The Kelly/Hart Connection

Lydia and Abraham Hart gravestones

Banker, Abraham Hart, was one of the last people to see Andrew Borden alive on the morning of August 4th 1892 when Andrew stopped by the bank near City Hall.  Mr. Hart would later tell police that Mr. Borden looked weak and feeble that morning.  The Bordens had been suffering from an unknown illness since Tuesday evening after supper.  Abraham Hart would also be one of the Borden pallbearers on the morning of Saturday, August 6th at the short service at #92 Second Street and procession to Oak Grove Cemetery.

Dr. Michael Kelly, the Borden’s next door neighbor to the south was away on August 4th but Dr. Kelly’s wife, Mary Caroline Cantwell Kelly was the last (but one) to see Andrew Borden alive as he entered his front door moments before his murder.  Mrs. Kelly was expecting a baby at the time and was on her way to the dentist.  Mrs. Kelly’s second child, Mary Philomena married the grandson of Abraham Hart, Bertrand K. Hart.  Both are buried in the Gifford/Hart plot at Oak Grove, directly across the path from the Rev. Augustus Buck, Lizzie’s minister and champion throughout her ordeal.  All are together for eternity in a fascinating entertwining of personalities who had Lizzie Borden in common.

Bertrand and Philomena Kelly Hart

The Rev. Augustus Buck of the Central Congregational Church

Mailbox- The Borden Marker

Elaine Kessell

(edit)

I am finally in the process of doing my family tree. My great grandfather’s name was Nicholas Kessell and I have always known he was a stonecutter in Fall River Mass in the mid to late 1800′s as he past on in 1904 of “stone consumption”. I came across a book “The Fall River Directory of 1882 and notice an ad in there for Kessell and Lawson, a stonecutting company. I can only guess that my great grandfather was in that partnership. My question is, if there is anyway you could find out if he was all involved in the cutting of the Borden tombstone in 1892? I have been intrigued all my life, but now am very curious.
Thank you,
Elaine Kessell
There is never any information about stonecutters.

 Thanks for your email. Sorry to say, the Borden stone was ordered from a Westerly, R.I. carver.  Westerly was a hub for this sort of work and still today has a few remaining carving studios. Buzzi’s is still in business (Ruth Buzzi of Laugh-In fame is in that family) The Borden stone was installed in January of 1894 and is made of Westerly blue granite.  Fall River also had some great carvers and a rosy-colored granite.

The custom of Maidens’ Garlands

In the mailbox today we received a query about Maidens’ Garlands- a custom which seems to have originated, or else was extremely popular in 19th century Great Britain.  When a maiden lady passed away, especially a very young, unmarried girl, it was a custom for young Funeral-Garland-Matlockladies of the parish to construct garlands which were solemnly carried before the casket by two maidens on the way to the cemetery.  These garlands were constructed of white paper, and after the cemetery service were hung in the church.  Also crowns of white living flowers were made which would be borne to the grave by maidens in flowing white dresses, generally processing in pairs.  Statuary in Oak Grove frequently makes use of the symbolism of a crown of rosebuds, lilies, and garland swags for the grave markers of maidens.

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A Maiden’s Garland still hanging in a church in England

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Arches, gates and doors

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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.

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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.”

                            

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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.

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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

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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.