Fall River families

Durfees, Braytons, Chaces, Bordens, society families, The Hill

  • 145 Years ago today

    Happy Anniversary

    June 6, 1865


    June bride, Abby Durfee Gray, aged 37 took Andrew Jackson Borden, aged 43, on this day 145 years ago.  For better, for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death they would part.  Who could imagine on that day, how the last pledge would have been fulfilled.

    Miss Gray during the Civil War period, much as she might have looked on her wedding day. 

    Was it a love match or a wedding of convenience for Andrew Borden and his two daughters?  Only two will ever truly know.

    The Oliver Gray house originally on 4th St., now moved back on Spring St. facing Fourth St., venue for the Wedding Day Reception of Abby & Andrew Borden

    A lavish Civil War Wedding, Godey’s Lady’s Book

  • A Bit About Bowen

    Dr. Seabury Warren Bowen was the focus for last month’s Mutton Eaters Annual Meeting at the Borden home in Fall River.  Facts were pooled by members over the year and shared at the gathering.  The fruits of the research are featured in this month’s Mutton Eaters Online for May http://lizziebordenwarpsandwefts.com/2996-2/ or accessed at the tab at the top of this page.  Also of interest is Dr. Bowen’s tesitimony, also found at the top of the web site home page. Thanks to all the Mutton Eaters, the Worcester Historical Museum, Lauren Hewes, Robyn Christensen, Lorraine Gregoire, Lee Ann Wilber and all who made this article possible.

  • A Gentler Side of Lizzie Borden

    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 :


  • Grand Tour Ladies’ Passport Applications

    Carrie and Anna Borden and Lizzie all applied for passports on the same day.  Ellen Shove’s application comes from 1889 as does Elizabeth Brayton’s.  The hunt is still on for Miss Cox and Sarah Brayton’s passport application.  Unfortunately, photos were not required at the time. Interesting to note the average height of ladies was 5′ 3″-5’4, with “Roman” nose and “fair” complexion listed as descriptions of personal traits.  Lizzie’s passport application is included in the March article at the link above, and lists her hair as light brown – putting an end to Lizzie the Redhead myth.

  • Preservation Society House Tour

    The weather cooperated this year, with clear blue skies, lots of sun and just a chill in the air to remind us Christmas is two weeks away.  This year decorated trolleys made the round of houses, which helped speed things along and spare weary feet as they climbed the hills of The Hill section of the city.

    Homes on Belmont, Lincoln Ave, Cherry St. and Rock St. threw wide their doors to an appreciative throng of visitors.  Fires crackled merrily, the fragrance of cloves and cinnamon, hot mulled cider and balsam flooded the air as decorations were admired.  Period furnishings, historic photos and mementoes, and homey touches were appreciated by all who were lucky today to enjoy the insides of magnificent homes usually only glimpsed from the street.

    18th century tea service and reproduction epergne

    The Fall River Historical Society outdid itself this year as well, and all agreed that this was the best year ever for the popular house tour.  At 4:30 footsore house tour guests were treated to a concert of holiday music by the Durfee High School String orchestra.  All in all- a perfect day.  Thanks to families participating this year. It was grand!

  • Victorian House Tour 2009 December 12th

    The 2009 Fall River Historical House Tour Event sponsored by the Preservation Society of Fall River !  Start & Program Pickup: The Quequechan Club, 306 North Main St. Enjoy 6 Private Historic Homes, The Fall River Historical Society, Lafayette Durfee House, & The Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast.  Tickets are $17.00 Saturday December 12, 2009 11:am – 4:pm Advance Tickets Available at: New Boston Bakery Fall River Historical Society ArtCart or call 508-673-4841

  • Lizzie Borden’s meatloaf recipe

    retrostoveIt’s hard to know just how much cooking Lizzie was compelled to do in her lifetime what with Bridget Sullivan and Abby Borden manning the old black stove on Second Street and servants being at hand at Maplecroft.  Apparently Lizzie did don an apron from time to time and a few of her favorites have filtered down via word of mouth or the odd reference by friends. 

    Recently a lady who stayed at the Second Street house commented that her father, when he was a little boy, recalled Miss Lizzie keeping a dish of chocolate covered peppermints in a dish in the front hall so as to be handy for youngsters who passed by- these were of the peppermint patty type, wrapped in foil.

    Mrs. Florence Brigham, the curator of the Fall River Historical Society for many years, had in her possession handwritten  3 x 5 recipe cards in a box of her late mother-in-law Mary Ella (Sheen) Brigham. Lizzie’s favorite meatloaf recipe was among the gems in the box. Mrs. Mary Brigham gave testimony at the trial and was a good friend of Lizzie and Emma Borden, and a frequent caller at Maplecroft, her home being very nearby on Belmont St.  After Emma and Lizzie parted ways around 1905, Mrs. Mary Brigham stopped dropping by at Maplecroft.  This recipe was given to the Fall River Historical Society some years ago by the son of Mrs. Florence Brigham and has been published in the society newsletter.


    Here is the recipe as written, and the modern day trial adaptation which works very nicely. Recipes were frequently written with little direction as it was assumed a lady ought to know how to put the basics together without being told as she would have been taught by her mother from an early age.

    Lizzie’s Version

    1 pound steak, 1/2 pound pork steak, 1 egg, 1 small onion, 3 soda crackers, herbs, salt, pepper.  Grease tin, cover loaf well with hot water and bake about one hour.

    A modern approach: One pound ground sirloin (15-20% fat for flavor), 1/2 pound ground pork, one large egg for a binder, one small onion (red or vidalia), 3 Uneeda brand soda crackers pulverized into crumbs (or soup/chowder crackers will work), 1/2 tsp. dried basil, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. dry mustard, 1/2 tsp. black pepper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a loaf pan or spray with PAM, mound thoroughly mixed ingredients into the pan, cover with aluminum foil and bake one hour.  Good served with a little ketchup on top, or catsup as it was spelled years ago.  November is a good month for comfort food.  If this recipe is too much trouble- Almac’s Diner on President’s Avenue in Fall River has superb meatloaf, mashed potatoes and brown gravy, luscious enough even for The Hill clientele of the 1920’s!


  • New Oak Grove Calendar Unveiled


    These high quality, full-color calendars are spiral bound and printed on heavy cardstock


    Our calendars feature photographic contributions by Mary Beth Rigby and William Moniz as well as historic images donated from private collections

    Layout by Ann Keane

    Additionally, the birth dates of notable historical figures are observed throughout


    Limited quantities of our calendars are available for $15 and make a wonderful holiday gift


    Shipping is an additional $1 per calendar.  Those in the Fall River area may arrange for pickup.  Please call or email to reserve your copy or to arrange for pickup


    Payment may be mailed to:

    The friends of oak grove cemetery

    96 colfax street

    Fall river, MA 02720

    Ph: 508-642-9636

  • October 4th at Oak Grove


    Don’t forget this Sunday’s tour which includes Borden-related grave stones!

    History Underfoot III Tour – The Fall River Garden Club, Fall River Historical Society and The Little Theatre of Fall River, Inc. will be hosting their 3rd tour of this historic cemetery, sponsored in part by Citizens-Union Savings Bank.  The group has graciously agreed to donate a portion of their profits toward the purchase of a Memorial Tree.  F.O.G .has been invited to provide an informational table on our group and the work we are doing to restore Oak Grove. Past tours have been a tremendous success and we hope that you will plan to attend.  Tour will be conducted from 11 – 3:30 and tickets for the fundraiser are $15.  Rain date is October 11.

  • Lizzie’s Companion


    The Herald coverage in today’s edition of last night’s Lizzie lecture at BCC revealed a particularly interesting tidbit- Lizzie had a lady companion named Trudy.  http://www.heraldnews.com/town_info/history/x1789521502/New-Lizzie-Borden-book-teased-at-lecture

    It was a common custom of the time for wealthy ladies to have a younger companion to accompany them on trips out of town, shopping excursions and the like. Miss Trudy apparently lived at Maplecroft and enjoyed the elegant  library and hearthside of Miss Borden before going off to give matrimony a whirl.  How nice to know Lizzie did not lead quite such a reclusive and lonely life as many have thought.

    Other snippets read at the lecture included diary entries by a schoolchum named “Lulie” which added a bit more color as to the many moods of Lizzie as a school girl.

    The popular lecture series continues through November and is stirring up great interest in the launch of the historical society publication Parallel Lives which will go on sale before Christmas and is probably on every Lizziephile’s Wishlist.

    • Sept 28, Annette Holba, Ph.D., author, “Lizzie Borden as Conscious Pariah: A Discussion About Private Life.”
    • Oct. 5, Cara Robertson, legal scholar, “What the Jury Heard: Evidence in the Trial of Lizzie Borden.”
    • Oct. 19, Kim Dennis, psychic medium, “Lizzie Borden: Her Side of the Story.”
    • Oct. 26, Jill Dalton, award-winning actress, “Lizzie Borden Live: From Page to Stage.”
    • Nov. 2, Ricardo Rebelo, filmmaker, “The Myth and Media of Lizzie Borden.”
    • For information about the lectures or “Parallel Lives,” or to reserve a copy of the book, call 508-679-1071 or visit www.lizzieborden.org.
  • Autumn Events Around Fall River


    This week’s Fall River Spirit contains a front page article by Bill Moniz covering a recent walk through Oak Grove conducted by arborist Dennis Brodeur.  Dennis’ walk was quite insightful for the 20 or so individuals who attended.  Our thanks to Dennis for his efforts to enlighten us on the importance of Oak Grove’s ecosystem as well as to Bill for his coverage of the event.  For our members who are outside the area, below is a link to the article:


    October 4

    History Underfoot III Tour – The Fall River Garden Club, Fall River Historical Society and The Little Theatre of Fall River, Inc. will be hosting their 3rd tour of this historic cemetery, sponsored in part by Citizens-Union Savings Bank.  The group has graciously agreed to donate a portion of their profits toward the purchase of a Memorial Tree.  F.O.G .has been invited to provide an informational table on our group and the work we are doing to restore Oak Grove. Past tours have been a tremendous success and we hope that you will plan to attend.  Tour will be conducted from 11 – 3:30 and tickets for the fundraiser are $15.  Rain date is October 11.   

    October 8

    The Friends of the Fall River Library, in conjunction with the Fall River Street Tree Planting Program, will be screening the film The American Elm: Majestic, Imperiled, Renewed from 7:00 – 8:30PM at the Main Library.  FOG Board Member Mary Ann Wordell will provide a brief introduction.  Light refreshments will be served.

     October 28

    Artists and Fall River Natives Jim Charette and Mark Delisle present Boneyard, a series of paintings, prints, photography, music, video and more inspired by Oak Grove Cemetery.  The gallery opening will be from 6-9PM at the Cherry & Webb Gallery, 139 South Main Street.  Jim and Mark grew up on opposite ends of Oak Grove and attribute the formation of their life-long friendship to their old “stomping grounds”.  As such, this cemetery holds a special meaning to both Jim and Mark.  Jim and I have been discussing this event for well over a year now and both artists have generously agreed to donate a portion of the profits from the sale of their artwork to the Friends of Oak Grove.  Please mark your calendar and consider attending this event and support these two local artists.


  • Welcome Home Miss Lizzie

    Lizziedover1The Eagle Performing Arts Center

    35 North Main Street  

    Second Floor


    Lizzie Borden is coming back home to Fall River on the 116th anniversary of her acquittal in New Bedford Superior Court this June 20th.    New York writer and actress, Jill  Dalton,  resurrects the spirit of Fall River’s most infamous character in a chilling, solo performance entitled,

    Lizzie Borden Live 

                “I wanted to give Lizzie a voice to tell her own story following her day in court,” stated Ms. Dalton.  “That’s something she was not able to do when she was doped up on morphine during her famous murder trial.”
        Lizzie Andrew Borden was found innocent in a court of law, but judged guilty in the court of public opinion.  She was condemned by society and shunned in her hometown.  Ms. Dalton powerfully evokes Lizzie’s emotional turmoil and psychic trauma. She wrote the play from Lizzie’s point of view so that “the audience can hear her side of the story for the first time.”
          The legend comes to life with humor, empathy and insight when Lizzie steps on stage at the Eagle Performing Arts Center on 35 North Main Street at 8 PM on Saturday, June 20th.   This production, sponsored by the Luso American Gallery of Antiquities, is funded in part by grants from the John and Abigail Adams Program of the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Four Cities Collaborative of the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism.  
          “In addition to this state support, the Mayor’s Office and the Arts Uniting Fall River collaborative have participated in the planning and promotion of this community event and fundraiser,” noted LAGOA curator, Stephen L. Cabral. “Our organization is committed to promoting the arts, preserving our cultural history and providing scholarship funds for promising students. Lizzie Borden Live will help support these goals.”
          Jill Dalton is an award winning New York actress with a long list of television and theatre credits.  She has appeared in Law and Order, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, As the World Turns, All my Children, One Life to Live and Saturday Night Live.   The East Lynne Theater Company in Cape May, New Jersey commissioned this play, which opened to standing ovations from the audience and critics alike.  Ms. Dalton won the 2007 Jacoby Award for her portrayal in Lizzie Borden Live. This dramatic crime thriller is set 13 years after the double murder at Maplecroft, the Highlands mansion Lizzie bought with money inherited from her father.  According to the Red Rock News of Sedona, Arizona: 
          “Dalton gives a compelling performance capturing the humanity, humor, irony and sadness of a woman who had time to reflect on horrific events.  She enacts a Lizzie that has never been portrayed anywhere in stage, screen or literature. ”
    Fall River native son, Jack McCullough, is the director of the show, which has toured New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Arizona.  Mr. McCullough, a graduate of the Trinity Repertory Conservatory in Providence, RI, has also made his mark on stage and screen, but prefers to work behind the scenes of Lizizie Borden Live.  Jack has envisioned this homecoming since the play first opened.  He insists that this production will make the audience think twice.
          “We are very excited about performing on stage in the heart
          of Lizzie’s old neighborhood.  Jill and Lizzie have a compelling
          story to tell.  People come to see Lizzie expecting to find a monster and instead they discover themselves.”
        Check your calendar and order your $40 tickets from LAGOA, Inc. by calling 508-673-6624.   Seating is limited to 160 so make your reservations now.  The doors of the Eagle Performing Arts Center will open at 6:30 PM.  Harpist, Judy Mitchell will set the musical tone for the night, and members of the Mutton Eaters, dressed in period garb, will greet and engage the guests at the light buffet and cash bar prior to the show.
    Lizzie Borden Live challenges the audience to rethink the legend that is Lizzie Borden.  Think you know her?  Think again!  
    Stephen L. Cabral, Ph.D.
    Luso American Gallery of Antiquities, Inc. (LAGOA)
    484 Highland Avenue, Fall River, MA  02720
    Tel.  508-673-6624
  • Gargoyles on Rock Street


    It’s no wonder Lizzie Borden wanted to belong to the stylish Central Congregational Church  at 100 Rock Street.  Many of the fine mill owner families from The Hill were congregants there. Listed today on the National Register, the granite, Nova Scotia freestone and red brick edifice was designed by Hartwell and Swazey (also architects of the Academy Building) in the Ruskinian Gothic Style, in 1872. It is the only church in Fall River which features gargoyles on its exterior facades.

  • 2008 Prepare to be Amazed


     Fall River High School postcard

    There’s plenty new under the sun on the Borden Case for 2008. Prepare to be amazed.  The recent Fall River Historical Society newsletter confirms more of the eager speculations about their upcoming book tentatively titled Parallel Lives: A Social History of Lizzie Borden and Fall River which is being researched and assembled by the curatorial staff.  The Andrew Borden family time span will provide the framework on which will hang an inside glimpse, profusely illustrated with never-before published images, of life on the Hill and in the “Spindle City”.

    A treasury of private letters, diaries and photos will reveal Lizzie’s social set, society functions she attended, and events she would have observed in the city.  This is not a rehash of the infamous murder case, but rather a look at the world and people Lizzie knew.  So very little is known of her very young life, but details of her life were recorded in the journal of a close friend in the 1870’s. For those who love the city’s history, and Borden case scholars, the 2008 release date of this volume is awaited with great excitement and promises to be a revelation.

    Excerpt from Parallel Lives

    ‘1875 marked the year that Lizzie Borden entered Fall River High School and in the spring of her freshman year she first appeared in ***’s diary. Friday, the thirty first of March, 1876 was “a beautiful day and after school I walked nearly home with Lizzie Borden. . .” ‘

  • A Companion Blog for Warps and Wefts


    Whether you enjoy strolling through old cemeteries on a Sunday afternoon- or take an interest in Borden case personalities, the companion blog, Friends of Oak Grove, may be a new blog site of interest.  A great many of the principle players in the case find their final rest within the walls of Oak Grove, in itself a superb example of the Victorian memorial park ideal of the mid-nineteenth century.  The Borden family, friends, attorneys, policemen, witnesses and others of interest will be showcased on the web blog, which will also serve as a companion site for the upcoming publication, The Shadows Have Fallen : A History of Oak Grove Cemetery

    Victorian funeral customs, reference books, unusual stories and monuments, and historical background on the famous inhabitants will be featured. Friends of Oak Grove is a new group of locals who will undertake special projects for the cemetery under the direction of the superintendent such as guided history tours, planting and landscaping sessions, grave documentation and recording, photography, stone rubbing classes and other activities to benefit the cemetery.  Follow the blogroll link on this page or click on www.oakgrovecemetery.wordpress.com

  • Victorian Christmas on The Hill

    christmas_fr.jpg    Once again the Fall River Preservation Society will be presenting a holiday house stroll featuring the beautiful “Painted Ladies” of The Hill section of the city and the Borden home on Second Street.  Last year was such a success with hayrides, carollers, refreshments and the Historical Society’s annual Christmas display at the Rock and Maple Street corner, this year’s tour of the stately homes, filled with antiques and holiday decorations, promises to exceed all expectations. The Second Street Irregulars will be attending, as many as can in costume, for a glimpse of the Past, history, architecture, good company and great food.  http://www.fallriverpreservation.org/events.php

  • Rock Street after the rain


     After a wet start to the weekend, the sun burst forth Saturday about 2 p.m. and left the Painted Ladies of Rock Street refreshed and ready for their close-ups.  The Victorian garden of the Fall River Historical Society was glistening with raindrops, the heavy pink heads of late summer roses bending low.  Already the holly hedge is thick with ruby berries, portent of Christmas to come.  Who can blame Lizzie for wanting to live up on The Hill?