Lizzie Borden took an ax
Gave her mother forty whacks;
When she saw what she had done
Gave her father forty-one!
We all know how the rhyme goes. It is about Lizzie
Borden, the acquitted suspect but legendary perpetrator of the grisly double murder of her father Andrew Borden and her stepmother
Abby, on August 4, 1892.
The home has since been a city landmark due to the
infamous ax murders. It was erected in 1845 and was originally built for two families, but was later made into a single family
by Mr. Borden.
Andrew J. Borden bought the house at 92 Second Street to
be close to his bank and various downtown businesses. Since the murders on in 1892, the house spent most of its history as
a private residence. Now the public is allowed not only to view the murder scene but to spend a night in the actual house
where the murders took place. The home is now called the "Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast"
Before we continue telling you about the reported hauntings and
ghostly sightings, we feel that it would be good to tell you a bit more about Lizzy Borden and give you a brief history of
what supposedly happened on the scorching morning of August 4th, 1892.
Opinion about Lizzie was divided, even by those who knew her. Certainly the mind of Lizzie Borden seemed to hold two entirely
different personalities. While one kept awake with one eye open, the other, deep inside her, slept. There is Lizzie, the good
daughter, who made sure that her father was all comfortable and tucked in for a nap on the lounge of which he never rose from
again. Then there is Lizzie, the bad daughter. The one who would incessively say bitter things about him behind his back and
not talk to him for days when she was angry with him.
Robert Sullivan, in his objective research of the case, Good-bye
Lizzie Borden, actually interviewed Mrs. Abby Whitehead Potter (Abby Borden's niece and namesake), who remembered her aunt
and recalled this chilling tale:
had company and my aunt had a tabby cat and the cat was trained so that it would touch the latch -- you know, it was [sic]
latches in those days -- she'd touch the latch and the door would open. So the cat went in where Lizzie was entertaining and
she took it out and shut the door again, and came back so this is what she told Aunt Abby and Abby told my mother; Lizzie
Borden finally excused herself and went downstairs -- took the cat downstairs -- and put the carcass on the chopping block
and chopped its head off. My aunt for days wondered where that cat was -- all she talked about. Finally, Lizzie said, 'You
go downstairs and you'll find your cat.' My aunt did" (Sullivan, 23).
This startling vision really gives us an idea of the unstable
kind of woman Lizzy Borden was.
Whether the story is accurate or not, by 9 o'clock that hot August morning Abby had died much the same way as the cat. Her
head was nearly torn off her shoulders by a blunt instrument as she lay face down on the floor of the upstairs bedroom. Forensic
experts at the time judge that she had seen her attacker when struck. It was found that her head was crushed by 19 axe or
hatchet wounds in the back of the scalp. Because of the lack of blood, it has been surmised that Abby died from the first
blow, and with death her heart stopped pumping blood.
Once the killer finished with the victim, the 200-pound corpse
lay sprawled out on the knees face down waiting to be discovered two hours later.
Meanwhile, Old Andrew Borden went calmly on his rounds of business
to the Union Savings Bank, to the National Union Bank, to the First National Bank of Fall River and then to see one of his
tenants, the hatter Jonathan Clegg. At 10:40 a.m. his next-door neighbour Mrs. Kelly saw him at his front door as she hurried
on to a dentist's appointment, unkown to the fact that he would not leave the house alive.
Less than an hour later his daughter Lizzie called up to the maid, resting in her attic room, "Come down quick! Father's dead!
Somebody came in and killed him!"
It was there, in the small little sitting room, where the dead
body of Mr. Borden lay, with his head and face so hacked as to be unrecognizable even to his friend and physician, Dr. Bowen,
who attended the scene.
Again, the mysterious murderer struck violently to the head. According
to Robert Sullivan:
"Borden's head was bent slightly to the right, but his face was
almost unrecognizable as human; one eye had been cut in half and protruded in a ghastly manner, his nose had been severed,
and there were eleven distinct cuts within a relatively small area extending from the eye and nose to the ears. Fresh blood
was still seeping from the wounds, which were so severe that the first of the eleven blows must have killed him."
Although she was tried and acquitted of these gruesome crimes,
Lizzie Borden and her hatchet have caused more confusion, speculation and debate than any other murder case in American history.
When staying at the "Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast", you'll be treated to a breakfast similar to the one the Bordens ate on the morning of the murders, which includes bananas,
jonny-cakes, sugar cookies and coffee in the addition to a delicious meal of breakfast staples.
Numerous guests at the B&B have reported hearing voices of
a woman softly weeping in the night. Some guests have seen shoes move across the floor, while others have had an older woman,
in traditional dress, tuck them in at night.
Lights flicker, video equipment is suddenly turned on and off
and cameras work when no one is using them, but won't work when you expect them to. And always, the ghosts of Andrew and Abbey
wander the house where they were murdered.
Article by: Stephanie Lechniak-Cumerlato