It was a perfect weekend to journey out to Tyngsborough to get a glimpse of what was left of the charm Nance O’Neil found at her farm. The town, which is nestled between the Merrimack River and Flint Pond is a sleepy little place, filled with quiet backroads and rustic appeal, meadows and wildlife. Nothing remains of Nance’s stately manse, called various names over time but Brinley Farm or Brinley Manse when Nance was there. She took up summer residency in May, 1904 but the name of Benjamin Levy was also on the deed. Between her manager, McKee Rankin’s mismanagement of Nance’s finances and Nance’s spendthrift ways, she declared bankruptcy by May 1906 and sold the property in 1907 to the Sisters of Notre Dame. The nuns erected a school on the property of 220 acres, still there today. The mansion burned to the ground in 1977 when it was owned by the Marist Catholic Brothers. It is said that a couple small outbuildings from the farm still exist from Nance’s time. Here are some views from the property and some town buildings still around that Lizzie and Nance would recognize.
The temperature is rising, the pears are getting ripe and attention turns once again to the doings of August 4. 1892 in Little Old Fall River. The Pear Essential (PEP-PY) Players welcome two new members this year in the roles of Alice Russell, the Borden sisters’ bosom friend, and Dr. Dolan, medical examiner, played by husband and wife team of Ted and Loretta Sisco. The couple have been vistors at the house for several years and will take the plunge this year on August 4th! The Usual Suspects will be making a return this year in the old familiar roles and a few undertaking new character roles. Advance tickets may be reserved beginning on July 5th for the Monday, August 4th schedule of eight performances at 10:30, 11, 11:30, 1, 1:30, 2, 2:30, 3. Call the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast Museum at 508-675-7333 to reserve tickets. Reservations are recommended as performances sell out early every year. Miss Carol Ann Simone will reprise her role as Miss Lizzie for her third year running. Did she do it? You decide!!
CAST FOR 2014
|Miss Porter/FR Herald||JoAnne Giovino|
|Abby Borden||Robin Bertoldo/Shelley Dziedzic|
|Emma Borden||Danielle Cabral|
|Lizzie Borden||Carol Ann Simone|
|Dr. Dolan, M.E.||Ted Sisco|
|Mrs. Bowen||Ellen Borden|
|Mrs. Kelly||Kat Woods|
|Mrs. Burt/Nosey Neighbor||Shelley Dziedzic|
|Officer Harrington||Rick Bertoldo|
|Marshal Hilliard||Ray Mitchell|
|Miss Manning/FR Globe||Barbara Morrissey|
|John Morse||Joe Radza|
|Alice Russell||Loretta S. Sisco|
|Detective Seaver||Michael Shogi|
|Bridget Sullivan||Suzann Rogers|
|Undertaker Winward||Jerry Pacheco|
It’s always fun to find just the right thing to add years to the Borden house. Co-owner LeeAnn Wilber haunts the antique shops and auctions on a quest to find just the right object to bring the 1890s feel to the house on Second Street. Here are some new finds which will greet you on your next visit to Lizzie’s home. The dead pigeons and pears print in the “Death in the Dining Room” genre is typical Victorian decor and is especially fitting for the Borden dining room for those who know the significance of pears and pigeons! The kitchen refrigerator has received a face lift in the form of oak panels to evoke the old ice box once found at the house in the sink room. Lizzie loved blue and pansies and this charming Eastlake footstool is just the ticket for Lizzie’s own room. Lizzie’s room also boasts a wonderful Sailor’s Valentine made of shells on the south wall. Rhode Island Antique Center in Pawtucket was the place to unearth a delightful summer fireplace screen for the sitting room. In the Eastlake, ebonized and gilded style, the canvas is hand – painted with blue summer blooms. Little touches can add so much age and charm to period settings.
The FRHS announced an exciting donation to the Borden archive today. The following appears on the FRHS Facebook page and is very exciting. How can we wait until August 4th?
“Lizzie Borden’s home: Extremely rare photograph discovered! Lizzie Borden had this green and gilt “Maplecroft” seal made for use on her correspondence — a rare example of her personal style during her years in that residence. Now we are excited to report that a truly unique photograph taken inside the French street mansion while Lizzie lived there has been given to the FRHS! It’s the only suchphoto ever to have surfaced, and anyone with an interest in Lizzie will find it fascinating. For the first time, we have a partial but revealing glimpse of the interior of her home. And the subject of the photo – something Lizzie apparently cherished — helps to debunk one of the biggest myths perpetuated about her.
Donated by a descendant of Lizzie’s personal maid, Ida S. Carlson, the photo came to us with impeccable provenance. Lizzie hired a professional photographer to capture the compelling image and had it mounted in an ornate frame, and around 1899 she gave it to Ida, who displayed the treasured piece in her home until her death, at which time it was acquired by a relative.
The photo will make its debut at the FRHS at a special exhibit opening on August 4, 2014, where it will join a collection of other recently acquired Borden-related items of note. Mark your calendar, and be sure to come and take our informative tour about the life and trial of Lizzie Borden!” (Posted April 22, Facebook).
You never know what you may find in an auction box stuffed full of odds and ends. Recently Lizzie Borden B&B co-owner, LeeAnn Wilber inherited an interesting document signed by Abby Borden’s half-sister, Sarah Bertha Whitehead. Case historians will tell you how important the Gray-Whitehead house on Fourth Street figured in the further decline of warm family feelings among the Borden sisters and their stepmother when Andrew Borden bought out and deeded over this property to his second wife without informing “the girls”.
This 1901 document grants right of way for septic hook-up on the property until such a time Spring Street pipes were installed, and is signed by Bertie Whitehead. At the time of the murder, Spring Street stopped at the corner of Second Street. Later on the Gray-Whitehead house was shifted onto a new foundation on the continued Spring Street where it rests today.
(courtesy of the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast Museum Archive)
Once again Fall River is about to tear down a fine old building to make room for a parking lot. The Morgan Street School, known as the N.B. Borden School more recently, was sold for a pitiful sum. Last used in 2007 as a grammar school, there had been plans for the redundant building to be converted into a community center. The layout inside would have been ideal for a city museum. Timetoast.com ran this article on its timeline about the sale of redundant schools in the city: ”
In February 2012, the city council delays sale on Belisle; awards bids for Osborn to SB&A Realty Group, Fall River, for $3,111 for professional building, and for N.B. Borden to TA Restaurant Inc., Fall River, for $5,000 for parking and possibly apartments. Council President Linda Pereira removes Pat Casey from RE Committee related to Belisle School controversy.
For more information on Lizzie at the school visit the W&W link below.
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.
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!
The Pear Essential Players Present
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.
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)
This past weekend the cordial society of armchair sleuths returned to #92 Second Street for the annual flocking of the Second Street Irregulars (Muttoneaters) for a jam-packed tour of many Borden-related sites around the area. Friday morning the group of 16 visited the Fall River Historical Society to bestow the yearly awards upon the recent publication by Michael Martins and Dennis Binette, Parallel Lives. The flock enjoyed a coffee hour, tour and photo session in the beautiful Victorian garden before heading off to Fairhaven for a picnic at Fort Phoenix and a city tour given by Chris Richards who was dressed to impress!
Chris fired off a vintage rifle, explained how teeth were extracted, limbs were amputated and the life and activities of a wartime barber-dentist-surgeon, a role he re-enacts in costume with a local history group at Fort Phoenix annually. Afterward the Muttoneaters toured city hall and learned about Mark Twain’s dedication speech given on the stage there, visited the locales of the homes in which Helen Brownell stayed (Emma Borden’s alibi), and visited the beautiful Millicent Library where a letterbox was found in a very special place inside. (see Atlasquest.com for clues!) The group then returned to Fall River for a pizza party and presentations on the Villisca murders of 1912 and discussions on Andrew Jennings, one of the attorneys for Lizzie whose journals they saw at the historical society earlier.
Saturday was a busy day which began with a trip to Oak Grove Cemetery to see the room in which the Bordens were autopsied on August 11, 1892, and to inspect the interior of the holding tomb used to house the coffins of the Bordens both before and after the heads were removed by Dr. Dolan.
The morning concluded with a very special visit to Maplecroft and a great tour by Mr. Bob Dube who conducted the group through every room of the three-storied home and explained what was original to Lizzie’s tenure there. This was a very special and much-appreciated opportunity as the house is currently for sale with the future owner still unknown.
After lunch the Muttoneaters visited the Animal Rescue League of Fall River, an annual stop, to bring dog and cat treats and a special 1927 newspaper detailing Lizzie and Emma Borden’s donation to this worthy cause, bequeathed in their wills.
The afternoon brought a real surprise when the group was invited to visit the cellar of the Lodowick Borden (also known as Dr. Kelly’s) home next door to the Borden house on Second Street to view the chimney and cellar where in 1848 Eliza Darling Borden threw three of her children in a cistern and then committed suicide behind the chimney. Beautiful cabinetry with little drawers and cupboards were added much later when the Kellys moved to the house in 1891 and are still intact. The room was most likely used then as Dr. Kelly’s home office.
Saturday evening concluded with a visit from the “Women’s Christian Temperence Union” with Muttoneaters dressed as Mrs. Brayton, Carrie Nation and Mother Willard, followed by a Sunday-style chicken Gospel bird dinner and many hours of animated conversation about the famous Borden case. As always, nobody wanted to leave on Sunday morning and the planning begins again for next year’s adventures.
For most visitors to the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast house museum, the interest is in two deaths primarily- Abby and Andrew Borden. Psychics who perform seances in nearly every room in the house have picked up various presences and often ask about other possible deaths in the house over the years. Considering the era, and the general occurence of being born, dying, and being waked in one’s home, the probability of other people dying a natural death in the Borden house is high. After the Borden sisters moved out in September of 1893, the house functioned as a rooming establishment, and then in 1918 was sold and changed hands and families over the years.
Built in 1845 by Southard Miller for woolen mill carding room supervisor, Charles Trafton, the house was built on land once owned by Lizzie’s great uncle Lawdwick (or Lodowick) Borden. In the 1850 census Charles Trafron is 45 and living with his wife Hannah, aged 32 and Rhoda White at the house. Unfortunately we do not know exactly the date the couple move into the house nor when their infant son was born and died.
Hannah Trafton died a tragic death from tuberculosis, which at the time was called consumption, a disease which affected young to middle aged adults primarily. Her date of death was January 11, 1851 so the couple had not lived long at the new house on Second Street.
Identifying and understanding the contagious nature of the tuberculosis bacillus, the building of sanitoria, and medications for the disease came several decades after Hannah Trafton’s death. The disease, sometimes called “wasting away” disease caused prolonged coughing, spitting up of blood, and a gradual heartrending decline of the affected victim. The quality of the air and water were suspected causes and the treatment consisted of fresh air and making the victim as comfortable as possible as they grew ever weaker and paler. In 1851 Fall River, it is probable that Hannah Trafton did die in her bed on Second Street. The Traftons inhabited the first floor, and what is now the dining room would have been in 1851, two small bedrooms. It is also very likely that their infant son Charles Jr. died at the house.
The words “Town Lot” on the death certificate refer to the Old North burial ground on North Main at the corner of Brightman, the city lot before Oak Grove Cemetery opened in 1855. Charles Trafton remarried as appears in the 1870 census with his second wife Susan. They had no children. After Charles’ retirement, the Bordens arrive on the scene in 1872, and the Traftons moved to Somerset where Charles died on Feb. 23, 1878. Susan remarried Frank DeCaro, an Italian barber. Frank returned to Italy after her death. As was the frequently- seen custom, Charles is buried between his two wives.
Although not as horrific as the murders of the two Bordens, Hannah Trafton’s sad demise and that of her child is tragic. How many other deaths at #92 can only be imagined. The dining room, which saw the preparation of Abby and Andrew’s bodies, the removal of Mrs. Borden’s stomach, and was the bedroom for owner, Mrs. Josephine McGinn in her final days, was a place which had witnessed much sadness and horror. There should be enough hauntings for almost any psychic.
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
Tatyana Jula, a Philadelphia graphic designer and illustrator made a visit to the Borden house in October, opting for the day tour, but not quite brave enough to spend the night. She has captured her unique vision of Miss Lizzie as a hospitable “innkeeper” of a bed and breakfast, a mix of gracious charm with wicked intent! (images used with permission)
To see how these designs were created step by step, and to order a poster visit these links http://tatyanahjula.com/post-itsngs/lizzie-borden-bed-breakfast/ To order on paper or canvas http://society6.com/tatjula/Lizzie-Borden-Bed-amp-Breakfast_Print
Visit Tatyana’s web site for more travel posters, postcard and travel art. http://tatyanahjula.com/
Popular Travel Channel program, The Dead Files, will be making a visit to the Borden house. Ghosthunters and psychics are nothing new at #92 but this show has a different slant. According to the channel web site –
“On The Dead Files, physical medium Amy Allan and retired NYPD homicide detective Steve Di Schiavi, combine their unique and often conflicting skills to solve unexplained paranormal phenomena in haunted locations across America.”
Ms. Allan, will “go into the house cold” and form impressions and hopefully channel information about what happened in 1892. It is up to NYPD detective Di Schiavi to investigate actual factual data to support her findings. Air date for this program has not been released, but it will be posted here when the time has been set. To learn more about the investigation team visit http://www.travelchannel.com/tv-shows/the-dead-files/articles/meet-amy-and-steve
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!