Lizzie Borden ‘Murderabilia’ on Display at Fall River Historical Society
If you want to see the alleged murder weapon from the Lizzie Borden trial or vials of stomach contents from the murder victims themselves, you can find those and more on display in Fall River. The Fall River Historical Society is home to the largest collection of physical evidence from the Lizzie Borden murder trial and you can see much of their memorabilia on display throughout the year.
From early spring and right through the holidays, the Fall River Historical Society opens the doors to their mansion museum on Rock Street for daily tours through the city's rich history, including one of its most grisly murders.
People have long been fascinated with this unsolved murder. On the morning of Aug. 4, 1892, Andrew Borden and his second wife Abby Borden were brutally murdered in their Second Street home. The crime was shocking for not only its savageness but also because it happened to an affluent family in broad daylight.
Andrew's daughter Lizzie was an immediate suspect and wound up in Taunton Jail for 10 months awaiting her trial for murder. You can see what that jail looked like at the time as well as the actual pail her sister brought her lunch in every day in the Historical Society display. Yes, Lizzie was allowed outside lunches brought to her daily because she didn't care for the food in jail.
Though history has left her labeled an ax murderer, not everyone at the time felt she was guilty. The Borden collection features letters to the city marshal asserting that Lizzie was innocent. One even featured a cat doodle in the corner for no apparent reason.
Other incredibly interesting artifacts include a pillow sham complete with blood stains from the bed Abby Borden was making when she was first struck with the murder weapon (believed to be a hatchet), a braided hair extension Abby was wearing at the time of her death, and a hatchet head found in the Borden's basement that was alleged to be but never proven the murder weapon.
Although everyone has heard the Lizzie Borden rhyme, "Lizzie Borden took an axe, And gave her mother forty whacks; When she saw what she had done, She gave her father forty-one," how much truth is in the tale? She was, after all, acquitted of the crime and lived out her remaining days giving back to those around her.
Borden may be painted as a killer who got away with it, but at the Fall River Historical Society, you can see another side to this alleged murderer. Among the society's murder trial evidence are also artifacts from Borden's life: books from her home, gifts she gave people over the years, and even her meatloaf recipe (dubbed "very bland" by Historical Society staff).
Their exhibit features a gold pocket watch Lizzie bequeathed Alice Soderman, the daughter of her housemaid Ida Carlson Soderman. Lizzie also reportedly paid for this young lady to attend architect school in the early 1900s. Then, there's the gorgeous crystal punch bowl and cups Lizzie gifted the groundskeeper at Oak Grove Cemetery on his wedding day, after only meeting him a handful of times.
Though we may never know if she actually committed the heinous crimes she was accused of, the Fall River Historical Society's collection of Borden artifacts will certainly give you a new perspective on one of the city's most famous residents.
Need more Lizzie? Keep scrolling to see inside the home that became the scene of the crime as well the mansion the Borden's sisters bought after the trial was over.