Testimony of Dr. Seabury W. Bowen in the Trial of Lizzie Borden
June 8, 1893

I have practiced as physician and surgeon in Fall River for twenty-six years. For twenty-one years have lived in my present residence, diagonally opposite Mr. Borden's house, to the northwest. The Borden family lived in the house opposite most of that time. I have been their family physician probably for twelve years. Have seldom called at the house except professionally, but have had social as well as professional relations with them.

On August 3rd last saw Miss Lizzie Borden going north on Second Street, between six and seven o'clock.

On the morning of August 4th, I started out on my professional calls, as usual. I came back to my house between eleven and eleven-thirty. Mrs. Bowen was looking for me, and in consequence of what she said, I went to the Borden house, to the side or rear door. The only persons-living persons-in the house were Miss Lizzie and Mrs. Churchill, in the back entry, near the kitchen.

I said, "Lizzie, what is the matter?" She replied, "Father has been killed", or "stabbed"-I wouldn't say which it was. I said, "Where is your father?" She answered, "In the sitting room." Nothing else was then said in reference to her father's tenants, or any other subject. I went into the dining room and thence to the sitting room.

I saw the form of Mr. Borden lying on the lounge at the left of the sitting-room door. His face was very badly cut, apparently with a sharp instrument; his face was covered with blood. I felt of his pulse and satisfied myself he was dead. Glanced about the room and saw there was nothing disturbed; neither the furniture nor anything at all. Mr. Borden was lying with his face toward the south, on his right side, and apparently at ease, as if asleep. His face was hardly to be recognized by one who knew him.

[The official photograph of Mr. Borden's body was shown to witness and the jury.]

I made no other examination at the time, except to feel his pulse. Miss Lizzie had followed me part way through the dining room, and as I went back to the kitchen I asked her if she had seen anyone. She said, "I have not." Then I asked her, "Where have you been?" She replied "In the barn looking for some iron." She said she was afraid her father had had trouble with the tenants, and she had overheard loud conversation several times recently.

I asked for a sheet to cover up Mr. Borden. Bridget brought me one. Then Miss Lizzie asked me to telegraph to her sister Emma, and I went to the telegraph office. Nothing had been said about Mrs. Borden, until now, but before I went to send the telegram, the question was asked, "Where is Mrs. Borden?" and the answer-from Miss Lizzie, I think, but I am not certain-was that Mrs. Borden had received a note that morning to visit a sick friend, and had gone out.

On leaving the house, I met Officer Allen. On my return from the telegraph office, I met Mrs. Churchill, who said, "They have found Mrs. Borden." I asked, "Where?" and she replied, "Upstairs in the front room."

I went up the front stairs and stopped a moment at the door of the guest room. At that point, I looked over the bed and saw the prostrate form of Mrs. Borden. I was standing directly in the door. I went round the foot of the bed and placed my hand on her head. I found there were wounds. Then I felt her pulse: she was dead.

Never did I say to anyone that she had died of fright. My first thought, when I was standing in the door, was that she had fainted. A moment later, I saw that she was dead. I went downstairs, and told the people in the kitchen that Mrs. Borden had been killed, by the same instrument, I thought, and that it was fortunate for Lizzie she had been out of the way, or else she would also have been killed.

[Exhibits 15 and 16, photographs of Mrs. Borden's body, were now shown to the witness.]

Q. Doctor, did you at any time in the course of the morning notice anything with reference to the dress that Miss Borden had on?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Will you describe it as well as you can?
A. The only time I noticed anything was when she changed it after she went up to her room. I noticed she had on a different dress when she went to her room.
Q. What did you notice in reference to that dress?
A. I noticed the color of it.
Q. What was it?
A. A pink wrapper, morning dress.
Q. Did you notice anything with reference to the dress that she had on prior to that time?
A. No sir.
Q. Did you testify on this subject at the inquest?
A. I presume I was asked questions on it.
Q. At that time was your memory as good as it is now or better?
A. Well, about the same, I should judge.
Q. Do you recall making this reply to the question that I am about to read?
"Q. Do you recall how Lizzie was dressed that morning?
A. It is pretty hard work for me. Probably if I could see a dress something like it I could guess, but I could not describe it; it was a sort of drab, not much color to it to attract my attention—a sort of morning calico dress, I should judge."

A. Yes sir.
Q. What do you say as to the color?
A. That is very indefinite there.
Q. What do you say as to the drab?
A. I should say the color is very indefinite.
Q. I did not ask you to criticize your answer, sir.
A. I made the best answer at the time that I could.
Q. Do you assent at the present time to that statement of the color of the dress?
A. With the modification I make now.
Q. What modification do you desire to make?
A. I don't remember distinctly anything about the color.
Q. Do you desire to say that the dress appeared to you to be a drab dress or not?
A. I merely mean to say that the dress is a common—
Q. Answer my question.
A. Wait—
Q. No, answer my question, and this is the question: Did it appear to you to be a drab-colored dress?
A. It was an ordinary, unattractive, common dress that I did not notice specially.
Q. Will you answer my question?

The CHIEF JUSTICE. Answer the question if you can; if you cannot, say so.
A. I don't think I can answer it better than I did. I don't know.
Q. I would like to try it once more, Doctor. Did it appear to you to be a drab dress?
A. I did not pretend to describe a woman's dress and I do not intend to now.
Q. Did you intend to describe a woman's dress when you testified a few days after this at the inquest?
A. No sir, I did not. I told my impression of the dress.
Q. Did you in point of fact say that it was a sort of drab, or "not much color to it to attract my attention-sort of morning calico dress, I should judge." Did you say that?
A. I should judge I did.
Q. Do you desire to modify that at all?
A. Merely by saying that the drab-there are very many shades of drab to a woman's dress, I should judge.
Q. Would a faded light-blue dress appear to be drab to you?
Q. [Exhibiting blue dress] Does that appear to you, Doctor, to be a sort of a drab, or not much color to it, sort of a morning calico dress?
MR. ADAMS. Wait a minute, Doctor. We object.

The CHIEF JUSTICE. Excluded.

Q. Is that the dress that she had on that morning?
A. I don't know,
Q. Does it appear to be to you the dress that you described at the inquest?
MR. ADAMS. One moment. I object to that.
MR. MOODY. I will waive the question.
Q. Give us your best judgment as to whether that is the dress she had on or not?
A. I have told you once.
Q. And what is it?
A. That I didn't know.
Q. Have you any judgment upon the question?
A. I have answered your question.
Q. I understood you to say that you didn't know. I ask you if you have any judgment upon whether that is the dress she had on or not that morning?
MR. ROBINSON. I suppose, your Honors, this is the government's own witness. We desire to concede all reasonable latitude, and perhaps a little more than that. I submit the limit is passed already, and I object to the line of examination.
MR. MOODY. I will withdraw that particular question and ask another one.
Q. What color do you call that dress, Doctor?
MR. ROBINSON. One moment. I object to that. [Question admitted]
The WITNESS. Your question again.
Q. What color do you call that dress?
A. I should call it dark blue.


 Q. [By Mr. Adams] Doctor, when you first came to the house, in what way did you come, by walking or driving?
A. I came driving, from the south, from Tiverton.
Q. You drove there in your carriage?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Did you have a boy who drove with you?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Now after you had seen Miss Lizzie and Mrs. Churchill and taken a view of Mr. Borden and the sheet had been brought, you say you received some request from Miss Lizzie to send a telegram?
A. Yes sir.
Q. And you went to the telegraph office?
A. Yes sir.
Q. How did you go to the telegraph office?
A. In my carriage.
Q. You drove quickly?
A. Yes sir.
Q. You have a good horse, I suppose, in common with other physicians?
A. Possibly.
Q. Well, I won't press that. You drove quickly to the telegraph office?
A. Yes sir.
Q. And sent this telegram?
A. Yes sir.
Q. And when you came back you went into the house again?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Was Mr. Borden then covered up with the sheet?
A. Yes sir.
Q. And you went upstairs alone, I understand?
A. Yes sir.
Q. When you went upstairs did you get any view at all of this prostrate form until you got upon the floor of the second hall or the upper entry?
A. No sir.
Q. Then as I understand it, although you had heard that Mrs. Borden was dead, and that she was in that front room, and you went up there to see, you did not get any view until you had gone up those stairs and had come to the door leading into the guest chamber?
A. Yes sir.
Q. And then, by looking over the bed, you saw her form in the space between the bureau and the bed?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Do you remember after you went downstairs how soon Dr Dolan, the medical examiner, appeared at the house?
A. I think he was there in ten or fifteen minutes after that.
Q. Did you then go upstairs with him?
A. Yes sir. I went up first with another man.
Q. Did anybody else than you go with Dr Dolan at that time?
A.  I don't know, sir.
Q. At that time was an examination made by either you or Dr Dolan, or both, of Mrs. Borden?
A. No examination that required any—it was merely an observation at that time.
Q. Was the body interfered with?
A. Not at that time.
Q. Do you know whether it had been interfered with by anybody between the time when you were up there first and the time when you took Dr Dolan there?
A. No sir, not to my knowledge.
Q. At any time shortly after Dr Dolan came was the body raised up?
A. Yes sir.
Q. And by whom?
A. Dr Dolan and myself and some assistant.
Q. And when it was placed back, do you think it was put back in exactly the position you found it when you went up there first?
A. Somewhat similar. I won't say exactly.
Q. Do you recall whether the arms were put back in the same position or was it a modification of their position?
A. I didn't notice particularly at that time.
Q. Were you present with Dr Dolan when any autopsy or examination or official examination for the purpose of getting at the cause of death was made?
A. Yes sir.
Q. And did you take some notes for him?
A. I took notes in the morning, if you refer to that.
Q. You mean by morning before one o'clock or before twelve?
A. I mean about twelve.
Q. And those notes concerned which body?
A. Mrs. Borden's.
Q. When was the autopsy or official examination for the purpose of getting at the cause of death made on the body of Mr. Borden?
A. It was a little after three when I went there.
Q. That same afternoon?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Going back a little to the time you went downstairs after you had viewed Mrs. Borden, will you tell me, if you recollect, where you saw Miss Lizzie then?
A. Miss Lizzie was in the kitchen.
Q. Who were with her?
A. My wife, Mrs. Churchill, Miss Russell, Bridget Sullivan.
Q. What were they doing?
A. They were working over her. I don't—fanning her and working over her. I don't know exactly what; rubbing her wrists and rubbing her head. I didn't pay any particular attention to that part of it.
Q. Did you see her in the dining room at any time?
A. She went in a few minutes into the dining room, and threw herself on the lounge at the end of the dining room.
Q. Did you give her any direction then or shortly after that?
A. I told her at that time-Miss Russell went in with her at that time, and I told her she better go to her room.
Q. And did she start to go there?
A. Yes sir.
Q. How did she go?
A. She went through the dining room and the corner of the sitting room and front hall upstairs.
Q. And at that time I suppose Mr. Borden's body was covered up with sheets?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Did you subsequently see her in her room upstairs?
A. Yes sir.
Q. How long after was that, do you think?
A. Sometime between one and two.
Q. The same day?
A. The same day.
Q. Did you get a message, or did Miss Alice Russell come to you with word from Miss Lizzie?
A. Yes sir, I went to her room.
Q. What did you give?
A. I gave a preparation called bromo caffeine.
Q. For what purpose?
A. For quieting nervous excitement and headache.
Q. Did you give any directions as to how frequently that medicine should be given?
A. I left a second dose to be repeated in about an hour.
Q. Did you subsequently give other medicine of that kind that day?
A. Yes sir.
Q. In what way?
A. In the same doses.
Q. Did you carry some bromo caffeine over there?
A. I carried some in a bottle over there to be taken.
Q. That was Thursday night. Did you have occasion to prescribe for her on account of this mental distress and nervous excitement after that?
A. Yes sir.
Q. When was it?
A. Friday.
Q. Was the prescription or medicine the same as the other?
A. It was different.

Q. What was it?
A. Sulphate of morphine.
Q. Well, what is commonly called morphine?
A. Yes sir.
Q. In what doses?
A. One eighth of a grain.
Q. When?
A. Friday night, at bedtime.
Q. The next day you changed that?
A. I did not change the medicine but doubled the dose.
Q. That was on Saturday?
A. On Saturday.
Q. Did you continue the dose on Sunday?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Did you continue it Monday?
A. Yes sir.
Q. And on Tuesday?
A. Yes sir.
Q. How long did she continue to have that?
A. She continued to have that all the time she was in the station house.
Q. After her arrest, was it not?
A. And before.
Q. In other words she had it all the time up to the time of her arrest, the hearing and while in the station house?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Does not morphine given in double doses to allay mental distress and nervous excitement somewhat affect the memory and change and alter the view of things and give people hallucinations.
A. Yes sir.
MR. ADAMS. I have no other question.



Q. [By Mr. Moody] How many times did you personally see her take the medicine?
A. Not more than twice, I think.

Q. When were those two times?
A. Between one and two in the afternoon, of Thursday.

Q. And that was bromo caffeine?
A. Yes sir.

Q. Is bromo caffeine a medicine which has a tendency to create hallucinations a week or so after it has been taken?
A. No sir.

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