• 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.

  • August 11th Autopsies

    It was on this day in 1892, 127 years ago, that the bodies of Abby and Andrew Borden were removed from the holding tomb where they had reposed for a full week, and transported to the Ladies Comfort Station just inside the gates of Oak Grove Cemetery. It was here that the heads of the victims were removed from the bodies.

    The holding tomb was a fixture in all cemeteries in the North where extreme winters made gravedigging impossible until the Spring thaw.

    The Ladies Comfort Station, which is now a break room for the cemetery grounds staff, consisted of two rooms, one white-tiled with sinks and lavatories, the other paneled in dark wood wainscotting.

    Andrew Borden:  Aged 69 years. Autopsy performed by W. A. Dolan, Medical Examiner, assisted by Dr. F. W. Draper. Witnesses F. W. Draper of Boston and John W. Leary of Fall River. Clerk D. E. Cone of Fall River. Time of Autopsy 11.15 A.M. August 11th, 1892, one week after death.

    Abby D. Borden, aged 64 years. Thursday August 11, 1892. at 12.35 P.M. One week after death.The Autopsy was performed by W. A. Dolan, Medical Examiner, assisted by Dr. F. W. Draper, and witnessed by F. W. Draper of Boston, and J. H. Leary of Fall River. Clerk of Autopsy D. E. Cone of Fall River.

    Preliminary Testimony by Dr, Dolan describing the skull removal.

    Q. He told you to remove the skulls?

    A. Yes Sir.

    Q. The Attorney General?

    A. The Attorney General of this state, yes sir.

    Q. I do not assume the Attorney General of any other state has anything to do with this case. You did so?

    A. Yes Sir.

    Q. What did you do with them?

    A. I cleaned them.

    Q. You cleaned them?

    A. Yes Sir.

    Q. Do you mean to say these bodies are now buried without the heads?

    A. Yes Sir.

    Q. Where are these skulls?

    A. In my possession.

    Q. Where?

    A. At my office.

    Q. Has it been said to any member of this family, or any friend, that these people were buried without their heads?

    A. I do not know.

    Q. Have you said it, or caused it to be said?

    A. No Sir.

    Q. Did you photograph them, or cause them to be photographed?

    A. Yes Sir.