Ask Suella!

Curious Chapbooks & Hysterical Histories

DO YOU HAVE QUESTIONS about Lizzie Borden, Queen Victoria, Houdini, or anyone else in the Yellow Tulip Press family of real-life characters? Drop an email to Cousin Suella and she'll do her durndest to answer them!

HI, COUSIN SUELLA. I have two questions about Lizzie Borden: 1) Why did she kill her father and stepmother? 2) Did she really kill them?

--Denise, Age 16, Culver City, CA

DEAR DENISE: The official verdict of the trial was that Lizzie Borden did not commit the Fall River Murders. Nevertheless, I am of the same mind as you, Denise. I too believe that she killed her father and stepmother, though I cannot say why, except that she must have resented their treatment of her. As to your second question, there are those who complicate the crime by supposing others were involved who did the dirty work (Bridget, for instance, or a demented apple farmer); however, assuming that Lizzie could not do the deed herself is what got her off the first place! I believe any stout young woman in the prime of life, if suitably motivated, could finish both crimes and still have time to iron handkerchiefs while waiting for the police to arrive.

--Suella

DEAR COUSIN SUE: I'm trying to remember the poem: "Lizzie Borden gave her mother 40 whacks and hid behind the door and saw what she had done, then gave her father 41." My mother used to tell my sisters and me a story about, "It floats." They were on this boat, and you could hear, "It floats." Tell some more of the story, and then you would hear, "It floats." It was a very scary story as a child. and finally, when you couldn't stand it anymore, someone would say , "What floats?" and she would say "Ivory soap!" Do you remember the story? Thank you.

--Kay Kalidja of Idaho

DEAREST KAY: Forgive the delay in replying to you, love, but I laughed so hard at your letter that I cracked a rib. That was two days ago. Sebastian taped me up, and with a cup of Sasafras tea I was soon on the mend. As for the poem, surely you recall how it goes--

Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother 40 whacks

Then she stood behind the door and gave her father 40 more.

It is included in Chapter 6, " The Missing Blood," in Lizzie Borden Unlocked.As one Idaho potato might to another, I'll keep an eye peeled for your next letter. Fondly,

--Cousin Sue

* * *

DEAR SUELLA: My name is Claire, I'm 16 and I am currently involved in a play which has a character based on Lizzie Borden. I'm trying to get more into character for this play, and I was wondering if you could provide me with some information about her actual personality; if she had any physical sorts of habits, like a specific walk, or better yet sort of a quirk or twitch maybe. Anything you come up with is much appreciated. Email me back please!

-- Claire (Harriet Stanley in the play)

DEAR CLAIRE: Your letter brought back a happy memory of a trip to New York where I saw my first and only Broadway premiere at the Music Box Theater. The play was "The Man Who Came to Dinner," and there was a Harriet Stanley character in that play too. Concerning your query, Lizzie Borden was on record as having an hysterical laugh that manifested itself at inopportune times, at least according to the testimony of her maid Bridget Sullivan. Such a laugh would be very dramatic, so I expect you to be quite the sensation. Break a leg, my dear.

--Suella

* * *

DEAR SUELLA: I am 14 and I am doing information on Edgar Allan Poe for 25 extra credit points and I was wondering if Edgar Allan Poe has ever murdered someone or if he has some....mental problems...not just mentally challenged...just weird in the head?

--Anonymous

DEAR READER: Not to our knowledge did Edgar Allan Poe murder anyone. Even though he served in the military in Charleston, South Carolina, he never saw action on the battlefield, and though he wrote the first murder mystery, "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," he was never implicated in any suspicious death. Nevertheless, he himself might have been murdered. His taking Dr. Carter's sword cane before leaving Richmond, Virginia, suggests that he suspected his life was in danger, and the two strangers who joined him on the night boat for Baltimore indicate that he was indeed being followed. Once Poe sailed off into that late September night, he disappeared from history for eight days, only to turn up finally in Baltimore delirious and in rags, but with Dr. Carter's sword cane clutched in his hands. His death, like so much of his life, remains a mystery!

--Suella

* * *

DEAR SUELLA: Do you know what happened to Lizzie Borden's ax? Is it someone's private collection at this point?

--Kenn

DEAR KENN: The handleless ax that is widely assumed to be the weapon Lizzie used to kill her stepmother and father is on public display at the Fall River Historical Society in Lizzie's hometown of Fall River, Massachusetts. For more information, click here.

--Suella

* * *

DEAR SUELLA: Hi, I'm 13 and I absolutely love the Lizzie Borden story. A few years back when I just started reading about her, I would gather all my friends 'round and I'd tell them about her and her  tale. Last night I was trying to think up of something that I could be for Halloween, so I thought, "Hey! Why don't I be my favorite murderess?" So I was wondering, do you know how I could dress? I'm not exactly sure what to wear. Oh, and one more thing, in the beginning of the book I read about her, it said that her stepmother had asked where her cat was, Lizzie answered, "check in the basement," so she did, and she found her cat there, laid across the chopping block with its head chopped clean off. Is this statement also true? Thanks for your response!

--Ellie

DEAR ELLIE: What a treat to hear from a young person who enjoys an old story such Lizzie's and is helping to keep it alive by passing it on to her friends. I think Lizzie would make a perfect Halloween costume. You can see how she actually looked and dressed in our Lizzie Borden Photo Gallery, which has many real photos of Lizzie and her family. As for what she wore when her parents were killed, that is a subject of much controversy. In her inquest testimony Lizzie said, "The day they were killed I had on a blue dress. I changed it in the afternoon and put on a print dress." When the bodies were discovered, no one could agree on what Lizzie wore. Witnesses variously reported her wearing a cheap, light blue cotton dress or a dark, expensive silk evening dress (which would have been odd on the hottest day of the year). To complicate matters further, a few days after the murders Lizzie was discovered burning a dress in the kitchen stove. Some believe that since there was no blood found on any of Lizzie's clothes, she must have committed the murders in the altogether. I would not recommend that as a costume, since October evenings can be chilly. Oh, and don't forget your ax.

--Suella

P.S. Yes, we believe the story about Lizzie chopping off the head of her stepmother's cat to be true. Please don't tell Sylvia.

* * *

DEAR MISS SUELLA: Do you believe that Lizzie was under a spell or was a witch herself? Because it seems downright evil to kill anyone, much less your own parents. Thanks.

--Marinda from NC

DEAR MARINDA: Yes, it is a downright evil to kill anyone, but, no, I do not think that Lizzie was a witch. Your question reminds me of a comment made by Sir Francis Bacon on "Revenge": "Vindictive persons live the life of witches; who, as they are mischievous, so end they unfortunate." The Bordens were all an unfortunate family. Thank you for contacting me, my dear.

--Suella

* * *

DEAR SUELLA, SYLVIA, AND SEBASTIAN: My name is Whit and I am 17 yrs. old. I will be attending Mars Hill College in the Fall. I am doing a paper on Lizzie Borden and I have 2 questions. Do you think that she was the intruder while her father and stepmother were in the country and do you believe that when her father killed her pigeons that topped her off with committing the murders? Thank you so much for your time and your response will be greatly appreciated. Best of luck to you and your family in the future. May God bless you with many more years. Thanks again!

--Whit

DEAR WHIT: Best wishes on your matriculation at Mars Hill College. Be sure to climb Mount Bailey during Rat Week, but watch out for bears. As to your questions, we believe Lizzie Borden to be the only intruder in the Borden home. We think it highly suspicious that the only evidence of the burglar was found by Miss Lizzie in the basement, which also housed the murder weapon. And yes, killing her pigeons would be an excellent motive for revenge. I know if anyone harmed Sylvia, I would be topped off, as you young people say.

--Suella

* * *

HELLO, SUELLA. I read that your cat is 40 years old. My calico cat had lived to almost 20. What do you feed him or her? I have a cat now who is almost 1 and I want him around for a long time. Thanks.

--Chris, Orlando

DEAR CHRIS: Sylvia and I look down our noses at the packaged cat foods that make up the diet of so many of today's pampered pets. Instead, she prefers to catch her own food in the woods just outside our back door here in Seclusion Bend. Her favorite dinner is a nice, plump field mouse.

--Suella

* * *

DEAR SUELLA: Do you know of any spirits in the Borden home now? Was she a witch of any sort? Where is the Borden home located? In the movie it said she was naked at the time of the killing. Was that true? Thank you.

--Ann

DEAR ANN: You pose several interesting questions, so I will try to answer them one at a time. First, since Miss Lizzie belonged to the Women's Christian Temperance League, I doubt that there were any spirits in the Borden home during her day. I do not know whether the current owners share Lizzie's concerns about the Demon Rum. For the answer to your second question, please see my response to "Anonymous" below. To answer your third question, the Borden home is located on Second Street in Fall River, MA. It is now a bed and breakfast. Finally, as to what Lizzie wore at the time of the killings, nothing is a popular theory, reinforced by the movie "The Legend of Lizzie Borden." However, since she was caught burning a dress shortly after the crimes, I tend to believe that is what she wore.

--Suella

* * *

DEAR SUELLA: Was Lizzie Borden a witch of some sort..????

--Anonymous

DEAR READER: From all reports, Lizzie Borden was a Sunday school teacher, not a witch. However, she was once portrayed by Miss Elizabeth Montgomery, who also played a witch in the television show "Bewitched." Perhaps there is a connection.

--Suella

* * *

HI SUELLA, my name is Kristi :) First let me say that your website is most informative! Just when I have a question I read on to the next paragraph and find the answer! You are a very intriguing and fascinating woman to say the least! I'd be ecstatic and just plain proud to have such wise woman in my family! Now here's the silly part...! I'm a grown 25 year old mother of 2 and I have to tell ya, the more I read on about this the more frightened I become! I'm not sure exactly what it is that scares me about the whole Lizzie Borden story but let me say that when I'm at home alone reading this fascinating site, I can't help but look over my shoulder (perhaps it's the nearing of Halloween!). OK now this brings me to the silly question, and please, don't think ignorant of me, but as I was clicking through pages on here, I came across a page of pictures and heard a woman scream! Now I'm sure it was a wav file set up on the page, but me being the total chicken of the family I'm too afraid to click on it to find out! I literally ran from my office into my 3 year old daughter, Kaitlyn's room and climbed into bed with her where she was napping! I know we have tendencies to over react when we get too involved in what we are reading but if you could answer this question, it would most certainly slow my speeding heart! Please tell me, this was an intentional scream wasn't it??? I want to finish looking at the pictures, but I'm too afraid! I know it's sad, but when I was reading the pages I became so involved that the scream caught me off guard and I don't really know if I heard it or imagined it! I called my mother and begged her to check for me but she said she couldn't stop laughing hard enough to do it! I imagine once my husband hears of this, I'll be the talk of the family for years to come! Anyway, thanks for not laughing hysterically (well OK maybe you are!)! Peace and happiness to you, Sebastian and Sylvia!!

--Kristi W., Austin, Texas

DEAR KRISTI: So sorry to have caused you such a fright, dear. I must admit, the scream you heard was indeed a WAV file on our website. Sebastian and I enjoy adding to the atmosphere of the Lizzie Borden story. (We are hackers, but not the ax-wielding kind.)

--Suella

* * *

DEAR SUELLA: I think that Lizzie and the actress were lovers. What do you think? On The History Channel, they referred to Lizzie and the actress as lovers. They also said that Lizzie's sister had to leave where she was staying with Lizzie because she found out that Lizzie was having an affair with Nance. Lizzie's sister left the house and went to see a priest to ask him if she should leave, and he said under the circumstances you should, so she left. What do you think about it? Please write me back.

--Alonda M.

DEAR ALONDA: I think it would be indelicate of me to speculate on so personal a matter as whether Lizzie and Nance were lovers. As far as I know, no one (even the fine folks at The History Channel) can be certain whether or not this was true, although there has always been much gossip about the nature of Lizzie's relationship with Nance. Lizzie's sister Emma did move out of Maplecroft, the home the two shared after their parents' murders, supposedly because of Lizzie's "wild" lifestyle. (However, it is unlikely that Emma consulted a priest, since the Bordens were not Catholic.) My opinion is that Lizzie acted like someone who had gotten away with murder -- which may or may not have included being lovers with Nance.

--Suella

* * *

DEAR SUELLA:. Is it true that you can speak to the departed? I wish to get in contact with some people, but my fiancé doesn't want me to 'cause he doesn't believe that you can. I'm a great believer in speaking to the dead. My name is Renee from Sydney, Australia. If you can send me any information on my loved ones who have departed, I would be most grateful. If I have to send you more details on myself, I will; just let me know. Yours faithfully,

--Renee

DEAR RENEE: Thank you for your interesting letter. I am delighted to hear from a reader from Down Under. Sydney is a long way from Seclusion Bend! I am not sure how to best answer your question. At my age, most of my acquaintances now find themselves among the dearly departed. If I did not believe in speaking to the dead, I would rarely have anyone at all to speak to. That being said, I must confess that the dead very rarely speak back to me. When they do, my nephew Sebastian usually gives me a little white pill, which I take along with a nice nap.

--Suella

* * *

HI, SUELLA. I'm 13 and my name is Alex. Do you think that maybe Charles I. Richards had a crush on Lizzie and that's why he said she was not guilty? I think that he might have thought that she would marry him if he let her go. What do you think?

--Alex

DEAR ALEX: I believe you have come up with a new theory on the Borden case -- not an easy thing to do after more than 100 years. Of course, we will never know if it is true. If Mr. Richards [the foreman of the Borden jury] did pop the question to Ms. Borden, we can be certain that she turned him down, since Lizzie never married. Also, I do hope, for Mr. Richards' sake, that Mrs. Richards never found out.

--Suella

* * *

DEAR SUELLA: I would like to know one question. On a hot summer's day, on August 4, 1892, Lizzie killed her stepmother Abby around 9 o'clock a.m. Two hours later she killed her father, around 11 a.m. Don't you think that the maid "Maggie" would have smelled the decaying body of Abby? For at least after one hour of being dead, the smell would just fill the house, especially on a hot summer's day. Do you think that the maid could have played any part in this? I think she could have, but I would like your opinion on this too. Thank you.

--Erica

DEAR ERICA: Your question is an interesting one. It is true that Bridget (or "Maggie" as Lizzie called her) (left) and Lizzie were the only ones home on the day of the Borden murders. However, the maid was sick to her stomach and spent most of the time between the murders outside the house washing windows. Lizzie, on the other hand, was inside the house and is known to have gone up and down the stairs. In the Bordens' small house, this would have been almost impossible to do without hearing a telltale sound or noticing the 200-pound corpse sprawled on the guest room floor just beyond the open door. As to your speculation about the stench that may have filled the house, I can make no claim of expertise in this area. I do know that when my benefactor, Colonel Hoodenpyl, choked on a wishbone and passed away here in Seclusion Bend one long-ago summer day, Sebastian and I wasted no time in bringing in a bed of ice from the ice house on which to rest his remains while waiting for the doctor to arrive.

--Suella

* * *

HELLO. Could you tell me what Lizzie and Emma had their "falling out" over? It must have been serious if they never spoke to each other again. Thank You.

--Anonymous

DEAR READER: I remember at the time there was much rumor and speculation about Miss Lizzie Borden's friendship with a notorious actress, Nance O'Neil. But it would be unkind to speculate further. Best regards,

--Suella

* * *

DEAR MS. SAMS: Enjoyed this site very much. I was wondering if you know the name of the foreman in the Lizzie Borden trial? Thank you for your time.

--Judy

DEAR JUDY: The  foreman of the Borden jury was Charles I. Richards of North Attleboro. Sadly, my old eyes are not sharp enough to pick out Mr. Richards in this photo of the twelve good men and true who found Miss Lizzie not guilty. Thank you very much for writing.

--Suella

* * *

DEAR SUELLA: If you are a time traveler or alien disguised as human and/or have the technology to travel physically through time, I need your help!! My life has been severely tampered with and cursed!! I have suffered tremendously and am now dying!! I need to be able to:

   * Travel back in time.
   * Rewind my life, including my age.
   * Be able to remember what I know now so that I can prevent my life from being tampered with again after I go back.

I am in very great danger and need this immediately. I am aware that there are many types of time travel and that humans do not do well through certain types. I need as close to temporal reversion as possible, as safely as possible. To be able to rewind the hands of time in such a way that the universe of now will cease to exist. I know that there are some very powerful people out there with alien or government equipment capable of doing just that. If you can help me, I will pay for your teleport or trip down here, along with hotel stay, food and all expenses. I will pay top dollar for the equipment. Proof must be provided.

--Mike Doe

* * *

DEAR FRIEND: I have no time machine to offer. My only transport has been found in books. Consider the consolation of these words by the poet John Milton in Paradise Lost:

    There is a cave                                               

    Within the Mount of God, fast by his Throne,                    

    Where Light and Darkness in perpetual round                   

    Lodge and dislodge by turn —which makes through Heaven    

    Grateful vicissitude, like day and night;                     

    Light issues forth, and at the other door                 

    Obsequious Darkness enters, 'til her hour                         

    To veil the heaven, though darkness there might well          

    Seem twilight here.

God bless you and best wishes,

    --Suella

* * *

HEY. My name is Courtney! I'm doing a report on Lizzie Borden for school and I need to know some of what you know! So if you wouldn't mind, I would really appreciate if you would answer some of my questions! Did you know what Lizzie and her stepmother's relationship was like? Do you think Lizzie chopped her father and stepmother up? If you know the whole story of what happened that day when they were murdered, can you tell me about it? Well, that's about it. Love always,

--Courtney

DEAR COURTNEY: By all accounts, the relationship between Lizzie Borden and her stepmother was about as warm as the relationship between the Titanic and the iceberg...and the outcome was just as tragic. In fact, when she was questioned after the murders about her relationship with Mrs. Borden, Lizzie was quick to point out that "I did not regard her as my mother." (To read all about the feud between Lizzie and Abby, click here.) As I have repeated many times in this column, I do believe that Lizzie killed her father and stepmother; however, she was never found guilty in a court of law and the crimes are considered unsolved to this day. To read my summary of the case, scroll down to my answer to Kristen's letter below. Unfortunately, I can offer you no short cut to getting a good grade on your report. My advice is to read our online chapbook in full, then study some of the other works listed in our bibliography . Best of luck, my dear.

--Suella  

* * *

HELLO. I am Anja. I just love this site but I have a question. Why are u blaming Lizzie? When I keyword Lizzie it gave this site and said Lizzie Borden killed her parents. Guess what she didn't ! Please get your facts staright. I am 11 and smarter than you!

--Anja

DEAR ANJA: Our hearty congratulations on your genius. However, since you are 11 years old, we must presume you were not present in 1892 when Mr. and Mrs. Borden were murdered. Therefore, please forgive our skepticism at your complete certainty of Lizzie Borden's innocence. Having spent the last 10 years researching the Fall River murders, we at Yellow Tulip Press have come to believe that Lizzie Borden was, indeed, the killer. Even so, Miss Borden was never convicted and the crime never definitively solved. Therefore, as we clearly state throughout our website, our beliefs are entirely based upon our own interpretation of the facts. If you would like to review the facts further, may we suggest reading our online chapbook, " Lizzie Borden Unlocked," in its entirety, then exploring some of the works in the bibliography.

--Suella

* * *

DEAR SUELLA: Do you know what kind of drug Lizzie was on and what the side effects are? This is for a project for English and this is one of the things I need to know! Thank you.

--Jackie

DEAR JACKIE: As far as we understand, Lizzie was not under the influence of any drugs or medications, either during or after the Fall River murders. This leads us to assume that her sparkling personality was entirely her own.

--Suella

* * *

HELLO, MRS. SAMS: I am a 13 year old, that is currently in 8th grade. I have used your page a lot for my project on the Lizzie Borden trial, without it I may not have as many facts as I do. I do have one question though on Lizzie's life. Was she involved with women's rights acts before he trail was held? With this piece of information I could have a better understanding of her life with her family and friends. Please e-mail me back with a response. Thank you.

--Meg Smith

DEAR MEG: The women's rights movement seemed more interested in Lizzie than Lizzie was in the women's rights movement. Lizzie was a member of the Women's Christian Temperance Union; however, we have no evidence that Lizzie participated in the cause of women's rights, either before or after her trial. However, during her trial Lizzie did receive vocal support from suffragettes, who presumably looked upon her as an innocent victim.

--Suella

* * *

DEAR SUELLA: Hello there! How are you doing? My name is Sheena and I live in New Hampshire. I would like to know your opinion. If you don't mind. Thank you very much for your time. :)

--Sheena

DEAR SHEENA: I am quite well, thank you. My opinion is that New Hampshire is a fine place to live and Sheena is a very lovely name.

--Suella

* * *

DEAR MISS SUELLA: I've always thought Miss Borden did do the crime.........coming from area.. .........learned about story early, born in Providence, R.I........lived in Seekonk, Mass......... godparents live in Fall River.................. But did not know ax had been found...............always thought she put ax in outhouse that was in Borden house basement....................Where was ax found?........................And did you ever meet Annie Oakley?...................the best to you & family.....

--Donna

DEAR DONNA: Your perceptions about the Fall River murders are correct. The infamous ax was indeed found in the basement of the Borden home, near the privy (for lack of a more delicate term). However, the prosecution was never able to conclusively prove that it was the murder weapon (although it seems quite likely that it was). As to your other question, unfortunately, I never had the pleasure of meeting Miss Annie Oakley. However, I much admired Miss Ethel Merman's fine performance (and prodigious lung power) in the Broadway musical "Annie Get Your Gun," which I had the privilege of attending with a group of ladies from the Society for the Protection of the Snail Darter, Women's Auxiliary, when we spent a marvelous weekend in New York. Finally, I shall convey your greetings to Sebastian and Sylvia, who (along with me) wish you and your family the best as well.

--Suella

* * *

DEAR SUELLA: Hey! My name is Micah! (I'm a girl!) 13 yrs old. I was just going to write you and tell you that you are very intelligent and I was going to ask, Have you ever been to the Borden House, and if you have do you think it is haunted? Thanks! GOD BLESS!

--Micah

P.S. I wish You and Sebastian and Sylvia many many more wonderful years of life to enjoy!

DEAR SUELLA: I am and have always been interested in the Lizzie Borden case. I understand that the Borden house in Fall River is now a bed and breakfast. Is that true? Do you have any idea how far Fall River is from New York City? I would like to visit the house on Second Street . And for the record, I believe that she committed the murder of her father and stepmother

----Susan, Bordentown, N.J.

DEAR SUELLA: Hello, my name is Jeremy. I wanted to know a little bit about Lizzie Borden. I  was wondering if the hotel is still open and if people still rent. Has anyone seen anything unusual lately at the house or no? Well, that's it for now. Thank you. Bye.

--Jeremy

DEAR MICAH, SUSAN AND JEREMY: Thank you all for writing; I do so enjoy hearing from young people. Since your questions are all similar, it seems only prudent for me to answer them together. Please, each of you pull up a chair. The Borden House on Second Street in Fall River (right) is today a bed and breakfast where the hale and hearty can spend the night in the actual rooms in which Lizzie Borden's family lived (and died). You can learn more about the accommodations and make reservations through the Borden House website (www.lizzie-borden.com). Now, as for the question of whether the Borden House is haunted, I am not able to answer that from personal experience, since at age 112 I rarely venture far from my home in Seclusion Bend. (My old bones prefer resting in their own bed each night.) However, many a sojourner does come by to visit me, and one such visitor was a woman who had spent the night at the Borden House. She reported hearing a definite otherworldly presence in the upstairs bedroom in which she had passed the night.

--Suella

P.S. Thank you, Micah, for the good wishes to Sylvia and Sebastian. Since they very rarely receive correspondence, they were both delighted to hear from you and wish you and your family the best also.

* * *

DEAR SUELLA: Hi. I was wanting to know how old Lizzie was when she killed he parents. Because in her book it says she was in her early teens and early 20s. But that doesn't really tell how old she was. So can you please write me back, please sir. Because I would like to know how old she was when she killed both of her parents. Well, I have to go. Bye.

--Hope

DEAR HOPE: When Lizzie Borden's parents were killed in 1892, Lizzie was 32 years old. Since she was unmarried, Lizzie was still living under her parents' roof at the time. We might infer from this that erratic and rebellious behavior is not limited to the young.

--Suella

* * *

DEAR MRS. SAMS: I am looking for the date of birth and date of death of Lizzie Borden. Do you know them? Thank you!

--Mrs. Laura Rozamus, Bradenton, FL

DEAR MRS. ROZAMUS: Lizzie Borden was born on July 19, 1860, and died on June 1, 1927. By the way, I, like Lizzie Borden, am a "miss." I have discovered that it is difficult finding any man better than no man at all. Please feel free to refer to me by my Christian name, Suella.

--Suella

* * *

DEAR SUELLA: Hi, and I was very curious. I just read about Lizzie Borden and my question is.. .WHY did she do it? And the weapon that you showed -- is that the real one? And did she really do it? And the pictures that you showed -- are those her real family members?

--Robert

P.S. Is this story even true?

 ROBERT: My, we are a skeptic, aren't we? No one can be absolutely certain WHETHER Lizzie Borden murdered her parents, which is why her story holds such enduring fascination. That means, of course, that no one can be certain WHY she may have committed such heinous crimes. (Our personal opinion is that Lizzie DID kill her parents.) The photo of the ax (right) is indeed of the actual suspected murder weapon -- although whether it really was the instrument that killed Mr. and Mrs. Borden was also never definitively proven in court. And, of course, all the photos in our Gallery really are of Lizzie Borden, her family, and the other principals involved in the Fall River murder case. Finally, let us emphasize that the story of Lizzie Borden is most definitely accurate -- as are all the histories documented in Yellow Tulip Press chapbooks.

--Suella

* * *

DEAR SUELLA: Do you recommend any Lizzie Borden movie? I recall hearing about her as I was growing up but never really knew too much about why or when she did these things and are they true?

--Anonymous

DEAR READER: I do not hold much with today's talking pictures. In fact, I believe the quality of motion pictures began to dramatically suffer (forgive the pun) when Miss Mary Pickford retired. Instead of recommending a movie, might I suggest reading about the Borden case. You can begin with our chapbook, "Lizzie Borden Unlocked," which you will find published in full on this website. For more good books about Lizzie Borden and the Fall River murders, check our chapbook's bibliography. Good reading!

--Suella

* * *

DEAR SUELLA: Hi I am Kaleigh, I go to Riverside Middle School and was wondering if Lizzie's family was one of the rich families back then? Please try to answer this question before Halloween. If you could please send me a picture of what they wore. Thank you.

--Kaleigh

DEAR KALEIGH: Yes, indeed, the Borden family was considered quite wealthy by late -nineteenth-century standards. Andrew Borden began as an undertaker, but ended up as president of Union Savings Bank, director of First National Bank, director of Durfee Safe Deposit and Trust Company, director of Globe Yarn Mill, director of Troy Cottons and Woolen Manufacturing Company, and director of Merchants Manufacturing Company. But even with all this money, the family did not live on "The Hill," where the fashionable set had their homes, and did not dress in fine clothes. (To see what they wore, visit our Photo Gallery.) After Andrew's death, Lizzie inherited enough money to move into a fine Queen Anne mansion on The Hill, which she named Maplecroft.

--Suella

* * *

DEAR SUELLA: My name is Kristin. I am a student at Ennis High School and I am doing a research paper on the arrest and trial of Lizzie Borden. I have just begun my research and I've found that I am a little confused. I was hoping you could help me out. I would really appreciate it if you would put the whole story in your own words for me. Kind of like a true summary. It would really help me out. I would also like to know where you stand on the innocent/guilty theory. If you would write me back it would really mean a great deal to me. Thank you for your time. Sincerely,

--Kristin

DEAR KRISTEN: Well, bless your heart, child. I am delighted to recount the Lizzie Borden story for you in my own words. In the long, hot summer of 1892, Lizzie Borden was a 32-year-old single woman (in those days called a spinster) living with her father, stepmother, sister, and a maid named Bridget Sullivan in a cramped house in Fall River, Massachusetts. One afternoon (in broad daylight, mind you), Mr. and Mrs. Borden were violently hacked to death. The only ones home at the time were Miss Lizzie and the maid, who was outside in front of the house washing windows. No one saw anyone else come or go from the house. After a lengthy investigation, suspicion inevitably fell on Miss Lizzie, who insisted that when the murders took place she was out in the barn, in a fancy party dress, eating pears. Needless to say, the case shocked the upright citizens of Fall River, who could not believe that a woman (and a Sunday school teacher to boot) could have performed such a heinous crime. Lizzie was arrested and tried but acquitted on the first ballot. The investigation ended there; no one else was ever tried for the crime. Now, these are just the basic facts. There's much more to the story, which you can read online in our chapbook, "Lizzie Borden Unlocked."

Do I think Lizzie was guilty? As a Sunday school teacher myself, I wish only to believe the best of people. However, in my opinion, Lizzie did commit the crimes.

--Suella

* * *

DEAR SUELLA: What cemetery is Lizzie in?

--Anonymous

DEAR MR. or MS. ANONYMOUS: Oak Grove Cemetery is the final resting place for Lizzie Andrew Borden, even though the tombstone reads Lizbeth. Renaming one's self is a modern affectation of which I do not approve. One should not have to reintroduce one's self when one meets one's maker.

--Suella

* * *

DEAR SUELLA: Gee, you guys have a Lizzie Borden website, but you have the famous poem WRONG on it!!! Here is how it actually goes:

    Lizzie Borden took an ax
    And gave her mother 40 whacks.
    When he saw what she had done,
    She gave her father 41.

This is how I heard the poem 30 years ago, and believe it is the correct version, word for word. Say it, it has a ring to it, and makes sense, unlike the one on your web page. You said "When SHE saw what she had done, (she) gave her father 41". That doesn't make sense. Also, it is grammatically incorrect without "she" included. She saw what she had done immediately. It is when the FATHER saw what she had done that she did him in...It also has a more sinister tone this way also. For the record,

--Bob W.

DEAR MR. W.: How I admire a man who has the strength of his convictions. Your point of grammar is well taken. In fact,  my new copy of Bartlett's Familiar Quotes (1944) reads, "When she saw what she had done, she gave her father 41. " Nevertheless, as a little girl in pigtails (in the century before the last one), I remember we sang it my way while rolling hoops. You will allow, I hope, an old woman her prerogative when it comes to anonymous nonsense verse.

--Suella

* * *

DEAR SUELLA: I just returned from vacationing in the Northeast. While riding the Cog Railway in New Hampshire we passed a marker about Lizzie Borden. I asked the Railway worker about it and he said she was hiking in the area, got hypothermia and died. A few days later I visited Lizzie's home in Fall River and the fact sheet I was given said she died of a heart attack. What is the true story of how Lizzie died? Thank you.

--Cindy in California

DEAR CINDY: Pleased though I am to hear that Lizzie Borden was an outdoor enthusiast (as am I), unfortunately (according to our friends at the Fall River Historical Society), she suffered from an attack of the gall bladder and died at home at Maplecroft of complications on June 1, 1927. I hope this unpleasant news does not detract from no doubt the lovely trip you had in the Granite State of New Hampshire. All best wishes for your continued health.

--Suella

* * *