Perhaps the most thrilling photo from Parallel Lives was that of Lizzie on her veranda at Maplecroft with her little dog. Now we have two photos of the Borden maid around the same age. Whereas Lizzie looks rested, prosperous and content in her photo, Bridget has a stern and careworn visage. Two elderly ladies- worlds apart in many ways, but sharing one extraordinary day in common- August 4, 1892.
Photo of Lizzie and her dog courtesy of the Fall River Herald News Online as seen in Parallel Lives by Michael Martins and Dennis Binette.
Photos reproduced here courtesy of Diana Porter, a relative of John Sullivan
Photo of Bridget Sullivan courtesy of Diana Porter attributed as coming from the Barbara Knightly Hockaway Collection
The promised article is finally available via the Fall River Herald news http://www.heraldnews.com/news/x221044214/New-photos-surface-of-former-Lizzie-Borden-maid-after-murders
and contains the very interesting comment pertaining to Sullivan’s personality as being humorless, stern, and even “mean.” Reading Bridget’s testimony and statements made in 1892-1893, she gives the impression of being careful with her statements, and not just a little bit nervous and afraid to say anything negative about Lizzie or the family, so this new revelation causes one to wonder if Bridget developed the stern, mean and humorless traits after the trial or did she always have such a personality?
For decades the story has been widely circulated that Bridget had something to “get off her chest” and either died without telling “something about that Fall River business” – or else confessed it to a priest with her dying breath. What the something was, or even if all or a part of this story is true yet remains to be proven without a doubt. People have speculated what the something could be: she knew the dress Lizzie gave to the police was not the dress Lizzie had on that morning of the murders, Bridget helped clean up blood or other evidence, she knew Lizzie was guilty but protected the family in return for a favor, etc. The list of possibilities is endless. The notion that Bridget knew something but would never tell is, however, provocative and the recent disclosure of the photos and comments by a great niece of Bridget’s husband, John Sullivan, Diana Porter, only add even more flavor to conjectures about Bridget and what she knew. No single person was in a better position to know the daily workings of the Borden household better than Bridget, and so anything about her or anything which will emerge in the future promises to be greeted with eager eyes and ears.
Copies of the two photos will be added to Warps and Wefts as soon as the proper permissions have been granted.
When the phone rang at the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast several months ago, the voice at the end of the line wishing to book a room was none other than the great niece of John and Bridget Sullivan. For years, the only photo known of the Borden’s Irish maid was the one taken at an unknown date shown below. The relative will be a guest, in Bridget’s room of course, this summer and will be giving an interview to Borden house co-owner, Lee Ann Wilber. There are plenty of questions to ask! Employees at the house have been excited about the photos and news for many weeks and have a list prepared. Will we now find out just where Bridget was from 1893 until she showed up in Montana in 1896? The story will be featured in the newspaper tomorrow but has a live interview at the link below with Lee Ann and reporter Deb Allard recorded early today. http://www.heraldnews.com/multimedia/video/x826304472/New-photos-of-Lizzie-Borden-maid
Bridget Sullivan gives testimony about her first employment when she arrived in America, long before going to work for the Bordens on Second Street. Today the old opera house is the Jane Pickens theatre on the green near the courthouse. The Perry House Hotel, the original building destroyed many years ago, is at the intersection of Thames and Broadway. Bridget lived awhile with a man named Sullivan during her year in Newport, a fact which seemed to cause a little sensation as to if he were a married man or a single man.
Q. You came to New York first, and went from New York to Newport?
A. Yes Sir.
Q. That then is five or six years ago, is it not?
A. Six years ago the 24th of last May.
Q. How old are you?
Q. When was your last birthday?
A. I do not know.
Q. You do not know?
A. No Sir.
Q. Then how do you know you are twenty-five; because you have been informed so?
A. Yes Sir.
Q. Did you ever live anywhere else than in Pennsylvania and Fall River?
A. In Newport I worked twelve months.
Q. In whose family there?
A. A hotel.
Q. What hotel?
A. The Perry house.
Q. That was when you first came to this country?
A. Yes Sir.
Q. How long did you stay there?
A. Twelve months.
Q. Did you work anywhere else in Newport than in the Perry House?
A. No Sir.
Q. And you were at work all the time while you were in Newport. While you lived there, in the Perry House?
A. I was a little while with my friends before I went to work. I was twelve months in Newport before I left it.
Q. Friends where?
A. In Newport.
Q. Who were they?
Q. What Sullivan is it, what is the first name?
Q. Mr. Dennis Sullivan; does he live there now?
A. I do not know.
Q. Was he a relative of yours?
A. A friend.
Q. A married man?