Potpourri

All sorts of unusual things related to Lizzie Borden and Fall River

  • The Dead Files visits #92

     

    Popular Travel Channel program, The Dead Files, will be making a visit to the Borden house.  Ghosthunters and psychics are nothing new at #92 but this show has a different slant.  According to the channel web site –

    “On The Dead Files, physical medium Amy Allan and retired NYPD homicide detective Steve Di Schiavi, combine their unique and often conflicting skills to solve unexplained paranormal phenomena in haunted locations across America.” 

    Ms. Allan, will “go into the house cold” and form impressions and hopefully channel information about what happened in 1892.  It is up to NYPD detective Di Schiavi to investigate actual factual data to support her findings. Air date for this program has not been released, but it will be posted here when the time has been set. To learn more about the investigation team visit http://www.travelchannel.com/tv-shows/the-dead-files/articles/meet-amy-and-steve

  • 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?

  • Cooling Board

    Among the fascinating photos taken by hired photographer Mr. Walsh, on the day of the murders is this one below of Andrew Borden reclining post mortem on a caned autopsy board(sometimes called a cooling board). Cooling boards came in many patented designs. Air had to circulate through in the  styles which had no ice drawer beneath, so wooden ones were frequently drilled with holes in elaborate patterns. Cane was naturally open-weave.  In this photo, Mr. Borden has an incision from sternum to abdomen which was needed in order to extract his stomach.  The same procedure was done on Mrs. Borden in the diningroom while Mr. Borden’s took place in front of the black horsehair sofa in the sitting room. A portion of the sofa may be seen in the background as well as the arm of the sofa.  The doorway in the center of the photo goes into the kitchen.

    After a long search, the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast museum has procured an 1890’s autopsy board which is strikingly similar, if not exact, to the one on which Mr. Borden reclines. This model folds in the middle so as to make it easy for the medical examiner or mortician to transport it.

    The term “cooling board” also refers to another type of solid wooden board upon which the body is laid while in transit, awaiting transit or awaiting attention from the mortician. The body literally goes from a warm state just post mortem to “cooling” on the flat surface.  Vintage cooling boards are quite collectible and can easily fetch a sum between 400- 1000 dollars.

  • On the way to the mill

    A recent W&W purchase from Ebay shows a great vintage photo of  bales of cotton in transit to the mill to be spun and woven.  Guessing on just where this photo was taken, and going by the GLE on the sign in the background, this looks to be North Main Street in front of the old EAGLE building. Can anyone confirm this?  There are many wonderful Fall River photos to be bought at a bargain on Ebay at the moment.

  • The air tight alibi

    Joseph Wilmarth Carpenter, Jr. left the Borden & Almy business “under a cloud”, and with some hard feelings toward crusty Andrew Borden.  That news was known about town.  After Andrew Borden was murdered, Mr. Carpenter’s history with the victim made him a “person of interest.” He may have done better to stick around town and face the music. Still, he was off the hook with an air tight alibi.

    Carpenter’s family monument and head stone is seen below in Oak Grove Cemetery.

    (Top photo by Will Clawson)

  • Wade’s Market

    For students of the Borden case, the name of Wade’s Market crops up several times.  The little local grocery was located just to the south of Dr. Kelly’s house and had the number of 98 Second St.  Newspaper story stringer and newspaper vendor, John Cunningham had just exited Wade’s and was heading north on Second Street when he overheard Adelaide Churchill telling Tom Bowles of the carnage on the Borden sofa. Cunningham subsequently headed to Gorman’s paper and paint store to telephone the police station, after first informing the newspapers of the sensational story unfolding at the Borden house. 

    It wasn’t long after the discovery of Andrew Borden’s body that news of the murder was heard in Wade’s store, where the lunch hour crowd got the details of the gruesome killing while awaiting their nickel’s worth of bologna lunch meat. Above Vernon Wade’s store lived Mary and Nathan Chace. Mary Chace was the lady who had seen a man stealing pears out of the Borden back yard earlier in the day.  That man was soon run down and turned out to be an innocent party working in Crowe’s yard.  It is probable that Abby and Lizzie Borden frequented Wade’s often.

    Vernon Wade’s substantial and handsome stone is at the southernmost end of Birch Avenue very close to the Terry plot where Lizzie’s chauffeur, Ernest Terry is buried. If you stand in front of the Terry plot and look west, you will see the Wade monument.

  • Congratulations to the Cast of 2011

    The Cast for 2011
    Lizzie Borden: Kathleen Troost-Cramer

    Detective Seaver: Ben Rose
    Abby Borden: Shelley Dziedzic (flat on the floor)
    Andrew Borden: Nicole (under the sheet)
    Bridget Sullivan Suzanne Rogers
    Emma Borden: Barbara Morrissey
    Addie Churchill: JoAnne Giovino
    Alice Russell: Kristin Pepe
    Uncle John: Joe Radza
    Dr. Dolan: Michael Shogi

    Undertaker Winward  Richard Marr-Griffin
    Miss Manning from the Herald: Christina Lambertson
    Internationally acclaimed world reporter, Nellie Bly- Katrina Shogi
    Marshall Hilliard; Ray Mitchell
    Mrs. Dr. Bowen: Ellen Borden

  • Lizzie’s old church in danger- again.

    Many anxious eyes are watching the outcome for the old Central Congregational Church on Rock St. The building by Hartwell and Swazey is of significant historical value, and is in a state of disrepair currently that requires considerable money to restore.  Here is a new video detailing the history of the edifice.

  • Taking a Whack at Lizzie

    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.

  • Get your Tickets Now !

     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!

  • She’s Back for August!

    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.

    Read more: http://www.heraldnews.com/archive/x2108614302/-Lizzie-Borden-Took-an-Axe-to-be-staged-at-Durfee-High-School#ixzz1QatgYTzn 

    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!

  • Sylvia Bassett Knowlton

    Sylvia Bassett Knowlton 1852-1937

    Portrait painted in 1930 (courtesy Sippican Historical Society)

    The portrayal of Mrs. Hosea Knowlton in the 1975 film version of the Borden case starring Elizabeth Montgomery was far from the mark of the actual Mrs. Sophia Knowlton.  Bonnie Bartlett, who played Sylvia Knowlton in the film bemoans the heaviness of a “woman’s skirts” in a man’s world of 1892 and plays a domestic and submisive woman in the mindset of the period.

    Bonnie Bartlett

    The real Mrs. Knowlton, born in 1852 in New Bedford, became a teacher after graduating from Bridgewater Normal School. She taught in Westport, Massachusetts (a short distance from Fall River) before her marriage in 1873 to Knowlton.  Knowlton’s New Bedford law practice broadened her circle of acquaintances to that city where she became an energetic organizer in public endeavors and president of the New Bedford Women’s Club where she once introduced Winston Churchill as a guest speaker.  At the time of the trial, she and Hosea had a summer rental in Marion at 294 Front Street.  In 1900, the couple built a summer house at283 Front Street, where he died in December of 1902; known as Knowlton House, the building now serves as a dormitory for Tabor Academy. Daggett House (275 Front Street), also a Tabor dorm, was built in 1913 as a permanent residence for the then-widowed Mrs. Knowlton.

    She is buried in New Bedford.  Hosea Knowlton’s remains were cremated in Boston and scattered over the fishing harbor in Marion.