Abby Borden, as she was found

Abby Borden, as she was found

Sometime after moving into Maplecroft, Lizzie Borden sent her murdered stepmother’s personal effects to her half-sister Sara Whitehead, including Abby’s wedding picture.  Author Robert Sullivan found the picture in 1972 in the Providence apartment of Abby Potter, Sara’s daughter and Abby’s niece.  It showed a smiling and slender Abby Borden in her wedding gown – no harbinger of the obese woman she would become after 28 years of marriage to Andrew.

Why did Lizzie return this picture to the Whitehead’s?  Was it common courtesy, or did she need to dispose of an unpleasant memento?  Perhaps it was a final salvo of hostility and rejection – both Lizzie and Emma felt that Abby was “unsuitable” to be Andrew’s wife.  Or just maybe it was a small gesture of atonement.

Whatever Lizzie’s motive, the image of her rummaging through the personal property of a woman she had butchered and then mailing it back to the victim’s dearest relatives is chilling…

And what of Miss Abby Gray, the blushing bride of Andrew Borden.  I’ll leave it to the poignant pen of Edmund Pearson as he contemplates her brutal end.

Between bed and dressing table lay the body of Andrew Borden’s wife.  To this hideous and grotesque death she had come; this was the end of the road that had begun on that Sunday morning so long ago, when she looked up and saw her suitor waiting for her.  That far-off spring day, at the close of the Civil War, was the spring of her romance.

Dull, dull years had followed, and now everything had come to this pitiful moment, and she was an undignified heap of shabby workaday clothes, her feet in clumsy shoes sprawled behind her, their soles turned up, her head savagely hacked to bits; locks of her hair chopped off; her poor, plain old face lying in a puddle of blood.”