Lizzie Borden in Chicago

10 Sep

(Reposted from June 2011)

I believe it was the article below that first gave us information that Lizzie went to Chicago as a young girl.  It would be her first venturing outside of Fall River until she was a grown woman.   (She would return to Chicago after her “great ordeal” for the 1893 World’s Fair).  Although her age at the time is not given, it strikes me likely Andrew would have made the trip to visit the Morse relatives and introduce his new wife, Abby.

This article gives us other glimpses into Lizzie, reportedly coming from her friends.  Some of these sentiments were echoed decades later by her supporters during her “Great Ordeal” and even after her death.  Point is:  there’s a theme here – of Lizzie’s characteristics of dignity, reserved deportment, kindness, modesty of manner, etc.  These characteristics are made of her both prior to and after the crimes.   Makes one think, doesn’t it, about that “haughty and domineering” personality given by her uncle, Hiram Harrington.  Of course, people can act one way with their peers and another way within their own families.  Here’s the article:

“The Boston Herald

LIZZIE BORDEN Her School and Later Life – A Noble Woman, Though Retiring. FALL RIVER, Aug 6.-It is the men who have, since the murder, been accorded the space to talk to Lizzie A. Borden, the younger daughter, during the past few days. It is the gentlemen with whom she was acquainted who have given her character and her personality to the world since the public cared to know about her. None of her lady friends, the women who knew her, with whom she grew up, those with whom she has been associated day by day and year after year, have yet presented their Lizzie Borden.  woman’s opinion of a woman is a consideration Lizzie Borden has not yet been allowed. Desiring to present this young woman as her friends have known her, to picture her as she daily appeared among women, the writer spent the greater part of the afternoon and evening in conversation with Lizzie’s friends. They talked of her life, of her inclinations, her interest in church work, her modesty of manner, unswerving sincerity, gentle forbearance and aspirations to be and to do all that is best and right in life. From the consensus of opinion it can well be said: In Lizzie Borden’s life there is not one unmaidenly nor a single deliberately unkind act. Lizzie Borden’s life is full of good works, kindly offices in the church and in the society of her friends. As Lizzie Borden appeared today, as she was stepping into the carriage to follow her parents remains to the cemetery, to the writer, who had never seen her before, it seemed as if she was well-deserving of the ecomiums of her friends and of the kind words which follow. She makes an exceedingly favorable impression and her dignity and her reserve are at once impressed. It was a trying ordeal to pass before the eyes of a crowd of 1500 morbidly curious spectators. She wore a tight fitting black lace dress with a plain skirt and waist of equally modest cut and finish, while a dark hat, trimmed with similar material, rested upon her head. Of medium height, she is possessed of a symmetrical figure with a retiring manner and a carriage which would dignifiedly repel the attention. Her Personal Charms might attract. A wealth of black hair is revealed under the hat which, arranged on top of her head, is trained about her forehead in short curls, parted in the centre and thrown over to the sides. Her dark, lustrous eyes, ordinarily flashing, were dimmed, and her pale face was evidence of the physical suffering she was undergoing and had experienced. To sum up, Miss Lizzie Borden, without a word from herself in her own defence, is a strong argument in her own favor. Although over 30 years old, it cannot be said that she looks it. In contradistinction from her sister, she looks as much as six years younger than she is as Emma L. Borden looks as many years older than she is. Lizzie was born in the old family homestead on Ferry St., in which her father has lived and his father before him. It is the same estate which the dead Andrew J. Borden deeded to the two girls in 1887. As a child she was of a very sensitive nature, inclined to be non-communicative with new acquaintances, and this characteristic has tenaciously clung to her all through life, and has been erroneously interpreted. Her sister, being older, was a constant guide and an idolized companion. An unusual circumstance is that of her practically having no choice of friends until she attained womanhood. At the usual age she was sent to the Morgan street school, embracing primary and grammar grades. Her school days were perhaps unlike most girls in this lack of affiliation with her fellow pupils.  As a scholar she was not remarkable for brilliancy, but she was conscientious in her studies and with application always held a good rank in her class.  She entered the high school when about 15 or 16 years old. It was then held in a wooden building on the corner of June and Locust Sts., which was removed when the present mammoth structure was presented to the city. Her life was uneventful during the few years following her leaving school. She abandoned her piano music lessons because, although making encouraging progress, she conceived the idea that she was not destined to become a good musician. If she could not excel in this accomplishment she did not wish to pursue the study, and so her friends heard her play thereafter but little. Her father and mother were religious and regular church attendants, and she has been surrounded by Christian Home influences. When a young girl, she accompanied her parents to Chicago and was there a member of the Sunday school class and punctual in attendance.  She was, however, a girl with anything but an enthusiastic idea of her own personal attainments.  She thought people were not favorably disposed toward her and that she made a poor impression.  This conduced to the acceptance of this very opinion among church people, and consequently the young. woman was to some extent avoided by the young women of the church. There was a remarkable change in her some five years ago and at that time she first began to fraternize with church people. Then, of course, when she was thoroughly understood, when the obnoxiously retiring manner was dissipated and the responsive nature of the girl came to view, she became at once popular and then came the acquisition of the friends who today sound her praises.”


There are literally thousands of newspaper articles on the Borden case.  Archived copies can be found with minimal search efforts.  Even websites carry many of them – for example, these have been online for over a decade.


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3 responses to “Lizzie Borden in Chicago

  1. Don Humphrey

    December 14, 2010 at 12:39 PM

    Interesting, maybe, that the ¨remarkable change¨ in Lizzie appears to have come about the same time (¨about five years ago¨)that she stopped referring to Abby as mother.

  2. E.J.

    July 10, 2011 at 11:03 AM

    I wonder if any or all of these virtues were on Emma’s mind when she left Maplecroft for the last time?

  3. Elaine

    July 11, 2011 at 8:51 PM

    Hard to believe it is the same girl and what goes through a persons mind to commit such an act


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