Living Lizzie Borden

Posted: August 4, 2011 in Uncategorized
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The Skulls of Andrew (L) and Abby Borden (R) along with the head of the instrument that caused their deaths.

“Lizzie Borden took an axe….”. Okay yeah, we all know the rhyme. Blah, blah, blah.

Today is the anniversary of the brutal murders of Andrew Borden and his wife, Abby. On this day in 1892, their bodies were found in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts.
Of course we all know that Lizzie Borden, Andrew’s daughter, was accused of the crime but she ultimately was acquitted of all charges on the 20th of June in 1893. The trial only lasted fourteen days.
This crime has since gone unsolved. And has become notorious in American folklore. This story is something that has become a very big interest for me. I’ve always wondered about what happened that day and how it came to be that Lizzie was found not guilty of the murder charges.
I lived in Seekonk, Massachusetts for several months and it is only miles away from Fall River. At the time, it was a favorite place of mine to visit because of this story, as well as the attraction of Battleship Cove. But I have been fascinated with the story of Lizzie Borden for as long as I can remember.
The house still stands today. It has been turned into a bed & breakfast. There are daily tours of the house, seven days a week.
I first visited the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast in 2007 when I was there for a wedding. The parents of my ex-girlfriend actually lived in the town of Fall River, and they were more than generous to take me to see the house and take the tour. Unfortunately though the house is really old and not really accessible so I was unable to take the tour at the time. There’s a building on the back of the property which has been turned into a gift shop. And I regularly spent lots of money on memorabilia whenever I would go to visit. I am sure that if I would have been there just a couple of more times, they probably would have gotten to know me on a first name basis. But they could always smell me coming. So they always put out the good stuff to where I could reach.
I would eventually get a chance of a lifetime to spend the night in the house. My ex and I wasn’t able to stay in one of the rooms in which either of the murders had happened, but we were in the house. Definitely strange things happened throughout much of the night. My ex never got any sleep that night. As a matter of fact, she got so spooked that when one of her shoes went flying across the room, she jumped out of bed, put on her jacket and ran like hell out of the house and never went back inside. It was around 2:00 AM.
From that point on, strange things would happen whenever we would come to the house and go straight for the gift shop. The last time that I was there visiting (and blowing a lot of money), I looked up at a window that was in the back of the house and could’ve sworn I had seen a woman looking out of the window and down at the gift shop. When I asked if there was anyone upstairs, I was told that the upper levels of the house were completely empty. All activity that was going on inside of the house was on the ground floor.
I had also noticed that on the counter next to the cash register, was a stack of books. They were of some minor historical importance from the state of Connecticut. I inquired about why in the world they would be selling books from that state, and basically what I was told was that they were free handouts and if I wanted one, I could have one. In fact, the woman offered me the entire stash because nobody was really taking them. And I could see why. Nobody wants to come see the Lizzie Borden house and get a book about a completely different state.
Just at that point in time when we were laughing about it, there was a loud thump on the outside of the gift shop. And the stack of books that was on the countertop, the book that was on the top went flying ….. in a straight line …. across the room and then dropped to the floor. I’d say about four or five feet away.
It would be the last time I would ever visit the property or the gift shop. A few months later, I would move to Pawtucket, Rhode Island and then later dissolve the relationship with my ex and return to where I am today.
You don’t have to believe what I just told you. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if you did not. I have had some wild experiences with things like that during the short period of time that I lived in New England. And not just with Lizzie Borden.
Nonetheless, the story of Lizzie Borden is widely known all over the world.
But the real facts about Lizzie Borden is that she didn’t “give 40 whacks” to her step-mother, nor did she give 41 to her father. The physical evidence from the autopsies that were conducted one full week after the murders concluded that Abby Borden received 18 or 19 blows to the back and side of her head, while Andrew Borden received only 11 blows. However many, it did cause their deaths.
And it wasn’t an axe necessarily, it was more like a hatchet.
After the trial, Lizzie Borden lived out the rest of her life in privacy in a home she named “Maplecroft” on the other side of Fall River. She would die of pneumonia just a short time after having gall bladder surgery at the age of 67. Her sister, Emma, would die eight days later, suffering from Glomerulonephritis.
The entire Borden Family is buried in Oak Grove Cemetary in Fall River. When I visited in 2007, I was taken to visit the gravesites. It is not really easy to find them, but the paved roads that lead into and through the cemetary are actually marked along the way until you reach nearby where the family plot is located. The good people at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast also give you a map from the house directly to the plot. Even with all that help, it still was not easy to find.
The infamous skulls of Andrew and Abby Borden are located inside the Fall River Historical Society. It was a place that I failed to visit before I left. Unfortunately, they were displayed on an upper level and there is no elevator.
So did Lizzie Borden actually murder her father and step-mother? I seem to think so. But any theory that I can come up with always is poked full of holes.
My ex-girlfriend though had a much detailed theory. It just took a longer time to poke holes in it.
She believed that Lizzie did kill her parents. However, because it was August when it happened- it was hot. The temperature that day would reach over 100°F. And so she claims Lizzie committed these murders either while in the nude or barely wearing any clothing at all, thus no trace of physical evidence was found on her. Of course in today’s world of science, we’d be able to tell whether or not she did with all sorts of testing.
She also claimed that she was not alone. She did agree with the theory that Lizzie had a female lover, and they committed the acts together. Either that or she did it on her own in the nude.
Nobody has been able to solve the case. And the story of it all will fascinate me until they actually can proof without a doubt that either Lizzie did or did not do it. If they find that she did NOT do it, I will be fascinated and interested in seeing if whether or not they can find out who did.
Next year will be the 120th anniversary of the murders. I am sure that then just like today Fall River, Massachusetts will be buzzing with people. I am sure that the Bed & Breakfast will be full of curious overnight guests. And I wonder what the person will be thinking, who will be staying in the bedroom in which Abby Borden was found dead.
Fall River is a really neat place to visit if you are in that area. Oak Grove Cemetary has some really old grave sites, and it receives its fame for holding the Borden family plot. The Bed & Breakfast is always great. Then of course Battleship Cove, but that’s really for all of you military minded people, as well as people with an interest in naval and other war ships.
We’ll see just how much attention the piece of folklore receives come this anniversary, next year.
  1. Mina Irodell says:

    Many of the items you described in this report are accurate, and i concur with them. Simultaneously there are a few that i have to disagree with you on. Either way, I do enjoy you composing this text.

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