Just after eleven, on the morning of August 4th, 1892, the peace in a modest residential neighborhood was shattered, by cries of murder. Businessman, Andrew Borden was found by his daughter, Lizzie, bludgeoned to death. Later, his second wife, Abby, was discovered, also hacked to death.
Bridget Sullivan, the house maid had been outside, washing windows, that morning. Oldest daughter, Emma, was away, and Uncle John Morse -- who'd spent the night before with the Borden's -- had a string of unshakeable alibis. That left only Lizzie.
She was arrested, imprisoned for ten months, tried and acquitted of the murders.
Lizzie thought she'd been found innocent, but Fall River deemed her guilty and treated her as a pariah for the rest of her life.
The two sisters lived together for over a decade. Then, something happened that sent Emma storming from the house. Something so awful the sisters never spoke again.
I was led out of the room and across the hallway into the courtroom. The officer accompanying us reached for the door, however Mr. Jennings came to an abrupt halt, and reached for the officer's arm, preventing him from opening it. He looked at me and said, "Let me do most all of the talking, all right, my dear?"
"Yes, sir." I answered, but even I could barely hear myself say it, my voice was so low and hoarse. The policeman threw open the door and ushered us into a packed courtroom, rumbling with the noise of hundreds of voices all speaking at once.
It was a hot day -- even hotter and more humid than the week before. People -- known and unknown to me -- crammed into the courtroom. Many were there, I knew, to show their support for me and to give me strength. Others, however, were people who believed me guilty. I was able to feel the hatred and malice they radiated toward me.
My nerves tingled and I was suddenly aware of everything happening around me. I realized how many of these people, thwarted from attending the inquest, had spent the morning -- perhaps all night -- in the street outside Central Station just to get a place in the courtroom. There was a holiday-like atmosphere among them, as they sat in their Sunday best, waiting for a chance to see me.
I can still remember those days, back then, when we wore our clothes until they stank beyond reason. Men's suits were never really laundered -- merely sponged and spot cleaned. And even women's clothes, though more thoroughly cleaned, still tended to give off an odor of their own. It had been two weeks of incredible heat and tension. This "[JMB1] perfect storm" created a cloud of sweat and rancid clothing.
I think it was actually this stench that pierced my nostrils as we passed through the crammed courtroom, and brought me back to my senses -- like some human smelling salt. I moved to a table where Emma already sat and, at Mr. Jennings' indication, I took a seat beside her.
A murmur crackled through the courtroom, causing me to straighten up in my chair. A door behind an enormous desk opened, and a man, who I later learned was the bailiff, cleared his throat and called out, "Be upstanding."
Mr. Jennings and Emma stood, so I, of course, followed suit. In fact, all the spectators rose as of one body, and waited. I was stunned by the deafening silence. After a moment, Judge Blaisdell entered and settled himself behind the desk. Everyone in the courtroom sat down, and indulged in a fast flutter of conversation. Then, with sharp rap of his gavel, Judge Blaisdell fixed his eye upon me, and I stood up again.
Posted by Ray Jewell on 3rd Sep 2013
‘Lizzie Borden took an ax
And gave her mother forty whacks;’
History often lives in one form or another through children’s rhymes, and I remember this one from my youth, many years ago.
While browsing through the long listing of eBooks’ contained on the Desert Breeze website, I was captivated by the cover of a recent book written by Jordan Bollinger, Sisterly Love; The Saga of Lizzie and Emma Borden. While I knew about Lizzie, or thought I did, I wasn’t aware that she even had a sister, so I allowed the excerpt to pull me right into a purchase.
Best night of reading I’ve had in years. The author has placed the reader in the head of Lizzie, as she tries to make sense of the events taking place around her after the murder of her parents. You can feel her helplessness as her naïveté and love for her family complicate her struggle to understand the forces that clash to either destroy her, or to save her from conviction.
The author has described an actual historical event in such a way that the reader can visualize the turn of the century culture, customs, clothing, sights, sounds and even the smells of her era. All this wrapped around a genuine mystery, and told to the reader through the mind of Lizzie, add up to a wonderfully entertaining, and ultimately surprising read.
A must read for anyone interested in an exciting historical mystery.