Fall River Daily Herald

Fall River Daily Herald — Aug. 6, 1892

CLOSE IN MONEY MATTERS

Hiram Harrington, 40 Fourth street, is married to Laurana, Mr. Borden’s only sister. A reporter who interviewed him gathered the following story: ‘My wife, being an only sister, was very fond of Mr. Borden and always subservient to his will, and by her intimacy with his affairs I have become acquainted with a good deal of the family history during years past. Mr. Borden was an exceedingly hard man concerning money matters, determined and stubborn, and when once he got an idea nothing could change him. He was too hard for me.

‘When his father died some years ago he offered my wife the old homestead on Ferry street for a certain sum of money. My wife preferred to take the money, and after the agreements were all signed, to show how close he was, he wanted my wife to pay an additional $3 for water tax upon the homestead.’

“What do you think was the motive for the crime?” asked the reporter.

‘Money, unquestionably money,’ replied Mr. Harrington. ‘If Mr. Borden died, he would have left something over $500,000, and all I will say is that, in my opinion, that furnishes the only motive, and a sufficient one, for the double murder. I have heard so much now that I would not be surprised at the arrest any time of the person to whom in my opinion suspicion strongly points, although right down in my heart I could not say I believed the party guilty.

‘Last evening I had a long interview with Lizzie Borden, who has refused to see anyone else. I questioned her very carefully as to her story of the crime. She was very composed, showed no signs of any emotion or were there any traces of grief upon her countenance. That did not surprise me, as she is not naturally emotional. I asked her what she knew of her father’s death, and, after telling of the unimportant events of the early morning, she said her father came home about 10:30. She was in the kitchen at the time, she said, but went into the sitting room when her father arrived. She was very solicitous concerning him, and assisted him to remove his coat and put on his dressing-gown; asked concernedly how he felt, as he had been weak from a cholera morbus attack the day before. She told me she helped him to get a comfortable reclining position on the lounge, and asked him if he did not wish the blinds closed to keep out the sun, so he could have a nice nap. She pressed him to allow her to place an afghan over him, but he said he did not need it. Then she asked him tenderly several times if he was perfectly comfortable, if there was anything she could do for him, and upon receiving assurance to the negative she withdrew. All these things showed a solicitude and a thoughtfulness that I never had heard was a part of her nature or custom before. She described these little acts of courtesy minutely.

‘I then questioned her very carefully as to the time she left the house, and she told me positively that it was about 10:45. She said she saw her father on the lounge as she passed out. On leaving the house she says she went directly to the barn to obtain some lead. She informed me that it was her intention to go to Marion on a vacation, and she wanted the lead in the barn loft to make some sinkers. She was a very enthusiastic angler. I went over the ground several times, and she repeated the same story. She told me it was hard to place the exact time she was in the barn, as she was cutting the lead into sizeable sinkers, but thought she was absent some 20 minutes. Then she thought again, and said it might have been 30 minutes. Then she entered the house and went to the sitting room, as she says, she was anxious concerning her father’s health. “I discovered him dead,” she said, “and cried for Bridget, who was upstairs in her room.”

‘Did you go and look for your stepmother?’ I asked. ‘Who found her?’ But she did not reply. I pressed her for some idea of the motive and the author of the act, and after she had thought a moment, she said, calmly: “A year ago last spring our house was broken into while father and mother were at Swansey, and a large amount of money stolen, together with diamonds. You never heard of it because father did not want it mentioned, so as to give the detectives a chance to recover the property. That may have some connection with the murder. Then I have seen strange men around the house. A few months ago I was coming through the back yard, and, as I approached the side door, I saw a man there examining the door and premises. I did not mention it to anyone. The other day I saw the same man hanging about the house, evidently watching us. I became frightened and told my parents about it. I also wrote to my sister at Fairhaven about it.” Miss Borden then gave it as her opinion that the strange man had a direct connection with the murder, but she could not see why the house was not robbed, and did not know of anyone who would desire revenge upon her father.’

Mr. Harrington was asked if he knew whether or not there were dissentions in the Borden family. ‘Yes, there were, although it has been always kept very quiet. For nearly ten years there have been constant disputes between the daughters and their father and stepmother. Mr. Borden gave her some bank stock and the girls thought they ought to be treated as evenly as the mother. I guess Mr. Borden did try to do it, for he deeded to the daughters, Emma L. and Lizzie A., the homestead on Ferry street, an estate of 120 rods of land with a house and barn, all valued at $3000. This was in 1887.

‘The trouble about money matters did not diminish, nor the acerbity of the family ruptures lessen, and Mr. Borden gave each girl ten shares in the Crystal Spring Bleachery company, which he paid $100 a share for. They sold them soon after for less than $40 per share. He also gave them some bank stock at various times, allowing them, of course, the entire income from them. In addition to this he gave them a weekly stipend, amounting to $200 a year.

‘In spite of all this the dispute about their not being allowed enough went on with equal bitterness. Lizzie did most of the demonstrative contention, as Emma is very quiet and unassuming, and would feel very deeply any disparaging or angry word from her father. Lizzie, on the contrary, was haughty and domineering with the stubborn will of her father and bound to contest for her rights. There were many animated interviews between father and daughter on this point. Lizzie is of a repellant disposition, and after an unsuccessful passage with her father would become sulky and refuse to speak to him for days at a time. She moved in the best society in Fall River, was a member of the Congregational church, and is a brilliant conversationalist. She thought she ought to entertain as others did, and felt that with her father’s wealth she was expected to hold her end up with others of her set. Her father’s constant refusal to allow her to entertain lavishly angered her. I have heard many bitter things she has said of her father, and know she was deeply resentful of her father’s maintained stand in this matter.

‘This house on Ferry street was an old one, and was in constant need of repairs. There were two tenants paying $16.50 and $14 a month, but with taxes and repairs there was very little income from the property. It was a great deal of trouble for the girls to keep the house in repair, and a month or two ago they got disgusted and deeded the house back to their father.’