Bridget’s Story

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The Borden Case Fitchburg Daily Sentinel August 27, 1892

FALL RIVER Aug. 27.—The examination of Bridget Sullivan was continued

in the Borden hearing, this morning, Witness said that Mrs. Borden  told her she and and Mr. Borden were sick on Tuesday night. They had been vomiting and looked sick when Lizzie came downstairs. Lizzie said she had been sick, but witness did not notice that she looked  unwell. Witness had never seen Lizzie in tbe barn. She recognized the laugh in the upper hall way, spoken of yesterday, as that of Lizzie Borden. The night before witness ate some of the mutton soup that had been warmed over several times, and next morning felt a little sick. She went out into the yard to vomit; it was at that time that Lizzie was eating breakfast.

 

Witness said Mrs. Borden told her, Thursday morning, after breakfast, to wash the windows, that morning. Witness was sure Lizzie had coffee and cake for breakfast She did not read any, that morning; witness drank some milk; don’t know whether others did or not, but do know Mr. Borden had some of it on his toast in the morning.

Since the tragedies occured, she had never seen Miss Borden crying. At the conclusion of District Attorney Knowlton’s questioning, Lawyer Adams began his Cross-examination of witness. An official who stands high in the government that he has no hesitation in saying he believes Lizzie Borden guilty of the murders. He bases his judgment largely on the evidence of Bridget Sullivan at the examination, yesterday afternoon.

 

Bridget’s testimony and witness statement don’t do much to alleviate the suspicion of Lizzie’s guilt.  The article above records some interesting statements.  The pressing question is, of course, why did Bridget change her mind about hearing Lizzie laugh at the top of the stairs when Andrew Borden came in the front door?  At the Grand Jury Trial, Bridget will claim “I don’t know where the girl was.”  It would also be interesting to know who the official “high in the government” was who, thanks to Bridget’s testimony, was convinced Lizzie was guilty.  And then, there is the great revelation that Andrew Borden was a “milquetoast” as he saturated his toast with milk. Perhaps it was stale- along with the mutton soup.

A flaw in the Jury

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An article by Lucy Stone in the Newport Mercury June 1893:

A Flaw in the Jury System.

James W. Clarke, in the New York Recorder, discussing the present jury system, makes the following sensible suggestion in behalf of a woman juror in cases where a woman is on trial. Another jury reform suggests itself in connection with the Borden jury. Here is a woman put upon trial for her life, accused of a crime the alleged motive for which was a malicious enmity of  long growth against her stepmother,with the principal witness against her a woman—the whole case from beginning to end enveloped in a womanly atmosphere,and attended by circumstances of a domestic nature, of which the average woman would instinctively,and simply because she is a woman, be a better judge than the average man—and yet there is not one woman on the jury. I know that tbe law as it stands does not permit the presence of women on juries; but why not change the law, and correct another anomaly—to my thinking, one of the greatest anomalies—of trial by jury as it exists today? The old common law theory of the jury was that every accused person had a right to be tried by a jury of his peers or equals, drawn from the vicinitywhere the crime charged against him was committed. The centuries’ old assumption that is quietly made at New Bedford is, of course, that a jury of twelve men is not only a jury of the peers and equals, but of the superiors, of any woman who may be arraigned for trial. But the nineteenth century would seem to be old enough now to concede that a woman on trial for her life or liberty has the right to have equal sex representation on the jury that is to pass upon her guilt or innocence. Slowly, perhaps, but surely, the idea is growing that a jury ought to be composed of men and women, and that a woman especially should have a jury of her peers, not her sovereigns, as in the case of Lizzie Borden. LUCY STONE.

The new face of Second Street

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It’s been a rough winter in Fall River with plenty of ice and snow as the familiar name in the photo below will testify.

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But work on the new court house continues slowly.  The building looms over South Main Street and the back of the building dominates Second Street just across from the Borden house.  At one time the twin spires of St. Anne’s and the single steeple of St. Mary’s were the landmarks easily spotted from the Braga Bridge top-now the court house steals all the thunder.

Nance O’Neil 1911

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‘Who, in the “Lily” under Belasco’s management has demonstrated her right to be considered the great actress the admirers of her earlier work prophesied. (from American Magazine  August, 1911)’nance1911

Nance is shown with a come-hither look all decked out in Titanic-era cartwheel hat with feathers.  At this point Lizzie Borden was a long-gone memory as Nance advanced with her stage and film career. Nance, always somewhat of a spendthrift, sold her large estate in Tyngsboro, MA (where Lizzie once visited) with 250 acres of it purchased by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in 1907.  It is now the site for Notre Dame Academy, a co-ed Catholic school.

Baltimore hosts 200th anniversary Poefest!

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Those who follow the dark side of Victoriana, murder, mystery and mayhem might consider attending some of the events marking Poe’s 200th birthday.  Although Mr. Poe’s actual birthday on January 19th has just passed, there will be many events year long.  Visit the link  to see what’s in store for 2009 – just imagine what Poe might have made of the Borden story! http://www.nevermore2009.com/

The magic of Rick Geary

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Rick Geary has spent a good many years as illustrator and cartoonist, capturing on paper  some pretty grisly tales from the corridors of dark history.  The Borden case caught his fancy and was immortalized as a graphic book, some years ago.  It is a must-have for fans of the case and is available on Amazon for as little as five dollars. 

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Mr. Geary also produced a charming paper cutout sheet of the house on Second Street, which was, for a time available for sale at #92. It is not now so readily available.  Once selling for $1.95, the cardstock cutout, which when colored and assembled is a strikingly good facsimile of the house, is now sought after by Bordenites.  If readers know where it might be purchased- send us a comment!

Visit Rick Geary’s website at http://www.rickgeary.com/

Miss Lizzie’s Back in Town!

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE!        January 7, 2009

LIZZIE BORDEN LIVE
. . . think you know her? . . . think again.  The legend comes to life.

Back by popular demand.  Due to the overwhelming response “Lizzie Borden Live” is coming back to The Columbus Theatre (2nd floor Cinemateque), 270 Broadway in Providence, R.I. for three performances in March. Friday the 13th at 8:00 p.m., Saturday the 14th at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday the 15th (Ides of March) at 3:00 p.m.  Tickets ($25).  Purchase on line at www.lizziebordenlive.com (click on Schedule page) or at the door.

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 supurb 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 orchastrator 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 Conseveratory 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.

The Columbus Theatre
(2nd floor Cinemateque)
270 Broadway
Providence, R.I.  02903

Tickets ($25).  Available at www.lizziebordenlive.com (click on Schedule page) and at the door .

Press contact:  Jack McCullough (917) 806-3243 or lizziebordenlive@gmail.com

More Lizzie in 2009 !

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newyear1We’re back in 2009!  Hope your holidays were happy and filled with Good Things.  2009 promises to be a great year for Bordenites with several new Lizzie B bios, a re-enactment of the 1893 trial in New Bedford for the 150th anniversary of the Bristol County Courthouse, a few television specials about Lizzie and the case on the boards and in production, and more.  Lizzie Borden Live will be playing in the Providence-Fall River area in March and a few surprises are in store for the upcoming year. 

If you missed the big news last month, a new photo of Emma Borden was located by Hatchet editor, Stefani Koorey http://www.heraldnews.com/town_info/history/x1720687532/A-new-development-in-Borden-history  very exciting !

There are a few new things going on at 92 Second Street as well- stay tuned.  The house is open daily for tours but only open on weekends this month and next for overnight guests.  The mammoth courthouse across the street is building up full tilt and makes quite an impact on Second Street. 

A new blog link just added here, “Slip into Something Victorian” has posted a nice story on a visit in December to Second Street-  http://slipintosomethingvictorian.wordpress.com/2009/01/05/lizzie-borden-sensational-victorian-murder/  Enjoy!

It pays to buy quality!

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Andrew Borden knew a thing or two about home improvements and value.  The cast iron radiators he put in when the family moved into 92 Second Street in 1872 are still going strong today. Here is a photo taken on the day of the crimes in 1892 of the radiator in the front hallway.

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Today, the same radiators heat #92 .  The current boiler is also located in the same place in the cellar that was the location in 1892. Oh, to get a metal detector under that boiler!

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Lizzie Borden -The Musical

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 “Lizzie Borden – the Musical” was first seen in Teaneck, NJ at the American Stage Festival in 1998, and also had a run at the Goodspeed’s Terris Theatre in Nov. 2001 directed by Bill Castellino.  Here is a 2004 Boston review http://www.theatermania.com/content/news.cfm/story/4713  This is the intriguing poster promo for the Norma Terris (Goodspeed at Chester, CT) production.  The musical is currently shelved, although the CD is available and is well worth buying.  If you have any update on the status of the musical, please leave us a comment.

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Back by popular demand!

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Due to overwhelming response LIZZIE BORDEN LIVE is coming back to the Columbus Theatre in Providence in March for three performances.

Friday the 13th @ 8:00 p.m.
Saturday the 14th @ 8:00 p.m.
Sunday the 15th (Ides of March) @ 3:00 p.m.

Tickets $25

Group rates are also available for groups of 10 or more

Providence Loves Lizzie Borden Live !

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As a monsoon raged outside the Broadway St. Columbus Theatre, inside the historic edifice, actress Jill Dalton was also taking the city by storm.  Playing to a sold-out house Saturday night, Ms. Dalton delivered a performance which brought down the house. The intimate venue was ideal for establishing a direct rapport with the actress on stage as she wove a tapestry of memories from the mind and soul of the notorious accused murderess.  At times, as she stepped out from behind the footlights to address the audience personally, it was as if we were all transported back in time to the garden of Maplecroft, her Fall River mansion after the acquittal. 

It was a tour de force encapsulation of the major events in the life of Lizzie Borden, from her relationship with her older sister Emma, her friendship with actress Nance O’Neil, to life on Second Street, her Grand Tour trip, trial and acquittal- and of course- the day of the homicides.  With a masterful, sometimes humorous, and always compelling portrayal, Miss Dalton has taken the two-dimensional picture most of us have of Lizzie Borden and fleshed her out into a living, breathing, complex human being- sometimes frightening- sometimes sympathetic. The audience was spellbound – and all too soon it was over.  This is one not to miss.

Fall River, take note– Lizzie Borden Live should be “coming home”!  For upcoming dates check the web site at  http://www.lizziebordenlive.com/

Halloween at Lizzie’s 2008

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The weather was perfect for trick or treaters and this year there was quite a crowd. One little boy, about 18 months old decided he wanted to stay at #92 and had to be picked up by Dad to continue the trick or treating around the neighborhood.  The diningroom was alive with rodents and wormy apples, vultures and other creepy things, including a coffin on the table.  Only one plastic hatchet was stolen from the jack o’ lantern pumpkinhead on the doorsteps( whose name is always Charles after original house owner Charles Trafton).  Guests enjoyed a seance well into the wee hours. Neither Houdini nor Andrew Borden showed up! The group photo was the only photo of the night which came out rather eerily on the camera. Already the house is booking for NEXT Halloween!

Emma Borden’s jaunt to Scotland

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Lizzie Borden: Past and Present by Leonard Rebello mentions one trip Emma Borden made in 1906 to the United Kingdom- Scotland in particular.  It is believed Andrew Borden’s family originally had roots in that country, and is sometimes a speculation as to why Lizzie had Scottish thistles on her Maplecroft library mantel.  Recently Ancestry.com made passenger manifests available and Emma does show up aboard the White Star liner, RMS Cymric, departing from Boston- a ship which was torpedoed and sunk in 1916.  Emma is listed under “American” passengers. The voyage is June 2, 1906 and Emma would have stopped in Queenstown before Liverpool.

 

Cymric Passenger manifest in photo above.  Emma disembarks at Liverpool.

The Bridget Sullivan Mystery

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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.

Ghost Season at Lizzie Borden’s House

Ghosts have pretty much been a year round phenomenon at #92 but never more so than the month of October when the Borden house is packed to the rafters every weekend with people toting EVP capturing machines, magnetic field detectors, thermographs, night vision cameras, and other high priced gizmos for capturing the perfect orb, groan, sigh, shadow- anything out of the ordinary.  There is a seance on Saturday night in the sittingroom in front of the black sofa, with hopeful participants waiting for a message or the levitating of a small round table used in the proceedings.  The guestbook is filled with comments of things both heard and seen by guests which run the gamut from ghostly encounters of the Third Kind to bumps and screams in the night.  All good fun- and nobody has ever been the worse for the experiences, real or imagined! 

Recently an August 4th guest has published the experiences of her visit with her boyfriend.  The couple had won an Ebay auction for the Morse guestroom, the most requested room where Mrs. Borden had been murdered. An account of Ms. Zorn’s visit has appeared on many blogs and sites including this one today http://greglefever.blogspot.com/2008/10/more-halloween-haunted-lizzie-borden.html.

The couple had enjoyed a quiet evening, including the usual tour of the house and had retired to their room afterward.  The rest of the guests were sitting in the parlor chatting and having coffee when two piercing screams were heard. After a time, the two screamers came downstairs declaring the light had been switched off overhead, a smaller lamp switched on, there was something “funny” about the mirror – and they both had decided to leave, suitcase in hand.  It was nearly midnight.  Another guest freely admitted to having turned off the overhead light and turning on the small lamp to conserve energy. An offer was made to cover the mirror.  All to no avail. The couple was convinced they had to go. They did, however return in broad daylight the following day for breakfast.  If you are determined to scare yourself to death at #92, you will probably succeed!

Ghostly Happenings

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The month of October has always been an especially busy one at the Borden House, with Halloween night selling out nearly a year in advance.  The following blog has has some great photos of an overnight stay in 2007 by a newly-wed couple, Hans and Rebecca, who managed to “meet” most of the Borden family and capture some orbs and other curious things before their check out the following day.

http://rebeccashott.com/26.html