Fall River’s Lizzie Borden Spent Time at New Bedford’s Ash Street Jail
New Bedford's notorious Ash Street Jail has been a temporary home to many bad seeds since it opened in 1888. Perhaps the jail's most notable guest, however, was suspected ax murderer Lizzie Borden of Fall River.
Many kids along the SouthCoast probably grew up reciting the rhyme, "Lizzie Borden took an ax and gave her mother 40 whacks, and when she saw what she had done, she gave her father 41."
Britannica.com says the rhyme is inaccurate.
Here are the facts, according to Britannica.com. On the morning of August 4, 1892, between 9 a.m. and 11:10 a.m., "Abby and Andrew Borden were the victims of violent ax murders that are thought to have been perpetrated by Andrew's 32-year-old daughter, Lizzie."
Britannica says, "Her stepmother, Abby, was hit 18 times, and Andrew was hit 11."
During the 12-day trial, Lizzie Borden remained incarcerated in the matron's quarters at the Ash Street Jail in New Bedford.
Technically, the matron's quarters wasn't part of the jail itself, but rather part of the Sheriff's Home next door. Currently, it is used for administrative offices for the Bristol County Sheriff's Office, as explained by former Sheriff Thomas Hodgson in a 2017 appearance on the Travel Chanel show Haunted Towns.
The bed frame on which Lizzie Borden is believed to have slept on is still at the jail as well.
Britannica says, "After an hour and a half deliberation, the jury acquitted Lizzie Borden on June 20, 1893, because the majority of the prosecution's case had been composed of circumstantial evidence."
Lizzie Borden lived the rest of her life in Fall River, dying on June 21, 1927, almost 34 years to the day after her acquittal. Borden was 66 years old at the time of her death from pneumonia.
The Borden family house still stands at 230 Second Street in Fall River. It has been used as a bed and breakfast and a museum. Visitors can pay for a 90-minute tour during the daylight hours and ghost tours at night. Interactive and hands-on ghost hunts are also offered.
With talk of closing the Ash Street Jail, it seemed appropriate to remind folks of a part of its legendary history.