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Louisa Holmes Stilwell Nevius


of the Lizzie Borden Collection

Louisa Holmes Stilwell Nevius Collection


This collection consists of three diaries written by Louisa Holmes Stillwell (1858-1942), called Lulie, a childhood friend of Lizzie A. Borden. The diaries contain several references to the young Lizzie and offer the earliest contemporaneous insight into her childhood to have so far surfaced.

In addition, the collection includes four sweetmeat dishes from a set presented to Lulie by Lizzie upon her marriage in 1882.


Louisa was the niece of Charles Jarvis Holmes (1834-1906), a long-time family friend of Andrew J. Borden. Following the death of her father, Daniel Stillwell, in 1878, Lulie’s Uncle Charles and his family moved into the first floor of the Stillwell residence at 67 Pine Street, Fall River, Massachusetts, with the widowed Mrs. Stillwell, née Emma Louisa Holmes, and her children occupying the upper floor; Mrs. Stillwell died in 1881.

Members of the extended Holmes family were staunch supporters of Lizzie throughout her trial and in the early days following her acquittal. Lulie’s cousins, Mary Louisa Holmes (1859-1934), called May, and Anna Covell Holmes (1861-1943), called Annie, were childhood friends of Lizzie Borden, and were close friends of Emma L. Borden; they were among the latter’s most intimate confidantes.

Immediately after her acquittal on June 20, 1893, Lizzie, accompanied by her sister Emma, Charles J. Holmes, and his daughter Anna, repaired to the Holmes’ Pine Street residence, where Lizzie received friends and spent her first night as a free woman. This action attests to the intimacy of the two families.

The Holmes sisters remained life-long friends of Emma L. Borden, who was a frequent visitor to Holmlands, the family’s Rochester, Massachusetts, summer residence. They appear to have ceased contact with Lizzie at the time of the Borden sisters’ estrangement in 1905. Although uncertain, it appears that Lizzie and Lulie lost contact when the latter relocated to New York, New York, following her marriage to John Hiram Condict Nevius (1859-1918) in 1882.


Mrs. John H. C. Nevius; to her daughter, Mrs. Charles Clifford Peirce, née Marian Holmes Nevius (1892-1983); and thus by descent in her family; to the FRHS, 2005, Accession Number: 2005.001.


LHSN001 – Journal: January 1, 1873 to October 18, 1876.

Hardbound journal, one half leather binding, marbleized paper covered boards, 7 ⅞” x 10”; ruled text block, wove paper, 34 leafs, 68 numbered pages.

Note: This volume contains several references to Lizzie A. Borden, one example being this entry dated March 31, 1876: “Lizzie Borden asked me to go out to ride with her last Saturday, but it was very stormy and we concluded to go tomorrow but she can’t go now until next Saturday.”

Object Identification Number: 2005.001.001

LHSN002 – Notebook: November 13, 1876 to December 31, 1876.

Kraft paper cover, 4 ⅛” x 7”; ruled text block, wove paper, 18 leafs, 36 numbered pages.

Object Identification Number: 2005.001.002

LHSN003 – Notebook: February 8, 1877 to August 18, 1877.

Paper cover, ruled text block, wove paper, 22 leafs, 44 numbered pages.

Object Identification Number: 2005.001.003

LHSN004 – LHAN007 – Sweetmeat Dishes: Set of four leaf-shaped dishes.

Porcelain, 19th century, probably Continental; hand painted blue underglaze decoration, heightened in red and gilt; approximately 5 ½” x 4 ⅜” x 1”.

Note: These dishes are from a set presented to Louisa by Lizzie Borden upon her marriage to John H. C. Nevius of New York, New York, on September 6, 1882. It is unknown if Lizzie attended the ceremony, but highly likely that she did. The ceremony took place at Central Congregational Church in Fall River, described as “the most brilliant wedding witnessed in [Fall River] for some time.” The bride was given away in marriage by her uncle, Charles J. Holmes.

Object Identification Numbers: 2005.001.004 to 2005.001.007


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  • 451 Rock Street, Fall River, MA 02720
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  • Due to a major infrastructure project, the FRHS Museum will be closed beginning July 22, 2023. The Musem Shop is closed until further notice.