• What is a Home Without a Father

    Chances are that if you were to Google or Bing “Andrew Borden,” most of the photos under IMAGES will be of Lizzie Borden.  The accused is more famous than the victim.  Andrew Borden has taken a pretty hard rap over the decades, and has been charged with some foul things from incest to extreme frugality.  A visitor to the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum once declared, “He deserved what he got!”  Sadly, very little of what is commonly bandied about as the truth about Andrew Borden and his family relations is true. People will believe what they want to believe or what they see on television “reality shows” which are made purely to titillate and entertain, but seldom educate.

    Thanks to PARALLEL LIVES, we now know that there existed a warm and affectionate feeling between Lizzie and her father.  We have known for many years that he died with Lizzie’s little gold ring on his hand.  We also know that to placate his daughters after the real estate transaction deeding the Fourth Street house over to Abby Borden, Andrew settled the Ferry Street house on Emma and Lizzie and what’s more, he bought it back from them for cash in July 1892 when it became too much for them to manage.

    The house on Second Street had city water, central heating, wall-to-wall carpeting, and a toilet in the cellar.  Things were not so bleak and dreadful as many have promoted over the years and were a lot more luxurious than many in the city lived in 1892- and Andrew Borden was not the monster so many have portrayed.

    Father’s Day did not become an official U.S. holiday until 1972 although the idea was tried out in 1910 without much success. Andrew never celebrated Father’s Day, nor did Lizzie and Emma make little cards and gifts on the third Sunday in June.  But fathers in Victorian times, as the cross stitch sampler above will testify, were venerated at the hearth as head of the family and the final arbiter in all matters.  There is little doubt Lizzie and Emma had a great respect for their father. Parenting is the hardest job of all.

    And, if you believe Lizzie was guilty of the crime- well, Andrew Borden probably should have spent more time inspecting that window for Mr. Clegg and should have arrived home MUCH later- it might have all had a different ending. . . .

    Happy Father’s Day Andrew Borden- wherever you may be.

  • Muttoneaters return to Fall River

    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.

    Andrew Jennings’ journal and newspaper clipping collection

    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.

    On the “piazza” at Maplecroft in the spot where the recently published photo of Lizzie and her dog appeared in Parallel Lives.

    Poppy garden at Maplecroft

    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.

    Muttoneaters flocked to June Street to pose on the porch of Andrew J. Jennings house which must have one of the best views of the Taunton River in Fall River.

    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 Lizzie Borden-Titanic Connection

     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.

    James Vivian Drew

    Marshall at 7

    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 also carved the stone for his first wife Louisa in River Bend Cemetery, Westerly and is buried there with both wives, and both sons.

    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.

    Marshall Drew was a much-beloved figure around Westerly.  He had taught art and was acclaimed for his photography.The epitaph is his own, the name copied from his own german fractur handwriting.

    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.

    Work order  from Smith Granite Co, archives containing William Drew’s name as carver of the four headstones, courtesy of Linda Smith Chafee, Babcock-Smith Museum, Westerly.

    Photos and text: Shelley Dziedzic, March 2012

  • The “Lizzie News” Round-Up

     

    So much has been happening in the Borden sphere of late that you need a program to keep up.  Not all has been happy news, but most has been cause for celebration.

    1. The Central Congregational Church: Things are looking grim for Lizzie’s old church on Rock Street with hopes high yet for a reprieve once again. http://www.heraldnews.com/news/x962233671/Fall-Rivers-former-Central-Congregational-faces-wrecking-ball

    2. HBO Mini Series  The much-anticipated four-hour series starring Chloe Sevigny and backed by Tom Hanks’ Playtone Productions is still simmering on the back burner.  Hopefully when Miss Sevigny wraps her latest project, this fresh take on the Borden saga will get cookin’!

    3. Donation of Andrew Jennings’ private notes and journal to the Fall River Historical Society was the exciting news this past weekend as the famous “hip bath collection” yielded one more treasure which was turned over to the historical society. http://www.heraldnews.com/news/x1785609188/Handwritten-journals-from-Lizzie-Borden-lawyer-donated-to-FRHS

    4. Parallel Lives is recognized at New England Book Fair http://www.heraldnews.com/news/x570348962/Parallel-Lives-book-on-Lizzie-Borden-wins-honorable-mention

    5. Coming Soon!  Fall River Revisited by Stefani Koorey.  Preorder now at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0738576840/ref=tsm_1_fb_lk

    6. The Dead Files visit in January to the Borden house should be airing March 16th at 10 p.m. on the Travel Channel.  Check the website for schedule and more on hosts, Amy and Steve. http://www.travelchannel.com/tv-shows/the-dead-files

  • January Musings

    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 LivesDown 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.

  • A Red Letter Day in Fall River

    Christmas came early this year for those who enjoy Fall River history and have an interest in the Borden case and the enigmatic Miss Lizzie.  Parallel Lives was released this morning to the public. By 11: 30 a.m. a long line snaked its way down the pavement toward Maple Street and there was a feeling of restless expectation in the air as the noon hour approached. .  A man came around the corner bearing two copies of the coveted tome as heads swiveled to catch a glimpse.  A spontaneous outburst of appreciation went up from the crowd followed by many comments as to the  SIZE of the massive tome.

    No preview copies were released for reviewing to anyone, so it was with enormous excitement today’s release was anticipated.  Beginning on Friday, the benefactors of the publication enjoyed a special gathering, followed by Saturday night’s annual Christmas Open House for members, and capping off an extraordinary weekend with today’s public release of the book, viewing of a special exhibit of materials featured in the book (cards, letters, gifts Lizzie presented to friends, etc.) and a tour of the Christmas decorations, always an annual treat.

    The authors held court in the front parlor at a beautifully decorated table with a red rose Christmas arrangement, signing autographs and having photographs taken with visitors.  On the lawn, on the stairs, and anywhere one could sit, people clutched their volume, looking eagerly through the pages. From all corners came appreciative little shrieks of excitement as never-before-seen photos were discovered, especially those showing Lizzie herself. Even those who vowed not to ruin the surprise until they could sit at leisure soon gave way to overwhelming curiosity and were soon leafing furiously through the pages. Some had driven hours to pick up their copies.

    It would be presumptuous to attempt any sort of review of this major work until the whole was digested, therefore the Warps & Wefts review will be forthcoming in the near future.  Suffice it to say, Parallel Lives is as plummy a Christmas pudding as anyone could ever wish for, chock full of juicy morsels, delicious facts and photos, fascinating history, surprises and many hours of enthralled reading.  To reveal too much would be to ruin your own Christmas surprise- so-

    Just spring to your sleigh, to your team give a whistle,

    To Rock Street fly like the down of a thistle.

    Parallel Lives is the gift sure to please, so take heed,

    Happy holidays to all, and to all a good read!

  • Come and Get It!

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

      It’s Here!

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

  • The Face of Lizzie Borden

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

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

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

  • Lizzie Reigns in October

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

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

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