NEW! The Lizzie Borden Podcast Episode 10: Parallel Lives and the Fall River Historical Society

Today we will be talking with the Fall River Historical Society curators Michael Martins and Dennis Binette who will discuss the story behind their phenomenal book Parallel Lives: A Social History of Lizzie A. Borden and Her Fall River, published by the Fall River Historical Society in 2011.

Parallel Lives: A Social History of Lizzie A. Borden and Her Fall River is a ground-breaking work and arguably the only professional biography of Lizzie Borden. Michael and Dennis worked on this book for approximately ten years, tracking down material related to Lizzie and the Borden family, cultivating relationships with owners of private collections and descendants of those who knew Lizzie, and piecing together a vast puzzle: a portrait of Lizzie Borden, Fall River’s most notorious resident and historical mystery.

Parallel Lives received a starred review from Kirkus Review, one of publishing’s highest honors, and Kirkus declared it one of the best books of that year. It is certainly one of the best books for a hard core Lizzie Borden enthusiast. Here to help us gain some insight into Parallel Lives are the co-authors and curators of the Fall River Historical Society, Michael Martins and Dennis Binette.

Listen to the Podcast here or subscribe to the series on iTunes.

 

NEW Podcast Episode 8: The Historic Fires of Fall River

Fall River, MA  has been described as  “a city built to burn.”  In this episode Dr. Stefani Koorey takes the listener through the major conflagrations that destroyed large swathes of Fall River throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.  This episode also takes the Lizzie Borden Podcast on its first detour away from Lizzie Borden’s personal story, however it remains in Lizzie Borden’s city of Fall River, which has its own richly textured and fascinating history. Fall River’s nineteenth century textile boom brought with it a series of fiery disasters. The Big Fire of 1843 left more than one thousand people homeless and destroyed two hundred buildings, as well as more than twenty acres of land. After the Steiger Store Fire of 1916, mill owners pressured the city to replace its horse-drawn brigades with more modern fire engines. The intense heat from the Kerr Mill Thread Fire of 1987 melted hoses as first responders battled the blaze. Author Stefani Koorey chronicles these and other  historic infernos of the Spindle City and celebrates the community’s resilience in the face of adversity. Click here to listen.

NEW Episode 5 of The Lizzie Borden Podcast, Part 2 of The Primer

Lizzie after her acquittal.

Lizzie after her acquittal.

In this Episode Sarah Miller, the author of The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden & The Trial of the Century, helps out with a Lizzie Borden Primer.  For those listeners who are unfamiliar with the details of Lizzie Borden’s life and the Borden Murders of 1892, this Primer will help orient them and give them important contexts for future episodes.  This part of the Primer covers the day of the murders and the events leading up to Lizzie Borden’s arrest.  This is a must-listen for anyone who wants to know what happened on August 4, 1892 and why Lizzie Borden was suspected and then arrested for the crime. The Lizzie Borden Primer series will give you a grounding in the historical facts.  We can’t answer the question of whether she was guilty or not, but we can give you the evidence available at the time of her arrest. The Borden Murders of 1892 have been a part of the American imagination for 124 years, listen to find out why, and form your own informed opinion  about her guilt or innocence. Listen now, as we mark the 124th anniversary of the August 4th 1892 unsolved murders. click here to listen

 

NEW Lizzie Borden Podcast: Uncle John Morse with Joe Radza

23017445_119566315824Listen to the fourth episode of The Lizzie Borden Podcast, produced and directed by Richard Behrens for Nine Muses Books.   In this Episode Joe Radza discusses the dramatizations at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast this August 4th and his role as John Vinnicum Morse.

John Vinnicum Morse (1833-1912) was the brother of Sarah Anthony Morse Borden, who was the wife of Andrew Jackson Borden, and he was the biological uncle to Lizzie Andrew Borden.  Sarah died when Lizzie was very young,  but “Uncle” John stayed in touch with the family even after Andrew remarried a few years later, marrying Abigail Durfee Borden who then became Lizzie Borden’s step-mother.

Morse was a guest in Andrew’s house on Second Street the morning the murders occurred, arriving the previous afternoon.  His alibi, however, was air-tight since he left early that morning to visit some relatives on Weybosset Street, who later corroborated his story.  He left Andrew and Abby Borden who had just finished breakfast and were preparing to perform their daily chores.  When Uncle John returned early that afternoon, both of his hosts were dead, brutally murdered with a hatchet.  For several days he remained confined to the house on Second Street.  When he ventured out to mail a letter, he was surrounded by a hostile crowd and had to be rescued by the police.  He testified at the Inquest, the Preliminary Hearing, and the Trial.  He was never seriously suspected to be the murderer but many researchers have doubted that he was entirely innocent.

Lizzie’s 30th Birthday European Grand Tour

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In the late 16th century, it became quite fashionable for young aristocratic men to travel abroad to France and Italy to complete their classical education. There they studied literature, art and architecture in such cities as Paris, Florence, Venice and especially Rome, giving birth to what would become known as the Grand Tour.  By the late 19th century when steamship and train modes made travel somewhat less arduous, chaperoned young women of means were also embarking on Grand Tours of Europe.

 
 

LBLizzie Borden was no exception, and in July of 1890, Lizzie sailed on the Cunard Line’s steamship RMS Scythia from Boston to Liverpool, England to begin her 19 week Grand Tour.  Lizzie was joined by four young ladies from wealthy Fall River families, as well as a female chaperone, a Fall River high school teacher.  The girls were all unmarried, living with their parents and ranging in age from 25-32. Lizzie would celebrate her 30th birthday during her travel abroad, the tour itself likely being a birthday gift, along with a fashionable seal skin cape, gifted by her father Andrew Jackson Borden. As was custom of the time prior to photography, a passport contained physical descriptions of its holder, Lizzie’s describing her as having a full face, gray eyes and light brown hair. It also described her as having a pointed chin, a medium forehead and mouth, as well as a straight nose. Her height was listed as a diminutive 5’3” and her age as 29 years, 11 months.

 

250px-Central_cong_Fall_RiverAccording to the Fall River Historical Society’s tome Parallel Lives, Lizzie likely met her travel companions through her church, the Central Congregational, and through her work for church-related charities.  Unlike many other parts of society of its day, church was a place where members of different social classes mingled superficially. Although Lizzie was traveling with two fellow Bordens (Anna and Carrie) who shared a common great-great grandfather with her, Lizzie was not known to them outside of church activities. At Lizzie’s trial nearly three years later, Anna, who shared a cabin with Lizzie on their return journey, testified that she was not a relative of Lizzie’s. Anna went on to testify that during conversations that she had with her while on the ship, Lizzie regretted returning home after such an enjoyable trip because her home was such an unhappy one.

hathaway cottage stratfordBy all accounts the Grand Tour was indeed a happy time for Lizzie. Traveling first class with wealthy companions likely gave Lizzie her first taste of what it was like to be a member of high society. Lizzie collected more than 168 photographs of various sites throughout her travel, and after her return in November 1890, she painstakingly collected them into two large albums. She included quotes from famous authors such as Byron, Shakespeare, Twain and Hawthorne as well as information from travel guides she had brought on her trip, which she neatly hand wrote above and below the photographs.  Lizzie proudly shared these albums when she spoke of her trip, particularly the British Isles.

MADEDlizziedogs_7610 Although the exact itinerary is unknown, Lizzie’s albums indicate she first traveled to Ireland, seeing such sites as the Blarney Castle and then she visited Scotland with its magnificent lochs and Highlands castles. She had an affinity for Scotland in particular, and in future years would name her beloved Boston terriers with Scottish names such as Donald Stewart, Royal Nelson and Laddie Miller.  “My Ain Countrie,” a Scottish hymn from a temperance songbook was sung at her funeral and words from it are carved into Maplecroft’s second   floor library mantelpiece.

 
 

queen vic windsor castle Lizzie traveled extensively throughout England, including the Lake District, Oxford and Windsor Castle, likely viewing the statue of Queen Victoria erected for her Jubilee only a few years earlier.  Anyone who prefers the image of Lizzie as one of the infamous murderers of the Victorian Age should note that in 1890, England was still reeling from the Jack the Ripper serial murders that occurred just two years earlier.

Lizzie also visited The Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland, including such sites as the Statue of Bavaria in Munich and the Clock Tower in Bern. In Italy Lizzie visited art galleries in Florence, the Milan Cathedral and took a gondola down the Grand Canal in Venice. She bought most of her photos in Italy, many of them reproductions of the great works of art she undoubtedly viewed in the galleries and cathedrals. In Rome she viewed such sites as St. Peter’s Basilica and the Coliseum, and in France she traveled to Nice and then on to Monte Carlo. In Paris she went to the Louvre and Notre Dame, among other great sites. Lizzie spent nearly five months traveling through places of great beauty and history, viewing classic art and architecture, and all with first class accommodations.

 

bedroomTraveling first class with wealthy companions may have given Lizzie her first taste of what it was like to be a member of high society, but she did need to request additional funds be wired by her father while away on the trip. The trip itself, a possible 30th birthday gift, or perhaps a way to appease Lizzie by offering something equal to her after Emma was sent to the prestigious Wheaton Female Seminary.  Either way, shortly after Lizzie’s return, she would inexplicably switch bedrooms with her sister Emma, taking the much larger, sunnier room while older sister Emma took the cramped, darker adjoining room, that had formerly been Lizzie’s. The sisters would remain in these rooms up until the hatchet murders of their father Andrew and step-mother Abby Borden, less than two years later.

EB Although Lizzie was arrested for the crimes, she was subsequently acquitted and she and her sister then purchased Maplecroft, a large and stately home in a wealthier part of Fall River, after inheriting their father’s fortune. Although Lizzie would travel later in life, there is no evidence that she ever again traveled to Europe.

The impact of the European Grand Tour on Lizzie’s imagination and sensibilities can only be guessed at, but if the crafted care that she put into the composition of her scrapbooks is any indication, she was mesmerized and possibly transformed as a person.  Her return to a life of church service, domestic tasks and spinsterhood with only her scrapbooks to remind her of an elegant and romantic life beyond the sea may have changed the way she experienced her home life and the relatively provincial nature of her own Fall River.

Either way, she was about to go down in history in a way none of the Fall River debutantes on the steamship R.M.S. Scythia could have ever predicted about their mysterious cousin from below the Hill.

house

 

Happy Birthday Lizzie Borden! Born July 19, 1860.

 

 

 

The Lizzie Borden Podcast – Episode One: The Doggerel

220px-Image-Lottie_Collins_sings_and_dances_to_the_tunes_of_Ta-Ra-Ra_Boom-de-ay_in_a_Bromo-Seltzer_adLizzie Borden took an ax and gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one. (sung to the tune of the nineteenth century song Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay.)

Folklore suggests that this jump rope rhyme that assumes Lizzie’s guilt was written anonymously by a reporter and used to sell newspapers during Lizzie’s trial. Whatever the true origin of the rhyme, it has remained part of our pop culture for more than a century despite its myriad of inaccuracies.

Hear more about this rhyme, or doggerel, on the premier episode of The Lizzie Borden Podcast produced by Nine Muses Books, now available on Youtube at https://youtu.be/15lU5bKeVKc

 

 

 

podcast avatarThe Lizzie Borden Podcast is written and produced by Richard Behrens and Nine Muses Books, Episode One: The Doggerel (recorded in 2011) provides an insight into the famous “jump rope” song about Lizzie Borden (“Lizzie Borden took an ax, etc.”), its history, its mystery and its legacy in our cultural imagination. Fall River historian and Lizzie Borden scholar Dr. Stefani Koorey and actress/playwright Jill Dalton join us to discuss this naughtily inaccurate ditty. More information on The Lizzie Borden Podcast can be found at http://www.lizziebordenpodcast.com and http://www.lizziebordengirldetective.com.

Guests:

Dr. Stefani Koorey
http://www.lizzieandrewborden.com

Jill Dalton
https://www.facebook.com/Jill-Dalton-…

Credits:

Richard Behrens: Writer, Producer, Host
http://www.lizziebordengirldetective.com

Mason Amadeus: Audio Engineer
http://MasonAndTucker.Bandcamp.com
http://Facebook.com/MasonAndTucker

Melora Creager: Music
http://meloracreager.space

Additional Music from Lizzie Borden Live by Larry Hockman

Happy Birthday Nine Muses Books!

birthday victorianIt was one year ago today that we began publishing the Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective Mystery series.

We are grateful to all fans who downloaded our books and posted marvelous reviews expressing their enthusiasm for the series.

Beginning this year, we are publishing a monthly newsletter containing an original short short and updates about the series each month. You can sign up for the newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/bCtr6b

This coming year, we are going to publish a collection of Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective Mini-Mysteries including one novella never before published. Also in the works is The Calamitous Catamount, a brand new Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective novel.

Hope it will be as much fun for you as it is for us!

Happy New Year!

Doctor Seabury Bowen Revealed

A recent meeting of the Mutton Eaters, the Fall River Chapter of the Second Street Irregulars, focused on the life of Dr. Seabury W. Bowen of Fall River.  The good doctor was a crucial player in the events of August 4, 1892.  No account of the murders and its aftermath can trivialize his role.  A fictional Dr. Bowen  makes a prominent appearance in the short story “The Melancholy Scion,” the fifth installment of Lizzie Borden: Girl Detective.  What is particularly relevant about the Mutton Eaters’ workshop on Dr. Bowen was the presentation by Lorraine Gregoire of a photograph of the young Dr. Bowen.  In this photograph, he seems as young as he would appear in the short story which takes place in 1877.   You can see the photograph and read much information about Dr. Bowen’s life at Shelley Dziedzic’s blog Lizzie Borden: Warps & Wefts.

Lizzie Borden’s River

Fall River is named after the Quequechan (pronounced by Fall Riverites Quick-a-shan) which is the word in the Wampanoag tongue for Falling River.  While the city has not been called Fall River continuously since the land’s purchase from the Wampanoag (it has also been dubbed, at various times, Freetown and Troy), the river itself, which originates at two large inland ponds and then courses westward into Mount Hope Bay, has been the single most significant natural resource in the city’s history.  The Quequechan provided water power to the mills before the days of steam engines and helped put the city into history as a significant center of American textile production.    Other textile centers like Lowell, MA and Manchester, NH were financed by Boston conglomerates, but the mills of Fall River were all developed by local families like the Bordens who, in the early days of the 19th century, owned a lot of land around the Quequechan.

The river, one of great beauty and power, has sadly became covered up by the mills, some of which literally straddled the width of the waters.  Even today, the river runs underneath a highway.  Like the Wampanoag themselves, it is a ghost of the city’s past and an echo of its conscience.  We have no evidence that Lizzie Borden thought much about it, although she must have known of its existence.

The opening chapter of “The Forlorn Maggie” entitled “Hidden Waters” describes the river as being like a wandering ghost under the industrial streets.  The people enjoying themselves in the sunlight of Main Street, shopping and gossiping, are not thinking about the mills or the hidden waterway that courses under their feet.  All that energy, all that wealth, moving silent, deep, and unobserved.

This video shows several images of the river from various stages of Fall River history.