Famous Massachusetts Cases
- Swann Auction Galleries in New York is selling an oversized original photograph of the jury that acquited Lizzie Borden. It’s Lot 207 in the October 2, 2012 sale. Estimate is $800.00-$1,200.00. John O’Neil New Bedford, MA 1893 -photographer. The photo below is the one familiar to most and was given as a parting gift to Lizzie after her acquittal.
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!
by Shelley M. Dziedzic (all rights reserved)
This year will mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City. This year will mark the 120th anniversary of the Borden tragedy. It would be hard to conceive any possible connection between the two- until last month’s revelation.
With the publication of BUILT FROM STONE: THE WESTERLY GRANITE STORY, the sketch and work order for the Borden Oak Grove monument revealed the names of all the workers who worked on the main monument and the four small headstones. The headstone lettering, A.J.B. (Andrew Jackson Borden), A.D.B. (Abby Durfee Borden) for the victims, S.A.B. (Sarah Anthony Borden, Lizzie’s mother), and ALICE (Lizzie’s other sister) were cut by William J. Drew. R&P stand for “raised and polished”on the headstones. J.F. Murphy did the polishing of the letters.
William John Drew and his two brothers came to America in the 1880’s from Cornwall, near Falmouth, England. The sons of an early-widowed mother, the boys had gone to work in the famous granite quarries of Cornwall at a very young age. Simon Drew would head to Maine but William and his brother James Vivian Drew would eventually start a marble and granite monument business in Greenport, Long Island, N.Y. William’s first wife, Louisa, died in 1894 and for a time William J. Drew lived in Westerly, and did some work for Smith’s Granite Company, easily the most prestigious monument company in the Northeast. Orders came in from all over the country for the Westerly blue, red, and rose granite which had a fine grain. The blue was especially easy to carve. Smith’s was the most-desired company to fill the order. Lizzie and Emma Borden placed their order through the Smith’s Providence branch.
William Drew soon found a new love in Elizabeth Brines of Westerly, and on June 24, 1903, they were married. With the Greenport business now growing, the two brothers and their wives found a home together. James Vivian Drew married Mary Louise (Lulu) Thorne Christian and they all settled happily into married life and work at the new business on the harbor in Greenport. William’s son by his first wife had died in 1898, and when his new bride of only a year gave birth to a son on March 30, 1904 life was looking hopeful. The child was called Marshall Brines Drew. About three weeks after his birth, Mrs. William Drew (Elizabeth), died, leaving Marshall motherless and William Drew yet again, without a wife.
His brother James V. Drew and his wife Lulu took the infant in to raise. They had lost their only son Harold not long before so Marshall seemed a godsend.
In October of 1911, James, Lulu and little Marshall decided to go back to Cornwall to visit Grandmother Priscilla Drew. They sailed on the sister of the R.M.S. TITANIC, the OLYMPIC, making them among the very few who ever sailed on both. In April, 1912, Marshall, now aged 8, boarded TITANIC in second class with his aunt and uncle. On the night of April 14, the ship hit the iceberg and sank on the morning of April 15th about 2:20 a.m. Uncle Jim had bundled Lulu and Marshall into lifeboat #11 and both were saved. Jim never had a chance. His body was not found. Back in Greenport, his brother William was devastated at the news and hastened with Lulu’s father to meet the rescue ship, CARPATHIA, in New York harbor, only to find the worst was true. Jim was gone. William Drew carved this monument, a cenotaph, to his late brother Jim out of Westerly blue granite. The brothers were famous for their carved lilies and roses. It is in Oak Grove Cemetery– but not Oak Grove in Fall River- in Ashaway, Rhode Island where Aunt Lu and Marshall lived after Aunt Lu remarried Mr. Richard Opie.
William Drew died of tuberculosis in 1917 in Greenport, L.I. His son lived to be 82, and died in June of 1986. His stone was designed by this site’s administrator and funded by Titanic International Society, It is made of Westerly blue granite and carved by one of the last of the old Westerly granite men, Donald Bonner.
Below is the work order showing William Drew’s name. History is full of strange coincidences and unlikely links. It is hard to know if William Drew was familiar with the notorious case of Lizzie Borden, or that his work would find its way to the heads of two of crime history’s most famous victims.
Photos and text: Shelley Dziedzic, March 2012
The temps are falling and the long quiet season has arrived. After the excitement of the release of Parallel Lives in November, the Victorian house tour in December and virtually a year’s worth of Lizzie suspense, we’re all looking for January adventures. Many of us are reading the massive volume, Parallel Lives. Down on Second Street, the B&B is only open weekends for overnighters although the day tours continue through the week. The B&B web site has had an overhaul. Re-runs of last year’s paranormal sessions at #92 are in full tilt on television, no update on the Chloe Sevigny HBO mini-series has been released yet, and the historical society is closed for the winter.
“Axed”, two one-act plays has debuted and will be running this month http://www.pressherald.com/life/go/on-the-case_2012-01-05.htm No new ideas here, but a fresh treatment. January is a great time for catching up on our Lizzie reading and some new entries in the historical crime arena. W&W recommends Murder and Mayhem in Essex County by Robert Wilhelm. Murder and mischief was alive and well in Massachusetts long before Miss Lizzie! http://www.murder-in-essex.com/ If the name sounds familiar, Mr. Wilhelm also publishes the popular vintage crime blog, Murder by Gaslight and The National Nightstick, all great reading for the amateur armchair sleuth on a cold winter’s night. http://murderbygasslight.blogspot.com/ and http://www.snakeoilgraphics.com/NightStick/ Stay tuned for reviews. Here’s wishing you a cozy January by the fire and a good wallow in crimes of the Past.
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!
The front page of the Fall River Herald for August 4th featured a large colored photo of Kathleen Troost-Cramer and Barbara Morrissey as Lizzie and Emma Borden on the day of the infamous murders re-enacting the news about the killing of their father and stepmother. The front page also featured a headline of the Dow down to the lowest point since 2008 and news of bacteria levels in the Taunton River. At least one of the stories was old news from 1892.
Ray Mitchell as city marshal Rufus Hilliard. Story by Deborah Allard.
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.
As posted yesterday, Miss Lizzie is coming home for two performances August 5th and 6th at the Nagle Auditorium at B.M.C. Durfee High School in a production by the Covey Theatre Company of Syracuse, N.Y., according to the Fall River Herald News http://www.heraldnews.com/entertainment/x2108626470/Latest-Lizzie-Borden-play-to-be-staged-Aug-5-6-in-Fall-River
For reviews of the play and some color stills, visit this link http://www.thecoveytheatrecompany.com/production-archives.html
Tickets may be purchased online at the link and word is out that this new treatment of the case promises to satisfy the most ardent Bordenite. Snag a ticket early!
In addition to anticipating the upcoming release of the historical society’s Parallel Lives, August will welcome a new play about the famous case. The Herald News reports:
A new play, “Lizzie Borden Took an Axe,” depicting the well known Lizzie Borden case will be staged in Fall River for the 119th anniversary of the hatchet murders of Andrew and Abby Borden.
There will be two performances on Aug. 5 and 6 at the Nagle Auditorium at B.M.C. Durfee High School by the Covey Theatre Company of Syracuse, N.Y.
Fresh from winning two Syracuse Area Live Theatre awards for Best Original Play and Best Costumes, as well as the Gloria Peter Playwright competition from Aurora, NY, “Lizzie Borden Took an Axe” left critics enthralled and Bordenophiles raving.
“Lizzie Borden Took an Axe” will be staged Friday and Saturday, Aug. 5 and 6 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased by calling 315-420-3729 or online at” www.thecoveytheatrecompany.com.
The annual costumed recreation of August 4th will take place as usual at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast on the 4th, which this year, will be a Thursday, just as it was in 1892.
Plenty of Lizzie on the way for August!
“HON. ANDREW JACKSON JENNINGS, lawyer and district attorney for the Southern District of Massachusetts, was descended from one of the oldest familes of Tiverton, R. I. He was a grandson of Isaac Jennings, of Tiverton, and the third son of Andrew M. Jennings, who was born in Fall River, Mass., in January, 1808, and died in 1882, having been for some thirty five years the foreman of the machine shop of Hawes, Marvel & Davol. Their children were Thomas J., who died in 1872; Susan, Elizabeth E., Andrew, and Elizabeth, all of whom died in infancy; Andrew J. George F., superintendent of Bowen’s coal yard, of Fall River; and Annie P. (Mrs. J. Densmore Brown), of Milford, Conn.
Andrew Jackson Jennings was born in Fall River, Mass., August 2, 1849, and attended the public and. high schools of his native city until 1867, when he entered Mowry & Goff’s Classical School at Providence, R. I., from which he was graduated in June, 1868. He then entered Brown University and was graduated from that institution with special honors in 1872. While there be was active and prominent in all athletic sports, being captain of the class and university nines. He was principal of the Warren (R. I) High School from 1872 to 1874, and in July of the latter year began the study of law in the office of Hon. James M. Morton, of Fall River. In January, 1875, he entered Boston University Law School, from which he was graduated with the, degree of LL. B. in May, 1876, and was at once admitted to the bar in Bristol county. On June 1, 1876. he formed a law partnership with his preceptor, Mr. Morton, which continued until 1890, when the latter was appointed a justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. The firm of Morton & Jennings took a foremost place at the Bristol bar. Mr. Jennings was afterward associated in practice with John S. Brayton, jr., under the style of Jennings & Brayton, for a short time, and in July, 1894, formed a copartnership with James M. Morton, Jr., which still continues under the firm name of Jennings & Morton.
Mr. Jennings achieved prominence at the bar, and was everywhere recognized as an able, painstaking, and energetic lawyer and advocate. He was a member of the Fall River School Board for three years, and served as a member of the House of Representatives in 1878 and 1879 and as State senator in 1882. During his three years in the House and Senate he was an influential member of the judiciary committee and chairman of the joint committee on the removal of Judge Day by address in 1882. He was active in securing the passage of the civil damage law in the House and the introduction of the school house liquor law in the Senate. He was a natural orator, eloquent and pleasing in address, and a public spirited citizen. On the day of General Grant’s funeral he was selected to deliver the memorial oration for the city of Fall River, and on other occasions he was called upon to make important and fitting speeches. Mr. Jennings had been for several years a trustee of Brown University and clerk of the Second Baptist Society of Fall River, and was president of the Brown Alumni in 1891 and 1892. As a lawyer he conducted a number of important cases. He was counsel for the defendant in the Lizzie A. Borden trial for homicide in 1893. from the outset. In November, 1894, he was elected district attorney for the Southern District of Massachusetts to fill a vacancy, and in 1895 he was re elected for a full term of three years. He served as president of the Young Men’s Christian Association of Fall River since 1893, and is a director of the Merchants’ Mill, the Globe Yarn Mill, and the Sanford Spinning Company, and a trustee of the Union Savings Bank.
December 25, 1879, Mr. Jennings married Miss Marion G., only daughter of Capt. Seth and Nancy J. (Bosworth) Saunders, of Warren, R. I. They had two children: Oliver Saunders and Marion.”
* Mr. Jennings also pitched for the TROY baseball team.
Our county and its people
A descriptive and biographical history of
Bristol County, Massachusetts
Prepaired and published under the auspices of
The Fall River News and The Taunton Gazette
With assistance of Hon. Alanson Borden
The Boston History Company, Publishers, 1899.
Oak Grove Cemetery, Fall River
If you are lucky enough to be near Camden, N.J. on June 23rd, you may wish to drop by the public library for a special presentation on the Borden case. The talk by Dr. Cornelia is one of the Camden library’s “American Cultural Journey” lectures through the summer. http://knox.villagesoup.com/place/story/the-strange-case-of-lizzie-borden-slide-talk-june-23/408456
Chances are if you Goggle Lizzie Borden under the “News” heading, you will find several pages of stories on the Chloe Sevigny HBO project for a four hour mini-series, including stories in Polish, French, Russian and Italian! And if you live in Connecticut, Rhode Island or Massachusetts, tonight at 6 p.m., Channel 10 news jumped on the promotion band wagon. With all of the very positive buzz and excitement, it is hard to believe Tom Hanks and Playtone would change their mind about producing the four -hour series. To view the Channel 10 clip, http://www2.turnto10.com/entertainment/2011/mar/17/sevigny-may-play-lizzie-borden-miniseries-ar-426649/
The casting of Miss Sevigny as Lizzie is spot-on. She has all the right physical attributes, right down to the mesmerizing and unsettling eyes, and is of the right age to pull it off. She is also a better-than-good actress. It will be very interesting to see who will be cast in the major roles. Maybe Uncle John Morse will be included this time around.
Due to street noise and the encroachment of modern living, and many other factors, the house on Second Street will not be a likely candidate for the filming venue. The 1975 Elizabeth Montgomery attempt did a pretty fair job of recreating Borden house interiors on stage sets.
There are very high hopes in Fall River, among the Borden house bed and breakfast employees, and students of the Borden case and Fall River history that this version will get the facts right and do the story justice. Playtone and Hanks are synonymous with quality productions, so the end result holds very great promise. It is surprising that it has taken so long to revisit the case and Lizzie Borden as the topic has been building momentum and interest since the Borden house opened for business in 1996.
The buzz about the upcoming Fall River Historical Society’s Parallel Lives, detailing Lizzie’s life and Fall River has been the hot topic around Fall River for many months as it promises revelations about Miss Borden which will open a few eyes. The date of publication has not yet been announced but the long-awaited tome is in final proofing and chances are it will be published by late Spring. The nearly thousand -page volume will feature over 500 photographs, including some new views of Lizzie herself, and will disspell some commonly -held notions about her. It will be a must-read for Miss Sevigny and should have some major impact on her characterization of the enigmatic Lizzie. The series will probably have an early 2012 air date according to some sources.
In any event, Lizzie is bigger now than ever, and the upcoming series will be a boon to the city as well as book sales of Parallel Lives. It will be a very exciting year ahead.
Here’s an interview and follow-up to the Chloe Sevigny story posted here earlier this month. Hopes are running high for an historically accurate script which will include John Morse this time around. The HBO mini-series, slated to run two nights, may be released at the end of 2011.
Denise Noe has compiled a fascinating array of facts in this recently released online article for Men’s News Daily about the Fall River Police force, focusing on the men in charge during the 1892 Borden case. City Marshal Rufus Hilliard and Fleet are prominently featured. The article first appear in a 2009 issue of The Hatchet.
“THE WORKSHOP THEATER and ALVIN OUT PRODUCTIONS present the New York premiere of Lizzie Borden at Eight O’Clock at the WorkShop Jewel Box Theater March 24th-April 3rd. The WorkShop Theater is located at 312 West 36th Street, 4th floor. Subway: A, C, or E to Penn Station. General admission tickets to Lizzie Borden At Eight O’Clock are $18, $15 for students and seniors. Also limited number of TDF @ the $9 Off-Off-Broadway rate (2 per performance). For Information / Tickets visit: www.workshoptheater.org or call 866-811-4111. The play is directed by Kenneth Tigar.
THE WORKSHOP THEATER and ALVIN OUT PRODUCTIONS’ production of Lizzie Borden at Eight O’Clock, tells the chilling first person account from Lizzie Borden herself of her father and stepmother’s gruesome murders.
Decades after her acquittal, Lizzie Borden takes the podium at her local Historical Society to once and for all clear her name, or will she? With a tour de force performance by Ellen Barry (Terrence McNally‘s A Perfect Ganesh) as Lizzie Borden, Lizzie relives the compelling events that lead to the headline murders of the century. The bloody dress, the food poisoning, the broken hatchet in the basement, the mysterious bloodless-ness of the crime scenes— all clues pointed towards Lizzie for the murders. But Lizzie has an alternate explanation, and, at long last, she’s ready to tell the whole spine-tingling story. Originally produced and developed and performed at the Historic North Hall in Huntington, MA, this is Lizzie Borden At Eight O’Clock’s New York City debut.
**NOTE*** Lizzie Borden At Eight O’Clock deals with graphic material that may be unsuitable for younger audiences.”
The Killer Book of Infamous Murders, by Tom Philpin and Michael Philpin will be published in February and available on Amazon March 1st.The book examines crimes recent and past, going as far back as the 1800s. The book includes the Lizzie Borden case, the horrifying murders that inspired Truman Capote’s novel, “In Cold Blood,” and the Dr. Sam Shepperd case, which inspired “The Fugitive” movie and TV series.
This is a follow-up to The Killer Book of Serial Killers which was published January 2009 by the same authors.
The Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum will be hosting its first Murder Mystery Weekend over the Valentine’s Day weekend. Characters from the past will be coming together to hear the revelation of city marshal Rufus Hilliard, who has received startling new information which leads to unveiling the identity of the REAL Borden murderer.
The action will commence with a tea on Friday afternoon, followed by a themed dinner, a murder mystery play, followed by a lively round of sleuthing, games, and off-site activities. Saturday night will feature the grand revelation of Whodunnit at the Quequechan Club banquet. Guests will try to portray their historic characters throughout the weekend, with costumes and props encouraged. The event is sold out, but hopefully will be repeated again soon! To follow the storyline of the weekend, you can read Rufus Hilliard, City Marshal’s journal at http://marshalhilliard.wordpress.com/ More details and photos of the event will be posted to W&W.
Axe or hatchet? – Most likely a hatchet or a short-handled axe.
Top Ten List of Most Often-Quoted Borden Case Errors
1. Lizzie was found guilty by jury of the murders of her mother and father.
Actually Lizzie was acquitted on all three counts, the murder of her father, her stepmother and both at the trial in New Bedford, June 1893.
2. Lizzie Borden was a redhead.
According to her passport she had light brown hair.
3. Lizzie’s father cut off the heads of Lizzie’s pet pigeons with a hatchet.
Andrew Borden did kill the pigeons, but by wringing their necks, according to Lizzie’s inquest statement.
4. Lizzie decapitated Abby Borden’s tabby kitten.
We have only the interview of Abby Borden’s niece, Abbie Whitehead Potter stating that Lizzie killed a kitten. The Whitehead family, with reason, had very little sympathy towards Lizzie, and this tale cannot be validated.
5. Lizzie Borden was a big, mannish woman.
Lizzie was 5 ft. 3 inches tall according to her passport, average for the times. She had put on weight during the ten months she was incarcerated in Taunton jail. Her face did have a heavy lower jaw and was described by one newspaper as a face with attributes very common to the region.
6. Lizzie and her sister sold the house where the murders took place on Second Street after Lizzie was acquitted in 1893.
The sisters held on to the property until 1918.
7. Lizzie was a kleptomaniac.
Legend has it that she shoplifted at local Main St. stores and that the bill for what she had pilfered would be sent to her father to pay. Shoplifting was surprisingly not uncommon among ladies of the period. There is no documentation at present in existence that Lizzie was a kleptomaniac and that Andrew paid the bills. The only corroborating bit of evidence is of a documented thievery of a porcelain wall ornament which went “missing” from the Tilden and Thurber jewelry store in Providence. When the item was taken back to the store for a repair, the owner was questioned about its provenance only to be told Lizzie Borden had been the gift giver. This matter was eventually settled privately. It is possible that Lizzie was a shoplifter in younger years, but not proven so.
8. Andrew Borden was a mortician.
Andrew Borden was trained as a carpenter and then went into business as a furniture and household goods retailer. He invested wisely in real estate, including two small farms, all of which would bring him a good financial return, and as a sideline, he was an undertaker. Undertaker in 1890 parlance meant a person who would supply items needed for a funeral. He was neither a funeral director, embalmer, nor mortician. An invoice has been found for his services and for a casket, signed by Borden. It was not uncommon for furniture retailers to supply wooden coffins and caskets and have a showroom or warehouse facility containing these items.
9. Lizzie committed the two murders in the nude.
Thanks to the 1975 film starring Elizabeth Montgomery as Lizzie, the nude murderess scenario has its supporters. In 1890, the thought was put forth that the killer must be saturated with blood, and it should have been impossible to hide or escape without the telltale blood evidence being detected. In fact, the killer need not have been covered from head to toe with blood, or could have worn, then later destroyed a protective covering garment. It would be unusual for a lady in the era of corsets and petticoats to have stripped bare twice on a sunny morning and walked around the house in broad daylight , then to clean up in between in a large tin basin in the cellar. Not impossible- just unlikely.
10. Lizzie Borden killed her stepmother and father.
So often assumed as fact , – in fact, nobody will ever have the final answer to this one. Based on the evidence given to the jury then, and in re-examinations of the trial evidence now, Lizzie is acquitted. Her inquest testimony, prussic acid evidence, and dress-burning evidence were not allowed at the trial. The fact that a side door remained open for almost an hour, and that an intruder could have entered the house and concealed himself, allows for reasonable doubt. And therein lies the fascination with this case.
Got a favorite oft-quoted but unsubstantiated Borden case statement to share? Please leave a comment!