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CRJ251: Criminology (Mayhew): The Borden Household

Who was living and working in the Borden house at the time of the murders?

This page will provide brief biographies of the people living, visiting, or working in the Borden house as of 3 August 1892

Abby Durfee (Gray) Borden (1828-1892)

abbydurfeeAbby Durfee (Gray) Borden was the daughter of Oliver and Sarah (Sawyer) Gray. 37-years-old at the time of her marriage, she wed Andrew Jackson Borden on June 6, 1865. She became stepmother to Andrew’s children when Emma was 14 and Lizzie was almost five, she being the youngest of three (one having died). Half-sister to Mrs. Sarah B. Whitehead.

Abby was murdered in her home in Fall River, Mass., on August 4, 1892. Her body was discovered in the upstairs guest bedroom, between a large bureau and the bed.

Lizzie Andrew Borden (1860-1927)

Lizzie Andrew BordenBorn in Fall River, Mass, the daughter of Andrew Jackson and Sarah Anthony (Morse) Borden. Present at the Borden home at 92 Second Street the morning of the murders of her father and stepmother, Lizzie was considered a suspect in the crimes early on and was arrested on August 11, 1892.

She was tried for those crimes but was acquitted on June 20, 1893. A mere 20 days after the trial, the Borden sisters purchased a house at 7 French Street in Fall River (later named Maplecroft). Early in June 1905, Emma left Fall River, never to return. Following her sister’s departure, she began referring to herself as “Miss Lizbeth A. Borden.” She was remembered by some who knew her in later life as a lady of great kindness and generosity, with a fondness for children and animals.

John Vinnicum Morse (1833-1912)

John Vinnicum MorseBorn in Fall River, Mass., the son of Anthony and Rhody (Morrison) Morse. Morse left Massachusetts when he was about twenty, going first to Minnesota and eventually settling in Iowa. It was his custom to travel east each summer and visit Fall River and New Bedford, Mass. A younger brother to the deceased mother of Emma. and Lizzie Borden, he had arrived for an overnight visit the day before the murders.

A witness at the inquest, preliminary trial and final trial of his niece, he provided testimony of his intimate knowledge of events within the Borden household.

Andrew Jackson Borden (1822-1892)

Andrew Jackson BordenAndrew Jackson Borden was born in Fall River, Mass., the son of Abraham Borden and Phebe (Davenport) Borden. His wealth included substantial holdings in several local textile mills and banking houses. He also served as president of the Union Savings Bank and was director of several Fall River corporations. His first wife was Miss Sarah Anthony Morse (who died in 1863); his second wife was Miss Abby Durfee Gray.

He was murdered in his home in Fall River, Mass., on August 4, 1892. His body was discovered in the sitting room.

Emma Lenora Borden (1851-1927)

Emma BordenBorn in Fall River, Mass., the daughter of Andrew Jackson and Sarah Anthony (Morse) Borden. She was away from Fall River the day of the murders in Fairhaven, Mass. After the trial, Emma and Lizzie purchased and lived in a home on French Street, in Fall River, later named by Lizzie as Maplecroft.

Following a falling-out in 1905, Emma left Fall River and relocated first to Fairhaven, then to Providence, RI, and continued to maintain her residence in Providence after she began spending part of each of her last years in Newmarket, NH. She lived under an assumed name until her death, which was only nine days following the death of her sister Lizzie.


Bridget Sullivan (1866-1948)

bridgetsullivanBorn in the Townland of Billerough, Parish of Allihies, Beara Peninsula, County Cork, Ireland, the daughter of Eugene and Margaret (Leary) Sullivan. Bridget arrived in New York City from Ireland on the S.S. Republic on May 24, 1886. In November of 1889 she was hired as servant to the family of Andrew J. Borden. Lizzie and Emma referred to Bridget as “Maggie.” Her responsibilities there included cooking, cleaning and ironing.

While cleaning the windows on the morning of August 4, 1892, Bridget was one of the last to see her employers alive. She provided key testimony at the inquest, preliminary hearing and final trial. Legend suggests that after the trial she returned to Ireland prior to settling in Montana, but there is no proof as to this. She was residing in Anaconda, Montana, by 1897, employed as a domestic. She married John M. Sullivan, a smeltman, in Montana in1905.

Source Citation

Lizzie Andrew Borden Virtual Museum & Library. (n.d.). Cast of characters. Retrieved from