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.

bramley

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

maiden

Arches, gates and doors

arch

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.

portal

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.”

                            

youngwidow_johnson

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.

oldshepherd_landseer

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

bramley1

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)