• LizClipz Coming Soon!

    Beginning on January 1st, W&W will begin featuring fascinating short clippings from the Fall River papers and other newspapers from 1892 through the present which concern Lizzie herself or the endless parade of personalities involved in the case. They will remain accessible here in a sort of clippings archive. There is much to be learned from these small snippets in print!

    Fall River Globe, June 1892

  • Good Old Uncle John

    23017445_119566315824Poor Uncle John Morse- left out the movie yet again. Morse, the brother of Lizzie and Emma’s real mother, went missing in both made-for-TV movies. He had been invited to spend the night before the murders in the guest room where Abby would be murdered the next morning. Morse was an early suspect and was followed by an angry throng the night of the murders when he went to mail a letter. Morse had a very detailed and iron-clad alibi but many still think he knew something about the murders. An eccentric, and ill-clad old bachelor farmer and livestock dealer, he seemed on kindly terms with his niece Emma but not very close to Lizzie. He probably wished until his dying day that he had not stopped by the day before. He is buried in Iowa. Oh, and he once had training as a butcher.

  • A few changes for August 4th

    The Pear Essential Productions’ annual August 4th dramatization at the Borden house will have a few new faces this year. Mike Shogi, from Cleveland will be directing this year for the first time as long-time producer-director and script writer Shelley Dziedzic steps down after a long run.  She will still assist with ticket sales, script and costuming.

    ???????????????????????????????Mike is a familiar face at #92, having played Dr. Dolan in 2011 and Detective Seaver in 2012 as well as being one of the Second Street Irregulars “Muttoneaters” for many years.

    There will be some big changes in casting this year as well as a few old familiar faces reprising their usual roles.  Stay tuned for more cast announcements here.

    August 033Carol Ann Simone will be returning as Lizzie Borden this year, shown here in the famous pink and white striped wrapper which she designed and made herself.

    Below: The cast from August 4, 2012.

    cast2012

  • Providence Journal Launches Six-Part Serial for the 120th Anniversary of Lizzie’s Acquittal

    ProjoA much-anticipated series debuted today in the Sunday Providence Journal. ” Projo” writer Paul Davis certainly did his homework for this six-part article which runs all week and features some new, never-before-published information. The writing is crisp, accurate and thought-provoking and highlights trial coverage from 1893 Providence Journals.  Lizziephiles will be over the moon with the expansive coverage.  If you cannot obtain a hard copy of the paper, read all about it at the newspaper online link.

    http://www.providencejournal.com/topics/special-reports/lizzie-borden-anniversary/content/20130621-part-one-to-me-i-see-nothing-but-the-densest-of-shadows.ece

    A short trailer was put up on Saturday night to heighten anticipation.

    http://m.providencejournal.com/projo/db_/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=DDG8ZlUp

    A promotional online video is also on the Projo site and Youtube which features Warps and Wefts writer, Shelley Dziedzic who made a tour with Journal reporter Paul Davis in May.  The tour encompassed all things “Lizzie” in and around Fall River and a jaunt to the New Bedford courthouse to visit the scene where the 1893 trial unfolded.

  • Officer Peter Gaskell Bence

    One has to wonder if Eli Bence consulted his half-brother Peter Gaskell Bence in the matter of giving evidence to the Fall River Police Department regarding the attempt by the woman he identified as Lizzie to purchase prussic acid on August 3rd.  Peter Bence had received a political appointment to the Fall River Police Department in 1878 and served as a patrolman until 1880.  He is pictured above in his policeman’s uniform.

    The Bences were a large and close-knit family.  In 1892 Peter Bence, a widower, was preparing to marry again to Emma Macomber on August 25th.  His first wife, Sarah Jane Ball Bence had died in childbirth at their home at 117 Bay Street in 1890.  The house is still standing.  The topic of the Borden case, Eli’s evidence, and trial must surely have been a hot topic of discussion within those walls.  In 1893 Peter and his new wife moved into 56 Palmer Street, a duplex owned by the Harringtons, where they lived until after his second wife passed away.  Peter died in 1919 in Newport where he had been spending his last days with his son.

    After leaving the police force, Bence tried his hand at mill work as a weaver, many years as a carpenter and finally in later life, a janitor at the Mount Hope Elementary School.  Carpentry was his first love and he did decorative interior woodworking at the B.M.C. Durfee High School and the Granite Block downtown. Boat building was a hobby.

    Peter Bence, born in 1849, and his sister Ellen were born in Heaton Norris, Lancashire, England. Ellen died as an infant and Peter immigrated with his father William and stepmother Sarah in 1854.  The family were living in Braintree when Eli Bence was born.

    Peter and his wives are buried in the family plot in Oak Grove Cemetery, next to his parents.  He does not have a marker.

    *Photo above and some data courtesy of Ancestry.com and the Bence family descendants

  • And the results are in for August 4th

    After the annual August 4th dramatization by the Pear Essential Players, visitors on tour at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum were asked to fill out an exit poll and give any comments they wished to leave.  Some of the results were surprising and humorous.

    Lizzie Guilty  55, Lizzie Innocent  11, Lizzie undecided or neutral  1,  Uncle John Morse Guilty or Involved  24,  Billy Borden, Guilty  1, Typhoid Mary  1, Emma Borden Guilty  1,  Hired Professional Killer 1, Bridget Sullivan Guilty  6, Uncle John and Bridget together  1.

    Motives ran the gamut: greed and hatred of stepmother, money and revenge, secret love affair between Lizzie and her Uncle John, mental instability,  resentment, payback, anger, jealousy, incest, left out of will, freedom,  and envy of her wealthy girlfriends on the Hill.

    Other suspects considered were:  an evicted tenant of Andrew Borden’s, and Lizzie and Bridget working together, Bridget aiding in the cover-up.

    One very interesting motive for murder proposed was the effect that “overly busy patterns on the wall paper and carpeting brought on mental stress”, as did the killing of Lizzie’s “pet raven” which was probably confused with the pigeons Andrew Borden killed by wringing their necks.

    Under the category of weapon, all agreed on HATCHET, with one writer filling in the word “Sufficient”!

    For the most part all agreed that the murders would never be solved, with only two claiming confidence that they would be.

    After the performances ended, there was a drawing for an overnight stay for two at the B&B.  The Aruda family, who live in Fall River, won.  The cast of 16 was the largest ever since the B&B opening in 1996.  Carol Ann Simone debuted as Lizzie this year to an appreciative crowd.  Tickets had sold out by lunch time.

  • A Weekend with Lizzie Borden Not to Be Missed

    For those who cannot get enough of the Borden Case, this will be a four-star weekend featuring the annual dramatization at the house on Second Street ( tickets on sale now at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast) and a VERY special exhibit which opens on August 4th and runs through September 30th at the Fall River Historical Society. For Letterboxers, a special letterbox will be hidden in Fall River to mark the 120th anniversary of the historic crime. Atlasquest.com will have the clue, so bring your stamp and notepad, an inkpad is provided in the box. To see the clue type Fall River, MA in the locator box at the Atlasquest.com site. Got Lizzie?  And how!

  • Pear Essential Players One Day Only

    Once a year the only dedicated amateur Bordenian thespian troupe gathers to put on their dramatization of events at the Borden house on August 4th.  There will be a new Lizzie this year and a few other new faces.  The amateur performers come together from all over the country only once a year on the 4th for this event.  The group was founded in 1993 and the cast has increased every year with this year’s cast featuring 16 character roles.  Tickets may be reserved by calling the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum at 508-675-7333.  Major credit cards accepted.  Tickets can be reserved for you in the giftshop for pick-up on the day of the event or purchased during giftshop hours.  Don’t be disappointed-tickets sell out fast!

    Abby Borden- Shelley Dziedzic

    Andrew Borden- Don Sykes

    Lizzie Borden- Carol Ann Simone

    Emma Borden- Barbara Morrissey

    Uncle John Morse- Joe Radza

    Bridget Sullivan- Suzann Rogers

    Marshal Hilliard- Ray Mitchell

    Officer Phil Harrington- Mark Lomastro

    Dr. Bowen- Jack Sheridan

    Mrs. Phebe Bowen- Ellen Borden

    Addie Churchill- JoAnne Giovino

    Dr. Dolan- Michael Shogi

    Miss Manning- Eliza Marks

    Nellie Bly, Intrepid Globe-Spanning Reporter- Katrina Shogi

    Undertaker Winward- Jerry Pacheco

    Alice Russell- Kristin Pepe

  • The Night Sky on August 4, 1892

    http://choyt48.home.comcast.net/~choyt48/jcayer_run.htm

    Mr. Ayers was the kingpin of patent medicines in the mid-Victorian era.  Lowell, Massachusetts was the center of his far-reaching enterprise and his annual almanac publication was seen in the kitchen and privies of New England homes for decades, usually hanging on a nail by a piece of string.   August 4th shows the sunrise at 4:55 a.m., sunset at 7:15 p.m in the far right Massachusetts column.  Alice Russell was right about one thing- anyone tampering with the Borden’s milk can on the north side steps would have been seen at 5 a.m., provided someone was looking!  The full moon was on the 8th, which would have shone over the holding tomb containing the bodies of Abby and Andrew Borden.

  • August 4th is Coming Soon !

    The Pear Essential Players Present

    A Dramatization of August 4th on Second Street 

    Saturday, August 4, 2012

    Reserved Tickets are Now On sale at

    The Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum

    Turn back the clock to the morning of August 4, 1892.  The bodies of Abby and Andrew Borden have been discovered cruelly murdered at their home on Second Street.  The friends and neighbors have gathered around daughters Emma and Lizzie as the police and doctors collect evidence and question the inhabitants of #92.  Can you help the police solve the mystery?  Who could have committed such a grisly deed? 

    A drawing for the day’s tour visitors will be held after the last performance for a Gift Certificate for Two for a night at the Bed & Breakfast.  The Drawing is at 4:15 p.m. Follow the Pear Essential Players on Facebook and at http://pearessentialproductions.org/ 

    Abby Borden- Shelley Dziedzic

    Andrew Borden- Don Sykes

    Lizzie Borden- Carol Ann Simone

    Emma Borden- Barbara Morrissey

    Uncle John Morse- Joe Radza

    Bridget Sullivan- Suzann Rogers

    Marshal Hilliard- Ray Mitchell

    Officer Phil Harrington- Mark Lomastro

    Dr. Bowen- Jack Sheridan

    Mrs. Phebe Bowen- Ellen Borden

    Addie Churchill- JoAnne Giovino

    Dr. Dolan- Michael Shogi

    Miss Manning- Eliza Marks

    Nellie Bly, Intrepid Globe-Spanning Reporter- Katrina Shogi

    Undertaker Winward- Jerry Pacheco

    Alice Russell- Kristin Pepe

    A new Miss Lizzie is making her debut!  Tickets go on sale July 15th! Call 508-675-7333 to reserve.

  • Send for Mr. Walsh!

    One very good reason the Borden case has made such a long-lasting impression in the public consciousness for so many decades must surely be the unforgettable crime scene photos of Abby and Andrew Borden.  For these we have James A. Walsh to thank for forever capturing the brutal wounds inflicted upon the elderly couple.. Even in black and white, the victims and the grisly scenarios which unfolded that day in 1892 still fascinate and horrify today.

    James Walsh was a portrait photographer- one of many with shops on North and South Main Street in the 1890s.  It was fashionable to have photographs taken of all family members, individual portraits, groups, youngsters and even infants.  Post mortem photographs were also commonly done to preserve one last glimpse of a precious family member recently- departed.

    It is unknown just who on the police force decided the Borden homicides were important enough to be carefully photographed but Mr. Walsh and his camera were sent for on the afternoon of August 4th.  His home was on nearby Rodman Street and the studio was at 66 South Main, neither very far from the Borden residence on Second Street.  The police departments in most cities did not include a crime scene photographer on their payroll.  It is doubtful Mr. Walsh could ever imagine that so many years later, those memorable photos would still be carefully studied by so many interested in the case.

    The prints online of the crime scenes, interiors and exteriors of #92 Second Street do not do justice to the original prints held in the Fall River Historical Society archives where the details are much clearer and sharper. Unfortunately, by the time Mr. Walsh arrived late in the afternoon, the bodies of both victims had been examined and moved and so the positions seen in the photographs were not exactly as they were following the attacks. Mrs. Borden had been turned over and back at least once, and Mr. Borden’s pockets had been gone through to see if burglary had been a motive. It is even likely that he was arranged in a more decorous manner on the sofa for the photo, befitting his stature in the city.  His arm is clearly propped up with a pillow and it is likely his slip-on Congress boots were put back on his feet.   It is hard to imagine police forensic work today without the all-important crime scene photos. During the Jack the Ripper investigation, one policeman suggested photographing the victim’s eyes as the last thing seen would still be imprinted on the retina! Those photos have also immortalized the Ripper case.

    Cartes de visites (CDVs) or cabinet photos by Walsh are fairly common on Ebay in the 4-5 dollar range and are fun to collect.  Often the back of the card is as interesting as the front; Walsh’s were very elegant. Who knows- more photos of the Borden family might still be out there! (scans below W&W archive with thanks to Joseph Soares)

     

  • A Red Letter Day in Fall River

    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!

  • Cooling Board

    Among the fascinating photos taken by hired photographer Mr. Walsh, on the day of the murders is this one below of Andrew Borden reclining post mortem on a caned autopsy board(sometimes called a cooling board). Cooling boards came in many patented designs. Air had to circulate through in the  styles which had no ice drawer beneath, so wooden ones were frequently drilled with holes in elaborate patterns. Cane was naturally open-weave.  In this photo, Mr. Borden has an incision from sternum to abdomen which was needed in order to extract his stomach.  The same procedure was done on Mrs. Borden in the diningroom while Mr. Borden’s took place in front of the black horsehair sofa in the sitting room. A portion of the sofa may be seen in the background as well as the arm of the sofa.  The doorway in the center of the photo goes into the kitchen.

    After a long search, the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast museum has procured an 1890’s autopsy board which is strikingly similar, if not exact, to the one on which Mr. Borden reclines. This model folds in the middle so as to make it easy for the medical examiner or mortician to transport it.

    The term “cooling board” also refers to another type of solid wooden board upon which the body is laid while in transit, awaiting transit or awaiting attention from the mortician. The body literally goes from a warm state just post mortem to “cooling” on the flat surface.  Vintage cooling boards are quite collectible and can easily fetch a sum between 400- 1000 dollars.

  • The air tight alibi

    Joseph Wilmarth Carpenter, Jr. left the Borden & Almy business “under a cloud”, and with some hard feelings toward crusty Andrew Borden.  That news was known about town.  After Andrew Borden was murdered, Mr. Carpenter’s history with the victim made him a “person of interest.” He may have done better to stick around town and face the music. Still, he was off the hook with an air tight alibi.

    Carpenter’s family monument and head stone is seen below in Oak Grove Cemetery.

    (Top photo by Will Clawson)