October is the month for haunted houses and spooky attractions. But in some locations like Salem Massachusetts, hauntings are no joke. The all but real sinister and evil past lingers on to haunt the living all year round. If you’ve been to Salem and checked out all the haunts and haven’t yet had your fill, then you’ll want to drive 76 miles south to a place called Fall River. At the address 230 2nd Street, Fall River, MA you will find the Lizzie Borden House.
Lizzie Andrew Borden (July 19, 1860 – June 1, 1927) was a New England spinster/librarian woman who gained notoriety and disgrace after being tried and acquitted for the 1892 axe murders of her father and stepmother in Fall River, Massachusetts.
Lizzie Borden is still laughing about getting away with murder!
The murders and following trials by both the courts and media became a cause for widespread controversy and heated debates. The fame of the incident has endured till today, and although Lizzie Borden was acquitted, she is still to this day believed to be guilty of these gruesome crimes. No one else was ever arrested or tried, and she has remained notorious in American history. The debate over the identity of the killer or killers continues to this day.
The house was originally built in 1845, and in 1874 Andrew Borden bought it so he could be closer to his bank and thriving businesses. Although the house was in an affluent area and despite Borden’s wealth, he was miserly and did not have modern features like plumbing in his home.
Lizzie’s mother, Sarah Anthony (Morse) Borden passed away on March 26, 1863, and almost 3 years later, Andrew marries Abby Durfee Gray on June 6, 1865. Here is where Lizzie’s misery begins.
Tension had been growing in the family in the months before the murders, especially when Andrew gifted property to various members of Abby’s family. After their stepmother’s sister received a house, the sisters had demanded and received a rental property (the home they had lived in until their mother died) which they purchased from their father for $1; a few weeks before the murders, they sold the property back to their father for $5,000.
The night before the murders, John Vinnicum Morse, the brother of Lizzie’s and Emma’s deceased mother, visited and was invited to stay for a few days to discuss business matters with Andrew. Some people have speculated that their conversation, particularly about property transfer, may have agitated an already strained situation.
During the fateful morning of August 4, 1892, Borden’s father, Andrew Jackson Borden, and her stepmother, Abby Durfee Borden, were murdered in the family home. The only other people present at the residence at the time were Lizzie and the family maid, Bridget Sullivan. Emma Borden, Lizzie’s sister, was away from home. The sisters’ uncle and brother of Andrew Borden’s first wife, John Morse, was visiting but was also away from the house during the time of the murders.
Let’s walk through that morning. Around 7 a.m, Andrew Borden and his wife have breakfast with John Morse. At 8:45 am, Mr. Morse leaves the house to return at 11:30 a.m. Around 8:50 am Lizzie comes downstairs to have breakfast alone. At 9:15 a.m. Mr. Borden goes downtown for a shave and to make his usual rounds. Around 10:45 a.m. Mr. Borden returns not feeling well. Then at 11:05-11:10 Lizzie tells Bridget the maid Mr. Borden has been killed! Neighbors come to consol Lizzie, but it was short lived as the maid discovers Abby Borden has also been murdered.
Despite what this infamous poem states, Abby received around 18 – 22 direct hits to the back of her head until she was dead, and Andrew was struck 10 or 11 times with a hatchet-like weapon. After a 13 day trial, Lizzie Borden was acquitted of all charges and released from jail. Apparently, Lizzie and her sister went back to the house for a very brief time and then Lizzie bought a fashionable Queen Anne Victorian mansion in the upscale neighborhood called the Hill. Lizzie lived here until her passing on June 1, 1927.
Today, the Lizzie Borden House is a bed and breakfast/museum where brave guests can spend the night. Guests from all over the world are eager to experience the Lizzie Borden house, especially for the re-enactment every August. Is the house haunted? Yes!
Late at night, many guests have reported hearing Lizzie cackle at the top of the stairs, very near the room where Abby was murdered. But Lizzie’s is not the only spirit haunting the home. Many hear footsteps upstairs walking from room to room, hearing voices, seeing shadow figures and some have been physically attacked. A staff member who stayed there one night felt she was not welcome and woke the next morning to the rocking chair facing her bed like someone watched her sleep.
There are the spirits of three children, Irene, Henry and Sally, haunting the third floor and many who stay at the bed have experienced childlike activity. Who are these three children? In the 1840’s the land was a pear orchard that was owned by the people adjacent to the property. There was also a well on the property. The wife of property owner was suffering from post-partum depression and she brought her three children, 2 toddlers and one baby to the well and dropped them in. Afterward, she went home and slit her throat with her husband’s straight edge razor.
Both Abby and Andrew are said to walk the grounds and the maid Bridget Sullivan screams for help in the darkest hour of the night. The basement is said to be home to one or more evil entities, but no quests are willing to venture down there. But, you’re welcome to make a reservation and investigate yourself.