A Free Preview to Mark the 125th Anniversary

On August 4th,  1892, Lizzie Borden’s father Andrew and step-mother Abby were brutally murdered in their home in Fall River, MA. Lizzie, who was at home at the time of the murders,  was accused of killing her father and step-mother.  Her trial for murder was a media sensation around the world.  The all male jury acquitted her, leaving the homicides unsolved to this day. August 4th, 2017 marks 125 years since the brutal crimes occurred. We at Nine Muses respectfully mark this anniversary of the deaths of Andrew and Abby Borden,  whose lives were cut short on that hot August morning in 1892.

The late author Richard Behrens, who wrote The Lizzie Borden Girl Detective Mystery Series as well as non-fiction journal articles about Fall River and Lizzie Borden related topics, sadly will miss the August 4th Borden-related activities in Fall River for the first time in many years. It was his plan to participate on a panel of Lizzie Borden writers and to hold a book reading of his latest book. Because of his illness and subsequent tragic death, his book The Audible Amnesiac and other Lizzie Borden Girl Detective Mysteries has been delayed, but we at Nine Muses plan to publish it before the end of the year, in keeping with Richard’s wishes. Please check back for future updates.

To mark the 125th anniversary, and in memory of Richard, we are printing the second chapter of his last completed Lizzie Borden Girl Detective mystery, “The Audible Amnesiac.” We hope you enjoy it!

The Audible Amnesiac
Chapter Two:  A Mind Removed

To Lizzie’s surprise, Homer Thesinger was asleep on the couch, snoring sonorously, his bowler hat slumped over his brow.  The young inventor who had joined Lizzie in many adventures looked weak and thin, his hands rubbed black with charcoal dust.  Traces of the dust wove patterns on his lower sleeves.  She could take in at a glance that he had been awake all night, judging largely from his exhaustion and from the deplorable condition of his wrinkled and creased clothing.  She also deduced that he had been working on his iron-ore extraction project, simply because the stains on his hands could not have been caused by anything other than grinding charcoal to roast with iron pyrite to extract gold dust. In fact, it was plausible that he was employing arsenopyrite, a rock that gave off dangerous vapors when heated with coal.  The poor boy was poisoning himself, which accounted for his inability to stay awake.  As he snored, he would wheeze and twitch his nose, then rub it with his stained fingers before slumbering again.

But none of that was important for the present.  Seated next to Homer on the couch was another man, thin and nervous, with a pointed face, a triangular chin, and a peaked brow that sported two bushy eyebrows that crawled towards each other with almost pained reluctance.  Balanced on his nose was a pair of pince-nez spectacles while a trembling moustache almost obscured his small mouth.  The man was swathed in a tweed jacket that had all the signs of domestic neglect as it was missing buttons on the sleeve, had threads frayed at the edges of the pockets and lapels, but which also whispered of an unusually penurious nature.  He had not yet removed his gloves; one hand rested on a walking stick made from stained cherry wood with a polished ivory handle, and his congress boots looked as if he had just purchased them from a men’s dressing shop.  Other than the fact that he was a Freemason, had recently walked a dog that was covered in light brown fur, and was currently enduring a competition between his wife and his housemaid to keep up his appearance, Lizzie could tell nothing else about him.

The man’s eyes twinkled when he first saw Lizzie, but then his face slackened into indolence as if his expectations, brightened by her entry, were now diminishing.  “Hopeless,” he muttered in a wheezy voice.  “It will never work.”

“What will never work, Mr.—“. Lizzie waited for him to complete her sentence.

“That is the problem,” he said.  “I do not know my name.  When you entered, I thought I knew you.  But I think that of everyone I meet nowadays.  Everything is so familiar and yet, I cannot recognize anything.”

His voice, despite its thinness, stirred Homer into awareness.  The boy inventor shook his checks, grabbed at his tousled hair, and swallowed as if to remove a bitter taste from his mouth, no doubt some residue from his late night experiments.  “Who?” he said as if his mind was starting to open its lids.  “What?” he continued.

“Exactly,” his companion lamented. “Not only am I plagued by the ‘who’?  But also the ‘what’?  What am I?  I would foreswear the ‘who?’ if I could just ascertain the ‘what’?”

“Oh,” Homer said, realizing where he was.  “Yes…Lizzie…allow me to introduce my new friend.”

“What is his name?” Lizzie asked amusedly.  “Surely you must—“

“I call him Policeman Lot for lack of a better term, because when I first met him he was babbling those words.”

“Were you?” Lizzie asked, taking a seat just opposite their couch.

“I don’t remember,” the man said, rubbing his chin.  “Does that mean I’m a law officer?  I hardly know.  I can’t remember.”

“When did you first meet him?” Lizzie asked Homer.  “For if I am not mistaken, you have been spending all night in your barn laboratory working on your ore extractor, and this man you call Policeman Lot has been up since dawn getting shaved in a tonsorial parlor and buying a new pair of congress boots.  Unless you have accompanied him on his shopping excursion, I would estimate that you met him almost two hours past.”

Homer smiled wryly and tapped open his pocket watch.  He nodded then muttered, “How did you know about the ore project?  Oh, yes, the stains.  And I suppose he has particular dust on his shoes that tell you he has been on North Main Street.”

“On the contrary,” she snipped.  “It is the lack of dust on his shoes that tell me the story.  That plus the advertisement in yesterday’s Herald that there will be a shoe sale at Tyler’s this very morning, doors opening at eight o’clock.  Added to that is the left-handed style of his chin shave that could only have been produced by the barber on Columbia Street, which also gives me a good judge of the distances that he covered.”

Lot tapped Homer’s forearm and admitted, “You are right, she is uncanny.  I couldn’t even have told you that.”

Homer smiled at Lizzie.  “He seems to lose his memory every half hour.  Soon you’ll have to introduce yourself all over again.”

“How singular,” Lizzie said, staring at him with renewed interest.

“Yes,” Mr. Lot said glumly.  “My earliest memory is being in this room meeting Mr. Thesinger and hearing him describe your unique talents.  I am delighted that such a remarkable mind will be dedicated to solving the problem of my identity.”

“I have heard of such a condition,” Lizzie said, tapping her temple.  “There have been reports from Europe and a famous case in Philadelphia from earlier in the century.  I consider this to be the ultimate challenge, and a mystery refreshingly devoid of any criminal activity.”

“That we can’t say,” Mr. Lot shifted uncomfortably on the couch.  “I am also filled with a tremendous dread, an anxiety of drastic urgency.  My instincts tell me that I am in danger, that someone I am hiding from will find me and damage me.  I cannot see the face of the person pursuing me, but I can see a shadow coming up a staircase.  I am filled with the most awful feeling, that my most intimate secrets will be exposed and I will be destroyed.”

“Are these the only impressions that survive your recurring amnesia?”

“No. Well, excepting one.  I can clearly see the face of a monkey, some sort of howler creature from the jungles of South America.  It is laughing at me, as if I am an object of great ridicule.”

“You have been laughed at by a monkey?” Homer said, surprisingly.

“But it is not just a monkey.  It is wearing a tricorn hat.”

“Tricorn?” Lizzie gasped.  From the wide grin appearing on her lips, Homer could tell she was taking the bait.  This was a mystery that she could relish.

“Like in the war of independence,” Mr. Lot explained.  “And he has on a printed silk jacket and is holding a lace handkerchief.”

“Not like any monkey I’ve seen,” Homer quipped.  “Perhaps he is conflating two exhibits he saw at the menagerie.”

“No,” Lizzie said.  “I sense that there is an even more meaningful explanation.  But enough of that, we are poised at the beginning of a strange journey.  We have a man who clearly is married, lives in comfortable middle class conditions, doted on by his wife, harassed by his housemaid, and sports a rather expensive cherry and ivory walking stick.  He can afford the finest of clothing, clear enough from his habit of buying a new pair of boots when the old ones get dirty, and yet wears his jackets until they fray.  There are odd contradictions here.”

Mr. Lot looked at his stick as if seeing it for the first time, and then pulled at the threads wafting from his jacket.  “Oh,” he said.  “So I do! Perhaps I should go buy a new jacket.”  He gingerly patted his pockets.  “I don’t suppose anyone here can lend me some money.  I fear I have come sans sous.”

“And with a knowledge of French customs,” Lizzie added.

“You know so much about me,” Mr. Lot said hopefully.  “Can you tell my identity?”

“Nothing other than you are a member of a Masonic lodge or so the ring on your left hand informs me, and at some point this morning, after putting on your jacket but before buying your congress boots, you took a small dog, perhaps a Pomeranian, for a walk.”

The man checked the ring and the hairs on his overcoat with great interest then turned his attention back to Lizzie as if he were profoundly engaged by a doctor’s diagnosis.

“Perhaps it was on this sojourn that you had your morning shave on Columbia Street by a left handed barber, I would say Samuel Borden who is just this afternoon taking off on a vacation to the wilds of Maine, hence the haste with which he missed some patches of growth on your right chin.”             Mr. Lot turned to Homer and grinned.  “She’s very good!  What did you say her name was?”

Before Homer could reply, Lizzie resumed.  “Now if we confine our search to this city, we can use various techniques of a mental nature to distill from these clues, as Homer distills gold dust from pyrites, where you would live, who you would have as associates, and make the rounds to ascertain an identification. Your Masonic lodge is a good place to start, or Sammy Borden himself who you may have employed on a regular basis at a time when you knew your real identity.  I don’t see this case as particularly complicated, nor do I expect it to take very long, and since it is Homer who has brought you to me and he is a dear friend of mine, I will even perform this investigation gratis, expecting nothing in return but a good evening’s banter over a delightful home cooked meal, good company and a mug of medicinal syrup water.  Eh, Homer?  Doesn’t that sound grand?”

“Not complicated?” Homer asked.  “Lizzie, I don’t think you understand what’s going on here.”

“Don’t I?” Lizzie’s smile had turned sour.

“I met this man outside the police station.  He was part of a crowd that was gathering to get news of the murder.”

“Murder?” Lizzie recoiled.

“Yes, the murder of Sam Borden.  He was found dead in his barber shop not two hours ago.  His throat was slashed with his own razor.”

The room fell into a painful silence as Lizzie lost her sense of direction.  She was swooning, watching the walls turn about the ceiling.  Homer raced to her side and held her in position as she slowly regained her senses.

When she had found her balance, she stared at the man seated on the couch opposite her, assessing him with a fresh set of eyes.  Now his ordinary face seemed sharpened to the point of treachery. His gaze, once blank and neutral, now seemed coarse and cruel.  Perhaps the sinister shadow in his memory was himself, and he was on the verge of confronting his own guilt, his own sins.  Lizzie’s instinct was to call out to her father, charging it to him that he would confront this beast and save her from this unpleasant feeling of danger.

“Mr. Lot,” Lizzie said shakily.  “Do you have any idea what happened to the barber Mr. Borden?”

“Who?” Mr. Lot responded.  “I’m sorry but have we met before?”

“We have been in discourse for about ten minutes,” Lizzie assured him.

“Have we?” the man said alarmingly.  He turned to Homer and gasped at his face.  “Oh dear,” he said.  “It’s happened again.”

“What has happened again?” Homer asked desperately.

The man thought for a moment, blinked and then said with all sincerity, “I don’t know.”

Lizzie’s palpated breaths had reached a zenith, but she summoned enough energy to blurt out the only words that she could articulate:

“Father! Call Dr. Bowen!”

copyright 2016 by Richard Behrens

copyright 2016 by Nine Muses Books

 

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.