. Perhaps Bence’s and the testimony of the dress burning incident by Alice Russell might have turned the tide for Lizzie, had either been allowed.
Bence moved to New Bedford and set up his own drug store by 1894, then after the death of his wife, remarried a Fairhaven girl, Annie Coggshell Maxfield, whose father ran a successful plumbing concern on Bridge St. Bence eventually moved to Pittsfield, Massachusetts with son Roy by his first wife Sarah Hayhurst, and his son Maxfield by his second wife Annie. They also had a little girl Priscilla who died very young. Bence died at his Pittsfield home after suffering a stroke while riding in a car returning from the Berkshires with his son and daughter in law and wife on May 4, 1915. He is buried in Fairhaven by the side of his wife Annie and their daughter Priscilla.
The only photograph we have seen of Bence until now has been of the earnest, 27 year old who tried to give his testimony at Lizzie’s trial.
Bence’s parents, William and Sarah are buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, Fall River.
The Fall River Historical Society special August-4-Sept 30 exhibit will display, for the first time, the post mortem photographs of Abby and Andrew Borden. Other rare and never-displayed items from the trial and trial lawyers will be on exhibit.
The promised article is finally available via the Fall River Herald news http://www.heraldnews.com/news/x221044214/New-photos-surface-of-former-Lizzie-Borden-maid-after-murders
and contains the very interesting comment pertaining to Sullivan’s personality as being humorless, stern, and even “mean.” Reading Bridget’s testimony and statements made in 1892-1893, she gives the impression of being careful with her statements, and not just a little bit nervous and afraid to say anything negative about Lizzie or the family, so this new revelation causes one to wonder if Bridget developed the stern, mean and humorless traits after the trial or did she always have such a personality?
For decades the story has been widely circulated that Bridget had something to “get off her chest” and either died without telling “something about that Fall River business” – or else confessed it to a priest with her dying breath. What the something was, or even if all or a part of this story is true yet remains to be proven without a doubt. People have speculated what the something could be: she knew the dress Lizzie gave to the police was not the dress Lizzie had on that morning of the murders, Bridget helped clean up blood or other evidence, she knew Lizzie was guilty but protected the family in return for a favor, etc. The list of possibilities is endless. The notion that Bridget knew something but would never tell is, however, provocative and the recent disclosure of the photos and comments by a great niece of Bridget’s husband, John Sullivan, Diana Porter, only add even more flavor to conjectures about Bridget and what she knew. No single person was in a better position to know the daily workings of the Borden household better than Bridget, and so anything about her or anything which will emerge in the future promises to be greeted with eager eyes and ears.
Copies of the two photos will be added to Warps and Wefts as soon as the proper permissions have been granted.
So much has been happening in the Borden sphere of late that you need a program to keep up. Not all has been happy news, but most has been cause for celebration.
1. The Central Congregational Church: Things are looking grim for Lizzie’s old church on Rock Street with hopes high yet for a reprieve once again. http://www.heraldnews.com/news/x962233671/Fall-Rivers-former-Central-Congregational-faces-wrecking-ball
2. HBO Mini Series The much-anticipated four-hour series starring Chloe Sevigny and backed by Tom Hanks’ Playtone Productions is still simmering on the back burner. Hopefully when Miss Sevigny wraps her latest project, this fresh take on the Borden saga will get cookin’!
3. Donation of Andrew Jennings’ private notes and journal to the Fall River Historical Society was the exciting news this past weekend as the famous “hip bath collection” yielded one more treasure which was turned over to the historical society. http://www.heraldnews.com/news/x1785609188/Handwritten-journals-from-Lizzie-Borden-lawyer-donated-to-FRHS
4. Parallel Lives is recognized at New England Book Fair http://www.heraldnews.com/news/x570348962/Parallel-Lives-book-on-Lizzie-Borden-wins-honorable-mention
5. Coming Soon! Fall River Revisited by Stefani Koorey. Preorder now at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0738576840/ref=tsm_1_fb_lk
6. The Dead Files visit in January to the Borden house should be airing March 16th at 10 p.m. on the Travel Channel. Check the website for schedule and more on hosts, Amy and Steve. http://www.travelchannel.com/tv-shows/the-dead-files
Christmas came early this year for those who enjoy Fall River history and have an interest in the Borden case and the enigmatic Miss Lizzie. Parallel Lives was released this morning to the public. By 11: 30 a.m. a long line snaked its way down the pavement toward Maple Street and there was a feeling of restless expectation in the air as the noon hour approached. . A man came around the corner bearing two copies of the coveted tome as heads swiveled to catch a glimpse. A spontaneous outburst of appreciation went up from the crowd followed by many comments as to the SIZE of the massive tome.
No preview copies were released for reviewing to anyone, so it was with enormous excitement today’s release was anticipated. Beginning on Friday, the benefactors of the publication enjoyed a special gathering, followed by Saturday night’s annual Christmas Open House for members, and capping off an extraordinary weekend with today’s public release of the book, viewing of a special exhibit of materials featured in the book (cards, letters, gifts Lizzie presented to friends, etc.) and a tour of the Christmas decorations, always an annual treat.
The authors held court in the front parlor at a beautifully decorated table with a red rose Christmas arrangement, signing autographs and having photographs taken with visitors. On the lawn, on the stairs, and anywhere one could sit, people clutched their volume, looking eagerly through the pages. From all corners came appreciative little shrieks of excitement as never-before-seen photos were discovered, especially those showing Lizzie herself. Even those who vowed not to ruin the surprise until they could sit at leisure soon gave way to overwhelming curiosity and were soon leafing furiously through the pages. Some had driven hours to pick up their copies.
It would be presumptuous to attempt any sort of review of this major work until the whole was digested, therefore the Warps & Wefts review will be forthcoming in the near future. Suffice it to say, Parallel Lives is as plummy a Christmas pudding as anyone could ever wish for, chock full of juicy morsels, delicious facts and photos, fascinating history, surprises and many hours of enthralled reading. To reveal too much would be to ruin your own Christmas surprise- so-
Just spring to your sleigh, to your team give a whistle,
To Rock Street fly like the down of a thistle.
Parallel Lives is the gift sure to please, so take heed,
Happy holidays to all, and to all a good read!
The Gazette had an article marking Lizzie’s acquittal anniversary on June 20th.
A welcome home party was given for Lizzie at the home of Charles and Marianna Holmes on Pine Street on the day of the acquittal. Their house is still standing. Those waiting outside the murder house on Second Street, hoping for a glimpse of Lizzie, were disappointed.
Below: The Holmes house on Pine Street today, the scene of Lizzie’s triumphant return to Fall River, a free woman. It is now subdivided into several apartments. In the background, steeple of the Episcopal Church of the Ascension on Rock St. (now called Holy Spirit).
Cropped images courtesy of Ancestry.com, click on image to enlarge.
1900– Annie Smith, aged 29 born in Massachusetts, parents from Ireland
John H. Tatro (Tetrault) 37 coachman, born in Rhode Island
1910: Housekeeper Mary S. Boucher aged 35 born in New Jersey , Mary A.J. Reynolds aged 32, English
1920 Helen Smith aged 36 born in Scotland, came to America in 1909, Ellen “Nellie Miller” aged 30, English, came to America in 1891
Axe or hatchet? – Most likely a hatchet or a short-handled axe.
Top Ten List of Most Often-Quoted Borden Case Errors
1. Lizzie was found guilty by jury of the murders of her mother and father.
Actually Lizzie was acquitted on all three counts, the murder of her father, her stepmother and both at the trial in New Bedford, June 1893.
2. Lizzie Borden was a redhead.
According to her passport she had light brown hair.
3. Lizzie’s father cut off the heads of Lizzie’s pet pigeons with a hatchet.
Andrew Borden did kill the pigeons, but by wringing their necks, according to Lizzie’s inquest statement.
4. Lizzie decapitated Abby Borden’s tabby kitten.
We have only the interview of Abby Borden’s niece, Abbie Whitehead Potter stating that Lizzie killed a kitten. The Whitehead family, with reason, had very little sympathy towards Lizzie, and this tale cannot be validated.
5. Lizzie Borden was a big, mannish woman.
Lizzie was 5 ft. 3 inches tall according to her passport, average for the times. She had put on weight during the ten months she was incarcerated in Taunton jail. Her face did have a heavy lower jaw and was described by one newspaper as a face with attributes very common to the region.
6. Lizzie and her sister sold the house where the murders took place on Second Street after Lizzie was acquitted in 1893.
The sisters held on to the property until 1918.
7. Lizzie was a kleptomaniac.
Legend has it that she shoplifted at local Main St. stores and that the bill for what she had pilfered would be sent to her father to pay. Shoplifting was surprisingly not uncommon among ladies of the period. There is no documentation at present in existence that Lizzie was a kleptomaniac and that Andrew paid the bills. The only corroborating bit of evidence is of a documented thievery of a porcelain wall ornament which went “missing” from the Tilden and Thurber jewelry store in Providence. When the item was taken back to the store for a repair, the owner was questioned about its provenance only to be told Lizzie Borden had been the gift giver. This matter was eventually settled privately. It is possible that Lizzie was a shoplifter in younger years, but not proven so.
8. Andrew Borden was a mortician.
Andrew Borden was trained as a carpenter and then went into business as a furniture and household goods retailer. He invested wisely in real estate, including two small farms, all of which would bring him a good financial return, and as a sideline, he was an undertaker. Undertaker in 1890 parlance meant a person who would supply items needed for a funeral. He was neither a funeral director, embalmer, nor mortician. An invoice has been found for his services and for a casket, signed by Borden. It was not uncommon for furniture retailers to supply wooden coffins and caskets and have a showroom or warehouse facility containing these items.
9. Lizzie committed the two murders in the nude.
Thanks to the 1975 film starring Elizabeth Montgomery as Lizzie, the nude murderess scenario has its supporters. In 1890, the thought was put forth that the killer must be saturated with blood, and it should have been impossible to hide or escape without the telltale blood evidence being detected. In fact, the killer need not have been covered from head to toe with blood, or could have worn, then later destroyed a protective covering garment. It would be unusual for a lady in the era of corsets and petticoats to have stripped bare twice on a sunny morning and walked around the house in broad daylight , then to clean up in between in a large tin basin in the cellar. Not impossible- just unlikely.
10. Lizzie Borden killed her stepmother and father.
So often assumed as fact , – in fact, nobody will ever have the final answer to this one. Based on the evidence given to the jury then, and in re-examinations of the trial evidence now, Lizzie is acquitted. Her inquest testimony, prussic acid evidence, and dress-burning evidence were not allowed at the trial. The fact that a side door remained open for almost an hour, and that an intruder could have entered the house and concealed himself, allows for reasonable doubt. And therein lies the fascination with this case.
Got a favorite oft-quoted but unsubstantiated Borden case statement to share? Please leave a comment!
Lizzie’s furs, her sealskin “sacques”. reputed to have required Prussic acid with which to remove moths in that testimony by pharmacist Eli Bence were a luxury garment. The furs were rumored to have been a 30th birthday gift for Lizzie prior to her trip to Europe on the Grand Tour with lady friends. Furs as a rule are put in cold storage in the Spring and removed later for winter wear. Apparently Emma Borden knew how to take care of her fur coats as this Portsmouth Herald newspaper reported on August 5, 1943, long after Emma’s death. Nice to know Emma had a few luxuries.
The text of the article:
” Miss Emma’s identity was kept secret by Miss Anne Connors with whom she lived in Newmarket and townspeople had no idea of the connection with the reknown Borden family until her death when she was buried beside her sister, mother, and her murdered father and stepmother. A quiet, elderly woman who was always dressed in rich mourning, she never visited neighbors and made two trips to Boston, one to put her fur coat in storage at the beginning of summer, and the other to take it out in the fall.
Miss Lizzie, on the other hand, lived in her new and modern home, attempted to resume her ardent church activities and made frequent trips to Boston where harrassed hotel managers tried to keep her presence a secret from other patrons and newspapermen.”
It’s seldom one hears about life with Lizzie at Maplecroft. From time to time nuggets of her day-to-day life are revealed by guests who stay at #92 Second Street – guests whose grandparents had seen or had spoken to Lizzie in the years before her death in 1927, or those who had worked for her in various capacities. One guest spoke of how Lizzie kept small foil-wrapped peppermint patties in a dish inside the front doors of Maplecroft in case a child might wander into her yard. This was confirmed by another guest whose father was welcomed into the foyer at Maplecroft when he was a tyke, and given candy and kind words by Miss Lizzie. We hear of her concern for animals, and many anonymous gifts of cash to worthy causes and to people in need. Her chauffeur’s son was assisted financially by Miss Borden in his quest for a medical school education, another child was helped with camp fees, veterinarian’s fees were paid when a dog was struck by a car and the owner was too poor to pay.
All of this paints another picture of what we have all come to think of Lizzie Borden. She was a multi-dimensional personality. Now the story of the little girl who was not afraid to bring Lizzie milk and eggs has been written , with more insights on one of Fall River’s old families, and the kindness of Lizzie Borden. To read this article by Jack Faria, please click on Another Side of Lizzie Borden at the top of the page, or click on this link :
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
Several ladies in New Bedford and Fall River, anticipating Lizzie’s acquittal in June of 1893, decided to raise a “purse” to send the long-suffering Miss Borden on a treat to Chicago to see the Columbian Exposition, an event celebrating 400 years since Christopher Columbus made his famous landing. The White City was the place to see when it opened in 1893.
Instead of a cash purse, vacation coupons were assiduously clipped and mailed in to the newspaper with Lizzie Borden’s name on them for a contest where the first prize was the coveted trip to Chicago. According to the Fall River Weekly News, she received 94,097 coupons and came in second. She declined to accept the generous second prize of a trip to Narragansett Pier on the advice of Mr. Andrew Jennings, her attorney, and funded her own trip, which she could now easily afford.
Leaving sister Emma to unpack at Maplecroft, Lizzie set off in early October with Miss Alice Buck, Rev. Buck’s daughter, and Miss Caroline Borden for a Girls -On- A- Spree- Adventure! Fun to imagine Lizzie up in a hot air balloon or riding the new-fangled Ferris Wheel.
While Lizzie was visiting, America’s first serial killer, H.H. Holmes was plying a grisly trade at his Murder Castle in Chicago near the fairgrounds, specializing in renting rooms to unmarried ladies without family who were traveling to Chicago to see the fair. Just suppose Lizzie and the ladies had opted to stay there!
For more on the Expo visit this excellent site to view the many delights Lizzie witnessed http://columbus.gl.iit.edu/
For more about H.H. Holmes, visit http://www.hhholmesthefilm.com/ A must -read is Devil in the White City by Erik Larson http://www.randomhouse.com/crown/devilinthewhitecity/home.html
(reference source, Lizzie Borden, Past and Present, Leonard Rebello, Alzach Press, 1999, p.187.)