By Jo Anne Giovino with photography and research by Barbara Morrissey and Kristin Pepe *(All rights reserved, August 2019)
Although it was a dark and stormy night, the Intrepid Trio, Jo Anne Giovino, Kristin Pepe and Barbara Morrissey was dauntless in their pursuit of Lizzie A. Borden. This mission took us to Haverhill, Massachusetts, a city about forty minutes from our home base, Billerica, MA. Destination: Buttonwoods Museum, for a presentation on Lizzie Borden. After a brief stop for sustenance and pumpkin ale at the Barking Dog, we arrived at our appointed time. Unfortunately, the talk was a bust – but do not despair! The effort was not in vain.
While Barbara was conversing with a newly-found distant cousin, Kristin and JoAnne spotted a lighted display cabinet in the rear of the room and went to investigate. What we saw left us bewildered and amazed. In the cabinet was an original full set of the transcripts of the case, “The Commonwealth of Massachusetts vs. Lizzie A. Borden”. Printed on the display card was “From the collection of William H. Moody”. Obviosuly it never occurred to us that there would be a privately –owned copy of the transcripts outside of Fall River or New Bedford.
This discovery begged the question, “Why were the transcripts here and how is Moody connected to Haverhill?”
Thus began our journey of Finding Moody.
As we know, Wm. H. Moody was one of the prosecutors for the Commonwealth in the Borden case. He was appointed by Massachusetts Attorney General Pillsbury to assist the District Attorney of the Southern District of Massachusetts, Hosea Knowlton. Mr. Moody gave the opening statement to the jury which concisely and cogently laid out a strong case against Lizzie A. Borden. Moody was praised for his effort and many believed Lizzie to be doomed. As a peripheral character in the case, our personal knowledge of Mr. Moody was limited. But, as Charter Members of The Second Street Irregulars (Muttoneaters) , we knew there had to be more to Wm. H. Moody than this. As we have learned from other personalities in the case, no person is a one-dimensional individual. There was a rumor after the trial that Lizzie sent a packet of newspaper clippings and photos to Moody with a note that read, “ As a memento of an interesting occasion.” Was that true? Will the Intrepid Trio discover the truth? There was only one way to find out. Channeling Sherlock Holmes, our investigation began.
“The Game’s Afoot”
Finding Mr. Moody proved to be quite an endeavor. After searching the Internet and making numerous phone calls, we got some leads. Our first stop, the Haverhill Public Library, was a treasure trove of information. The Special Collections Department had newspaper clippings, scrap books kept by Moody and his sister, letters, photographs, and most impressively, the trial transcripts. Next, we went to the Buttonwoods Museum located in historic Duncan House, which is the home of the Haverhill Historical Society. The museum has a room dedicated to Wm. H. Moody with furnishings and personal belongings donated by his sister after his death. The staff and volunteers were very generous with their time and opened the room to us despite the museum being closed to the public at that time. Seeing these tangible objects and knowing that they belonged to Mr. Moody was very poignant. One realizes that he was an individual with a life, friends, and family and not simply a footnote from some celebrated case. In searching census records we were able to discover an address for Moody’s residence. Not knowing for sure if the house was still standing, we went in search of the home. With the assistance of GPS, we were successful in finding his home. Mr. Moody owned a large, beautiful Federal style house in a very prestigious section of Haverhill, akin to Lizzie’s house on the hill, Maplecroft. Luckily it is still standing and we were able to take pictures and envision how it must have looked in its heyday. Our final stop was definitely the most time-consuming in research, but the most rewarding – locating Moody’s final resting place. Contrary to what one may think, this distinguished gentleman is interred in a small family plot in a rural cemetery in Byfield, Massachusettts, a village north of Haverill. He lies with his mother, father, brother and sister. As with Lizzie and Emma, none of the children ever married.
We are appreciative of those who graciously assisted us in our research. The following is the pertinent information we found about William H. Moody.
William Henry Moody was born to Henry Lord Moody and Melissa Augusta Emerson ( a distant relative of the poet Ralph Waldo Emerson) on February 23, 1853 in Newbury, Massachusetts, a small fishing village outside of Haverhill. His father was a farmer and came from agrarian stock. Similar to the Borden family, the Moody family settled in America sometime in the 1600s. At this time we did not determine from which country the family emigrated. William was one of three children.
When William was quite young, his father, valuing the importance of education, moved the family to Haverhill. He attended the prestigious boys school, Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts where he graduated with a diploma in 1872. After graduation he attended Harvard University and graduated in 1876. While attending Harvard, William became acquainted with an underclassman, Theodore Roosevelt. Although Teddy was a few years below William, they had outdoorsmanship, sports, and friends in common. This developed into a life-long friendship which would prove to be quite valuable to William’s future. Moody was an excellent baseball player and was captain of the Harvard baseball team. He was also an avid debater on the Harvard debate team. After graduation he attended Harvard School of Law. However, he chose to leave school and practice law under the guidance of Richard Henry Dana, Jr. William successfully passed the bar and became a lawyer.
Being a very prominent lawyer and politician, in 1888 he gained his first elected position, Solicitor for Haverill, Massachusetts. Later he was appointed U.S. Attorney for Eastern Massachusetts (1890-1895). It is during this time Bordenphiles are introduced to Mr. Moody. In 1893 he was chosen by Attorney General Pillsbury to be associate prosecutor in the Borden trial. This was his first murder trial. Although the Commonwealth did not prevail in the Borden case, Moody continued on with a distinguished career. By 1895 Mr. Moody was elected federal representative of Massachusetts (1895-1902). By this time his old Harvard classmate was elected President of the United States. President Roosevelt called upon Moody to be his Secretary of the Navy (1902-1904), U.S. Attorney General (1904-1906), and the ultimate achievement, Justice of the Supreme Court (1906-1910), serving until the severe rheumatism forced Justice Moody to retire from the bench. William returned home to Haverhill where he stayed active in politics and renewed friendships until his death on July 2, 1917, President Roosevelt attended his friend’s burial.
William H. Moody was a beloved resident of Haverhill. Over his lifetime he was feted for his many accomplishments by his fellow townsmen with parades and dinners held in his honor. In 1919 the U.S.S. Moody, a destroyer, was commissioned in his honor. His sister, Mary, christened the ship which was built at the Squantum Victory Shipyard in Quincy, Massachusetts.
He served our country with distinction and was a valued and dedicated public servant.
Sometimes life takes us on unexpected journeys and this is one of them. We have been fortunate to make Lizzie Borden-related discoveries in “our neck of the woods”. I say fortunate because these adventures allow us all to gain knowledge and realization that those we read about from the case are more than a name on a page or a mere character cast in a murder mystery.
By the way, we did not find that letter and packet from Lizzie to William – at least not yet.
Sources: Buttonwoods Museum, Haverhill, MA
Haverhill Public Library, Haverhill
Lizzie Borden Past and Present, Leonard Rebello, Al-Zach Press, 1999.
Various Internet articles and newspapers
The Fall River Historical Society special August-4-Sept 30 exhibit will display, for the first time, the post mortem photographs of Abby and Andrew Borden. Other rare and never-displayed items from the trial and trial lawyers will be on exhibit.
This past weekend the cordial society of armchair sleuths returned to #92 Second Street for the annual flocking of the Second Street Irregulars (Muttoneaters) for a jam-packed tour of many Borden-related sites around the area. Friday morning the group of 16 visited the Fall River Historical Society to bestow the yearly awards upon the recent publication by Michael Martins and Dennis Binette, Parallel Lives. The flock enjoyed a coffee hour, tour and photo session in the beautiful Victorian garden before heading off to Fairhaven for a picnic at Fort Phoenix and a city tour given by Chris Richards who was dressed to impress!
Chris fired off a vintage rifle, explained how teeth were extracted, limbs were amputated and the life and activities of a wartime barber-dentist-surgeon, a role he re-enacts in costume with a local history group at Fort Phoenix annually. Afterward the Muttoneaters toured city hall and learned about Mark Twain’s dedication speech given on the stage there, visited the locales of the homes in which Helen Brownell stayed (Emma Borden’s alibi), and visited the beautiful Millicent Library where a letterbox was found in a very special place inside. (see Atlasquest.com for clues!) The group then returned to Fall River for a pizza party and presentations on the Villisca murders of 1912 and discussions on Andrew Jennings, one of the attorneys for Lizzie whose journals they saw at the historical society earlier.
Saturday was a busy day which began with a trip to Oak Grove Cemetery to see the room in which the Bordens were autopsied on August 11, 1892, and to inspect the interior of the holding tomb used to house the coffins of the Bordens both before and after the heads were removed by Dr. Dolan.
The morning concluded with a very special visit to Maplecroft and a great tour by Mr. Bob Dube who conducted the group through every room of the three-storied home and explained what was original to Lizzie’s tenure there. This was a very special and much-appreciated opportunity as the house is currently for sale with the future owner still unknown.
After lunch the Muttoneaters visited the Animal Rescue League of Fall River, an annual stop, to bring dog and cat treats and a special 1927 newspaper detailing Lizzie and Emma Borden’s donation to this worthy cause, bequeathed in their wills.
The afternoon brought a real surprise when the group was invited to visit the cellar of the Lodowick Borden (also known as Dr. Kelly’s) home next door to the Borden house on Second Street to view the chimney and cellar where in 1848 Eliza Darling Borden threw three of her children in a cistern and then committed suicide behind the chimney. Beautiful cabinetry with little drawers and cupboards were added much later when the Kellys moved to the house in 1891 and are still intact. The room was most likely used then as Dr. Kelly’s home office.
Saturday evening concluded with a visit from the “Women’s Christian Temperence Union” with Muttoneaters dressed as Mrs. Brayton, Carrie Nation and Mother Willard, followed by a Sunday-style chicken Gospel bird dinner and many hours of animated conversation about the famous Borden case. As always, nobody wanted to leave on Sunday morning and the planning begins again for next year’s adventures.
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?
Guests and employees at the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast enjoyed watching the TODAY show feature this morning in the parlor. Already the online clip has had nearly 500 comments and the phones are briskly ringing on Second Street. The interest in the Borden case?- Keen as ever.
17th Annual Home for the Holidays House Tour, Bristol
11:00am–5:00pm. Linden Place, 500 Hope Street. The tour includes several select historic homes, including Linden Place Mansion, that open their doors to showcase their unique holiday decors and beautiful interiors. $20 in advance; $25 at the door. Call (401) 253-0390.
Visit the Linden Place web site to learn more about the Colt Family history and high Victorian society in Bristol.
Also, while in Bristol, plan on stopping by historic Blithewold, decorated for the season with special events and holiday teas.
Tonight the popular Travel Channel program, Mysteries at the Museum, which features unusual artifacts from around the country, presented a segment on the handle-less hatchet found in the Borden cellar. The segment filmed at the Fall River Historical Society and the house on Second Street and showed excellent close-up footage of the hatchet head and break on the handle stub. The seven-minute portion was well-done and worth a look. It airs again tomorrow, December 1st at 3 p.m.
The Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism recently released its list of “1,000 Great Places” and six spots were in Fall River, including the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum. The Spirit has an article on the other five places, and comment on the results by B&B owner, Lee Ann Wilber. For the article visit this link
Those interested in the Borden Case will have a week ahead chock-full of things to see and do. It has been a long time since the conference at Bristol Community College and many who are fascinated with the case and needing a good dose of Bordenalia are heading to Fall River this week to take in as much as possible. Great weather is predicted!
THINGS TO SEE AND DO
1. The Fall River Public Library is hosting a book reading with author Richard Behrens, reading from his new book, Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, August 3rd. Costumed cast from the annual Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum August 4th performances, The Pear Essential Players, will attend in character with a few words to say about Wednesday, the 4th on Second Street.
2. The Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast will have daytime tours on the hour from 11 a.m. -3 p.m. on August 3rd. Don’t miss the gift shop! Advance tickets are on sale for August 4th performances of CSI Lizzie Borden. Richard Behrens will also be autographing his book on the 4th in the gift shop. A drawing will be held at the end of the day for a night’s stay for two at the house. Program GPS devices for 230 Second Street or 230 2nd Street.
3. Oak Grove Cemetery has convenient black arrows on the pavement from the office gate to the Borden plot and is open from early morning until dark. Many other case personalities are buried in the historic Victorian cemetery.
4. The Fall River Historical Society will be open with a special augmented Borden exhibit, featuring some items which are generally not on display all the time This is a must-see on the list for visitors coming to Fall River for the day. The society can be found at the corner of Maple and Rock streets. There is also a great gift shop selling Lizzie Borden merchandise and books.
5. A little drive around the city in the late afternoon might be a great way to end the day. The Andrew Borden Building is still standing on the corner of Anawan St. and South Main, Lizzie’s little school can also be found in the South End on Morgan Street, and Maplecroft is convenient if you plan to see the cemetery as it is only a short drive from Prospect to French Street. There is much beautiful Victorian architecture to be seen on The Hill and some fantastic restaurants in which to sample the local cuisine for dinner at the end of your day.
It’s been a very busy Lizzie Summer and Autumn with plays, lectures, re-enactments, house tours, cemetery tours, and much anticipation about the upcoming Parallel Lives. Warps & Wefts will be on vacation until October 18th in Victorian Cape May- a place where Lizzie would feel right at home. Victorian week is an annual Cape May attraction and is rated in the top 100 American events not to miss. http://www.capemaymac.org/content/subpage_main.aspx?id=820
W&W will return on the 18th with photos of all the Victorian fun, fashions and amazing Painted Ladies!
Gallery X will be holding an open exhibit “Lizzie Borden, A Tale of Two Cities”. On August 4, 1892, a terrible crime was committed in the city of Fall River. After all suspects were interviewed, all were cleared except for the youngest daughter of the victims, Miss Lizzie Andrew Borden. The vicious murders and it’s following trial caused the largest media blitz America had ever seen. Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Jackson Borden were brutally slain in their home in broad daylight. The trial of Lizzie Borden has lived in the hearts, imaginations, and minds of a larger group of people than one would expect. The crime was committed in the City of Fall River, On June 5, 1893, Ten months later, Lizzie was brought to trial at the Bristol County Superior Court house in New Bedford. After a trial of thirteen days, Lizzie was acquitted for lack of evidence.
The show’s title, “Lizzie Borden, A Tale of Two Cities” is a reference to the connection of these two cities and the national interest the murders in Fall River, and the following trial in New Bedford caused. Nearly every newspaper in the country held front page accounts of the tragedy and it’s proceedings. It seems everyone had their opinion on these bizarre proceedings and the press couldn’t get enough! The exhibit is open to all artists, local and otherwise. All submissions must pertain to Lizzie and/or the Borden tragedy. The limit is three pieces per artist, at $10.00 each. Gallery X will receive A35% commission on any sales. The show opens on October 14, 2009,the opening reception will be on October 17, 2009. The deadline for entries is Sunday October 11,2009 between the hours of 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Gallery X hours are Wednesday through Friday 11:00 a.m. till 5:00 p.m. , Saturday and Sunday 11:00 a.m. till 3:00 p.m.
LIZZIE BORDEN LIVE
Winner best actress: JACOBY AWARD
Back by popular demand. LIZZIE BORDEN LIVE is returning to The Eagle Performing Arts Center, 35 North Main Street, Fall River, MA for two performances in August. Friday the 21st at 8:00 p.m. and Saturday the 22nd at 8:00 p.m.. 117 years ago on these dates Lizzie Borden was sitting in the Taunton County Jail, where she resided for 10 months, awaiting trial. Tickets ($30). Purchase on line at www.lizziebordenlive.com (click on Schedule page) or at the door.
Lizzie Borden Live debuted in Fall River at the Eagle in June to a sold out house. Ms. Dalton said, “We are thrilled to finally bring Lizzie Borden Live to Fall River and the response was overwhelming.” Jerry Donovan, who recently restored the Eagle, said “The play and its sell-out mark the beginning of a new era in the city. ” Mayor Robert Correla praised the play saying it was powerful and exceptionally performed. Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter, who attended the play with his wife Dottie. Said, “If she was innocent, that was an incredible price to pay. If she was guilty, she got what she deserved. But it raises aspects and a side of this story I never had considered.”
“Jill Dalton, who plays Lizzie and wrote the play stunned audience members with her delivery, which featured many laughs, many somber notes and a compelling tragedy.” Ric Oliveira, O Journal
On a hot August morning the bodies of Andrew Borden and his wife were found bludgeoned to death. Their youngest daughter, Lizzie, became the only suspect. Innocent in a court of law. Guilty in the court of public opinion. Condemned by society. The legend comes to life with humor and insight as the real Lizzie steps on stage.
“Dalton is nothing less than superb in her depiction of the character, as her Lizzie is alternating sweet, innocent, witty and savagely murderous. The audience is left to decide which Lizzie is the real one.” Ed Wismer, Cape May Star Wave
Jill Dalton, (writer/performer) an award winning New York actress with a long list of television and theatre credits, was commissioned by the East Lynne Theater Company in Cape May, N.J. to write the play where it had a successful five week run garnering praise and standing ovations from audiences and critics alike. Ms Dalton won the 2007 Jacoby Award for her portrayal of Lizzie in Lizzie Borden Live. Ms. Dalton wants the audience to decide for themselves if Lizzie Borden was guilty of killing her father and step-mother on August 4, 1892.
The true crime thriller is set 13 years after the double murder in Maplecroft, the mansion Lizzie bought with money inherited from her father. “Dalton gives a compelling performance enacting the humanity, humor, irony and sadness of a woman who’s had time to reflect on horrific events.” Susan Johnson, Red Rock News
Jack McCullough, (director) born in Fall River, said, “We had to get down to the very marrow of the bone, otherwise there’s no point in telling the story. People come to see Lizzie expecting to see a monster and instead they find themselves.”
Haunting the performance is music written by Emmy winning and Tony nominated orchestrator and composer Larry Hochman, who created his original pieces based on the script and his personal observations during rehearsals.
Dalton’s credits include: Law and Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Rachel Getting Married, Veronika Decides to Die (2009), Wall Street, Another World, All My Children, One Life to Live, As The World Turns and Saturday Night Live. Ms. Dalton was also a stand up comic for several years and won the Mary Jo Comedy Show Award for stand-up comedy in NYC.
McCullough, a graduate of the Trinity Repertory Conservatory in Providence, R.I., also directed another of Dalton’s solo plays, My Life in the Trenches, most recently at the Kitchen Theatre in Ithaca, NY and at the Ensemble Studio Theatre, the International Midtown Theatre Festival NYC, the One Festival and the 78th Street Theatre Lab in NYC. As an actor he appeared in Third Watch, Desperate Measures, The Observer, Osmosis Jones, Spenser: for Hire, Mr. North and Providence.
Seating is limited to 150. The doors of the Eagle will open at 7:00 PM. Prior to the performance there will be a cash bar and members of the Mutton Eaters, dressed in period garb, will meet and greet the guests.
Lizzie Borden Live challenges the audience to rethink the legend that is Lizzie Borden. Think you know her? Think again!
The Eagle Performing Arts Center
35 N. Main Street
Fall River, MA 02723
Tickets ($30). Available at www.lizziebordenlive.com (click on Schedule page) and (CASH ONLY) at the door.
Press contact: Jack McCullough (917) 806-3243 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Good things happening in the city. Read the article here: http://www.heraldnews.com/entertainment/x2141119034/Fall-River-featured-in-photo-exhibit
Once again the much-anticipated opening of the True Story of Lizzie Borden attraction in Salem was delayed. Hoping to open on Lizzie’s birthday on July 19th, the date had to be pushed forward to August 4th, the anniversary of the murders. The woodwork paint was drying, the local newspapers were touting the opening, and Fall River was getting into the controversy about Lizzie’s presence in Salem-when the August 4th opening never materialized. Hopefully eager visitors-to-be called ahead, or else there were some murderous prospective guests who must have been disappointed to find closed doors on the day. Meanwhile, back in old Fall River, August 4th went on as ever.
Today the word is out that the opening date of the attraction/museum/exhibit is uncertain due to some difficulties with the city of Salem officials- red tape, paperwork, permits, -something like that. Makes you wonder if the other famous ladies of the city- those ladies in the pointy hats- are brewing up some spells ! Maybe they don’t want any competition from another woman!
The fifth biennial U.S. conference on Jack the Ripper will take place October 10-12th in Knoxville, Tennessee. It will be held at the Four Points by Sheraton Knoxville Cumberland House Hotel, which is immediately adjacent to the World’s Fair Park and its distinctive Sunsphere and less than an hour’s drive from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. For more information please visit the website at http://www.ripperology.com/conference/where.html
The Salem local papers announced this morning the date of the long-awaited Lizzie Borden Museum -August 4th, the date of the murders of Andrew and Abby Borden in Fall River. According to Leonard Pickel, the designer of the exhibit “This is going to be very much like a museum. More like the Peabody Essex than the witch museums. Don’t expect to come and be entertained, but come to learn something about the true story of Lizzie Borden.”
It should be interesting to see how the Salem Witch venue will succeed with a Fall River legend.