Arches, gates and doors


This particularly beautiful tall arch is to be found in the central west end of Oak Grove and is a familiar symbol of passing through from one state to another- from earthly to celestial, from life to the hereafter.

There are smaller arches, gateways and doors to be found in Oak Grove, some found carved onto tabular monuments and others carved completely as the symbol itself. This one has an Egyptian inspiration- complete with canopic jar.


Victorian mourning in art

 A popular epitaph

As you are now, so once was I.

As I am now, so you must be.

Prepare for death and follow me.”



The Young Widow 1877, exchanging the wedding gown for mourning

The Victorian preoccupation with death is reflected in the art of the period.  Photographs, paintings, death portraits, steel engravings, lithographs, etchings, and other art forms embraced the most sentimental and heartrending portrayals of loss and bereavement.

These works by both amateurs and the great artists such as Landseer and the Pre-Raphaelites were displayed in the parlor or sometimes in the bedchamber as a perpetual reminder that death is always with us.


The Old Shepherd’s Chief Mourner by Landseer

Animals and children were especially popular as subjects to portray pathos and grieving.

Death of a Young Child


The 1894 sketch above is called For Such is the Kingdom by Frank Bramley and illustrates the custom of little children dressed in white walking in procession in front of a small white coffin containing a young person.  Often four young maidens, also dressed in white attire served as pall bearers for the departed child.  The custom of children wearing white to funerals continued well into the twentieth century.


August 4th Visitors to the Borden Plot

Every August 4th, traffic to the Borden plot in Oak Grove increases.  Flowers, notes, stones, coins and other mementos are left at the grave site of Lizzie Borden.  More rarely are the victims, the elderly couple, Andrew and Abby Borden remembered with tokens. The burial plot is easily found by following the black arrows painted on the asphalt to the left after passing under the Prospect Street arch.

William Almy , Andrew Borden’s business partner, and his family share the raised corner knoll.  Head stones for Lizzie’s grandparents face out toward the road at the front of the lot.

 Many individuals associated with the trial and with the Borden family, as well as friends and neighbors have found their final rest in Oak Grove.

Nathaniel Briggs Borden

 N.B. Borden School (now closed) on Morgan Street

US Congressman. Born in
Freetown (now Fall River), Massachusetts into the Mill-owning Borden family, he himself founded the Pocasset Mill, which was located near the present day City Hall. He served two terms in the Massachusetts State Legislature before being elected to represent Massachusetts‘s 10th District in the United States House of Representatives, serving two terms from March 4, 1835 to March 3, 1839. He was defeated in an attempt to be elected to a third term by Congresssman Henry Williams in 1838. However, in 1840 he ran against Congressman Williams, and won back his seat. He again represent the 10th District, serving from March 4, 1841 to March 3, 1843. He declined to run again, and the seat went to Congressman Artemas Hale. A few years later was elected to the Massachusetts State Senate. After his time there, he returned to the State House of Representatives, and served as Mayor of Fall River from 1856 to 1857. After one more stint in the State House during the Civil War, he became President of the Fall River Savings Bank and of the Fall River Union Bank, and also served as President of the Fall River Railroad Company (which were directly tied into the thriving Fall River milling business).  (bio by: Russ Dodge)





Cornelia Otis Skinner

 otis.jpg Otis Skinner

Chances are slim today that the name of Otis Skinner or his daughter Cornelia would ring any bells except in the minds of students of the theatre. Otis Skinner, who enjoyed a successful career spanning fifty years, worked with the greats of the Charles Frohman stable of stars, the Immortal Madame Modjeska, and Edwin Booth, brother of the infamous John Wilkes Booth. Begining his work as a clerk, by age 18 he was begging his clergyman father for a theatre career. None other than P.T. Barnum. who knew the Skinners when they lived in Hartford, encouraged and supported Otis’ talent and potential for the stage. He is most remembered as a Shakespearian actor and for his great performance as the beggar in Kismet. He was a genial, gentle, friendly man- and much-loved by adoring fans. Cornelia was born into the business in Chicago in 1899 and debuted in her father’s acting company in 1921. The rest is history.


Cornelia inherited her father’s acting and writing genes and made her mark not only on the stage but in films, television, Broadway, and literary circles. She wrote for the New Yorker, and wrote, produced and starred in one-woman monologues based on famous and powerful women in history. Her amusing novel travelogue, Our Hearts Were Young And Gay was made into a successful Broadway play. The International Movie Data Base includes Cornelia’s filmography as follows by date:

The Swimmer (1968) [Actress …. Mrs. Hammar]

The Pleasure of His Company (1961) [Writer] (play)

“This Is Your Life: Charlie Ruggles” (1959) TV Episode [Actress …. Herself]

“What’s My Line?: (1959-03-29)” (1959) TV Episode [Actress …. Herself – Mystery Guest]

“What’s It For: (1957-10-12)” (1957) TV Episode [Self]

“The Alcoa Hour: Merry Christmas, Mr. Baxter (#2.5)” (1956) TV Episode [Actress …. Susan Baxter]

Max Liebman Presents: Dearest Enemy (1955) (TV) [Actress …. Mrs. Murray]

The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing (1955) [Actress …. Mrs. Thaw]

“Person to Person: (#2.40)” (1955) TV Episode [Actress …. Herself]

“Toast of the Town: (#7.8)” (1953) TV Episode [Actress …. Herself]

“Toast of the Town: (#5.32)” (1952) TV Episode [Actress …. Herself]

“General Electric Guest House: (1951-07-01)” (1951) TV Episode [Actress]

“Toast of the Town: (#4.14)” (1950) TV Episode [Actress …. Herself]

“Toast of the Town: (#4.7)” (1950) TV Episode [Actress …. Herself]

“This Is Show Business: (1950-04-30)” (1950) TV Episode [Actress …. Herself]

“The Girls” (1950) TV Series [Writer] (book “Our Hearts Were Young and Gay”)
… aka Young and Gay (original title (first two episodes title))

Our Hearts Were Young and Gay (1944) [Writer] (book)

The Uninvited (1944) [Actress …. Miss Holloway]

Stage Door Canteen (1943) [Actress …. Herself]

Kismet (1920) [Actress …. Miskah]

                      Cornelia married Manhattan stockbroker Alden Sanford Blodget- many thought an unlikely choice, and together they had one son.  Cornelia Otis Skinner died in New York on July 9, 1979 and was buried beside her husband who had predeceased her by fifteen years. The mystery seems to be why Oak Grove- and why Fall River?  R.I.P. – an amazing lady-and amazing career. Her grave is easily located on the hill just over the top of the Gothic-style mausoleum.


“Women keep a special corner of their hearts for sins they have never committed.”

“Woman’s virtue is man’s greatest invention.”  Cornelia Otis Skinner

Oak Grove in Winter

(Do Not Stand At My Grave and Weep sung by Ben Crawley, with Boys Choir Libera, text below)
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints in snow,
I am the sunlight and ripened grain.
I am the gentle Autumn rain.Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
When you awake in the morning hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.