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We Arrive With Red Dirt On The Wheels…

June 30th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

The following is a guest blog by a dear friend. I thought it was one of the best things I have ever seen in print, so it’s being shared here. I’m encouraging my dear friend to continue this writing and make it into a book. Leave a comment below if you agree.

A caravan of Caravans to Hart County…we returned with red dirt on the wheels.

My grandma (Myrtle Fules - known as “Mertie”) goes to visit her family in Georgia every year. This year my father and I traveled with her for Mertie’s family reunion.

Upon arriving at the picnic/park where the reunion is held, there is a giant sign that says, “Welcome Fules.” There are lots of children and I am surprised at how many of my relatives smoke and are very overweight. My grandma is the oldest living member of the family and she looks about 30 years younger and 50 pounds lighter than everyone there. They are a rough-looking crowd but the food is really, really good.

Mystery casseroles (all with some sort of mush on the bottom and crispy covering on top), fried fish, hush puppies, PIES, cakes, fried chicken, watermelon and potatoes in every form stretch along 6 or 7 picnic tables. There is a ceremonial unveiling of the food as everyone uncovers their dish…a prayer is said and everyone attacks the food as if they have been starved for weeks. The lady in front of me is holding three plates and three forks while screaming at her grandchildren “I’m fixin’ to beat you if you don’t tell me what you want to eat!”

I wait patiently for the unruly children to choose their food. I wonder where their parents are.

I have been given a name tag and instructions to write down my name and the name of the person I am ‘kin’ to…my name tag says “Jane/Mertie”. I guess this is to weed out potential party crashers  and also to spark conversation such as this:

“Hey, Jane. You must be Mertie’s grandbaby”.

I nod and say “yes. Yes, I am”.

“You guys came from Virginia?”

“Yes. Yes, we did”

And so on and so forth….

We sit down to eat and I find myself sitting across from my Uncle Jimmy. Now that I have told you his name, you officially know as much about him as I do. He is old and very thin and we enjoy our food in complete silence. The only words exchanged were him looking up and saying “Bring me some fried pies”.

I was a little surprised at the request but I went and got them anyway. The only remaining pies were soggy ones from the bottom but he didn’t
seem to notice. He ate them and then smoked a cigarette. The end.

I will probably never see Uncle Jimmy again but our brief time together was good.

Because the children are loud and appear very sticky after the meal, I try to stay far away from them. Someone hands them all boiled peanuts in
ziploc bags, I am grateful for this as it seems to keep them all very occupied. I watch them, wondering how they can eat that nasty crap. I feel
like I’m at the zoo.

Everyone starts to leave. People leave as quickly as they came, plates are prepared for people that could not be there and for dogs. The dishes with the mystery casseroles are snatched up, I wonder how anyone can tell the difference between the many oblong glass dishes.

We retire to my Aunt Sara’s trailer. She lives on a small piece of land with 5 other trailers, all of which are inhabited by other relatives. There are three graves on this land and several inoperable cars. There are also lots of tragic looking animals and a caged-in dog that I affectionately call Cujo.

Each night, Aunt Anne drags out a slab of raw meat and tosses it over the 6 foot chain link fence that keeps Cujo contained. I can’t see the dog and Anne explains to me that they must not remove the combination of plywood and beach towels that cover the cage from view because “he gets real excited”. It’s hard to imagine having a “pet” that becomes dangerous and uncontrollable at the mere sight of humans.

Nascar is on the TV in Sara’s trailer but the sound is turned off so that everyone can talk about the reunion. I hate Nascar but I’m unable
to look away from the TV.  The conversation becomes heated as scandalous topics are discussed: Alma took an entire pecan pie home even though she didn’t bring anything. Mattie sat at the dessert table by herself and therefore, is faking diabetes.

Louise’s husband hasn’t left her yet. The fried fish was bad and John Thomas doesn’t know how to cook OR make homemade blueberry ice cream.

I can only imagine what the other families are saying about us in their trailers. Weight gain, weight loss, health, professions, monetary status, clothing and more; the discussion goes on for a long time. Occasionally, I yawn. Someone, each time, looks at me says , “Aw, you tired baby?”

I say, “No, I’m ok,” and smile.

I look at my dad across the room. He sits and stares vacantly into space.  He looks as if he has had a frontal lobotomy.

The only thing he has contributed to the conversation is this: “I had some banana pudding, it was very good.”

His input went unnoticed so I help him out by saying: “I had chicken and ritz cracker casserole, it was also very good”.

We leave the next day. I feel strangely sad. Georgia, Hartwell in Hart County, is a nice place with nice people and even though a very small
amount of matching dna is all that ties me to it, I enjoyed my time there.

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Was Aunt Addie shot in the head? (Part III) - UPDATED!

June 30th, 2011 Sears Homes 2 comments

When I started writing these blogs in late June 2011, I was still learning vast amounts of new information every day.

The original blog that appeared on this page has been revised and updated, and below you’ll find a plethora of the most up-to-date information that I have available.

So, was Aunt Addie shot in the head?  According to Mary Wilson’s book (A History of Lake Mills, published 1983), Addie was murdered by her husband, Enoch J. Fargo. A cover-up story was contrived (diphtheria) to hide the truth. Wilson also states that Addie’s physician, William Oatway, participated in the cover-up, falsifying Addie’s death certificate.

That’s the story. To read more about the background of this story, click here. (The autopsy was inconclusive. To read about that, click here.)

It looks like Mary Wilson was right. Below are the facts that we’ve discovered along the way.

1) Addie Hoyt Fargo was buried without a burial permit, and this was a violation of Wisconsin state law. The county health officer was Dr. Oatway, and as county health officer, he knew that failure to obtain a burial permit was a direct violation of state law. These laws had been created specifically to help track and mitigate the spread of contagious disease.

Yet on Addie’s death certificate, Dr. Oatway stated that a burial permit had been obtained, and it was “burial permit #32″ (see below). Permit #32 belonged to Alinda Hornily who died on March 26, 1902 (these permits were in chronological order).

The absence of a burial permit is very compelling evidence, and tells us, a) Oatway did falsify the death certificate, b) Oatway knowingly violated state law by signing off on the death certificate and then certifying it as true (while knowing it was false), c) A funeral director was not involved in Addie’s burial (or if he was, he was also complicit, because he knew the death certificate was a falsified document because there was no corresponding burial permit).

2) The burial permit was a STATE document, but the death certificate was NOT a state document. If a burial permit had listed diphtheria as the cause of death, the state *may* have investigated. When a contagious disease occurred, there were protocols required to prevent the spread of disease. For instance, state law required that a home be fumigated after death from contagious disease had occurred and personal possessions be burned or buried. A burial permit listing diphtheria as the cause of death would have raised a red flag. Oatway, entrusted with the position of County Health Officer knew this, so he lied on the death certificate and never obtained a burial permit for Addie. Doing this meant that the diphtheria story stayed local, and the information would probably not reach the state.

3) The State Board of Health (in Wisconsin) was formed in 1876 to track and mitigate the spread of contagious disease. Each county health officer had to answer this statement in his annual report: “Are the laws requiring the issuance of burial permits enforced?” Oatway, in 1901, stated that yes, the laws requiring the issuance of burial permits were enforced in Lake Mills.

4) Oatway, being a county health officer, also certified Addie’s death certificate, meaning he swore that it was true and accurate. That’s especially egregious.

5) In Addie’s obituary (probably written by Oatway), he goes on at length, describing Addie’s fast-acting Ninja Stealth Diphtheria as the most virulent, fast-acting strain he’d ever seen, that prevailed even in the face of aggressive treatment and modern medical care. It’s quite a prosaic obit, and the doctor is the saddened hero in the story.

6) SO it’s the most virulent strain, the fastest-acting strain, and no modern treatment could bring it into subjugation. And Addie was married to Lake Mill’s wealthiest resident, largest employer, and they were living in Lake Mills’ largest mansion. Yet a few months later, in his capacity of County Health Officer, when Oatway files his report with the State Board of Health, he reported that there were no cases of diphtheria in Lake Mills in 1901 (the year Addie died), and no deaths from diphtheria in 1901. Did Oatway lie when he wrote up Addie’s death certificate, or did he lie to the State Board of Health?

7) In the obit, Oatway opines that Addie probably contracted diphtheria during a recent trip to Portage. The newspaper reported she’d traveled to Portage for a convention on June 4th, 1901. Diphtheria germs don’t last longer than 1-4 days. And the county health officer in Portage reported that there were no case of diphtheria in Portage in 1901. There’s that stealth component again. Addie contracted diphtheria in a town with no diphtheria.

8 ) In the obit, Oatway says that Addie died 15 hours after onset, when the membrane formed in her throat, broke off and suffocated her. In the progression of diphtheria, this membrane doesn’t even start to form until 2-3 days after onset (according to the CDC), and children (its most frequent victims) died 4-6 days after onset (if the membrane was the cause of death). Typically, diphtheria killed adults when it settled into their heart and/or brain.

9) Diphtheria was not an automatic death sentence: Far from it, in fact. In 1900, in the state of Wisconsin, the death rate for a diphtheria victim was 13% state-wide, and 9% in small towns (population less than 2,000) and that number included children. If you could take children out of the mix, the rate would probably be less than half that. Children more than five, and adults under 40 had the best chance of surviving a bout of diphtheria. In other words, people Addie’s age (29) had the best chance of surviving diphtheria.

10) During the exhumation, we found that Addie was buried at 34″ which is incredibly shallow. This tells us that Addie’s grave was dug by someone who was not a professional grave digger, in part because of the depth, and in part because there was no burial permit. Before the exhumation, I consulted with several professionals in the funeral business, and they told me that I should be prepared to dig to 6-8 feet to find Addie’s remains. The “freeze line” in Wisconsin is 3-4 feet, and in case of contagious disease, periodical literature recommended that a grave be dug “extra deep” as a protection. Plus, grave robbing was a problem in the late 1800s, and the six-foot depth offered some protection against that.This was NOT a professional grave digger. It’s more likely that this was someone’s hired man, who got tired and stopped at 34″ (or as the sun was rising). On June 19th, 1901, the sun rose at 4:11 am. A professional grave digger would not have stopped at 34″. But whomever buried Addie, put her coffin in the dirt as soon as there was enough clearance to put a layer of topsoil over the grave. After all, who would ever know?

11) The most compelling piece: Addie was wearing her shoes in that grave. The obit says she died at 2:00 am after a valiant struggle with this awful disease and was buried immediately. How many people wear shoes in their sick bed?

12) And a bonus question. If you look at the burial permits (pictured below), you’ll see that the secretary of the cemetery was Robert Fargo (aka “Uncle Bob”). He also happened to be one of Enoch’s neighbors there on Mulberry Street. It would have been very easy to rouse Uncle Bob from his bed at 2:00 am and tell him, “Addie has died. We need to bury her before the sun rises. Can you get us a burial permit immediately?”

Surely, Uncle Bob could have arranged that.

Why didn’t Enoch do that?

To read more about Addie’s exhumation, click here.

To read more about how we know she did NOT die of diphtheria, click here.

on

This snippet appeared in the "Report of the State Board of Health" for Wisconsin and covered the the time period during which Addie Hoyt allegedly died of diphtheria.

on

This statement, taken from the above text and penned by Oatway, says that if there was a case of diphtheria in his town (Lake Mills), it *would* be reported.

one

Unless you're paid off to falsify a death certificate...

burial

Stats on diphtheria deaths, as seen in the 1899-1900 "Report of the State Board of Health." In smaller towns, the mortality rate from diphtheria was much less than the statewide average of 13%, and was closer to 9%. In Milwaukee (Wisconsin's largest town with 280,000 residents), the mortality rate was closer to 16.75%.

Addie

Actually, Addie was born in January 1872. Sheesh.

page two

At the bottom, it does say Addie had a funeral, but that would have been logistically problematic. Dead at two, buried by 10, how did they notify people? Typical Victorian funerals were grandiose affairs; the wealthier the better! More on that below.

Addies death certificate, allegedly falsified by Dr. Oatway.

Under the date (June 1901), Addie's death certificate reads, "Burial Permit #32." State law demanded accuracy in reporting of birth certificates and burial permits. He would be required to lie again when he submitted his written report to the state of Wisconsin.

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This burial permit (#21) is dated May 1st, and the death occurred the day before - April 30th.

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Addie's should have been permit #22 (judging by the date). But "John Smith" died on June 26th, and this burial permit was dated June 27th. Addie died on June 19, 1901.

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As mentioned above, burial permits were required for every grave that was opened. This burial permit was for a stillborn baby (unnamed). As cemetery sexton Bill Hartwig explained, a burial permit was required for every grave - no exceptions. This was the only permit I saw that had the same permit date and death date. In the case of an unnamed, stillborn child, the logistics involved in burial were very different.

Page one of Dr. Bentleys report from Portage, WI. This covered all of 1901.

From the State Board of Health Report, this is the first page one of Dr. Bentley's report from Portage, WI. This covered all of 1901. Page two continues below.

stealth

Dr. Bentley's report on Portage, second page (see top).

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Theres no doubt that life with Enoch took a toll on Addie.

Life with Enoch took a toll on Addie. She was 29 here.

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And why would a woman - who prided herself on her appearance - send this photo to her brother-in-law in Denver? I am confiident she wanted them to know what was happening to her in Lake Mills.

And why would a woman - who prided herself on her appearance - send this photo to her family in Denver? Did she want them to know what was happening to her in Lake Mills?

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Addie: Before and After Enoch. The photo on the right was taken five years after her marriage to Enoch. She was 29 years old, and shed be dead soon after this photo was taken.

Addie: Before and After Enoch. The photo on the right was taken five years after her marriage to Enoch. She was 29 years old, and she'd be dead soon after this photo was taken. Look at her receding hairline and swollen lower lip. Her "cupid's bow" is now misaligned, and there's pronounced puffiness under her right eye.

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Look at that waist-line!  Good thing I wasnt around then. That wasp-waist thing wouldnt have worked for me. Id have to say that my shape is more reminiscent of an egg than a wasp.

I'm comforted to know that Addie had some happy days at the mansion.

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The fam sitting in front of the house in Lake Mills, WI. Enoch is at the top, with Addie below him. Enochs two daughters are Elsie and Mattie.

The fam sitting in front of the house in Lake Mills, WI. Enoch is at the top, with Addie below him. Enoch's two daughters are Elsie (top right) and Mattie (lower right). Elsie (1876-1959) married a McCammon. Mattie (1883-1956) became Mattie Fargo Raber.

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close-up

close-up

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Fluffy plays with Addie

Addie loved cats.

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Addies little

Was this what the well-dressed, sick-in-bed diphtheria patient wore in 1901? Based on the remnants found in Addie's grave, these were probably similar to the shoes that Addie was wearing (and was buried with) when she died in June 1901.

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Addie was exhumed on November 3, 2011. She will not be returning to Lake Mills.

Addie was exhumed on November 3, 2011. She will not be returning to Lake Mills. After the autopsy is complete, Addie's remains will be coming home with me.

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Addies grave was empty by 12:00 noon.

Addie's grave was empty by 12:00 noon.

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Addie in 1886 (about 14 years old).

Addie in 1886 (about 14 years old).

Addie - close-up

Addie - close-up

Addie and her sister, Anna Hoyt (my great-grandmother).

Addie and her sister, Anna Hoyt (my great-grandmother).

Addie in 1894, about 18 months before she married Enoch.

Addie in 1894, about 18 months before she married Enoch.

Addie in her traveling clothes

Addie in her traveling clothes

To read more about Addie’s death, click here.

Update as of 11:33 pm on November 24, 2011: Click here and read the comment by SteveWO:

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Lustron Homes

June 30th, 2011 Sears Homes 1 comment

“Never before has America seen a house like this,” read a 1949 advertisement for the Lustron, also hailed as “the house of the future.”

The Lustron was an all-steel house, with walls made of 2×2 20-gage metal panels, with a porcelain enamel finish. The roof was porcelain enamel steel, and unlike traditional roofing shingles, has a lifespan of at least 60 years (and perhaps much more).

The modest ranches were designed and created by entrepreneur Carl Strandlunds to help deal with the severe housing shortage after World War II. Unfortunately, Lustrons never became very popular. Three years after the company first started (in 1947), it went into bankruptcy. Sixty years later, there’s still much debate about the reasons for the company’s collapse. The debate over the reasons for Lustron’s demise because a topic for a fascinating documentary.

About 2,500 Lustrons were created.

Quantico, Virginia was home to the largest collection of Lustrons in the country, but those 60 houses are now gone. Some were moved, most were demolished. Turns out those macho Marines at Quantico weren’t too keen on living in a pink house! (The houses were offered in pink, blue, brown and yellow.)

On the inside walls of the Lustrons, nails could not be used. Instead, magnets are used to hang pictures. The porcelain enamel finish on the 2×2 panels is tough, which makes re-painting the panels virtually impossible. The Lustron (seen below) in Danville, Virginia was painted, and it’s trying hard to shed this second skin.

Painting a Lustron is akin to painting the top of your grandma’s 1965 Lady Kenmore washing machine. Painting porcelain enamel never works out too well.

Lustron in Danville

Lustron in Danville, Virginia

Lustron

Close-up of the window on Danville's Lustron.

Lustron was based in Columbus, Ohio and not surprisingly, Columbus has an abundance of Lustrons.  These little post-WW2 prefabs were remarkable, strong and long-lasting houses - definitely ahead of their time. Finding this three-bedroom model in Elkins, WV was a special treat, as the three-bedroom Lustrons were very rare.

Lustron Home in Elkins, WV

Lustron Home in Elkins, WV

Close-up of 2x2 metal tiles on Lustron Walls.

Close-up of 2x2 metal tiles on Lustron Walls.

Lustron

Lustron in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The three-bedroom Lustrons were far less common than the two-bedroom Lustron. This one is in very good condition. Photo is courtesy of Rachel Shoemaker and may not be reproduced without permission.

Close-up

Close-up of Lustron wall and window. Homeowner has done a pretty good job of maintaining the home, with touched-up paint applied to exterior. When the porcelain enamel finish is nicked or chipped, it must be painted to prevent rusting of the steel panels. Photo is courtesy of Rachel Shoemaker and may not be reproduced without permission.

The steel roof on a Lustron outlasts contemporary roofing materials. These shingles are now 60 years old and still in excellent condition.

The steel roof on a Lustron outlasts contemporary roofing materials. These "shingles" are now 60 years old and still in excellent condition. Photo is courtesy of Rachel Shoemaker and may not be reproduced without permission.

The next Lustron is in Rocky Mount, NC. It’s been painted beige, but it should be draped in black for this little house should now be mourned. This little house has died, but the body hasn’t been buried yet. There is significant putrification occurring.

Very, very sad.

And heres a very sad little Lustron (post-WW2 prefab), suffering greatly from carbuncles of the skin. Lustrons were made with 2x2 20-gage metal panels, with a porcelain enamel coating. Painting a Lustron is exactly like trying to paint the top of a 1960s Lady Kenmore washing machine. Never a good idea.

This sad little Lustron appears to have died from carbuncles of the flesh. Lustrons were made with 2x2 20-gage metal panels, with a porcelain enamel coating. Never a good idea to paint a Lustron. There are about 2,500 Lustrons in the country, and they really were ahead of their time. It's heart-wrenching to see one of these remarkable homes abused and abandoned.

Too sad for words.

Too sad for words.

To learn more, I recommend Tom Fetters’ book, “Lustron Homes.” It can be found at Amazon.com

To read more about Sears Homes, click here.

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Our House, is a very, very, very nice house…

June 29th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

For a mere $287,900 you can be the happy owner of this beautiful little house.

Act now, and we’ll throw in a free set of steak knives!

Oh wait, that’s for something else.

Our beautiful pink houses are priced almost $60,000 below city assessment. Now that’s a swinging’ deal by anyone’s standards! The big house is mighty fine, but there’s a little house, too. It has a slate roof, second floor (storage) and it’s just darn cute.

House

Little house (address is 3916-1/2) has a floored attic, vintage windows and slate roof.

housie

Another view of the little house.

And I saved the best for last: The Perfect Pergola

Picture yourself in this swing! Feels delightful, doesn't it?

This old pink house has been faithfully restored to its original splendor, and has a high-efficiency gas boiler (94%+), high-efficiency central air (14 SEER) and a dazzling rainwater harvesting system. Enjoy the best of old-world craftsmanship together with the latest and greatest of modern technology. In short, you’ll have the unique pleasure of living in a beautiful old house with none of the environmental guilt. :)

House is 2,300 square feet with three bedrooms, 1-1/2 baths, with a large sunporch, full third floor and awesome basement.

Asking price is $287,900, which is $58,000+ below city assessment. If you’re interested in scheduling an appointment please contact the Realtor.

Ready for the tour? Enjoy the photos!

To read part two (more photos!), click here.

My old house foyer

The house on Gosnold is a classic Colonial Revival, right down to the details. The image on the left is the entry foyer at Gosnold Avenue. The image on the right is the cover of the book, "Colonial Style." Even the light fixture is the same. The rest of the details are also spot-on. Biggest different is, my rug is not as pretty as theirs.

door

And, we have an original ice box door, too. Back in the 1920s, this door provided access to the back of the icebox, so that the iceman could deliver a 25-pound block of ice to the ice box without entering the home. This was also known as "the jealous husband's door."

fam

The twin grandchildren of the home's builder (William Barnes) sit on the front stoop (mid-1950s). They were born and raised in this house. The home remained in the Barnes' family until 1971, when it was sold to new owners. Laura (on the left) supplied the family photos, which proved invaluable in the home's restoration.

housie

The house at 3916 Gosnold Avenue.

houaiw

Classic lines and high-quality workmanship make this a timeless beauty.

milk

On the back porch is this old "Milk Door," which provided a place for the milkman's deliveries, whether or not anyone was home (and/or awake!). A corresponding door in the pantry enabled the housewife to retrieve deliveries without stepping outside.

kitchen

The house has 32 windows, and 7 of them are in the kitchen. One of my favorite features in the kitchen are these many beautiful windows. The gas stove (left) is less than 30 days old. The dishwasher and fridge (both stainless steel) were new in March 2007.

ki

This spacious kitchen was remodeled in Spring 2007.

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The gas stove was installed less than a month ago. Still shiny new!

kitchen

Really big refrigerator does everything but serve you buttered toast in the morning.

living

The living room is awash in light with a western and eastern and southern exposure. The living room is 25 feet long and 13 feet wide.

dining room

The spacious dining room has four windows (six feet tall!) and has beautiful oak floors.

Entry foyer

Visitors to our home frequently comment on the beautiful foyer.

room

Original french doors to the living room and dining room are still in place.

And did you notice those shiny doorknobs on the french doors!

And did you notice those shiny doorknobs on the french doors!

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A view from the staircase.

house

Another view of the foyer.

rain

The house is also a gardener's delight, with provisions to collect and store more than 200 gallons of rain water.

garden

Your own private farm awaits: Tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, zucchini, strawberries, carrots and lettuce will be ready for harvest in about 30 days.

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Hubby does not convey. Usually.

Another view

Flowers in full bloom.

wow

And the world's most perfect strawberry, from my garden.

Finis!

Carrerra marble under radiator and toilet complement the hex flooring. Work was done in Spring 2010.

Bathroom pretty

Bathroom was restored to its original 1920s appearance.

House

This 1930s vintage thermostat works beautifully, controlling a 2011 high efficiency gas boiler.

New-old stock from eBay. Vintage doorbell installed in 2008, and it has a beautiful chime!

It's the little things that make an old house a special home. Vintage doorbell installed in 2008, and it has a beautiful chime!

view

Front entry foyer is 11 feet wide and 25 feet long.

Its done!

Spacious sunporch has built-in bookcases that are 9-feet tall.

attic

Even the attic is spacious and grand! And with a little back-lighting, these windows can scare the beejeebies out of the trick or treaters on Halloween night! If you look up, you'll see collar beams on all of the roof joists. The house is topped with Buckingham Slate (recently restored), which weighs 1,400 pounds per square (100 square feet).

uniquely large yard for Colonial Place

Private, off-street parking and a uniquely large yard for Colonial Place make 3916 Gosnold Avenue a quiet oasis amidst a sea of classic old houses.

Street view

View from the street.

Sideyard summertime view

Sideyard summertime view.

Another view

Another view of the pergola. Dog does not convey.

Another view of the pergola

Teddy the Dog wants to know if the new house will also have a dog swing like this one.

17 Really Good Reasons to Buy The Big Pink House

1) Low electric bills - average budget bill of $115/month (and we love our air conditioning!).

2) High-efficiency central air (14 SEER) with all new ductwork, and electrostatic air cleaner (installed October 2007).

3) High efficiency, top-of-the-line gas-fired boiler (94% efficient) installed March 2011.

4) Thorough restoration of original (Buckingham Slate) roof, with new copper flashing and copper cap at roof ridge. Roof repairs will be required again in 2085 (or so). (About 25% of all the construction debris found in landfills is roofing materials. Slate is the “greenest” roof in the world and with occasional maintenance, it can last forever.)

5) Seamless 6-inch (extra large) aluminum gutters and downspouts.

6) No worries about old plumbing! Entire house replumbed with new copper lines in 2007.

7) Electrical service updated (some new wiring and new panel) in Spring 2007.

8) Fresh paint, too! Two coats of Sherwin Williams Duration (25-year warranty) cover the home’s cypress clapboards.

9) Eleven new high-end replacement windows have been installed within the last two years. Windows on home’s front are original (to preserve architectural integrity).

10) “Move-in ready” for your favorite quadruped! Custom-built picket fence surrounds peaceful back yard.

11) Who doesn’t love a little house, especially one with a slate roof? “3916-1/2 Gosnold” is a custom-built “mini-house” with a 9′ ceiling, floored attic, built-in ladder and vintage windows.

12) When it’s time for the morning’s ablutions, step into the bath and back in time. Faithfully restored second-floor bath features porcelain sconces, vintage medicine chest, and a Kohler Memoirs sink, sitting atop a restored hex floor. Also has elegant wainscoting, Danze high-end faucets and solid brass vintage towel rack.

13) Modern kitchen is full of light with seven large windows, stainless steel appliances and a brand new Kenmore gas range (May 2011).

14) Harvest Time is nearly here! Tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, strawberries, zucchini and flowers thrive in three separate raised bed gardens in spacious back yard.

15) Handy rain-water harvesting system already in place for those thirsty plants, with more than 200 gallons of available storage.

16) Bibliophiles delight! Built-in bookcase on sunporch is more than 9′ tall and 6′ wide, with 27 sturdy shelves.

17) The house was custom built in 1925 by William Barnes, owner of one of Norfolk’s largest lumber yards. His grandchildren recall that he hand-selected every piece of framing lumber that went into the house. And it shows.

To schedule an appointment, leave a comment below or contact the Realtor.

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The #1 Creepiest Basement in America

June 29th, 2011 Sears Homes 2 comments

Between my career as an architectural historian, and my former career as a Realtor and landlord, not much surprises me these days.

Until Spring of 2008, that is, when I toured this beautiful custom-built Sears Home in an unnamed city.

The house was built by a prominent dentist in the early 1930s, and looking at the house from the outside, you’d never know that there was a home office in the basement of the house. When he passed on in the 1960s, his wife couldn’t bring herself to get rid of all the “stuff down there,” so it  became a monument of sorts.

As the owner of 3,297 amalgam fillings and two root canals (and the former owner of two now-absent teeth), me and my remaining teeth winced when I entered “The Home Office.”

Updated: I recently saw a television program that featured “antiquated dental equipment” and it showed this same exact set-up, with the scalloped edges on the old dental trays. Surprisingly, they dated it from “the mid-1910s.” So this equipment was - as I suspected - pretty darn old!

Ick.

There's so much going on here, I'm not sure where to start. The toaster oven on the desk is rather interesting. I wonder if that was used as a low-budget autoclave, or maybe Dr. Payne warmed up his frozen toaster strudel while waiting for the ether to take effect? There was some serious spooky karma in this basement. I have been known to ask my dentist, "How many people have perished whilst sitting in this very chair?" Looking at this rig, I wouldn't dare ask such a thing.

Lacy

I never understood the rationale behind these lacy ceramic trays. It's reminiscent of an afternoon tea table at your elderly Aunt's house, but you know nothing sweet or pretty or delicate was going on here on these lacy trays.

Ick.

Interesting color choices, eh? The bowl is "spittoon brown" and the frame is "tetanus turquoise."

a

If I saw a movie poster with this image plastered on it, I know that'd be one movie that I would NOT be watching. And I darn well know that if I walked into a dentist's office that looked like this, I'd decline that fellow's professional services. And then I'd run like hell.

Now just lean back and relax and open wide.  NOT.

Now just lean back and relax and open wide. NOT.

To learn about Sears Homes that don’t have creepy basements, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

To read something wonderful, click here.

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Was Aunt Addie shot in the head? (Part II) UPDATED!

June 28th, 2011 Sears Homes 7 comments

When I started writing these blogs in late June 2011, I was still learning vast amounts of new information every day.

The original blog that appeared on this page has been revised and updated, and below you’ll find a plethora of the most up-to-date information that I have available.

So, was Aunt Addie shot in the head? According to Mary Wilson’s book (A History of Lake Mills, published 1983), Addie was murdered by her husband, Enoch J. Fargo. A cover-up story was contrived (diphtheria) to hide the truth. Wilson also states that Addie’s physician, William Oatway, participated in the cover-up, falsifying Addie’s death certificate.

That’s the story. To read more about the background of this story, click here. (The autopsy was inconclusive. To read about that, click here.)

It looks like Mary Wilson was right. Below are the facts that we’ve discovered along the way.

1) Addie Hoyt Fargo was buried without a burial permit, and this was a violation of Wisconsin state law. The county health officer was Dr. Oatway, and as county health officer, he knew that failure to obtain a burial permit was a direct violation of state law. These laws had been created specifically to help track and mitigate the spread of contagious disease.

Yet on Addie’s death certificate, Dr. Oatway stated that a burial permit had been obtained, and it was “burial permit #32″ (see below). Permit #32 belonged to Alinda Hornily who died on March 26, 1902 (these permits were in chronological order).

The absence of a burial permit is very compelling evidence, and tells us, a) Oatway did falsify the death certificate, b) Oatway knowingly violated state law by signing off on the death certificate and then certifying it as true (while knowing it was false), c) A funeral director was not involved in Addie’s burial (or if he was, he was also complicit, because he knew the death certificate was a falsified document because there was no corresponding burial permit).

2) The burial permit was a STATE document, but the death certificate was NOT a state document. If a burial permit had listed diphtheria as the cause of death, the state *may* have investigated. When a contagious disease occurred, there were protocols required to prevent the spread of disease. For instance, state law required that a home be fumigated after death from contagious disease had occurred and personal possessions be burned or buried. A burial permit listing diphtheria as the cause of death would have raised a red flag. Oatway, entrusted with the position of County Health Officer knew this, so he lied on the death certificate and never obtained a burial permit for Addie. Doing this meant that the diphtheria story stayed local, and the information would probably not reach the state.

3) The State Board of Health (in Wisconsin) was formed in 1876 to track and mitigate the spread of contagious disease. Each county health officer had to answer this statement in his annual report: “Are the laws requiring the issuance of burial permits enforced?” Oatway, in 1901, stated that yes, the laws requiring the issuance of burial permits were enforced in Lake Mills.

4) Oatway, being a county health officer, also certified Addie’s death certificate, meaning he swore that it was true and accurate. That’s especially egregious.

5) In Addie’s obituary (probably written by Oatway), he goes on at length, describing Addie’s fast-acting Ninja Stealth Diphtheria as the most virulent, fast-acting strain he’d ever seen, that prevailed even in the face of aggressive treatment and modern medical care. It’s quite a prosaic obit, and the doctor is the saddened hero in the story.

6) SO it’s the most virulent strain, the fastest-acting strain, and no modern treatment could bring it into subjugation. And Addie was married to Lake Mill’s wealthiest resident, largest employer, and they were living in Lake Mills’ largest mansion. Yet a few months later, in his capacity of County Health Officer, when Oatway files his report with the State Board of Health, he reported that there were no cases of diphtheria in Lake Mills in 1901 (the year Addie died), and no deaths from diphtheria in 1901. Did Oatway lie when he wrote up Addie’s death certificate, or did he lie to the State Board of Health?

7) In the obit, Oatway opines that Addie probably contracted diphtheria during a recent trip to Portage. The newspaper reported she’d traveled to Portage for a convention on June 4th, 1901. Diphtheria germs don’t last longer than 1-4 days. And the county health officer in Portage reported that there were no case of diphtheria in Portage in 1901. There’s that stealth component again. Addie contracted diphtheria in a town with no diphtheria.

8 ) In the obit, Oatway says that Addie died 15 hours after onset, when the membrane formed in her throat, broke off and suffocated her. In the progression of diphtheria, this membrane doesn’t even start to form until 2-3 days after onset (according to the CDC), and children (its most frequent victims) died 4-6 days after onset (if the membrane was the cause of death). Typically, diphtheria killed adults when it settled into their heart and/or brain.

9) Diphtheria was not an automatic death sentence: Far from it, in fact. In 1900, in the state of Wisconsin, the death rate for a diphtheria victim was 13% state-wide, and 9% in small towns (population less than 2,000) and that number included children. If you could take children out of the mix, the rate would probably be less than half that. Children more than five, and adults under 40 had the best chance of surviving a bout of diphtheria. In other words, people Addie’s age (29) had the best chance of surviving diphtheria.

10) During the exhumation, we found that Addie was buried at 34″ which is incredibly shallow. This tells us that Addie’s grave was dug by someone who was not a professional grave digger, in part because of the depth, and in part because there was no burial permit. Before the exhumation, I consulted with several professionals in the funeral business, and they told me that I should be prepared to dig to 6-8 feet to find Addie’s remains. The “freeze line” in Wisconsin is 3-4 feet, and in case of contagious disease, periodical literature recommended that a grave be dug “extra deep” as a protection. Plus, grave robbing was a problem in the late 1800s, and the six-foot depth offered some protection against that.This was NOT a professional grave digger. It’s more likely that this was someone’s hired man, who got tired and stopped at 34″ (or as the sun was rising). On June 19th, 1901, the sun rose at 4:11 am. A professional grave digger would not have stopped at 34″. But whomever buried Addie, put her coffin in the dirt as soon as there was enough clearance to put a layer of topsoil over the grave. After all, who would ever know?

11) The most compelling piece: Addie was wearing her shoes in that grave. The obit says she died at 2:00 am after a valiant struggle with this awful disease and was buried immediately. How many people wear shoes in their sick bed?

12) And a bonus question. If you look at the burial permits (pictured below), you’ll see that the secretary of the cemetery was Robert Fargo (aka “Uncle Bob”). He also happened to be one of Enoch’s neighbors there on Mulberry Street. It would have been very easy to rouse Uncle Bob from his bed at 2:00 am and tell him, “Addie has died. We need to bury her before the sun rises. Can you get us a burial permit immediately?”

Surely, Uncle Bob could have arranged that.

Why didn’t Enoch do that?

To read more about Addie’s exhumation, click here.

To read more about how we know she did NOT die of diphtheria, click here.

on

This snippet appeared in the "Report of the State Board of Health" for Wisconsin and covered the the time period during which Addie Hoyt allegedly died of diphtheria.

on

This statement, taken from the above text and penned by Oatway, says that if there was a case of diphtheria in his town (Lake Mills), it *would* be reported.

one

Unless you're paid off to falsify a death certificate...

burial

Stats on diphtheria deaths, as seen in the 1899-1900 "Report of the State Board of Health." In smaller towns, the mortality rate from diphtheria was much less than the statewide average of 13%, and was closer to 9%. In Milwaukee (Wisconsin's largest town with 280,000 residents), the mortality rate was closer to 16.75%.

Addie

Actually, Addie was born in January 1872. Sheesh.

page two

At the bottom, it does say Addie had a funeral, but that would have been logistically problematic. Dead at two, buried by 10, how did they notify people? Typical Victorian funerals were grandiose affairs; the wealthier the better! More on that below.

Addies death certificate, allegedly falsified by Dr. Oatway.

Under the date (June 1901), Addie's death certificate reads, "Burial Permit #32." State law demanded accuracy in reporting of birth certificates and burial permits. He would be required to lie again when he submitted his written report to the state of Wisconsin.

word

This burial permit (#21) is dated May 1st, and the death occurred the day before - April 30th.

word

Addie's should have been permit #22 (judging by the date). But "John Smith" died on June 26th, and this burial permit was dated June 27th. Addie died on June 19, 1901.

wor

As mentioned above, burial permits were required for every grave that was opened. This burial permit was for a stillborn baby (unnamed). As cemetery sexton Bill Hartwig explained, a burial permit was required for every grave - no exceptions. This was the only permit I saw that had the same permit date and death date. In the case of an unnamed, stillborn child, the logistics involved in burial were very different.

Page one of Dr. Bentleys report from Portage, WI. This covered all of 1901.

From the State Board of Health Report, this is the first page one of Dr. Bentley's report from Portage, WI. This covered all of 1901. Page two continues below.

stealth

Dr. Bentley's report on Portage, second page (see top).

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Theres no doubt that life with Enoch took a toll on Addie.

Life with Enoch took a toll on Addie. She was 29 here.

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And why would a woman - who prided herself on her appearance - send this photo to her brother-in-law in Denver? I am confiident she wanted them to know what was happening to her in Lake Mills.

And why would a woman - who prided herself on her appearance - send this photo to her family in Denver? Did she want them to know what was happening to her in Lake Mills?

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Addie: Before and After Enoch. The photo on the right was taken five years after her marriage to Enoch. She was 29 years old, and shed be dead soon after this photo was taken.

Addie: Before and After Enoch. The photo on the right was taken five years after her marriage to Enoch. She was 29 years old, and she'd be dead soon after this photo was taken. Look at her receding hairline and swollen lower lip. Her "cupid's bow" is now misaligned, and there's pronounced puffiness under her right eye.

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Look at that waist-line!  Good thing I wasnt around then. That wasp-waist thing wouldnt have worked for me. Id have to say that my shape is more reminiscent of an egg than a wasp.

I'm comforted to know that Addie had some happy days at the mansion.

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The fam sitting in front of the house in Lake Mills, WI. Enoch is at the top, with Addie below him. Enochs two daughters are Elsie and Mattie.

The fam sitting in front of the house in Lake Mills, WI. Enoch is at the top, with Addie below him. Enoch's two daughters are Elsie (top right) and Mattie (lower right). Elsie (1876-1959) married a McCammon. Mattie (1883-1956) became Mattie Fargo Raber.

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close-up

close-up

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Fluffy plays with Addie

Addie loved cats.

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Addies little

Was this what the well-dressed, sick-in-bed diphtheria patient wore in 1901? Based on the remnants found in Addie's grave, these were probably similar to the shoes that Addie was wearing (and was buried with) when she died in June 1901.

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Addie was exhumed on November 3, 2011. She will not be returning to Lake Mills.

Addie was exhumed on November 3, 2011. She will not be returning to Lake Mills. After the autopsy is complete, Addie's remains will be coming home with me.

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Addies grave was empty by 12:00 noon.

Addie's grave was empty by 12:00 noon.

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Addie in 1886 (about 14 years old).

Addie in 1886 (about 14 years old).

Addie - close-up

Addie - close-up

Addie and her sister, Anna Hoyt (my great-grandmother).

Addie and her sister, Anna Hoyt (my great-grandmother).

Addie in 1894, about 18 months before she married Enoch.

Addie in 1894, about 18 months before she married Enoch.

Addie in her traveling clothes

Addie in her traveling clothes

To read more about Addie’s death, click here.

Update as of 11:33 pm on November 24, 2011: Click here and read the comment by SteveWO:

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Growing Up in Waterview (Portsmouth)

June 27th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

In 1953, my father took a job at Skippy Peanut Butter in downtown Portsmouth, necessitating a move from their home (and family)in California to Virginia. They rented homes in Park Manor and then in Shea Terrace, and then they decided it was time to buy a home of their own. In April 1957, they paid $17,500 for a house in Waterview, at 515 Nansemond Street. They used my mother’s veteran’s benefits to get a 15-year VA mortgage on the house.

Mom didn’t like the kitchen in the new house. The only cabinet space was a six-foot wide enameled metal base cabinet with a cast-iron double sink in the center. There was a drawer to the left and right, and four doors under the sink. It was pretty primitive. My mother took $500 of her own money and hired a carpenter to build a room full of knotty pine cabinets with wrought iron hardware. Yellowish/greenish Formica with a non-descript squiggly pattern (trimmed with a stainless steel edging) was the finishing touch. She also bought a fancy new GE electric stove with push-buttons on the console. The result was transformative, and after the work was all done, she came to love her “new” kitchen.

Mom spent a lot of time sitting on her screened-in porch, looking out at the spacious side yard. The sturdy canvas awnings with their scalloped edges together with the thick canopy of the tall pines provided a bit of relief on those hot summer days.

Whether Mom was relaxing on the porch or walking around the house, she’d often tell me, “I’m so grateful to live in this big beautiful house. Just so grateful.”

Hearing such things from a parent can have a deep and lasting impact on a child. My mother taught me how to love and appreciate old houses, and yet, it was not one of those “I’m teaching my child an important lesson here” moments. It was an abundance of love and gratitude that overflowed from her heart and right into mine. Her comments touched me deeply. In fact, I’d say it’s probably the main reason that I became an architectural historian.

I love old houses. I love everything about them. I love thinking about them and writing about them.

I’m so blessed to have a career where I can spend my days thinking about and writing about old houses.

And I’ve enjoyed having an old house of my own. It’s been a fun ride. And now it’s time to move on.

Enjoy the old photos!  :)

E

Eddie licks the beaters (always a fun thing to do) while standing in front of the original kitchen cabinet. When the house was built in 1925, this base cabinet, together with a small matching wall cabinet (to the right) were the only cabinets in the entire kitchen.

Eddie and my father in the kitchen.

Eddie and my father in the kitchen. You can see a bit of this "remodeled kitchen" in the background.

F

My mother looking happy in her beloved home. Tommy Fuller, Jr. stands behind Tom Fuller Sr (seated), and Rickey is setting fire to something on the table. Both parents have a hand on Eddie to keep him still long enough for the shutter to click.

The two oldest boys got shiny new bikes in Summer 1959, and Eddie (the youngest boy) got a new baby sister. Im pretty sure he would have preferred a red bike.

The two oldest boys got shiny new bikes in Summer 1959, and Eddie (the youngest boy) got a new baby sister. I'm pretty sure he would have preferred a red bike. The look on his face says it all. Great shot of our living room and foyer - and a stunned little brother.

Mom

Mom holds me up and away from the male land sharks.

o

Good picture of the fan light over the front door. Dad and I look very worried.

Ed

Eddie tries desperately to make the noise stop. I'm not sure, but I think he's offering me a corn dog. Judging by the look on my face, I'm giving the offer some serious consideration.

Eddie goes to sleep under the watchful eye of Lil Bo Peep and Bugs Bunny. I saw this same Lil Bo Peep applique in an episode of I Love Lucy, and it was over Little Rickeys crib. I guess Lil Bo Peep was a big item for boys in the mid-1950s.

Eddie goes to sleep under the watchful eye of Lil' Bo Peep and Bugs Bunny. I saw this same Lil' Bo Peep applique in an episode of "I Love Lucy," and it was over "Little Rickey's" crib. I guess Lil' Bo Peep was a big item for boys in the mid-1950s.

Were probably in that 45-minute period, waiting for the TV to warm up.

We're probably in that boring 45-minute period, where we'd sit around and wait for the TV to warm up.

B

Rickey, Eddie and Tommy, about 1960.

J

Neighborhood kids gather for Rickey's 9th birthday party. That's me in the lower right, hoping that someone with more advanced neuro-muscular skills will turn my teddy bear right-side up.

aw

The tall trees and canvas awnings worked together to keep the worst of the summer heat off Mom's favorite "room" - the sunporch.

picture

Our house on Nansemond in 1973, following a big snowstorm. Photo was taken by Gerald B. Anderson and may not be used or reproduced without permission.

My family home in Waterview (Portsmouth) as seen in April 1956, when we moved in.

My family home in Waterview (Portsmouth) as seen in April 1957, when we moved in.

Pretty in pink

Our house, is a very, very, very nice house. With no cats and a dog, life used to be so hard...Oh wait, that's something else. Here's our house in Norfolk - a 1925 Colonial Revival pretty in pink.

Our home as it appeared in 1948.

Our home as it appeared in 1948.

To learn more about Gosnold Avenue, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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Was Aunt Addie shot in the head? (UPDATED)

June 27th, 2011 Sears Homes 1 comment

This blog was originally written June 26, 2011. Since then, I’ve traveled to Lake Mills twice and I’ve learned a lot.

To answer the question, the results of Addie’s autopsy were inconclusive, but based on other evidence that’s been discovered, Addie apparently was murdered at the age of 29.  Seven months after her death, her husband (Enoch Fargo) had remarried the young woman who’d been living in the Fargo Mansion. To learn more about this, click here.

My adventure into this Addie Hoyt story began with an ending: My father’s.

Friday morning at 2:35 am, after sitting at his bedside for some time, my father breathed his last. In the solemn quietude of that darkened room, I walked over to my husband, sleeping on the nearby couch, and tried to wake him gently.

“I think he’s passed,” I whispered.

My husband sprang up, dashed into the bedroom and felt for a pulse.

“We should call the nurse,” he said.

It was Friday, June 10, 2011.

Three days later, I was back at the assisted living facility, cleaning it out. I was supposed to meet someone there who’d take on the task of getting everything out of the tiny apartment. He was instructed to remove every item and take it to Goodwill or to the trash.

Mr. Clean-up Guy was two hours late.

While I waited for him to show up, I grabbed the super-sized black trash bags I’d brought and started sorting through the massive pile of stuff. I came upon two books of old photo albums. I flipped open one of them and saw a horse wearing a doily.

“What is this?” I thought to myself.

I didn’t know if he’d found it on a trash pile somewhere or had purchased it somewhere - or worse - maybe it belonged to his second wife’s family. I assumed the latter, and threw the 100-year-old photo albums right into the trash. I was overwhelmed and tired.

A few minutes went by and I got to thinking about those two albums. The historian in me couldn’t stand it. I retrieved them from their dark resting place.

And then after looking through the photo albums a second time, I threw them out again.

And then I cried.

Why was nothing going right? Where was Mr. Clean-up guy? Why couldn’t God give me a break? I’d just learned that I was going to be the one delivering the eulogy at my father’s funeral. I was the one organizing the funeral. I was the one who’d sat with him those last two weeks, helping him make the transition from this world to the next. And now I was the one who was cleaning this debris-laden apartment. I felt very alone. And I didn’t have the emotional energy to deal with my father’s crazy collection of paperwork, ephemera and photo albums.

I cried some more. And then I called a friend, Lisa Gould, and asked for her help.

“I’m melting,” I told her. “I’m losing it. Please come sit with me and hold my hand.”

Lisa appeared at the door within 15 minutes and gave me one of the greatest hugs of all time and said, “It’s okay, Honey. You’re not alone.

She stayed there with me for three hours. I’d like to say she helped me clean out the place but that’s not true. Lisa did all the cleaning while I sat on the couch and fought the temptation to curl up in a corner in the fetal position and make soft whimpering noises.

In the end, I tossed those photo albums into a maroon pillow case. I had not come prepared to take anything home, so those pillow cases were the best I could do. And later that evening when I arrived home, that maroon pillow case got tossed on the floor of my hallway until I had the emotional energy to deal with it.

My father’s funeral was Monday, June 20th. Once that was behind me, I felt ready to push on with life.

My daughter came to my home on Tuesday (the 21st) for a visit. I handed her the photo albums and said, “I have no idea who these people are, but these photos are pretty interesting. She took one of the albums home to show her significant other, Chris.

“He likes looking at old pictures like this,” she told me.

“You might as well take it,” I told her. “I was just going to throw them out. In fact I still don’t know what on earth I’m going to do with them.”

On Friday, June 24th, I scanned a few photos from the album and sent them to my friend and neighbor David Spriggs and asked, “How do I find out who these people are?”

There was one lone clue on the back of the first photo. It said,

Addie Hoyt and Enoch

Fargo

On their wedding day

1896.

My grandmother was born in Lead, South Dakota in 1891, so I assumed that “Fargo” was the location.

David wrote back a few hours later and said, “Fargo is not the location. It’s the last name. Your aunt lived in a small city in Wisconsin…”

And that’s how this adventure began.

To read more about Addie’s death, click here.

To read the latest on Addie’s death, click here.

To read about the results of the autopsy, click here.

To learn about Sears Homes, click here.

These were fancy people living a fancy life. As my daughter Crystal pointed out, even the horse is wearing a doily!

This was the first picture my eyes fell upon when I opened the old album.

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Addie in her bedroom at the Fargo Mansion.

And this was one of the photos that convinced me to hang onto this photo album. The detail and the clarity of this photo really was breath-taking. I had a feeling that whomever owned this mansion today would love to see these incredible photos. Turns out, this is Addie sitting in her bedroom (about 1896).

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The Fargo Mansion in the late 1890s.

This was another photo that compelled me to hang onto the album. Again, as an architectural historian, I knew that SOMEONE would love to know what their home looked like in the late 1890s. Little did I know...

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My father in January 1943.

My father - Thomas Hoyt Fuller - in January 1943. He was named after Addie's side of the family, and also named for a more distant relative, "Thomas Hoyt," who was a revolutionary war hero.

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Before Enoch, Addie was a beautiful, vibrant, strong woman.

Before Enoch, Addie was a beautiful, vibrant, strong woman. She was 24 years old when she married him; he was 46. Seven months after her death, he remarried Martha Harbeck Hoyt, a woman that had been living in the Fargo Mansion prior to Addie's death.

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Ad

Enoch Fargo should have come with a surgeon general's warning. Being married to him was obviously very hard on a woman's health, physical well-being and even their life. Here are two photos of Enoch's first wife - Mary Rutherford Fargo. She died at the age of 37 (allegedly from Typhoid), so in this picture on the right she can not be more than 37 years old. Poor Mary.

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The

And here's a picture of Addie, in 1896 (on her wedding day), and a scant five years later. Life with Enoch took a toll on both wives, and according to Mary Wilson, being married to Enoch not only took away Addie's youth, vigor and beauty; it also took away her very life.

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Addie

What does Addie's body language tell us here? I'd love to know.

To read more about Addie, click here.

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Beautify Your Premises with a Sears Kit Pergola!

June 26th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

For a mere $83.70, you can beautify your premises with this graceful, imposing pergola. The text (see below) promises that everything is pre-cut and “ready to put together!”

This image came from the 1921 Sears Building Materials catalog, and I just fell in love with it. I’ve seen a few pergolas like this - randomly placed in a back yard - and they’re all stunning.

And it’s an easy-to-build kit!

Awesome. Just awesome.

My own pergola (built by my nice-guy husband) is shown below.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

text

Pergola as shown in the 1921 Building Materials catalog.

text

It is indeed a thing of beauty! (1921 Sears Building Materials catalog)

p

And it only weighs 1,200 pounds!

And I saved the best for last: The Perfect Pergola

The pergola built by Wayne Ringer is a thing of beauty!

To read another article, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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The Hoyt Sisters of Wisconsin

June 26th, 2011 Sears Homes 1 comment

As mentioned in a prior post, two weeks ago, I cleaned out the apartment at my father’s assisted living facility and found a photo album from the late 1800s, full of people that I didn’t recognize. The most significant clue was these few words scribbled on the back of one photo (first photo below). It said, “Enoch and Addie Hoyt Fargo on their wedding day, 1896.”

My great-grandmother’s maiden name was Hoyt, so I figured I had to be related to these folks - somehow.

Friday morning (June 24, 2010), I posted the photos on Facebook, asking for ideas or suggestions on where to learn more. By Friday evening I had learned a lot, thanks to my friend and local historian David Spriggs.

We learned that Enoch Fargo and Addie Hoyt Fargo lived in Lake Mills, WI, and that Addie was his second wife. She was 22 years younger than Enoch, and only four years older than her eldest step-daughter! This was Addie’s first marriage and it was short-lived. She died in 1901, a mere five years after her wedding day. Born in 1872, she was only 29 years old when she died.

There were rumors that Addie did not die a natural death, but that Enoch had fallen in love with Addie’s even younger cousin, Martha Hoyt. It was Martha who provided nursing duties, and sat at Addie’s bedside as she lay dying.

Six weeks after young Addie died, Enoch married Martha. It caused quite a scandal at the time.

Martha fared better than the first two wives, and she outlived Enoch by 40 years. Enoch died in 1921. Martha (also known as Maddie), was born in 1873 and died in 1964.

As to my familial connection, Addie Hoyt and Anna Hoyt were sisters, and Anna Hoyt was my great-grandmother, so Addie Hoyt Fargo was my great, great Aunt. Anna Hoyt ended up marrying Wilbur W. Whitmore and landed in Denver, Colorado. This photo album that I found amongst my father’s treasured possessions was inscribed, “A Merry Christmas, to Wilbur, from Addie.” I’m not sure why Addie gave a photo album to her brother-in-law, but apparently she did. (To see photos of Anna and Wilbur, click here.)

Anna and Addie had a baby brother, Eugene B. Hoyt (1874-1850) that never married. Anna died four months shy of her 100th birthday (1866-1966).  It would seem that poor Addie died about 70 years before her time.

In short, the Fullers (of which I am one) are probably Addie Hoyt Fargo’s closest living relatives.

Thanks to David Spriggs’, I learned that Addie and Enoch’s house is in Lake Mills, WI and is still standing. In fact, it’s now a Bed and Breakfast. And thanks to Mark Hardin for finding those birth/death dates!

Friday night, I talked with the owners of the B&B and told them about my amazing shoebox discovery! They provided some history on the family and Enoch’s three wives. And as always, please leave a comment if you know anything more!

Enoch Fargo and his bride, Addie Hoyt Fargo. This is labeled as their wedding photo from 1896.

Enoch Fargo and his bride, Addie Hoyt Fargo. This is labeled as their wedding photo from 1896. Addie was 22 years younger than Enoch. This was her first marriage, his second. He had two daughters, the oldest of which was four years younger than Addie. Addie died a mere five years after this picture was taken. Addie Hoyt Fargo would have been my great-great Aunt. I wish Uncle Enoch had remembered (or foreknown me) in his will!

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Addie

When I first started looking at these photos, I thought that Addie had it all. Here she was, a beautiful young woman married to an older wealthy gent. He moved her into the family home, a Victorian manse built in 1881. Hers was a life of wealth, privilege, comfort and opulence - for a time. According to local lore, Addie's death was suspicious, and Enoch was in love with Addie's cousin, Martha. The fact that he remarried six weeks after Addie died is more than a little questionable. Addie died at 29 years old.

Close-up

Addie was a beautiful young woman and she would have been 24 years old in this photo. Her new husband was 46 at the time of their marriage.

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Addie Hoyt Enoch was my grandmothers sister. Heres a picture of Annie Hoyt Whitmore from 1910. Annie, born in 1866, would have been 44 years old in this photo. This picture hangs in my formal dining room.

Addie Hoyt Fargo and Anna Hoyt Whitmore were sisters, and Anna Hoyt Whitmore was my great-grandmother. Here's a picture of Annie Hoyt Whitmore from 1910. Annie, born in 1866, would have been 44 years old in this photo. Annie lived to be 99 years old, dying four months shy of her 100th birthday. This picture hangs in my formal dining room.

Close-up of Anna Hoyt (sister of Addie)

Close-up of Anna Hoyt (sister of Addie)

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Anna (left) was 44 in this photo. Addie (right) was 24 in this photo.

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later

This photo - from 1922 - shows Wilbur and Anna Hoyt Whitmore taking their twin grandsons out for a ride. My father is sitting with Wilbur and my Uncle Ed is sitting with his maternal grandmother, Anna Hoyt Whitmore (Addie's sister).

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twin

Anna Hoyt Whitmore (left) holds Edgar A. Fuller (Junior) and Wilbur holds Thomas (my father). This picture is about 1921. At this time, the families were still living in Denver. It's incredible to think that Anna Hoyt Whitmore lived another 45 years after this photo was taken.

Anna Hoyt Whitmore married Wilbur W. Whitmore and they had three children - Florence, Victor and Ernie. Ernie died at the age of six, and there are no photos (that Ive found) of Victor. Ernie was the eldest. This is a photo of Florence Whitmore Fuller, my paternal grandmother.

Anna Hoyt and Wilbur W. Whitmore and they had three children - Florence, Victor and Ernie. Ernie died at the age of six, and there are no photos (that I've found) of Victor. Ernie was the eldest. This is a photo of Florence Whitmore Fuller, my paternal grandmother, and the daughter of Anna Hoyt Whitmore. Florence was the mother of the twins (pictured above).

Ernie Eugene Hoyt, brother of Victor and Florence. He was born in 1886 and died in 1894. This photograph was apparently taken shortly before he died.

Ernie Eugene Whitmore, brother of Victor and Florence. He was born in 1886 and died in 1894. This photograph was apparently taken shortly before he died. In 1894, Anna Hoyt Whitmore buried her six-year-old son, and seven years later, her beloved sister died at the age of 29.

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The fam sitting in front of the house in Lake Mills, WI. Enoch is at the top, with Addie below him. Enochs two daughters are Elsie and Mattie.

The Fargo family sitting in front of the house in Lake Mills, WI. Enoch is at the top, with Addie below him. Enoch's two daughters are Elsie (top right) and Mattie (lower right). Elsie (1876-1959) married a McCammon. Mattie (1883-1956) became Mattie Fargo Raber.

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The Fargo Mansion, photographed in 1896, about 15 years after it was built.

The Fargo Mansion, photographed in 1896, about 15 years after it was built.

Another view of The Fargo Mansion

Another view of The Fargo Mansion, built 1881.

If you know any more about the Hoyts or Whitmores, please leave me a note!

To read about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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