The Evening Standard —Friday August 5, 1892 Page 4


John V. Morse, a Well-to-do
Western Land Owner

He Lived in the Family of Isaac C.
Davis of South Dartmouth

Spoken of as a Man of Excellent

Thirty years ago there arrived at South Dartmouth, a bright-looking young man. He had a keen eye and a manner about him which denoted that he had the making of a successful business man. This was John Vinecum Morse, whose name is unpleasantly connected with the Borden tragedy at Fall River. He asked Isaac C. Davis for work, and Mr. Davis gave it to him.

Since the finding of the mutilated bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Borden hundreds of people have looked with suspicion upon a John Morse who is known to have spent the night at Mr. Borden’s house the night previous to the tragedy and there has been a great desire to learn just who he is and where he came from. Early last evening the news came from Fall River that it was John Morse of Fairhaven, later in the night it was John W. Morse of Dartmouth. The police at the Border city were certain that he was a relative of Mr. Borden, and with intention of furnishing Standard readers the full particulars of this horrible crime, a representative of this paper visited Fairhaven and in a short time the story of Fairhaven’s connection with this crime was entirely exploded. John P. Morse, who resides there, it was learned, had not been out of town for several days and was in no way related to the unfortunate victims of this tragedy.

This morning the writer started out to learn something about John V. Morse, who at this time was located at South Dartmouth. A visit there revealed that fact that there was no such person as John W. Morse, but that John V. Morse, a relative of the murdered man, had been living for a year with Isaac C. Davis, and that he had gone to Fall River the day before the tragedy.

Calling upon Mr. Davis, who lives on Potter’s Hill, just before entering the village of South Dartmouth, much was learned concerning Morse, who in fact has been a member of the Davis family for about a year. Mr. Davis, who is a butcher, is blind, and he has unbounded faith in him. For that matter Morse has been his adviser in affairs of business, and with his son William a close relationship has existed for some time.

Mr. Davis greeted the STANDARD man kindly and furnished much material that has hitherto been unknown to the public.

John Vinecum Morse, he states, was born in Fall River, and about 30 years ago came to South Dartmouth looking for work. He was given a job by Mr. Davis, and proving to be a steady and industrious young fellow the family soon learned to think a great deal of him. After working for Mr. Davis a few years he packed up his clothes and went West. At first he settled in Illinois, buying and selling land. In this he was very successful and is supposed to have accumulated wealth. Finally he settled in Hastings, Mill County, Iowa. About two years ago he came East with a large number of horses of his own raising, and after disposing of many of these animals at Warren, R.I., where he has an uncle, he made his appearance at Padanaram. There he disposed of the remainder of the horses, and about a year ago took up his residence at the house of Mr. Davis. As before stated, Mr. Davis is blind and Morse has been his adviser. His judgment in matters of business was considered good, and in nearly every particular his advice was asked.

Upon being questioned, Mr. Davis said that for several weeks he had talked of purchasing a pair of cattle of Mr. Borden, and on Thursday, after shaving Mr. Davis, he (Morse) started on foot to take the electric car for the city, intending to take the train for Fall River.

A daughter of Mr. Davis, who was present during this conversation, stated that Morse wore a light gray suit and that it was his intention of returning home last night.

Continuing, Mr. Davis said Morse was to have purchased additional cattle while away, and that he also expected to run over to Warren to see his uncle. His purchases were to be brought home with him.

After rehearsing the above facts the scribe was questioned as to the cause for such an earnest inquiry into the particulars of Morse’s career.

“Has he been hurt?” “Has he met with an accident?” were questions asked.

They had read the particulars of the Borden tragedy as printed in the third edition of the STANDARD, but never for a moment dreamed that their friend was suspected of the crime.

When told of the true situation of affairs each and every member of that household were completely surprised. The first to recover from this startling intelligence was one of the daughters. “It’s nonsense,” said she, “John Morse thought too much of his brother-in-law to do such a thing as that.”

“You are right,” replied the aged father, “He’s too upright a man to harbor even such a thought. Why, sir, he thought as much of Mr. Borden as the day he married his sister who has since died, and he frequently spoke of his brother-in-law and nieces in endearing terms. No sir, John V. Morse never committed that crime. It’s an awful mistake. Why, I would have trusted him with everything in this world, and would as soon think of my own son doing the deed.”

It was in a like matter that the daughters spoke of Morse. Davis, and in fact everyone present, gave him an excellent name, and felt confident that he would be able to clear himself from the terrible suspicion which at present is hanging over him. If it should prove that John V. Morse is in any way connected with this murder it will be as great a surprise to the members of the Davis family as was the finding of the murdered man and woman yesterday.

Morse is said to have cousins residing in this city, and he seems to be very little known by the townspeople residing in Padanaram. To them he has been looked upon as a mystery, as they term it, simply because they have known nothing about him.

Morse, who is supposed to have accumulated wealth, had repeatedly talked of retiring from active business, as being a single man he had enough to live on the rest of his days.

Morse is a good looking man over 6 feet tall and will weigh about 200 pounds.


It is now ascertained that Miss Emma Borden, a daughter of Mr. Andrew J. Borden, one of the victims of the Fall River tragedy, was visiting the widow of Alan Brownell of Fairhaven, who resides in the east part of the town. She returned to Fall River yesterday. Miss Borden has many acquaintances in this city.