This question came up recently; someone left a comment that Lizzie A. Borden, the Alleged Ax Murder, was buried at Connecticut Valley Hospital on the Youtube page for the paranormal group I’m involved with. Knowing that Lizzie A. Borden was from Massachusetts, I found this hard to believe.

I asked myself why would Lizzie Borden be buried here if she was from Massachusetts? Was Lizzie A. Borden’s body moved due to vandalism? Was CVH even in existence when she died and was there a cemetery? Are we sure there is even a Lizzie Borden buried in the cemetery for CVH? If so, who is she? Where was she from, and why would she have been brought there? Can I get answers to all the questions I have? What is Connecticut Valley Hospital and its history? Why would people be placed at Connecticut Valley Hospital?

The research began!

Some of these questions have been easy to get answers to, but others… well, we might not ever have answers. The State of Connecticut has restricted records for the patients, even though HIPPA wasn’t even in existence then and Lizzie has been dead for over 100 years. Since this is the case I was not able to physically see records from CVH. Even though records were restricted the Asst. State Archivist Allen Ramsey at CT State Library gave me as much information as he could. For that I’m thankful. I also got help from Chris Shields at Greenwich Historical Society, along with Judith Kudrah from Middletown Health Dept. I’ve gone to all that I thought would be able to help, checked record after record including historic maps. It might come down to never knowing Lizzie’s full story.

Just because we might not have this information now doesn’t mean down the line it won’t be available and I’ll possibly find out some other cool things in the meantime.

Is Lizzie A. Borden (Ax Murder) buried at Connecticut Valley Hospital Cemetery?

Not this Lizzie Borden

The Answer is NO!

According to historical facts, Lizzie Borden “Ax Murderer” was born 19th of July 1860 in Fall River, Mass. and died 1st of June 1927 in Fall River, Mass. of pneumonia alone at home. Lizzie A. Borden was buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in Fall River, Mass. So, she is not the Lizzie that laid to rest at CVH.

Don’t believe everything you see online!

The name Borden can be linked back to Richard (Joan) Borden, Kent County, England, through Boston to Portsmouth, RI. Lizzie A Borden is a descendant of Richard and Joan Borden. The Bordens Of Portsmouth eventually branched out and landed in Fall River, Mass., the eastern part of Connecticut and parts of New Jersey.
I was hoping to find the connection between Lizzie A. Borden Fall River and Lizzie of Connecticut but must to my disappointment I have not, not for lack of trying.

Historical and Genealogical Record of the Descendants as Far as Known of Richard and Joan Borden, who Settled in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, Ma, 1638: With Historical and Biographical Sketches of Some of Their Descendants Jan1899 H.B. Weld

Was Connecticut Valley Hospital in existence when Lizzie died?


It is the oldest standing and running Mental Institution in Connecticut; the doors opened in 1868. Under the guidance of Dr. Abram M. Shrew, as the first Hospital of its kind in Connecticut. Then name Connecticut General Hospital. It has had several different incarnations throughout its existence, but its purpose has remained the same.

Some of the older buildings placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985 collapsed or were demolished due to dangerous conditions.

Was there a cemetery on CVH property?

Monument at Connecticut Valley Hospital Cemetery

Well, of course, I already knew there was a cemetery at CVH. I’ve been a few times. The location of the cemetery is on Silvermine Rd in Middletown.

Connecticut Valley Hospital started to inter patients from its asylum, some criminally insane, in 1878 and continued this practice until 1957. Patients buried there were given only numbers due to the stigma around mentally disabled people.

 Numbered headstones were the only identifying features to the cemetery until as recent as the 1990s, when Rev. John Hall, Former minister of Middletown’s First Church of Christ, and the staff at CVH got permission from then-Attorney General Blumenthal for the names and information of the patients to be released. In 1999, Rev. John Hall started to read a hundred patient names each year for the next 17 years. There are 1686 numbered headstones; each represents a person (most) now identified. There is now a large memorial for these anonymous patients but only a number. Not everyone who passed had a tragic death; it is more likely that their life was tragic.

Particle article from The Hartford Courant 24 Dec 1919

The reasons for death range from infants dying during birth or shortly after, fire victims, suicide victims, and some were murder. In that environment, how could there not be violence?

It isn’t clear if patients were buried or cremated and then buried, from how the cemetery at CVH is laid out the patients could very well have been cremated.

The first time we went, it was melancholy to be there. The second time it felt a bit happier and like their spirits remembered us from our first visit. I won’t go into much more detail on the paranormal side. I know that there are people who still question it, I won’t get into a debate on it.

There have been many articles written on what folks have done to give reignition to the lost. Connecticut Valley Hospital Cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2018.

Why would People be placed at Connecticut Valley Hospital?

This list comes from The West Virginia Hospital for the Insane

Many people of little means might have been placed in State Hospitals due to lack of funds. Instead, they became wards of the State. Historically men and women would be admitted to Insane Asylums for the most INSANE reasons. Pun intended! The list from West Virginia Hospital for the Insane will give a pretty good look at some of the reasons for commitment.

The story of Elizabeth Packard gives an example of why a woman would be admitted to an Asylum.

 The treatment of the patients, whether Insane or not, was atrocious. Nellie Bly experienced these atrocities firsthand in 1887 when she went undercover as an inmate at Bellevue Hospital on Blackwell’s Island, which today is Roosevelt Island in New York. Nellie’s book Ten Days In A Mad House gives great details to what life was like for patients at any State Asylum in this country in the late 19th early 20th Centuries.

Is there a Lizzie Borden buried in the cemetery at CVH? If so, who is she?

This record comes from the Hale Collection of Cemetery Inscriptions From

Yes, there is a Lizzie Borden buried at CVH.

Lizzie’s Headstone

 A simple headstone with the number 476 lets us know where she is. Her cause of death was cancer of the uterus. She passed away at Connecticut Valley Hospital on the 7th of May 1909.

Lizzie Borden was born in 1851 in Ireland; a lack of identifying information of her birth was on the death certificate. At her death, the following information was given: Widow, place of birth listed as Ireland, her parents are listed as being from Ireland. Unfortunately, no names for family members were filled in on the death certificate.

Where was she from, and why was she brought here?

Courtesy of Middletown Health Dept.

The death certificate for Lizzie states that she lived in Greenwich, CT. The Asst. Archivist from the CT State Library said “Lizzie’s admission date to CVH was the 6th of September 1904.” He also stated “The hospital authorities typically relied on the patient to provide this information and Lizzie’s memory according to the file was not very good.  She was committed by a Selectman of Greenwich and not by any family members.” The first selectman at this time was Silas D. Ritch he served from 1904 to 1909. This likely means she was a ward of the Town of Greenwich, and living in the Town Poor Farm.

With the above statements from the Asst. Archivist of the State can we trust what was given on the death certificate?

Could this be Lizzie?

I have taken a great deal of time and resources looking for Lizzie. She has made it extremely difficult to find her. Although I think I have found one more tidbit of information on Lizzie I can’t prove with 100% that it is indeed her. I will share what I have found and why I truly think this is her.

A census record from 1870 gives the name Irish Lizzie, she’s about 20 years old, both parents are foreigners she can not read or write. She also works as a Domestic and for a family that was one of the original families of Greenwich and well-off. The Mead family was well established in Greenwich at this time and lived in the same area as the Town Farm(Poor House).

Map of Greenwich, CT from 1900 with georeference from David Rumsey Map Collection

Could it be that Lizzie could speak proper English and was difficult to understand with a thick Irish accent that she was dubbed, Irish Lizzie? Could she have taken Borden as her name, as some enslaved would? Could Borden have been her given name? Could she have been in a relationship with someone named Borden and that she was never married? All are possibilities. It seems that I have exhausted my search for dear Lizzie. Maybe she doesn’t want her complete story told.

Taking a hard look at the collective information on Lizzie, she very well could be Irish Lizzie, but again due to lack of evidence I can’t with all certainty say that it is her. Lizzie is giving more questions than answers. She has truly been the most difficult person to find information on and I have so much and again so little.

I hope that the lost are at peace with their identity known, and as for the few that remain unnamed, I hope someday they won’t be lost any longer.

If any more information comes my way, I will update this post.

Thank you to the kind person that went to visit Lizzie. I went again today, 1/29/24, to visit her after going this past summer.