If Walls Could Talk
The Fall River Spirit just published a very interesting article about the current exhibit of Bordenalia at the Fall River Historical Society. If you have not seen this- hurry on down as the special exhibit has an expiration date of October 15th!
Assistant curator Dennis Binnette has commented in the article on the surprising amount of blood on the shams and coverlet which were in the guest room of the Borden house on Second St. For the article follow this link http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100812/PUB03/8120358
(photo credit: Dave Souza, Fall River Herald)
click on this link to go directly to the feature.
This year the house outside was pristine, having just had a new coat of paint. The tent was up for visitors to wait under , shielded from the hot sun, and lemonade and hatchet cookies were ready for refreshment. Thanks go out this year to Debbie, Anna and Walter for keeping everyone cool and refreshed!
Naturally any photographs on the wall inside which were not family photos were taken down. Several crime scene photos were shown to visitors as “just having been developed and sent over by Mr. Walsh who was hired by the police department to shoot the crime scenes.”
For the first time this year, inasmuch as “CSI” was in the title of this year’s adaptation, blood spatter was applied to the wall and doors in the sitting room. After trying several concoctions, cherry preserves was found to give the best effect. John Morse mentions about 60 drops on the door into the parlor. Emma Borden would wash these off later in the evening on the 4th. Spatter was also applied to the framed engraving over the black sofa. Most visitors made a note of this on their exit polls. (photos courtesy of Lee Ann Wilbur)
This year the bed in the guest room where Abby Borden was killed was moved in order to reproduce the photo of Abby taken from the door way. A blood-spattered coverlet and shams were on the bed as well as a tuft of hair. More blood was used than on the genuine article which was on display down at the historical society in a special Bordenalia exhibit.
It is remarkable that the crime scene still exists after so many years, so everyone who visits is very forgiving of modern conveniences such as electric sockets, lamps, refrigerators, etc, and turns a blind eye to these minor things which distract from time travel to 1892.
The dress worn by Elizabeth Montgomery in The Legend of Lizzie Borden, and other clothing items usually on display were put in the upstairs bathroom, which at one time was actually a dress closet. Down in the cellar, the search for hatchets and other possible weapons, conducted by Detective Seaver, gave a glimpse to visitors of just where these items were found, and offers a visit to the Borden cellar, always a place guests wish to see.
Using a detailed sketch of the rooms done by Kiernan in 1892 as reference, Lizzie’s fainting couch was placed where it had been, between the two windows. Lizzie lounged with her pink and white wrapper with cherry ribbons which Officer Harrington would later describe in such detail that it brought a smile from Lizzie in court.
With so many period antiques in place in the house, dressing the house for a performance is easy. The two crime scenes are particularly accurate in furnishings, and most guests take note of this as they examine the 1892 photographs. With just a little imagination, it is not hard to go back in time and visualize how the rooms must have looked. At 9:30 and 11 a.m., a hush always falls on the house as cast and guests recall what was happening so many years ago.
It was a big day at #92 for the cast of the Pear Essential Players as they turned in 10 performances of Lizzie Borden CSI. Tickets sold out and the gift shop was buzzing with activity from early morning until the end of the day when the evening check- ins arrived. All previous records were broken this year.
Rufus Hilliard Ray Mitchell
There were a few new faces this year in the cast including Ray Mitchell who portrayed city marshal Rufus Hilliard and bore an uncanny resemblance to his character! Michael Brooks took over the role of James Winward, Undertaker and was suitably grave and distinguished.
(photo courtesy of Lee Ann Wilber)
For the first time, the bed in the guest room was moved in order to reproduce a lesser-known photo of Abby Borden.
With a nod to Richard’s Behren’s new book, Lizzie Borden: Girl Detective, Kathryn Woods played Miss Nellie Drew, girl detective and interviewed Uncle John Morse.
Molly O’Brien took over as Miss Manning from the Fall River Herald and also had a few things to ask Uncle John.
photo courtesy of Lee Ann Wilber
The men in blue were out in force this year with Ben Rose reprising Detective Seaver, and new B&B museum employees Justin Dunne and Will Clawson playing Medley and Harrington. Mustaches were a key element in bringing the characters to life with Hilliard’s famous walrus mustache and Harrington’s “handlebar” stash adding much to the characterization.
Will Clawson Phil Harrington
Justin Dunne played a young officer William Medley. Medley would become Fall River’s first Chief of Police.
Justin Dunne Chief Medley
Many actors have played Andrew Borden over the years and this year B&B employee Logan Livesey had the tough task of staying perfectly still under the sheet.
Tomorrow: Set dressing the house, our cast regulars, and the cast trip to Maplecroft!
The Funeral Service of Abby and Andrew Borden
Private funeral services for the deceased victims began at the house on Second Street at 11 a.m. on Saturday morning. The streets surrounding the house were packed with over 2500 people anxious to get a glimpse of the proceedings. Services were conducted by the Rev. A. Buck, William Adams, D.D. gave the invocation and read passages from the Bible. The bodies were each placed in a cedar coffin covered with black broadcloth and bore three silver handles on each side. The names of the deceased were engraved on a plate on the lid. On the casket of Andrew Borden was an ivy wreath, on Abby Borden’s a wreath of white roses, fern and sweet peas tied up with white satin ribbon. The bodies were exposed for viewing.
Family and neighbors attending the home service included Abby’s half-sister Sarah Whitehead, Mrs. Gray (Abby’s stepmother), Hiram Harrington (brother-in-law of Andrew Borden), Mrs. J. L. Fish (sister of Abby Borden), Dr. and Mrs. Bowen, Southard Miller and son, Mrs. Addie Churchill, Mrs. Thomas Cheetham, several cousins, neighbor Mrs. James Burt, Mrs. Rescomb Case, and Mrs. John Durfee. Over seventy-five in all were received at the home.
Miss Lizzie Borden was attired in a black lace dress with jet bead trimmings and wore a bonnet of dark material with small, high flowers. The funeral procession traveled north on Second Street, to Borden Street, on to South Main, and passed by the Andrew J. Borden Building. It continued north to Cherry Street, to Rock Street, and turned East on Prospect Street to the entry of Oak Grove Cemetery. The cortege arrived at the burial site at 12: 20 where several hundred people were assembled for the graveside services. The crowd was contained by a dozen policemen. None of the funeral party descended from their carriages except John Morse, Lizzie’s uncle, the bearers and the clergy. The tops of the graves were covered with branches of fir and the sides lined with cloth.
Pallbearers included John H. Boone, businessman, Andrew J. Borden, Merchant Manufacturing Co. (same name as the deceased), Jerome Cook Borden, cousin, Richard A. Borden, prominent businessman, George W. Dean, businessman, Abraham Hart, treasurer of Union Savings Bank, and James Osborn, a member of the Central Congregational Church. For Abby Borden: Frank Almy, John Boone, Henry Buffinton, Simeon Chace, James Eddy and Henry Wells. The bodies were not buried until after a cemetery autopsy on August 11th when both skulls were removed and a complete autopsy took place.
- information above courtesy of Leonard Rebello, Lizzie Borden Past and Present and the Fall River Daily Herald
The cast enjoyed a great day at the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast Museum as they, for the 14th year, adapted the facts of the case for performance to the public. Tickets were sold out well before the afternoon, with starting times on the half hour this year. An exit poll was given to the visitors and over 60 % of those who filled out the form decided Lizzie was the guilty party, with Uncle John Morse coming in a distant second. There was a drawing at the end of the day for a gift certificate to the popular B&B. Some of the cast is shown above after the day was ended, before being treated to a tour of all floors of Lizzie’s home on French St., Maplecroft. It was a big day for all things Lizzie with the new exhibit also debuting at the Fall River Historical Society. For more about the day visit the Fall River Herald site article http://www.heraldnews.com/news/x84685033/Fall-Rivers-infamous-Borden-murders-reenacted-on-118th-anniversary
More script details and cast photos coming soon!
My Own Country (My Ain Countrie) was the hymn said to be that which Lizzie chose to be sung at her private wake in her home. Soprano Vida Turner was instructed to sing it, received her check and was told not to tell anyone what transpired on the day at Maplecroft.
The hymn shown below, based on a poem text and in Robert Burnsian dialect, was found in a period hymnal called The White Ribbon Temperance Hymnal. The Borden household was a temperance home, and perhaps Lizzie first heard this hymn at a meeting of the Women’s Temperance Society. In Lizzie’s library mantel at Maplecroft, At Hame in My Ain Countrie is carved along with Scottish thistles. It’s hard to know for sure if Lizzie had this done, or it was already there when she bought the house. She indicated an admiration for things Scottish, so it is possible she was responsible for the carving.
“I am far from my home, and I’m weary after whiles,
for the longed for home -bringing and my Father’s welcome smiles”
is text which causes one pause! The “F” in Father is capitalized, thereby referring to God, but perhaps she was thinking of Andrew Borden! Try this on your piano. This was played at Maplecroft and sung, on August 4, 1992 for the centennial of the crimes.
I am far from my home, and I’m weary after whiles for the longed-for home-bringing and my Father’s welcome smiles,
But I’ll not be full content, until my eyes do see, the garden gate of heaven in my own country.
The earth is flecked with flowers, many tinted bright and gay,the birdies warble blithely, for the Father made them say.
But these sights and these sounds will as nothing to me be, when I hear the angels singing in my own country.
I’ve his good word of promise that some gladsome day the King, to his own royal palace his banished home will bring.
With eye and with heart running over we shall see,
The King in his beauty in our own country.
My sins have been many and my sorrows have been sore,
But they’ll never vex me nor be remembered more.
For his blood has made me white, and his hand shall dry my eye,
When he brings me home at last, to my own country.
He is faithful that has promised, and he’ll surely come again,
He’ll keep his tryst with me, at what hour I do not know,
But he bids me still to wait and yes, ready,
To go at any moment to my own country.
So I’m watching, yes, and singing of my home, as I wait,
For the sound of his footfall, this side the garden gate.
God give his grace to all, and who listens now to me,
that we may go in gladness to our own country.
To hear more hymns from the White Ribbon Hymnal of 1892, visit this link http://dig.lib.niu.edu/gildedage/songs/whiteribbon.html
Some of the cast will be appearing at the Fall River Public Library on Tuesday, August 3rd at 6:30 for a special reading by Richard Behrens from the new Lizzie Borden: Girl Detective! Tickets are presently on sale at the museum 508-675-7333. Advanced ticket purchase is suggested to avoid disappointment on the 4th. Tickets are usually sold out by noon. First performance at 10: 30 a.m.
Cast interviews and photos may be found at http://pearessentialproductions.org/
Lizzie Borden: Lorraine Gregoire
Detective Seaver Ben Rose
Abby Borden: Shelley Dziedzic
Andrew Borden: Logan Livesey
Bridget Sullivan Kathleen Troost-Cramer
Emma Borden: Barbara Morrissey
Addie Churchill: JoAnne Giovino
Alice Russell: Kristin Pepe
Uncle John: Joe Radza
Officer Medley: Justin Dunne
Miss Manning from the Herald: Molly O’Brien
“Cub reporter and Girl Detective” from the Herald, and Miss Manning’s assistant: Kathryn Woods
The Distinguished Undertaker Winward: Michael Brooks
Officer Harrington: Will Clawson
Marshal Hilliard; Ray Mitchell
With the arrival of scorching temps and high humidity, the cast of the Pear Essential Players (P.E.P.) layer on the petticoats, corsets and false beards in preparation for the August 4th re-enactment at the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast. Rehearsals will begin in two weeks, and this year the script is new. Written every year by night tour innkeeper Shelley Dziedzic, this year’s script will harness the flavor of popular CSI programs. Here is what the B&B website has to say about the annual event:
“Thirty minutes have passed since Abby Borden’s body has been found upstairs in the guest room. #92 has become a beehive of activity with Fall River’s Men in Blue flocking to the crime scene. Doctors, bystanders, policemen, newspaper reporters, neighbors and friends are all converging on the little drab house on Second St. Inside on the Second Floor, Miss Lizzie Andrew Borden is reclining on her fainting couch, medicated with bromo caffeine. Uncle John has wandered bewildered into the dining room, trying to make sense of what he has just heard. Bridget Sullivan is frightened in the parlor, already planning to pack and flee that very afternoon. The lifeless bodies of Andrew and Abby Borden are covered with bloody sheets, awaiting procedures and the ministrations of the undertaker. Sister Emma is rushing back home on her way from Fairhaven. Helpful neighbors mill around looking for answers and trying to be useful in comforting Lizzie and assisting the police. Meanwhile, the police begin the questioning and searching. Our visitors will be “deputized” as they begin their tour of the crime scene, and will be encouraged to “assist” the police with their photographic equipment and by carefully surveying the crime scenes. They may even be motivated to ask a question themselves and to be on the lookout for CLUES! By means of the police questioning, the visitors to the house will hear the story as it happened, unfolding through the answers of the family members. As the tour of the premises ends, visitors will be asked to cast a vote on the GUILTY PARTY, based on what they have seen and heard during their inspection of the scene of the crime. ”There will be a few new faces in the cast this year and a few new characters from out of the past. Information on ticket sales, parking and times will be posted here and on the B&B site soon. The first performance will be at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, August 4th. This will be the fourteenth year that the house on Second Street has reproduced the historic details of the famous case in an entertaining and educational way.
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.
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 :
If we could only go back to August 4, 1892 in a time machine, there are plenty of places in #92 Second Street one would wish to be on that fateful day. Borden neighbor, Addie Churchill, was first on the scene after being attracted to the spectacle of Bridget Sullivan racing up and down the Borden driveway. Lizzie’s cool quip,
“Oh do come over Mrs. Churchill, someone has killed father”-
or words to that effect have resounded down the century as being somewhat strange under the circumstances. Addie enters the house and gets the story from Lizzie, who is sitting in the turn of the lower steps of the back stairs.
(Prelim.) Addie Churchill
Q. What did you do or say?
A. I opened one of the windows and said “Lizzie, what is the matter?”
Q. Go right on now,
A. She said “O, Mrs. Churchill, do come over; somebody has killed father.”
Q. Go right on, if you please.
A. I closed the window, and went directly through my house out the front door, and went over to her house, and opened the screen door, and went in. Then she sat on the second stair at the right of the screen door, the back stairs.
Q. The stairs, as I remember the plan, came down, the foot of the stairs is very near the back door?
A. Just as the right of the door as you go in.
Q. She was sitting then opposite where she had been standing?
A. Yes Sir.
Q. What happened then?
A. I put my hand on her arm, and said “O, Lizzie”, I said “Where is your father”? She said “in the sitting room”. I said “where were you when it happened”? She said she went to the barn to get a piece of iron, and came back, heard a distressed noise, and came in, and found the screen door open.
Can you picture her there?
(photo courtesy of Hollie B. Dziedzic)
Lizzie’s grammar school still stands on Morgan Street. Re-named the Nathaniel B. Borden School many years ago, the venerable edifice, built in 1868 closed its doors as a school forever in 2007. This month’s article features a slideshow and article about the school and comments about Lizzie’s school days there. Click on the tab at the top of the page header for April Mutton Eaters Online to read this month’s feature.
Photos from last Thursday’s filming. The new Mr. Borden could double as Abraham Lincoln. A few are rather eerie!
Bridget Sullivan: Molly O’Brien
Lizzie Borden: Lee Ann Wilber
Mr. Borden: Dan LeLievre
Mrs. Borden: Shelley Dziedzic
Thursday will be a busy day at #92. The Travel Channel will be returning for a taping session. The programme filmed many years ago at the house still runs on the Travel Channel frequently and the phone at #92 rings off the hook any time it airs.
House co-owner Lee Ann Wilber will play Lizzie with newcomer Dan LeLievre in the role of Andrew Borden and Shelley Dziedzic as Abby. Stay tuned for air date.
Recently the crew from the paranormal TV web site http://www.30oddminutes.com/ (which films uncut and unedited) came to check out the Borden house. The young host is particularly charming and the thirty-odd minute session is a good representation of what most paranormal crews attempt during their investigations in the house. Have a look at http://www.blip.tv/file/3291682 Episode 27 Live at Lizzie Borden’s.
Here is the site teaser for the episode:
“In Episode 27 we come to you “Live” from the haunted Lizzie Borden house in Fall River, Massachusetts. Okay, not totally “live” because we filmed the episode about a week before it aired. Nobody does a documentary like the 30 Odd Minutes crew! And Lizzie Borden is no different. Just like our studio show we do the whole thing live, straight-through, in one take. You get a tour of the house, learn about some of the history, hear from the manager, Lee Ann, and learn from our special guests: EVP specialist, Mike Markowicz, and the host of Spooky Southcoast Radio, Tim Weisberg. You just don’t know what will happen during this show. Do we uncover evidence of the paranormal or just a prank? Tune in to find out! If the truth is out there… 30 Odd Minutes will find it… but only by sheer accident.”
Baker’s bread, fish and milk- tainted or tampered with?
On the morning of August 3rd , Abby Borden arose early as usual and breakfasted on pork steak. This seems an unusual choice for a woman who was suffering from nausea and extreme digestive disorder. The night before, Abby and Andrew Borden were up and down to their chamber pot experiencing all the symptoms of food poisoning. Lizzie would say that she too had suffered some discomfort. Fish had been on the menu Tuesday evening. Had the fish “gone off”?
As soon as Dr. Bowen’s office across the street opened, Abby dashed over to find relief. Dr. Bowen listened to her concerns about the “baker’s bread” perhaps being “poisoned”. That would seem to imply Abby was thinking along the lines of food poisoning. She had heard of a case before where cream cakes had gone bad and caused similar symptoms. Food spoilage with resulting salmonella, botulism and “Summer Complaint” were a day–to-day occurrence in the Victorian era. Bowen observed that if the baker’s bread from the market had indeed been spoiled, he would have had far more patients and inquiries, He prescribed castor oil as an emetic, and sent Abby home. Later he would remark that he had some fear she would be sick right in his office, and later crossed the street to check on her and Andrew. Andrew Borden did not wish to be examined and was not pleased his wife had incurred a bill for services rendered by Dr. Bowen and the possibility now of a house call bill. Lizzie was ashamed of his cheapness and went upstairs. Andrew opted to dose himself with Garfield tea.
During the same morning, pharmacist clerk Eli Bence would claim that Lizzie demanded of him 10 cents worth of Prussic acid with which to clean a sealskin fur, claiming she had bought it there at Smith’s before. Lizzie would deny even knowing where Smith’s was located, although it was but a block west and south of her home. The time is placed between 11-11:45 a.m., or about 3-3 1/2 hours after Abby’s dash across the street to Dr. Bowen’s. Is it possible that Abby’s “food-poisoning” might have served as the inspiration for the attempted purchase of Prussic acid only a few hours after Abby’s trip to the doctor? Abby’s subsequent death from deliberate poisoning might easily have been attributed to an acute case of food poisoning, and given Bowen’s testimony of the morning’s events, most likely an autopsy would not have been performed.
No one was able to confirm or witness the the claim that Lizzie herself was actually sick with the same complaint the elderly Bordens suffered. A poisoner is always prudent to say they have also been sick, even to the point of ingesting a minute amount of poison themselves to achieve a mild result.
A most intriguing follow-up to Wednesday’s events occured when Lizzie visited her longtime friend, Alice Russell, Wednesday evening and promoted the story that the family had all been sick, she had fears the milk was being tampered with, and something terrible could happen at any time. “I don’t know that they won’t burn the house down over our heads”. The seed that “father has an enemy” was firmly sown, and the notion of deliberate poisoning was tossed out as a possibility.
On the morning of August 4th, the maid, Bridget Sullivan herself was ill, vomiting in the back yard around 9 a.m. She ate the same food as the family, including the leftovers.
If one believes Lizzie to be guilty of the crimes, and that Eli Bence was telling the truth- her failure to procure the Prussic acid could have prompted another surefire method of disposal- a hatchet! Results guaranteed every time.