Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one.
I’m sure everyone has heard that little jumping rope ditty at some time or another in early childhood. It is a sordid reminder of another unsolved crime that grabbed national headlines in the late 1800s: the tale of Lizzie Borden.
The morning of August 4th, 1892, Andrew Borden and his wife Abby were discovered murdered in their home. Focus quickly settled on Andrew’s daughter, Lizzie, as being the perpetrator of the crimes. The murders were violet- each victim being struck multiple times with a “hatchet-like” weapon. The rhyme above is not quite accurate- Andrew Borden will struck 11 times while his wife suffered from 18 or 19 blows.
There was reportedly a great deal of tension between Andrew and his daughters, Lizzie and Emma, over his financial gifts to Abby’s family members (she was Andrew’s second wife and Lizzie and Emma’s stepmother.) Andrew had done very well for himself over the years, but was quite frugal with his money in other matters. This could have provided a motive for the murders- Lizzie and Emma inherited everythin on their parents’ passing.
What is odd about these murders is that both Lizzie and the Borden maid were at home during the time of the murders. The maid was resting upstairs in her attic bedroom, while Lizzie said that she had gone outside to retrieve something from the barn.
Andrew Borden was killed while he was resting on a couch in the front parlor while Abby was struck from behind while she was making up a bed in the guest room.
The evidence linking Lizzie to the murders wasn’t strong enough to stand up in court and she was eventually acquitted.
An Infamous Address
The Lizzie Borden house is consistently ranked one of the top haunted houses in the country. It is a commonly held belief that when people die horrible, untimely deaths, there is residual energy left that can lead to hauntings.
The ghosts of Andrew and Abby Borden are said to still remain in the home, especially in the areas of the house where they were murdered. The house is now a bed and breakfast, and visitors can request to stay in the room where Abby Borden was murdered (pictured here).
Visitors of the hotel have reported hearing a woman weeping, muffled conversations from vacant rooms, doors opening and closing, and seeing an apparition of a woman dusting and straightening the bed linens.
The Lizzie Borden story has fascinated me for years. I still can’t believe that there could be 2 people at home during the murders who didn’t hear or see a thing. But I wasn’t sitting on the jury in 1893. This is another one, like the Villisca Ax Murder case, where we may never know what actually happened.
(photo credit dbking)
Tomorrow we’ll be visiting the Griggs Mansion in St, Paul, MN. If you are enjoying the virtual haunted house tour, please share it with your friends! See you again soon!
Don’t forget that there is a Monster of a Sale going on. Just in time for Halloween, three of my monster-ish tales are on sale for $0.99 through October 31st. Click the book cover to snag your copy now!