The Notorious Lizzie Borden

Posted August 4, 2015 by Amanda | No Comment

Lizzie Borden

Have you heard this popular rhyme?

Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.

Memorialized in this children’s nursery rhyme is Lizzie Borden, who stood trial for the infamous murder of her father and stepmother in Fall River, Massachusetts. It was 123 years ago today on August 4, 1892 that Andrew and Abby Borden were found in their home. Since Lizzie was the only person, besides the housekeeper, who was present in the house when the bodies were found, she quickly became the prime suspect.

In a case that captivated the attention of entire nation, the trial of Lizzie Borden would make headlines everywhere and ultimately result in an acquittal for the heinous crime.


Lizzie Borden’s birth registered in Fall River, Massachusetts (click to view full document)

Lizzie Andrew Borden was born on July 19, 1860 to Andrew Jackson Borden and Sarah Anthony Morse. Her father had come from a wealthy family and directed several textile mills. Nearly three years after Lizzie was born, her mother died. Her father would remarry Abigail Durfee a few short years later.


1880 U.S. census

Before the murders, tension had been brewing within the Borden household, especially over Andrew’s gifts of real estate to members of Abby’s family. Although Lizzie and her older sister, Emma, lived in the household into adulthood, they did not have a close relationship with their stepmother.


The Borden house

On the morning of August 4, 1892, Andrew and Abby Borden were murdered in their home. A hatchet, believed to be the murder weapon, was found in the Borden’s basement. From the beginning, Lizzie was the prime suspect. Her answers to the police officer’s questions were often strange and contradictory.


Scene from the courtroom (Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly, 1893)

During her trial, it was revealed that Lizzie had burned a dress in the stove a few days after the murder. She claimed it had been stained by paint. The sensationalized nature of the crime generated widespread publicity during the trial.


The Boston Daily Globe, June 21, 1893

On June 20, 1893, after only 90 minutes of deliberation, the jury found Lizzie not guilty. Despite her acquittal, Lizzie found herself ostracized by the public, who believed she was guilty. She and her sister inherited a significant portion of their father’s estate and continued to lived together until 1905 when an argument led Emma to move out of the home they shared. The sisters never spoke to each other again.

Lizzie Borden died of pneumonia on June 1, 1927 in Fall River, Massachusetts.

Check out Lizzie Borden’s family tree on Geni!

Post written by Amanda

Amanda is the Marketing Communications Manager at Geni. If you need any assistance, she will be happy to help!

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