Is most of what we know about Lizzie Borden based on fact, or is it based on fake news, falsehoods, and figments of the imagination?

I think reporting straight facts is always more boring and less interesting compared to a good whopper. Who wants to hear that while Lizzie was jailed in Taunton for 10 months pending her trial, the cold-hearted, unmoved ax murderer wrote letters that showed she was a very sensitive, warm, kind and compassionate daughter?

That narrative doesn't follow the twisted nursery rhyme, "Lizzie Borden took an ax and gave her mother 40 whacks, and when she'd seen what she had done, she gave her father 41!"

And wait a minute: after all these years, why haven't we heard this different information that Lizzie Borden cared compassionately for her father with deep feeling? That just doesn't fit this story. And wait, there's more. They also want me to believe that Andrew Borden wasn't the evil man who abused his daughters, but rather a consoling dad who gave his daughters much more than most fathers. That just put a kibosh on one of the greatest unsolved murder cases in American history.

Michael Martins, the curator of the Fall River Historical Society, thinks most of what we know today about Lizzie is based on tall tales, whispers, and scandalmongoring. Martins is basing his information on notes derived from two journals from interviews conducted and written by Lizzie Bordon's lawyer, Andrew Jackson Jennings. The Society has the two journals, many personal letters, photos and documents that had not been previously published. Michael Martins and fellow curator Dennis A. Binette published a book called Parallel Lives that includes this information that has now sawtoothed the story of Lizzie Borden, as we know it.

Could the factual story of Lizzie Borden be buried under by folklore? Most will agree that fiction is always more interesting to a lot of people.

Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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