in celebration of LIZZIE BORDEN's birthday~ ANTEBELLUM HOLLYWOOD invites you for a cuppa tea~ today~ june 19th~ 5pm till 7pm
1643 n. las palmas ave
hollywood, ca 90028
323 856~ 0667
- Lizzie Borden took an axe
- And gave her mother forty whacks.
- When she saw what she had done,
- She gave her father forty-one.
Folklore says that the rhyme was made up by an anonymous writer as a tune to sell newspapers. Others attribute it to the ubiquitous, but anonymous, "Mother Goose". In reality, Lizzie's stepmother suffered 18 or 19 blows; her father suffered 11 blows.
Lizzie Andrew Borden (July 19, 1860 – June 1, 1927) was an American woman who was tried and acquitted in the 1892 axe murders of her father and stepmother in Fall River, Massachusetts. The case was a cause célèbre throughout the United States. Following her release from the prison in which she had been held during the trial, Borden chose to remain a resident of Fall River, Massachusetts, for the rest of her life, despite facing significant ostracism. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts elected to charge no one else with the murder of Andrew and Abby Borden; speculation about the crimes still continues more than 100 years later.
Prominent points in the trial (or press coverage of it) included:
- The hatchet-head found in the basement was not convincingly shown to be the murder weapon. Prosecutors argued that the killer had removed the handle because it was bloody, but while one officer testified that a hatchet handle was found near the hatchet-head, another officer contradicted this.
- Though no bloody clothing was found, a few days after the murder Lizzie burned a dress in the stove, saying it had been ruined when she brushed against fresh paint.
- There was a similar axe-murder nearby shortly before the trial, though its perpetrator was shown to have been out of the country when the Bordens were killed.
- Evidence was excluded that Lizzie had sought to purchase prussic acid (for cleaning a sealskin cloak, she said) from a local druggist on the day before the murders when the judge ruled that the incident was too remote in time to have any connection.
- Because of the mysterious illness that had struck the household before the murders, the family's milk and Andrew and Abby's stomachs (removed during autopsies performed in the Borden dining room) were tested for poison; none was found.
- The victims' heads were removed during autopsy. After the skulls were used as evidence during the trial – Borden fainted upon seeing them – the heads were later buried at the foot of each grave.
On June 20, after deliberating an hour and a half, the jury acquitted.
The trial has been compared to the later trials of Bruno Hauptmann, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, and O.J. Simpson as a landmark in publicity and public interest in the history of American legal proceedings
No one else was charged in the murders, and they continue to be the subject of research and speculation. Among those suggested to be the killers by various authors are:
- Lizzie herself, despite her acquittal—one writer proposing that she killed while in a fugue state,
- Lizzie and Bridget Sullivan had been engaged in a lesbian affair, that Mrs. Borden had caught them together and had reacted with horror and disgust, and that Lizzie had killed Mrs. Borden with a candlestick; when her father returned she had confessed to him, but he had reacted to her revelation of the affair exactly as Mrs. Borden had and in a rage she had gotten one of the hatchets and killed him with it, with Bridget disposing of the hatchet somewhere afterwards.
- Bridget Sullivan, perhaps in rage at being ordered to clean windows on a hot day—the day of the murders was unusually hot—and while still recovering from the mystery illness that had struck the household.
- A "William Borden" (who was Andrew Borden's illegitimate son) after (according to this theory) failing to extort money from his father.
- Emma Borden, having established an alibi at Fairhaven, Massachusetts (about 15 miles away from Fall River, Massachusetts) comes secretly to Fall River to commit the murders and returns to Fairhaven to receive the telegram informing her of the murders.
After the trial, the sisters moved into a large, modern house in the neighborhood called "The Hill" in Fall River. Around this time, Lizzie began using the name Lizbeth A. Borden. At their new house, which Lizbeth named "Maplecroft," the sisters had a staff that included live-in maids, a housekeeper, and a coachman.
Despite the acquittal, Lizbeth was ostracized by Fall River society. Lizbeth Borden's name was again brought into the public eye when she was accused of shoplifting in 1897 in Providence, Rhode Island.
In 1905, shortly after an argument over a party that Lizbeth had given for actress Nance O'Neil, (thought to have a lesbian relationship) Emma moved out of the house. She never saw her sister again.
Lizbeth was ill in her last year following the removal of her gallbladder; she died of pneumonia on June 1, 1927 in Fall River. Funeral details were not published and few attended. Nine days later, Emma died from chronic nephritis at the age of 76 in a nursing home in Newmarket, New Hampshire, having moved to this location in 1923 both for health reasons, and to get away from the public eye, which had renewed interest in the sisters at the publication of another book about the murders. The sisters, neither of whom had ever married, were buried side by side in the family plot in Oak Grove Cemetery.
Lizbeth left $30,000 to the Fall River Animal Rescue League and $500 in trust for perpetual care of her father's grave; her closest friend and a cousin each received $6,000—substantial sums at the estate's distribution in 1933, during the Great Depression