Lizzie Borden took an axe,
Gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.
If that’s everything you know about Lizzie Borden, nearly everything you know is wrong. In reality, much of what popular culture regards as “fact” in the Borden case doesn’t hold up well against the evidence.
Lizzie attempted to buy poison the day before the murders.
A local drugstore clerk did report that a woman tried to buy prussic acid—aka hydrogen cyanide—without a prescription on Wednesday, August 3. However, according to his own testimony, “I knew her as a Miss Borden; I have known her for sometime as a Miss Borden, but not as Andrew J. Borden’s daughter until that morning.” In fact, it was a customer in the shop who remarked, “That is Andrew J. Borden’s daughter” as the woman left. (For context: there were over 125 Borden families in Fall River in 1892.)