Judges and Attorneys, Lizzie's Dream Team, Andy Jennings
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
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
If the publication of Parallel Lives was not enough excitement, the news of the donation of Andrew Jennings’ personal papers, notes, and newspaper clippings to the Fall River Historical Society was published in the Fall River Herald News today. The Borden community was anxiously awaiting the news of ” a significant development” after being alerted late last week to the fact that something exciting was about to break.
Some very illuminating comments and information will no doubt be forthcoming from this new treasure trove.
Now, if we could only get the Hilliard papers published and the Robinson cache uncovered!
“HON. ANDREW JACKSON JENNINGS, lawyer and district attorney for the Southern District of Massachusetts, was descended from one of the oldest familes of Tiverton, R. I. He was a grandson of Isaac Jennings, of Tiverton, and the third son of Andrew M. Jennings, who was born in Fall River, Mass., in January, 1808, and died in 1882, having been for some thirty five years the foreman of the machine shop of Hawes, Marvel & Davol. Their children were Thomas J., who died in 1872; Susan, Elizabeth E., Andrew, and Elizabeth, all of whom died in infancy; Andrew J. George F., superintendent of Bowen’s coal yard, of Fall River; and Annie P. (Mrs. J. Densmore Brown), of Milford, Conn.
Andrew Jackson Jennings was born in Fall River, Mass., August 2, 1849, and attended the public and. high schools of his native city until 1867, when he entered Mowry & Goff’s Classical School at Providence, R. I., from which he was graduated in June, 1868. He then entered Brown University and was graduated from that institution with special honors in 1872. While there be was active and prominent in all athletic sports, being captain of the class and university nines. He was principal of the Warren (R. I) High School from 1872 to 1874, and in July of the latter year began the study of law in the office of Hon. James M. Morton, of Fall River. In January, 1875, he entered Boston University Law School, from which he was graduated with the, degree of LL. B. in May, 1876, and was at once admitted to the bar in Bristol county. On June 1, 1876. he formed a law partnership with his preceptor, Mr. Morton, which continued until 1890, when the latter was appointed a justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. The firm of Morton & Jennings took a foremost place at the Bristol bar. Mr. Jennings was afterward associated in practice with John S. Brayton, jr., under the style of Jennings & Brayton, for a short time, and in July, 1894, formed a copartnership with James M. Morton, Jr., which still continues under the firm name of Jennings & Morton.
Mr. Jennings achieved prominence at the bar, and was everywhere recognized as an able, painstaking, and energetic lawyer and advocate. He was a member of the Fall River School Board for three years, and served as a member of the House of Representatives in 1878 and 1879 and as State senator in 1882. During his three years in the House and Senate he was an influential member of the judiciary committee and chairman of the joint committee on the removal of Judge Day by address in 1882. He was active in securing the passage of the civil damage law in the House and the introduction of the school house liquor law in the Senate. He was a natural orator, eloquent and pleasing in address, and a public spirited citizen. On the day of General Grant’s funeral he was selected to deliver the memorial oration for the city of Fall River, and on other occasions he was called upon to make important and fitting speeches. Mr. Jennings had been for several years a trustee of Brown University and clerk of the Second Baptist Society of Fall River, and was president of the Brown Alumni in 1891 and 1892. As a lawyer he conducted a number of important cases. He was counsel for the defendant in the Lizzie A. Borden trial for homicide in 1893. from the outset. In November, 1894, he was elected district attorney for the Southern District of Massachusetts to fill a vacancy, and in 1895 he was re elected for a full term of three years. He served as president of the Young Men’s Christian Association of Fall River since 1893, and is a director of the Merchants’ Mill, the Globe Yarn Mill, and the Sanford Spinning Company, and a trustee of the Union Savings Bank.
December 25, 1879, Mr. Jennings married Miss Marion G., only daughter of Capt. Seth and Nancy J. (Bosworth) Saunders, of Warren, R. I. They had two children: Oliver Saunders and Marion.”
* Mr. Jennings also pitched for the TROY baseball team.
Our county and its people
A descriptive and biographical history of
Bristol County, Massachusetts
Prepaired and published under the auspices of
The Fall River News and The Taunton Gazette
With assistance of Hon. Alanson Borden
The Boston History Company, Publishers, 1899.
Oak Grove Cemetery, Fall River
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.
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.
Amherst, Mass. may have its “Belle” a.k.a. Emily Dickinson, but if it’s October in Massachusetts, with Halloween just around the corner, Emily takes a back seat to Miz Lizzie. Stand by for a plethora of programs on the sharpest gal in town from the Discovery Channel, PBS and the Travel Channel. Jeffrey Arrowood, an attorney and former police chief will appear on Discovery Channel’s “Ghost Lab,” acting as prosecutor in a trial scenario at 8 p.m. Oct. 28th. The filming was done this past May at the house on Second Street.
As posted earlier: The public is cordially invited to attend a presentation of “Lizzie Borden: The Mystery Continues,” sponsored by the Sippican Historical Society Thursday, Aug. 19 at 7 p.m. at Marion’s Music Hall.
The speaker will be Mr. Christopher Daley in a one hour retelling of the famous double homicide. Mr. Daley is a history teacher in the Silver Lake Regional School System in Kingston. If you get to Marion earlier, there are many things to enjoy, not the least of which is the scenery.
The Sippican Historical Society has a treasure trove of things to see including the Mary Celeste room,
and many beautiful paintings and sketches by Charles Dana Gibson, creator of the Gibson Girl.
It’s no wonder Lizzie wanted to go fishing in Marion with Dr. Handy’s cottage so close to the fishing pier. The photo below is the site of Dr. Handy’s cottage, but not the original building. The water is a moment’s walk away.
Borden case prosecutor, Hosea Knowlton enjoyed a summer rental in Marion, died there and had his ashes scattered over water there. The photo below is of his summer rental house, shown with the Second St. Irregulars on Front St.
Knowlton had built a beautiful summer home in 1900, but sadly died before he could enjoy many summers in it, He died in 1902. It is now a dormitory for Tabor Academy.
Dr. Handy’s cottage, Lizzie’s Marion fishing destination (courtesy of Sippican Historical Society).
If you were busy elsewhere on August 4th and missed the Lizzie tizzy of activities in Fall River, you can still catch a program on the famous case in Marion, MA. on August 19th at 7 p.m. Marion, the charming little fishing town where Lizzie had planned to try her famous line and sinkers, has a program in the old music hall which should keep the case followers delighted in August. http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100805/PUB01/8050377
This week will mark the end of criminal cases tried at the historic New Bedford Superior Court House at 441 County Street, the venue for the famous 1893 trial of Lizzie Borden. Only civil cases will be heard now at the New Bedford site. Amazingly the old court room where the Borden trial took place has remained, for the most part, the same as it looked in 1893.
The new Fall River Justice Center on Second Street, will assume the task of trying criminal cases. One wonders if the 1892 crime happened today- might Lizzie try for “house arrest” and remain in her house across the street from the new court house wearing an ankle device!
Recently a letter surfaced in England written by Lizzie to a friend living there. The woman now owning the letter in the television programme that aired last week in Britain had the letter written to her grandmother by “L. A. Borden,” signed thus, over three pages, that was very conversational and ordinary in tone, being pre-murders. It was valued, very conservatively, at £600-800 or $1,200 to $1,600.
With the upcoming publication of the Fall River Historical Society’s Parallel Lives, (now delayed until late March -early Spring), Lizzie letters are much on the minds of Borden enthusiasts everywhere.
If a Lizzie Borden signature is out of your wallet range, many Lizzie-affiliated signatures can still be had for a bargain. The signatures of the Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts in 1892-96 and the former Governor, George Dexter Robinson, also better known as Lizzie’s head defense attorney, were bought recently for $30 on Ebay. Another former Governor’s autograph (John Davis Long 1880-1883) was thrown in as a bonus.For more information about George D. Robinson(1834-1896) check out this link. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_D._RobinsonRobinson received 25,000 dollars in fees serving as Lizzie’s defense counsel. He remained a prominent lawyer until the time of his death in Chicopee at the age of 62. He is buried in Fairview Cemetery there.
Roger Wolcott (1847-1900) was Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts from 1892-1896 and Governor from 1896-1900.
Governor of Massachusetts 1880-1883, Secretary of the Navy 1897-1902
The Navy destroyer USS Long (DD-209) was named after him.
Lizzie was acquitted in her own home town tonight at Superior Court in a repeat of the mock trial redux which was so well attended last month in New Bedford. Will she make it three in a row next month in Taunton when the excellent cast takes the stand again? Read all about tonight’s trial in the Herald News article by Debbie Allard with some superb photos by Jack Foley.http://www.heraldnews.com/news/x637610488/NOT-GUILTY-Lizzie-retrial-falls-in-line-with-history
Today’s South Coast Today puts Lizzie in the Press again with coverage of last night’s “Mock Trial”. Read the story at http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090925/NEWS/909250337
The 1893 Lizzie Borden trial re-enactment at Bristol County courthouse is the must-see event for September. The courtroom where it all happened in June of 1893 is much today as it was on the day when Lizzie sat on the hard wooden bench and hid her enigmatic face behind her fan. Even the Victorian wooden Defense and Prosecution tables where Robinson and Knowlton held forth are still in place. A large oil portrait of Attorney Knowlton hangs on the wall today. A large turnout is expected and tickets will soon be a hot commodity in the area. An open house will be held the night of the re-enactment from 6 – 7 p.m. when the “trial” begins.
The free program is open to the public, with limited seating.
Mail a self-addressed stamped envelope to “Lizzie, Redux Request”, care of Clerk Magistrate Marc J. Santos, Bristol Count Clerk of Courts, 441 County St., New Bedford, MA 02740 for tickets. There will be two tickets issued per request. Tickets will be honored until 20 minutes before the performance, after which there will be a general admission as room is available.
2009 markes the 150th anniversary for the Massachusetts Superior courts. Many events and displays are on tap for the year . Of particular interest is this notation on their web site
“Lizzie Borden, Redux ~ Multiple dates and locations
New Bedford Superior Courthouse ~ September 24
Fall River Superior Courthouse ~ October 22
Taunton Superior Courthouse ~ November 19
Ms. Borden was acquitted of the murder of her father
and mother and no other suspect was ever identified.
The trial, which took place in 1893 in the New Bedford
Superior Court, continues to interest and intrigue the
public. Not a re-enactment but in a mock trial, Ms.
Borden will be tried again with two lawyers serving as
team prosecutors and two lawyers as team defense. The
audience will vote a verdict.”
To see a listing of all the big doings for the year visit http://www.mass.gov/courts/press/summary-of-events.pdf
Bridget Sullivan’s whereabouts from after Lizzie’s aquittal in June of 1893 up until she was located in Anaconda, Montana in 1896 married to a Sullivan, has always been a source of mystery. Did Lizzie’s attorneys give Miss Sullivan money to “get out of town”? Did Bridget stay in the city, find work elsewhere, or go back home to Ireland to visit her family after her ordeal with the Borden family? Naturally, Bridget Sullivan is a common name for an Irish immigrant, and we may never know her full story of those missing years. Recently Ancestry.com made available ship passenger manifests. A Bridget Sullivan is shown traveling to Queenstown, Ireland from Boston in June 1894, on the same Cunarder steamship, the RMS Scythia, on which Lizzie left in 1890 with her lady friends for her 19 week Grand Tour. Bridget was obliged to be available for the witness box until after Lizzie’s acquittal-but did she have to work an extra year after to save passage money? When did she return to America before going to Montana? Some questions we may never be able to answer, but this entry below in the Scythia passenger list is a good possibility. Bridget is listed as being 28 years old and bound for Liverpool with the usual stop at Queenstown first where she would have disembarked. The ship reached Liverpool on June 19th.
RMS Scythia (steel engraving courtesy of Norway Heritage)
Above photo is the top of the page with information catagories.
Special thanks to my sleuthing partner, Mike Poirier, for helping me with this quest.
Denise Noe’s article on the persuasive leader of the Borden Dream Team, Mr. George Robinson, may be found at the following link. It was first published in The Hatchet, the journal for Borden case studies.
In a novel twist on the old tale, audience members at the production of Lizzie Borden and the 40 Whacks will be active participants in a mock trial this Thursday, August 23rd at the Lynn, Massachusetts Historical Society. The drama will unfold at 7 p.m. and admisssion is free. For more information visit this link.
August began and is ending up with Lizzie! The calendar year goes April, May, June, July, Lizzie, September. . . . . . . .
The documentation regarding the final disposal of Hosea Knowlton’s ashes after they left Forest Hills in Boston, to the scattering over the fishing pond in Marion has arrived from the town hall office of records. The first document is a file card from The Rural Cemetery of New Bedford.
(click on all photos for printable, full-sized images)