August 4th

  • Patrick Doherty

    1896 photograph courtesy Fall River Police Dept.

    Patrick Doherty arrived at the Borden house slightly after 11:30.  His observations about the crime scene in the guest room are worthy of note, especially his remarks on the blood of Abby Borden, which would give good indication that her death was considerably before the death of Andrew Borden. Doherty was in the thick of things that morning, first having a good look at Andrew Borden’s wounds:

    “I noticed there was one wound down here, across the eye, that was very deep. It looked to me on the left side of the face, the right side was on the sofa, and the eye seemed to be knocked out, hanging by some thread or something. There was another wound came down by the nose, or down by the cheek bone, the cheek bone was open wide, by the cheek bone clear down to the neck was laid right open.” (Preliminary)

     Then Doherty followed Dr. Bowen upstairs to examine the body of Abby. Doherty moved the bed. His was the first examination, before the arrival of medical examiner, Dr. Dolan:

    ” I went to the foot of the bed; I looked at her. She was laying face downwards between the dressing case and the bed. I noticed three or four blood spots on the pillow sham, and a bunch of hair on the bed.

    Q. How large a bunch?

    A. Well, it was a small bunch.

    Q. It was not a switch or false hair?

    A. No, I think it was human hair that had been pulled out, or something, been cut out, or something.

    Q. Give me some idea how much.

    A. About half as big as that, I should think.

    Q. On the bed?

    A. On the bed. I wanted to examine the woman, but there was not room between the bed and dressing case to walk. I walked back to the foot of the bed, up around the north side of the bed, and I pulled it out about three feet, away from her.

    Q. Towards the street?

    A. No, pulled it against the north wall, away from her head.

    Q. So to make the space between the bed and the dressing case, wider?

    A. Yes. I pulled it away, and I went in, and I stooped down and I saw that she was lying in a pool of thick black blood, and her head was all cut.

    Q. Face down, or back down?

    A. Face down.

    Q. How were her arms?

    A. This way, something like that. I just put one finger here, and raised this a little bit so I could see under the hair around the ear better.”(Preliminary)

     Afterward, Doherty ran down Spring St. to place a call to the city marshal.  The telephone was in the undertaker’s shop which was opposite the Catholic Church (St. Mary’s). When Doherty returned to #92 Dr. Dolan was on the spot, and after speaking with the maid, Bridget Sullivan, Doherty enlisted Officer Mullaly in making a search of the house. The cellar door was locked, and rooms were searched with the exception of Emma’s room.

    “Q. What did you find in your search?

    A. We did not find anything.

    Q. Were you one of those who assisted in finding the hatchets?

    A. I was there when the officer had the hatchet; I did not find it.

    Q. And the axes?

    A. Yes sir.

    Q. What officer had it when you first saw it?

    A. Mr. Mullaly.

    Q. You did not see where he got it?

    A. I did not see where he got it. I saw him take it from a shelf about as high as his head.

    Q. Did you make any examination of the hatchet yourself?

    A. I just looked over his shoulder at it, that is, stood by his side and looked at it. ” (Preliminary)

    Doherty also had an interview with Lizzie:

    “A. I said “Miss Borden, where were you when your father was killed”? She said “I was in the barn”. I said “is there any Portuguese working on the farm over the River for your father?’ She said “no sir”.”Who works for your father?” She says “Mr. Eddy, and Mr. Johnson; and Mr. Eddy has been sick.” I asked her if either Mr. Eddy or Mr. Johnson were in town this morning, or up here to the house this morning. She said “no sir.” “Neither Mr. Eddy nor Mr. Johnson would hurt my father.”

    Q. Anything more?

    A. No Sir.

    Q. Did she say anything about a noise, or hearing any noise?

    A. Yes Sir. I asked her, I said “Miss Borden, did you hear any screams, or outcries”? She said “No sir. I heard some kind of a peculiar noise”. I says “can you describe the noise”? She says “no, not very well; something like scraping”. That is all the conversation I had with her.”(Preliminary)

     Doherty was also sent to inspect the properties surrounding the Borden house and went to examine the views from the Chagnon house behind the Borden barn.  Doherty would also give a good description of the dress Lizzie had on that morning as being a light blue background, a “challie” cotton print with a dark blue figure or spot on it, a description which is similar to that given by others.

  • Youtube Lizzie

    Pear Essential Players Appear in Recent House Promo

    Ric Rebelo has produced another great Lizzie video, this one promoting the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast. The Pear Essential Players, a “Bordenian” Acting Troupe which performs only on August 4th, is featured in in 2008 and 2009 performances.  The video is accompanied by wonderfully atmospheric music and commentary by co-owner, Lee Ann Wilber.

  • Views through the windows

    On the morning of August 4th, if you were contemplating murder from inside #92, the first floor was a good place to be, for on the first floor a killer inside could be able to easily watch all four sides around the house without having to unlock doors and run up and down stairs.  Lizzie has no confirmable alibi for either murder- but she claims she spent the morning in the kitchen by the stove reading  during the interval when Abby Borden was murdered upstairs.  With Bridget starting the window-washing on the south end, and Lizzie sitting at the table between the kitchen windows overlooking the south end- she could easily have seen all Bridget was doing.  The windows are set so high from the ground, Bridget would not have been able to look inside the house or see anyone standing in a room, from the outside unless that person were standing in the window.

    Bridget spent a leisurely time chatting with Mary Doolan, the Kelly maid from next door over by the south side fence (now a wall) which is clearly visible from either south-facing kitchen window. The southeastern kitchen window also has a good view into the Kelly backyard and the east window in the kitchen has an excellent view of the back yard (see 1893 photo below). Bridget got water from the barn.  She admits to coming into the sink room via the north side entry once to get a dipper, and says she did not notice Lizzie in the kitchen. This confirmed that the north side screen door was unlocked- which proved a saving grace for Lizzie as an intruder could have gained entry through this door over the space of time it was unlocked, approximately an hour.

    A few steps further from the kitchen into the sittingroom would reveal just how Bridget was getting along with the window-washing.

    Sittingroom window views on south side, both window aspects.

    The dining room windows would have given a view of the driveway, side entry stairs and Mrs. Churchill’s house situated to the north end of the

    Borden house.  Today, with the removal of the Churchill house, the view is open and reveals much of Second Street and the lawn of the housing complex next door.  The view from the north side parlor window also overlooks the driveway and what would have been the Churchill house.

     Dining room window, north side

     Parlor window, north side view of Second St.

     West end of parlor, 1892 view of Dr. Bowen’s House, Boston Express Depot and Second St., one of two west end windows in the parlor. View currently occupied by the new court house.

    The kitchen was also the place to be to monitor all the doorways as well, with the cellar door and north screen door (photo below views of both) in plain sight, and the front door on the west end of the house could be heard if opened with a key, from the kitchen.

  • Putting in an ap-pear-ance at #92

    Visitors and guests who visit the Borden house are intrigued by all of the pears they find inside.  For those in the know about the case, they smile and understand the reference to Lizzie’s alibi about being in the hayloft munching the fruit when her father was murdered, and sometimes humorous testimony about all of the pear-eating by the occupants of #92 on August 4th.  August 4th is also the one day of the year when the house re-enactment troupe, The Pear Essential Players, are in residence recreating the fateful day for visitors.  Did the police check Lizzie’s alibi and look for pear cores in the hayloft? Or would Lizzie smoothly have admitted to eating those pears cores and all? 🙂

  • August was a Bizzie Lizzie month

    LizziewhatIt’s been quite a month for Lizzie Borden doings!  August 4th brought the usual re-enactments at the Borden house on Second Street with the Pear Essential Players.  With a record attendance and largest cast ever, the little troupe was treated afterward to a tour of Maplecroft .  August 21-22 saw the return of Jill Dalton’s Lizzie Borden Live at the renovated Eagle on North Main Street with the Mutton Eaters in attendance.  Lizzie has been much in the news and on television this month as word of the patent on Lizzie Borden merchandise was acclaimed in newspapers yesterday.  Donald Woods, owner of  the bed and breakfast has obtained a national patent protection for all items other than books and publications to use the words “Lizzie Borden” on mugs, tee shirts, key chains, and other gift shop items.

    A new fiction book is out and available for sale at the historical society in Fallnewlizziebook River.  Written by a local author, it has the confession of Emma Borden as the doer of the foul deeds who comes to the writer in a dream.  The Fall River Historical Society has revamped their website to include some preview tidbits of the long-awaited book Parallel Lives which will be coming out in several months.  All in all it was quite a month for Lizzie. 

    September brings a re-enactment of the New Bedford trial of June, 1893 at the courthouse on County Street as part of the Bristol County Superior Court anniversary year events.  Fans and scholars of the Borden case have had a good summer with much to look forward to!

  • Uncle John’s return for lunch

    John V. Morse, Lizzie’s mother’s brother, had spent the night before the murders at the Borden’s house in the guestroom where Abby Borden would be hacked to bits the following day.  Although John had a good alibi for the times of both killings, he was an early and favorite suspect.  John had some training as a butcher, and was a jack of all trades around a farm.  Some think he knew about, or was an accomplice to the deeds, although no motive seems clearly apparent.  He also received no money or property after Lizzie was acquitted in June 1893.

    Joe Radza, an eighth grade teacher from Warren, Ohio will be playing the role of Uncle John Morse this year on August 4th at the Borden house for the annual re-enactments. Uncle John’s behavior when he returned for lunch has always seemed peculiar to students of the case. John bypassed the growing crowds by the Borden’s gate and went into the back yard by the barn and picked up and consumed several pears before ambling slowly up the side steps and going inside to see what was going on.  He had a reputation as a peculiar old guy in his boater and old gray suit and string tie.  Did he know more than he confided to the police?

  • August 4th is coming soon!



    Preparations go into full swing this week as the house performing troupe, The Pear Essential Players, dons their fake beards and leg ‘ o mutton sleeves to bring history alive once more.  Performing only once a year, on the anniversary of the murders of Andrew and Abby Borden, the players come from many states and cities to re-enact the details of the day in 1892.  Performances will take place on the hour and tickets may be purchased for each timed performance in the gift barn behind the house at 92 Second Street.  This year’s cast featured 13 key characters from the well-known story. To learn more about the cast, visit their web blog at

  • The return of Lizzie Borden Live & The Mutton Eaters

    July 1st is getting mighty close to the big week in Fall River when Jill Dalton reprises her smash hit from June 20th- Lizzie Borden Live.  Also making a “comeback” will be the irrepressible Mutton Eaters on hand to add a bit of period dash to the streets of Fall River, the Borden’s house on Second St. and the trolleys.  The Mutton Eaters are an armchair sleuth group devoted to Borden research and interpreting the roles of key historical characters in the case.   It will be a big week for the little troupe as Tuesday August 4th will be the re-enactments at the house where it all began as the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast Museum marks the anniversary of the famous crime.  Lizzie Borden Live will once again sparkle at the new -old Eagle on Friday and Saturday, August 7&8. Get your tickets early!

  • It pays to buy quality!

    Andrew Borden knew a thing or two about home improvements and value.  The cast iron radiators he put in when the family moved into 92 Second Street in 1872 are still going strong today. Here is a photo taken on the day of the crimes in 1892 of the radiator in the front hallway.


    Today, the same radiators heat #92 .  The current boiler is also located in the same place in the cellar that was the location in 1892. Oh, to get a metal detector under that boiler!




  • #4 Guest Room Crime Scene

    The bedroom furniture in the guest room today is such a very good replication of what was actually in the room on the day of the murders that guests to the house think it is the actual furniture.  Abby’s head is seen in the old sepia photographs lining up at the middle knob on the dresser as she lay on the floor between the dresser and the bed.  There was a small folding canvas camp chair in front of her head and the sewing machine was in the northwest corner where the large armoire is today.  The green dress in the corner was worn by Elizabeth Montgomery in the 1975 film The Legend of Lizzie Borden and was designed by Guy Verhille for the Paramount Studios production.