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.
The Best Actor Award was a tie this year- for the first time. Will Clawson and Ray Mitchell, both employees of the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast Museum are also Pear Essential Players and last August 4th, on the anniversary of the murders, took up the roles of Officer Harrington and City Marshal Rufus B. Hilliard. The Second Street Irregulars (the “Muttoneaters”), award the golden statuette yearly for best performance in a Borden case-related role.
Will Clawson as the popular and well-beloved Phil Harrington (the man who described Lizzie’s wrapper in such detail and died tragically on his honeymoon the year Lizzie was acquitted)
Ray Mitchell as City Marshal Rufus Hilliard
The best actress award this year went to Kristin Pepe for her sympathetic portrayal of long-time Borden friend, and former neighbor, Alice Russell. Kristin played the role of Bridget Sullivan in 2009 and 2010 was her first time in the role of the lady who saw Lizzie burn the dress in the woodstove and who was the recipient of the exciting news divulged by Lizzie on the night before the murders that “something is going to happen, Father has an enemy. . .” Kristin was also a Lens of Sherlock recipient several years ago when she tracked down Emma Borden’s alma mater, Wheaton Female Seminary. Congratulations, all!
Kristin (center) with Barbara Morrissey (Emma, on the left) and Lorraine Gregoire (Lizzie on the right) on August 4, 2011.
(courtesy of Chris Striker Bounds)
As part of their annual weekend gathering, the Second Street Irregulars made a stop at the Fall River Art Association on April 1st to see the recent portrait of Lizzie by local artist, Tiago Finato http://www.tiagofinato.com/
The annual banquet for the Second Street Irregulars was held at the Quequechan Club Saturday evening. This year, among the awards given, the first Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to long-time Borden case historian, Ed Thibault of Somerset, Massachusetts. The original Irregulars joined Ed and his wife Eleanor at the head of the table. Barbara MacDonald, Deborah Shannon Valentine, Shelley Dziedzic, and Leonard Rebello enjoyed getting the old gang together once more. Ken Souza was unable to be contacted to round out the original six members.
Ed Thibault traces his interest in the Borden case to the age of 14, and has researched and shared his discoveries for many years with local civic groups, schools and visitors to the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast where he and his wife Eleanor have worked for many years. Congratulations- and thanks, Eddie!
The snows did fall and the wind did blow, but the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast had a busy winter and the month of March is jammed- packed with activities too. The first Murder Mystery Weekend was held over the Valentine’s Day weekend, followed by the Dead of Winter paranormal event with Chris Moon. The news, posted here earlier, detailing B&B visitor Chloe Sevigny’s proposed upcoming project of an HBO mini-series about the Borden case filming this summer was icing on the cake.
Last week, those who work at the house were thrilled to learn the TODAY show will be making a visit the end of the month to shoot a special on the fascination with the case. The timing could not have been better for the release of the eagerly-awaited Parallel Lives from the Fall River Historical Society. The authors will also be appearing on the morning televison special segment. The Second Street Irregulars will be descending on the 31st for a jammed-packed 3 days at the house and on the road, with some special guests and stops along the way. It looks like 2011 will be another banner year for Lizzie & Co.
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.
After the visit to the police station, the flock descended on the Fall River Public Library to have a look at the Fall River Room and exhibit of Fall River artist paintings. A happy hour was spent there looking through old street directories, postcards and reference materials-some rare, and all chock full of information about the city. After a tour of the library it was check-in time at #92 Second Street and preparations for the annual banquet, this year at the old Quequechan Club on North Main Street. Some Mutton Eaters opted for vintage clothing. The group handed out awards and enjoyed a superb dinner in the Captain Study on the second floor after taking a tour of the bowling alley and other rooms of the 1894 former gentleman’s club. Dinner was followed by the cutting of the 2010 Cheesecake- a tradition for the Mutton eaters, this year featuring a topper of Lizzie Borden counting dollars instead of sheep in her little bed back on Second Street. It was a late night with lots of singing and presentations by members which included new material on Dr. Seabury Bowen and Sarah Cornell.
The annual Mutton Eaters weekend in Fall River 2010 is now just a good memory. The armchair sleuth group had a jam-packed weekend visiting Lizzie Borden-related sites for three days, beginning with a stop early Friday morning at the Fall River Police Department on Pleasant Street. Deputy Chief Moniz greeted the group in the entry foyer and took them to the second floor to meet the new Chief of Police, Chief Racine who recently took over the position from Chief Souza. Chief Racine knew his Bordenia, and solemnly (with a twinkle) swore in 18 new recruits as “official deputies” on the Borden case. The group enjoyed a great ten minutes chatting with the busy Chief, who mentioned there was a $200 reward on the “tip hot line” for any clue which would assist in solving a case. After reflecting on the FRPD and their involvement in the Borden case, the “Mutton Eaters” were treated, as a special surprise, to a complete tour of the entire facility from the booking room to the dispatch and receivng room to the holding cells. The Wall of Chiefs, which included Medley, Hilliard and Fleet was a big hit as well as the arrest book showing Lizzie Borden’s name. They learned that chief and deputy chief badges are turned in when the officer retires, and that the three numbers which appear over the badge are numbers of fallen policemen, killed in the line of duty. Currently three numbers appear although the force has actually lost more. The badge has not changed style since the era of Lizzie Borden as witnessed by the badge of Chief Medley, Fall River’s first titled Chief of Police. It was learned that the crime scene camera in the archive was not the one used by Mr. Walsh to photograph the Borden house, but was dated slightly after 1892.
Original blue lantern from the old FRPD building at Bedford and High Streets.
The facilty was impressive, with the 24 hour dispatch and call -in room a state-of-the art- facility. The night before the visit, Fall River sustained a large fire in a private residence, with the loss of one four year old child. The dispatcher took the group through the procedure of how the calls were received, and how the response teams were sent out. Also on the tour were the booking desk and a tour of the lock-up where sliding doors have replaced bars. Male and female detainees are separated from each other in different sections of the building.
During the visit a review of a recent incident involving the discharging of an officer’s gun during a chase was being conducted, which is general procedure. The briefing room was included and looked exactly like those seen on so many popular television programs. The white board showed ongoing activity around the city, using the historic terminology for the sections of the city like Corky Row, Flint, Globe, etc.
The visit was a highlight of the weekend for the group, and the viewing of the arrest book a special memory along with the great kindness and hospitality of the officers and employees.
The pansies are blooming, the grass is greening, and the Borden house is getting a new lick of paint this week. The Travel Channel returns next week to film a new -for-autumn bed and breakfast program, and April 15th will see the Return of the Mutton Eaters, the armchair Bordenian sleuths who gather once a year to chase the cold trail of the 1892 crime. This year the group will have the annual banquet at the Quequechan Club on North Main since the old Abbey Grille is no more.
The pace will be hectic with many venues to visit and the focus this year set on Fall River and Swansea. Experiments in the house, presentation of new information found over the year , and special guests are part of the annual endeavors. April will be a very bizzie Lizzie month.
(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.
Some have speculated that had Lizzie not experienced a taste of the Good Life on her 19 week Grand Tour adventure, she may not have become so disenchanted with life at #92 in Fall River. Sadly, we do not know much about all of the places Lizzie visited, but it is possible, based on travel diaries and journals of the period, to piece together what it may have been like to make the transatlantic crossing in 1890 with a band of girlfriends for the first time, and imagine what fun Lizzie must have had. Maybe one fine day a diary or journal will come forth with more details, penned by one of the ladies who accompanied Lizzie. Until then, the Mutton Eaters Online article for March can be found at the top of the page- Making the Grand Tour!