Fall River

  • The Borden Monument Work Order

    The Borden Monument

    By Shelley Dziedzic (all rights reserved, February 2012)

     

    Click on the photo of the worksheet above to use enlargement ZOOM tool

    Not surprisingly the Borden plot is the most visited site in Oak Grove Cemetery.  On the day of the funeral of Abby and Andrew Borden, only grass and many trees surrounded the open graves lined with pine branches.  Of course the Bordens were not buried on the date of their joint funeral, August 6, 1892, but instead lingered in a holding tomb at the cemetery awaiting a full autopsy on August 11th and burial at last on August 17th.  It would not be until January 1895 that the stately Westerly blue granite monument would be set in place, along with the rectangular headstones bearing the initials of the victims.

    With Fall River being famous for granite, especially rose granite, one wonders why Emma and Lizzie Borden did not shop for a fitting monument in their own home town.  The fact was that Smith’s Granite Company of Westerly, Rhode Island was the most prestigious monument supplier of its day, with offices in many major American cities.  Providence would have been the nearest branch to Fall River. Smith’s could claim orders from all of the finest old families as well as being in demand to supply important statues and civic monuments and memorial stones across the country. Emma and Lizzie chose the very best to mark the site of their eternal rest.

    The stone was ordered on July 2, 1894, almost two years from the date of the burial of Abby and Andrew Borden.  The stone is nine feet in height and is divided into five separate segments.  The cost of the labor and materials is carefully noted in the order book, and the date of each stage of the work is listed when completed at the top of the page by stone numbers 1-5.  The stone was crated and shipped by rail on January 4, 1895. The base is Stone #1, #2 is the section containing A.J. Borden in raised and polished letters, #3 is the panel stone where names and dates are inscribed, #4 is the most intricately carved by master carver, Mr. L. Galli who was paid $230.79 and #5 is the cap stone.  At the bottom of the page appears the order for the small headstones.  There are four of them with the lettering and polishing done by William Drew and J.F. Murphy.  The four are AJB,(Andrew Jackson Borden) ADB, (Abby Durfee Borden) SAB (Sarah Anthony Borden) and the full name Alice, the sister who died very young.  No doubt the matching headstones of Lizzie and Emma were added at a much later date, and also the inscription on the panel of the main marker added in 1927 or later.

    It is interesting to note on this order sheet that the panel engraving had to be done twice due to an error.  Many have remarked that there is an “S” added to Lizzie’s name and wondered if this was an order left by Lizzie to be completed after her death or merely an error on the part of the carver, who may have thought Andrews was a surname and that Andrew was an unlikely middle name for a woman.  Lizzie had, herself, opted to change her name unofficially to Lizbeth, but is not known to have added an “S” to her middle name of Andrew.

    It is unknown exactly when the names of Emma and Lizzie, and their dates of birth and death were added to the panel, or whether either sister ever actually saw the panel with their names on it.  It is not uncommon to have names and dates of birth engraved on a stone while the person is still alive, with the death date added after the fact.  This may or may not have been done at the time of the creation of this monument. As particular as Lizzie was known to be, it would be easy to make the case that she never saw the panel in life to catch the error.

    Newspapers printed that on the day of the stone’s installation, Lizzie and Emma went out to inspect the work.  It was reported that Lizzie only gave a cursory glance and then went back to her carriage.  Emma is said to have made a careful inspection.  The cost today of the stock and labor for this monument would be many times the figure on this work order.

    A list of artisans who worked on the Borden monument:

    Pat Holliday, Jas. Brown, Mike Burke, Jas. Dower, Tom Holliday, George Rae, P. Craddick, F. Polletti, J.D. Craddick, Joe Frasier, L. Galli, Dan Kelleher, James Blake, Ira Norman, George Dunn, William Frances, Frank Roads, John Moore, J.F. Murphy and William Drew.

    • Alexander Lawson, a Scottish-born stone carver from Aberdeen, who immigrated in the great Scottish wave which came to America lived and worked in Westerly, Rhode Island before moving to Fall River to open his own granite works and monument business on Prospect Street, just outside the gates of Oak Grove Cemetery.  The family lived on Robeson Street for many years, and the business was inherited by Frederick Lawson, Alexander’s son and prospered for many years. Alexander Lawson is credited with the carving of the 1873 arch at Oak Grove.

    The diagram and details for this article were furnished by the Smith-Babcock House Museum on Granite Street in Westerly, R.I. The diagram is reproduced with permission.  Additional information on Smith’s and the granite industry in Westerly may be found in the excellent publication, Built From Stone: The Westerly Granite Story by Linda Smith Chafee, John B. Coduri, and Dr. Ellen L. Madison. Copies may be purchased at Other Tiger Bookstore on High Street in Westerly or at this link http://www.builtfromstone.com/

    Visit the Smith-Babcock House Museum, which is the premier repository of archived materials relating to the granite industry in Westerly. http://www.babcock-smithhouse.com/

  • The Dead Files visits #92

     

    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

  • 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!

  • Come and Get It!

    Put on your best bonnet and race to the corner of Rock and Maple Streets on Sunday, November 20th between noon and 3 p.m

      It’s Here!

    Have your copy of Parallel Lives autographed. Pre-ordered your copy? Not to worry, pick it up Sunday at the Fall River Historical Society Book Signing!  Don’t let your friends beat you to the punch!  1000 pages and over 500 photos.  You just may have to take your vacation next week! Come back over the holidays to see a very special exhibit of ephemera and other items discovered while researching for the book: notes, cards, letters and more from Lizzie’s own hand.  Who could ask for anything more?

  • A Reprieve for Lizzie’s Old Church

     

    http://www.heraldnews.com/business/x2063884711/Donovan-eyes-Abbey-Grill-revival-Historical-Commission-is-reconvened

    With a wrecker’s ball looming over the spire of the historic Central Congregational Church, today’s announcement in the Fall River Herald News brings a sigh of hope to city preservationists.  The Ruskinian Gothic structure of red and white brick, designed by the prestigious firm of Hartwell & Swazey, was, until recently a culinary arts school with an attached restaurant, The Abbey Grille.  The business went into foreclosure, the edifice was boarded up and weeds set in.  The scenario looked bleak for the church, once the bustling religious center for many of the city’s society families from The Hill section.  Andrew Borden paid for a pew in the vast sanctuary, although it was primarily Lizzie alone who attended regularly.

    Jerry and son Chris Donovan have restored and rescued other properties in the city, most notably the old Eagle on North Main Street, now a center for performing arts.  The historical commission is back in business and it looks like great things are in the works! Good news indeed.

    The Eagle on re-opening night.

  • The Face of Lizzie Borden

    The sweet-faced lady on the piazza holding her pet is a far cry from the caricature of the raging homicidal spinster so often portrayed as being Lizzie Borden.  The bobbleheads, tee shirts, and cartoons may have to undergo a re-do.  Parallel Lives, the long-awaited biography of Lizzie and her times has released this amazing photograph of Lizzie with one of her Boston bull terriers (Laddie Miller), said to be taken around 1916 on the back porch of her French St. home, Maplecroft.

    Followers of the Borden case will be drinking in every detail of her dress, her furnishings, her expression. A picture is worth a thousand words. The thick volume, studded with over 500 photos may be pre-ordered  from the Fall River Historical Society.  For the full story and link to order click on this link http://www.heraldnews.com/features/x464394189/Historical-Society-announces-first-true-biography-of-Lizzie-Borden

    So will this photo and new bio change your mind about Lizzie?

  • Lizzie Reigns in October

    October  has always been a 4 star month for all things Lizzie, but this year as Halloween draws nearer, the case is everywhere. Tonight Ghost Adventures showcases their investigation at Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum (Friday,Oct 21) at 9pm and Saturday Oct.22 12am or midnight on the 21st. The crew from CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood visited Lizzie’s last weekend (the same day Aron Houdini (relative of the famous Harry) came to entertain staff and guests.  That segment will air on October 30th at 9 a.m.

    But most thrilling of all, the long-awaited tome published by the Fall River Historical Society which will feature amazing new facts about Lizzie and her times is now launched and can be pre- ordered on the site.(November 21st availability).  The anticipation for this thick volume, chocked-full of photos(over 500), some new ones of Lizzie, is going to fly off the shelves.  Visit the website for all the latest information and content and order form.  It’s going to be an exciting time ahead for all of us!  http://lizziebordenparallellives.com/welcome/

    Also visit the Facebook site https://www.facebook.com/pages/Parallel-Lives-A-Social-History-of-Lizzie-A-Borden-and-Her-Fall-River/217117611686628

  • Oak Grove Facebook Quiz Tonight at 10!

    Need more excitement in your life?  Nothing good on T.V.?

     Tune in tonight,( September 15th) at  10 p.m. for the first ever (but not the last) So you think you know Oak Grove Cemetery? Jeopardy-  style online quiz.

    Questions and photo identifications will be posted in rapid fire, each going up after the previous one has been correctly answered.  There will be one winner, with difficult brainbusters in case of a tie. Join us at Friends of Oak Grove Fall River tonight.  A prize will be awarded to the winner- and the competition will be fierce! How well do YOU know Oak Grove?

    * Contestants will need a  free Facebook account to post answers.

  • On the way to the mill

    A recent W&W purchase from Ebay shows a great vintage photo of  bales of cotton in transit to the mill to be spun and woven.  Guessing on just where this photo was taken, and going by the GLE on the sign in the background, this looks to be North Main Street in front of the old EAGLE building. Can anyone confirm this?  There are many wonderful Fall River photos to be bought at a bargain on Ebay at the moment.

  • Paranormal Week at Lizzie’s August 21-30

     

     

    “Abby & Lizzie” on the sofa during the filming for Ghost Adventures

    The spirits were restless last week at the Borden house!  My Ghost Story crew checked in on Sunday the 21st. This is a program featured on the Biography Channel. http://myghoststory.com/ Monday- Thursday morning, the well-known crew from Ghost Adventures were in residence with equipment for their “lock down”.  Fans of  host,  Zack,  knocked on the door of #92 and looked longingly through the windows hoping for a glimpse of the handsome host.  Word has it that some interesting EVPs were captured by the team.  This weekend, as hurricane Irene blasted the Northeast, Jeff Belanger, lecturer and author of paranormal books camped out for the weekend.  http://www.jeffbelanger.com/ All in all, the old house on Second Street had an exciting time of it and weathered the hurricane without  incident.  Air dates for these programs featuring the Borden house have yet to be announced.

     

  • 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)

  • Wade’s Market

    For students of the Borden case, the name of Wade’s Market crops up several times.  The little local grocery was located just to the south of Dr. Kelly’s house and had the number of 98 Second St.  Newspaper story stringer and newspaper vendor, John Cunningham had just exited Wade’s and was heading north on Second Street when he overheard Adelaide Churchill telling Tom Bowles of the carnage on the Borden sofa. Cunningham subsequently headed to Gorman’s paper and paint store to telephone the police station, after first informing the newspapers of the sensational story unfolding at the Borden house. 

    It wasn’t long after the discovery of Andrew Borden’s body that news of the murder was heard in Wade’s store, where the lunch hour crowd got the details of the gruesome killing while awaiting their nickel’s worth of bologna lunch meat. Above Vernon Wade’s store lived Mary and Nathan Chace. Mary Chace was the lady who had seen a man stealing pears out of the Borden back yard earlier in the day.  That man was soon run down and turned out to be an innocent party working in Crowe’s yard.  It is probable that Abby and Lizzie Borden frequented Wade’s often.

    Vernon Wade’s substantial and handsome stone is at the southernmost end of Birch Avenue very close to the Terry plot where Lizzie’s chauffeur, Ernest Terry is buried. If you stand in front of the Terry plot and look west, you will see the Wade monument.

  • Congratulations to the Cast of 2011

    The Cast for 2011
    Lizzie Borden: Kathleen Troost-Cramer

    Detective Seaver: Ben Rose
    Abby Borden: Shelley Dziedzic (flat on the floor)
    Andrew Borden: Nicole (under the sheet)
    Bridget Sullivan Suzanne Rogers
    Emma Borden: Barbara Morrissey
    Addie Churchill: JoAnne Giovino
    Alice Russell: Kristin Pepe
    Uncle John: Joe Radza
    Dr. Dolan: Michael Shogi

    Undertaker Winward  Richard Marr-Griffin
    Miss Manning from the Herald: Christina Lambertson
    Internationally acclaimed world reporter, Nellie Bly- Katrina Shogi
    Marshall Hilliard; Ray Mitchell
    Mrs. Dr. Bowen: Ellen Borden

  • Lizzie’s old church in danger- again.

    Many anxious eyes are watching the outcome for the old Central Congregational Church on Rock St. The building by Hartwell and Swazey is of significant historical value, and is in a state of disrepair currently that requires considerable money to restore.  Here is a new video detailing the history of the edifice.

  • Solid as Cleft Rock

     

    Here’s a fascinating newspaper clipping detailing the early days of Fall River when Main Street had to content with a monstrous outgrowth of granite called the Cleft Rock.  Click on the pdf link below to learn what became of it.

    cleft rock

  • Taking a Whack at Lizzie

    This year the August 4th production at the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast will debut a new leading lady.  She is no stranger to the part.  The photos here are taken from an episode filmed last summer for the Travel Channel.  Kathleen Troost-Cramer, day manager at the famous B&B in Fall River, may be remembered for performances in years past as Irish maid, Bridget Sullivan.  This year, having gotten in a few practice whacks with a hatchet, Kathleen is ready to take on the legendary Lizzie Borden, probably the most difficult role of the lot as expectations are so varied and anticipated by the sold-out crowd which assembles every year on the 4th to re-live the Borden tale of mystery.

    Mild-mannered mother of two, and Bible scholar, this role is quite a stretch, but anyone who has been “under the hatchet”to Kathleen can testify- she means business!

    Congratulations and “break-a-leg” to Kathleen as we wait to see her unique spin on the unforgettable Lizzie Borden!

    First performance on August 4th at 10:30 a.m., last performance at 3:30 p.m.

  • Mr. Shortsleeve fixes the time

    Grave  of Joseph Courtemanche (Shortsleeve) His name is not on the stone.

    Notre Dame Cemetery

    Joseph Shortsleeve immigrated from Canada in 1876.  Listed as being born in English Canada in 1847 as Joseph Courtemanche, he americanized his name to Shortsleeve as did many French Canadians in Fall River.  He was trained as a carpenter and worked for Andrew Borden.  On the morning of the murders he was with Jim Mather at a store near the corner of Spring and South Main putting in a new window for Jonathan Clegg, one of Andrew Borden’s commercial tenants. Mr. Borden owned the property.

    Andrew had bumped into Mr. Clegg near the Granite Block on his way back home and had promised to check on the window that morning.  Joseph Shortsleeve appears in the 1910 census as living at 40 Dover Street, a widower with several single daughters to support. He is still listed as a carpenter in 1910.  He was 45 on the day of the murders and was questioned intently so as to fix the time of Andrew Borden’s arrival at home.  From the Preliminary: *note In the preliminary and in newspapers, the name is usually plural, Shortsleeves, however in French Courtemache is singular, courtes manches being the plural form. 

    Q. Mr. Knowlton.) What is your full name?

    A. Joseph Shortsleeve.

    Q. Did you know Mr. Borden?

    A. Yes Sir.

    Q. Did you work for him?

    A. I worked for him on different jobs, yes sir.

    Q. What is your business?

    A. Carpenter.

    Q. Were you working for him on the day that he was killed?

    A. No Sir.

    Q. Did you see him on that day?

    A. Yes Sir.

    Q. You remember the day, of course?

    A. Yes Sir.

    Q. Where did you see him?

    A. In the building that he owns on So. Main street, No. 92.

    Q. What street is that the corner of?

    A. That is not exactly on the corner, sir, it is three buildings from the corner of Spring and So. Main.

    Q. Spring is the next street above his house?

    A. Above the store where we were working.

    Q. If you were going to his house you would turn down?

    A. He lives on the right hand side of the street, turned down on Second to the left.

    Q. Go towards City Hall?

    A. Yes Sir.

    Q. It is between Spring street and the next one below it?

    A. Between Borden and Spring street.

    Q. Did you see him on some business that day?

    A. Nothing, no particular business; he dropped in there. I supposed he was on his way home at the time.  We were repairing this store for Jonathan Clegg; and he came in there.

    Q. That was the store Clegg was to move into?

    A. Yes Sir, he is moving in some of the stuff now.

    Q. You were working in that store?

    A. Yes Sir.

    Q. Did you have some talk with him?

    A. Yes Sir.

    Q. Who was there with you?

    A. My friend James Mather.

    Q. How long did he stay there?

    A. Between three and four minutes I should judge.

    Q. Did you see which way he went when he left your place?

    A. I could not swear which way he went, but he disappeared in a very short minute, but he was heading towards So. Main, towards Spring street.

    Q. What time was that?

    A. It was between half past ten and quarter to eleven.

    Q. After half past ten?

    A. Yes sir after half past ten.

    Q. How do you fix that fact?

    A. My friend there stepped out on to the sidewalk, and he looked down to the town clock, we can see the town clock very plain from where we were, and it was twenty minutes to eleven then.

    Q. Was that before or after he had left?

    A. It was just after he had left.

    Q. You did not see him again after that?

    A. No sir we did not.