The Lizzie Borden Case Revisited
A review of some of the facts and misconceptions of the original “Crime of the Century.”
Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her father forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her mother forty-one.
Chances are that you’ve heard that nursery rhyme at some point in your life. It may be your only knowledge of the Borden murders.
But there’s a problem.
Literally every single word of it is wrong.
Andrew Borden didn’t feel too well. He and his family were sick with food poisoning from two nights before. This morning, he was starting to feel a bit better, so he decided he was going to work.
He left the house at 9 AM, trudging along to the post office, the barber, the bank he works at, another bank to withdraw cash, and a building he owned. After that, he made his way back home, arriving at 10:45.
He speaks to his daughter, Lizzie, before laying down to take a nap.
He wouldn’t get up again.
Andrew Borden — The Life of the Party
When I began researching the case, I was under the impression that Andrew Borden was a cheap emotional abuser who kept his daughters locked up.
That’s actually not accurate.
To start, we don’t know what the guy was like, but we know he had a pretty high moral code he lived by. He was certainly frugal, sometimes stubbornly so, but the Borden family didn’t live in bad conditions because he refused to buy modern comforts.
The Borden name was an important one in Fall River. The Bordens were a founding family of the city so for a long time, all Bordens were wealthy from the beginning. That was until the “Borden split” a few generations before Andrew was born. After that, the “Old Money” Bordens lived in the expensive part of the town known as The Hill and the middle-class Bordens lived…everywhere else.
Something to note is that being “old money” was incredibly socially important. “New money” wasn’t as well-respected or invited into the upper-class groups. Andrew was considered “new money”…