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Who is Addie to Me?

September 30th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

One of the questions I’m most frequently asked is, “How are you related to Addie?”

When I gave my talk in Lake Mills on September 4th, I explained this in some detail, and perhaps it’d be a good idea to do that here, as well.

My great-great grandfather was Homer Hoyt, born in Vermont about 1840. In the early 1860s, he moved to Lake Mills, and met the woman who’d become my great-great grandmother, Julia Hawley Hoyt.

Homer Hoyt at age 17 (late 1850s or early 1860s)

Homer Hoyt was my great-great grandfather. He's pictured here at age 17 (about 1858). Homer was front Vermont, but by 1870, Homer and his wife (Julia) were living in the Lake Mills (Wisconsin) area.

Homer and his wife Julia had three children: Anna, Addie and Eugene.

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Homer and Julia had two daughters and one son. Pictured above are their two daughters, Anna Hoyt (left) and Addie Hoyt (right). Anna was 44 in this photo. Addie (right) was 24. The photo on the left was taken in 1910, and the photo on the right was 1896.

Homer and Julia’s son (Eugene) was an itinerant machinist and never married and never had children.

Anna M

Anna met and married this man, Wilbur W. Whitmore in Lake Mills. She and Wilbur moved to Denver soon after their marriage. She remained there until 1939, when Wilbur died. In the early 1940s, Anna moved to Santa Monica, California, to be with her daughter.

Addie married Enoch Fargo.

Addie married Enoch Fargo in 1896, and remained in Lake Mills until her death in 1901. Addie and Enoch never had children. Enoch had three daughters by his first wife, Mary Rutherford. Two of them survived to adulthood, and also had children.

Ernie

Anna Hoyt Whitmore and Wilbur Whitmore had three children, Ernie (shown above), Victor, and Florence (my grandmother). Ernie was six years old in this photo, and he died shortly after this picture was taken. He was born in 1888 and died in 1894.

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Florence Whitmore was Anna's daughter, and she married a tall thin gent named Edgar Atkinson Fuller. Florence is pictured here in 1922. She was born in 1891.

Baby Boys in 1919

Florence and Edgar had only two children: Thomas Hoyt Fuller (left) and Edgar A. Fuller, Junior (right). The twins were born June 13, 1919. Thomas Hoyt Fuller was named after his grandmother's side of the family. Florence's brother Victor never had children, and Ernie died at six years old. The twins were the only great-grandchildren of Homer and Julia Hawley Hoyt.

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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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Thomas Hoyt Fuller (left) and Edgar Atkinson Fuller (right) about 1943.

The Fuller Twins in 1982.

The Fuller Twins in 1979.

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In 1947, Tom Fuller married Betty Mae Brown of Berkeley and they had four children.

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Betty Mae and Tom Fuller in 1960.

Dad

I'm pictured here are me with my father and three brothers, Rick, Tommy and Eddie at the Hoover Dam (1966). Notice my eldest brother Tom has a shirt made of fabric that matches my short little dress. My mother was an accomplished seamstress, and often made our clothes.

On June 10, 2011, my father died, three days shy of his 92nd birthday.

On June 10, 2011, my father died, three days shy of his 92nd birthday. It was while I was cleaning out his apartment in an assisted living facility that I found the photos of Addie and Enoch Fargo. (Photo is courtesy of Dave Chance and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

My father (Thomas Hoyt Fuller), had four children, of which I am one. My Uncle Ed had two daughters, one of whom has passed on.  My cousin and my three brothers and myself are the only great-great grandchildren of Homer and Julia Hoyt.

To read more about Addie, click here.

To learn about Sears Homes, click here.

If you’d like to help in the quest to learn what happened to Addie, please leave a comment below.

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Our President’s Retreat at Pine Knob (105 years ago)

September 29th, 2011 Sears Homes 2 comments

By today’s standards, Teddy Roosevelt’s presidential retreat would be described as extremely primitive. Situated on a 15-acre parcel in the Piedmont area of Virginia it was known as “Pine Knob,” and lacked indoor plumbing and electricity.

The amazing story of this “new” retreat first appeared in the Spring 1906 issue of American Carpenter and Builder. The article included photos about the new presidential retreat, built for president Theodore Roosevelt (26th president, 1901-1909).

Apparently, Pine Knob was close to the Virginia/West Virginia border, near Harrisonburg, Virginia. I’ve also included photos of the staff, and they were a pretty rugged looking group, and no one had matching uniforms. And where’s the Secret Service?

Actually, I think the security staff is comprised of the quadrupeds, otherwise known and described as bloodhounds.

I’ll bet the cell service out there was miserable. Oh wait, they didn’t have cell towers. In fact, the article below says they didn’t even have PHONE LINES.

Update! Mark Hardin found a contemporary website dedicated to preserving the history of this rustic retreat and found that the proper name as not Pine Knob, but Pine KNOT (which makes a lot more sense). Thanks, Mark!!

To learn more about life in the early 1900s, click here.

To read about Addie Hoyt, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

To read part II of this piece (and see more photos), click here.

Exterior of the Presidential Retreat.

Exterior of the Presidential Retreat. I don't think this would have ever made the cover of "Homes Beautiful."

Interior of the retreat. Note the wood-burning stove.

Interior of the "retreat." Note the wood-burning stove and very primitive furnishings.

The staff is fairly rustic, too.

The staff is fairly rustic, too.

Close-up of the crew at Pine Knob

Close-up of the staff at Pine Knob

Another close-up

Another close-up

Last of three slices of the original photo.

Last of three slices of the original photo.

Original article as it appeared in the 1906 American Carpenter and Builder magazine.

Original article as it appeared in the 1906 American Carpenter and Builder magazine.

part 2 of the original article

part 2 of the original article

And part 3

And part 3

part 4

part 4

And I found this in the December 1905 New York Times.

Whos Kermit?

And I always thought Kermit was a made-up name for a frog!

Part II of this story is here.

To learn about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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The Five Reasons

September 28th, 2011 Sears Homes 1 comment

Addie’s story has been picking up steam and gaining a wider audience. This ustream video - a recording of a talk I gave in Lake Mills - has had more than 700 hits (as of September 28, 2011).  In the last month, more than 7,000 people have come to my website to read about Addie.

It’s reassuring to know that so many people care about my great Aunt Addie, a beautiful 29-year-old woman, who was murdered by her husband in 1901.

And I’d like to share - with my readers - the reason that *I* am so interested in getting to the bottom of this story.

There are five primary reasons.

For starters, I’m a nut about history. And early 20th Century America is my favorite time period. When I wrote The Houses That Sears Built, I spent four years, buried in library basements across the Midwest doing research. And I loved it.

Reason #2: I grew up without grandparents or cousins or aunts or uncles (they all lived 3,000 miles away in California), and my whole life, I’ve yearned to know what it’s like to be part of an extended family. Learning about Addie and her family (my family) has helped assuage that powerful longing. Solving her murder (or at the very least, discovering the truth about this old legend) will also be very satisfying.

Reason #3: “All it takes for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing.” While it’s true that all the principals in this 110-year-old murder mystery are dead and buried, it’s also true that evil (especially something as dark and horrific as murder) needs to be exposed to the sunlight of truth. This evil has hidden in the dark shadows for long enough. It’s time to drag it out into the bright light and learn the truth and settle the question. Evil, regardless of its specific guise, needs to be unmasked and uncovered and destroyed.

Reason #4: Addie was my great-grandmother’s little sister, and she was also the youngest daughter of Homer and Julia Hoyt, my great, great grandparents. If someone I loved had been harmed or hurt (like Addie), I’d hope and pray that there’d be someone in the world who loved family enough and/or loved me enough to take on the task of uncovering the truth about their demise. Addie was a 29-year-old woman when she was murdered. She was still a young girl. I have children that age.

Reason #5: It’s the right thing to do.

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Addie

Whenever I start to wonder if I'm doing the right thing, I revisit this picture. It always re-inspires me to push forward with Addie's case.

Close-up of Addies face

When I look at her face, and see the swollen lips, twisted nose and puffy eyes, I am reminded that Addie's life could not have been an easy one.

Addie

Life before and after Enoch. These photos were taken less than five years apart. She was 29 in the photo on the right.

Addie

Her life ended when she was 29 years old.

Close-up

Addie was a beautiful young woman.

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Addie in her wedding gown?

Addie in her wedding gown.

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My favorite photo of all.

My favorite photo of all. I love the detail and the beauty and the opulence.

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Close-up of the bed.

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Close-up of my great, great Aunt Addie Hoyt Fargo

Close-up of my great, great Aunt Addie Hoyt Fargo

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Another view of the lavish interiors of the Fargo Mansion.

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Not sure who this is, but she sure is happy!

Addie's bright-white dress looks almost ethereal in this photo.

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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 happy days at the mansion.

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

The fam departing on a buggy ride.

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I just love it that she's wearing a sailor suit.

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With a matching cap...

With a matching cap.

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Old Enoch didn't age well.

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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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Talk about a feather in your cap!

And the cats tolerated her.

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Unknown person

Addie preparing for a trip.

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Not sure who this is, either.

Addie in profile.

Tennis anyone?

Tennis anyone?

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

To learn more about the mysterious death of Addie Fargo, click here.

If you have any information to add, or if you’d like to express an opinion, please leave a comment below.

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The Murder of Addie Hoyt Fargo

September 28th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

On June 19, 1901, 29-year-old Addie Hoyt Fargo - a beautiful, intelligent, gregarious young woman - was allegedly shot and killed by Enoch Fargo, her wealthy, powerful, 51-year-old husband. But Enoch was never punished for this crime. According to local lore and two published reports (and now, contemporary evidence), Enoch bribed a local doctor (William Oatway) to falsify Addie’s death certificate, so that no one would ever know the truth.

And what could his motive have been? Enoch found someone he liked better, and was remarried (his third marriage) in February 1902, a mere eight months after Addie’s death. In Victorian times, the period of mourning was 12 months. To remarry during the mourning period would have been scandalous.

Enoch had married his second wife (Addie Hoyt) in Chicago on February 19, 1896. Mr. and Mrs. Fargo lived in one of Lake Mills‘ most grandiose homes, The Fargo Mansion.

Addie Hoyt Fargo’s death certificate lists “diphtheria” as the cause of death, but according to The History of Lake Mills, Dr. Oatway openly admitted in later years, “No one was fooled” by this falsified document.

Enoch’s own granddaughter stated (in The History of Lake Mills), “A number of persons who knew [Enoch Fargo] will tell the same story - he shot Addie.”

The local newspaper account (below) states that Addie was first stricken with illness on Tuesday morning, June 18th 1901, and was dead by 2:00 am Wednesday morning, or about 18 hours after the first symptoms appeared.

That doesn’t make much sense.

The progression of this disease - from onset to death - typically took a minimum of 6-8 days and more often, the progression was measured in weeks and arose from complications involving the brain and heart. Diphtheria was not an automatic death sentence. It was the young and elderly that perished. It was expected that otherwise healthy adults would survive this disease.

Addie came from hardy stock. Her sister (Anna Hoyt Whitmore) lived to be 99 years old.

In the early 1900s, the fatality rate for diphtheria was 5-10% for people Addie’s age (more than five years old and less than 40). The higher death rate (less than 20%) applied to those who were under five years of age and more than 40. [Source: College of Physicians of Philadelphia, History Project.]

Was this “Diphtheria” story Oatway’s way of giving us a subtle clue in this murder mystery? Was he trying to tell someone, “This is all a contrivance. Healthy 29-year-olds don’t die in 18 hours from diphtheria.”

Let’s set all that aside for a moment. There’s another tough sell in this story.

The timing.

Addie dies at 2:00 A. M.

The doctor is summoned to pronounce her dead.

The undertaker is summoned and a coffin is selected.

The coffin is taken to the house and up to the second floor.

Her body is respectfully laid out in the coffin, behind closed doors, and carried outside to a waiting hearse.

The body is taken to the undertaker.

The undertaker requests a burial permit from the cemetery’s secretary (Robert Fargo).

Addie’s body is prepared for burial.

Grave diggers are summoned and hired to prepare a grave, and it’s likely - given the timing - that this was done in the dark.

The death certificate is completed by Dr. Oatway as attending physician.

The death certificate is certified as true by the County Health Officer, who just happens to be…

Dr. Oatway.

Addie is “laid to rest” is 10:00 A.M. the next morning.

Not a visitation, but “laid to rest.” The casket is never opened - allegedly because of the grievous fears of contagion.

Soon after 10:00 A.M., we can assume that her body is lowered into the soft earth of a waiting grave.

Eight hours after her death.

As my friend David Spriggs said, “All that in one day for an unexpected death? It’s almost as if they knew that it was going to happen and had already made preparations.”

And while they were in a hurry to get this done, they were not in a hurry to tell the family. I’ve found notes, apparently penned by my Great Grandmother (Anna Hoyt Whitmore), that suggest that - as of 1904 - she assumed that her sister Addie was still alive and well in Lake Mills.

Now that’s disturbing.

Shortly before Addie died, she sent a picture of herself to her sister and brother-in-law in Denver (Mr. and Mrs. Wilbur W. Whitmore). In that picture, Addie’s eye, lips and nose are swollen and distorted. She doesn’t even look like the same woman shown in those wedding photos, taken five years earlier. I believe this last photo was Addie’s “SOS” to her family, and that Addie knew that Enoch was going to kill her. (See photo below.)

Did he shoot her? Or maybe he just went too far one night when he was beating her. Or maybe he put a pillow over her face and suffocated her, which would be a good fit with the diphtheria story (published as her obituary).

There’s another piece of this puzzle that’s especially compelling: There’s no burial permit for Addie. And that tells us that when Dr. Oatway filled out the death certificate, he did not represent the facts honestly, for this death certificate (completed and certified by Oatway) states that a burial permit was obtained, and it’s listed as permit #32. In fact, the impeccable records of the city cemetery shows that Addie’s burial permit would have been #22, but there is no permit for Addie in the city’s ledger of burial permits.

None.

And permit #32 belongs to Alinda Horniley, who died in October 1902.

And yet, burial permits were required - by law - for every grave that was opened in the cemetery.

In his mad rush to get the death certificate filled out, Oatway apparently “guessed” at which number was coming up on the burial permit ledger. He guessed wrong. He never figured anyone would go behind him and double-check.

Besides, Enoch Fargo was an important, wealthy powerful man. Addie Hoyt was a 29-year-old girl, whose parents were dead and her only family - a sister and brother-in-law - lived  far away in Denver. Addie was alone in the world, and when Enoch killed her, no one dared ask too many questions.

Enoch successfully used his power and privilege to get away with the murder of his young wife.

Above the mystery of it all, there’s another fact. Addie was my great Aunt, and the baby sister of my great-grandmother.

I’ve no doubt that it’ll take indefatigable persistence to get to the bottom of this mystery, and answer the question - once and for all - of what happened to my beautiful, intelligent, gregarious Aunt Addie, whose life ended abruptly when she was 29 years old. And I am an indefatigable and persistent soul. I will see this through to the end.

To read more about Addie’s amazing story, click here.

To see the talk Rose gave in Lake Mills, click here.

To read the newspaper article that appeared most recently, click here.

To read the story of my finding these photo albums, read here.

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 in 1896 at the time of their wedding. Addie was 22 years younger than Enoch. He allegedly murdered Addie so that he could marry Maddie Hoyt (no relation).

And perhaps

Addie at age 24 (left) and age 29 (right). Life with Enoch was hard. On the right, notice the swollen lip, skewed nose and puffy eyes. She hardly looks like the same woman.

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Addies death certificate, allegedly falsified by Dr. Oatway.

Addie's death certificate, falsified by Dr. Oatway. Under the date (June 1901), it reads, "Burial Permit #32." Apparently, Oatway did this in a big rush, and figured that no one would ever know if he just made up a permit number.

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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.

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On October 2, 1913, the Waukesha Freeman (newspaper) reported that Dr. Oatway was moving from Lake Mills to Waukesha to open a new office there.  Interesting that, years after establishing a successful practice in Lake Mills, hed up and move to Waukesha.

On October 2, 1913, the Waukesha Freeman (newspaper) reported that Dr. Oatway was moving from Lake Mills to Waukesha to open a new office there. Interesting that, years after establishing a successful practice in Lake Mills, he'd up and move to Waukesha.

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Addie's obituary as it appeared in the local paper, soon after her death.

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This obituary attempted to explain her fast death from a slow disease process.

This obituary attempted to explain her fast death from a slow disease process.

Addie

Her life ended when she was 29 years old.

Close-up

Addie was a beautiful young woman.

Addie in her wedding gown?

Addie in her wedding gown.

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.

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.

close-up

close-up

Fluffy plays with Addie

Addie loved cats.

Talk about a feather in your cap!

And the cats tolerated her.

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Unknown person

Addie preparing for a trip.

Addie, about 1899.

Addie, about 1899.

Addie, in the bedroom where she was allegedly shot by her husband, Enoch Fargo.

Addie, in the bedroom where she was murdered by her husband, Enoch Fargo.

And heres Maddie, the woman Enoch was (allegedly) willing to kill for.

And here's Maddie, the woman Enoch was (allegedly) willing to kill for. Contrary to local lore, she was not related to the Hoyts of Lake Mills in anyway. Maddie Louise Harbeck Hoyt Fargo was born seven years before her mother (Marie Harbeck) married Henry Hoyt. In 1880, Maddie (then seven years old) was living with her grandparents in Lake Mills. Her grandmother was Elizabeth Fargo Harbeck.

To read more about Addie and Annie Hoyt, click here.

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Addie and Annie: The Hoyt Sisters

September 28th, 2011 Sears Homes 1 comment

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

June 10, 2011, my father passed on. He was 91 years old.

Three days later, I was cleaning out the apartment at my late father’s assisted living facility and found a book of old photos. The most significant clue was this lone sentence on the back of a wedding photo: “Enoch and Addie Hoyt Fargo on their wedding day, 1896.”

Thanks to David Spriggs (a local historian), I learned that Enoch and Addie lived in Lake Mills, WI, and that Addie was my great, great Aunt.

Addie was 22 years younger than Enoch and she was his second wife. She was 24 at the time of her marriage to Enoch, and only four years older than Enoch’s eldest daughter (Elsie Fargo). This was Addie’s first marriage and it would be her last. Five years later, she was dead. According to Enoch’s own granddaughter (Mary Wilson), Addie was murdered by Enoch. Addie was only 29 years old.

Seven months after young Addie died, Enoch married his third wife, Martha Hoyt (no relation to Addie) in February 1902.

A proper period of mourning in the Victorian era was a minimum of twelve months. Remarriage during the period of mourning would have been scandalous.

Maddie (wife #3) died in 1964, having outlived Enoch by 40 years. Enoch died in 1921 in Tarpon Springs, Florida.

Anna Hoyt was my great-grandmother, and Anna and Addie were sisters. 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.” (To see photos of Anna and Wilbur, click here.)

Anna and Addie had a baby brother, Eugene B. Hoyt (1874-1950) that never married. Anna (my great-grandmother) died four months shy of her 100th birthday (1866-1966).

Anna was a real card and whenever the 90-something woman had a chance, she’d surreptitiously slip out the door of her daughter’s home in Santa Monica (where she was living at the time), and catch a bus to Vegas where she’d play the slots.  As told by my eldest brother Tom, our grandparents hired a fierce German “housekeeper” whose real job was to keep an eye on Anna Hoyt Whitmore (who would have been my grandmother’s mother).  Tom relates,

This worked for a few weeks but Anna Hoyt Whitmore heard the casino’s siren call once too often. One afternoon, she suddenly began choking and gasping and wheezed out the message, “Quick. Get my medicine!”

There was none of that medicine in the medicine cabinet (per Anna’s plan) so Brunhilda dashed off to the neighborhood drug store. A minute later Anna  snatched her already-packed suitcase from under her bed, caught the Greyhound bus at the corner, and was on her way to Las Vegas. It was masterpiece of theater and logistics.

The housekeeper returned minutes later to discover an empty house. She searched every room, the yard, and neighboring yards, terrified that she would find the expired elderly woman under the next bush. When she finally reached our grandparents, she was beside herself with fear and guilt.

They laughed and said, “Well, I guess Mother’s done it again.” Brunhilda quit on the spot, saying they couldn’t pay her enough to go through that again.

Some years later, Anna told her grandson (Thomas Hoyt Fuller, our father), that she was done with “that clip joint” (Las Vegas) forever.

Dad wondered if someone had taken her money. It turned out that she had lost money for the first time ever. Actually she had won some money, but had not won enough to cover bus fare, lodging, and meals. This apparently was the first time she had not won enough to cover all her expenses. According to Dad, she was as good as her word, and never returned to Nevada (Reno or Las Vegas) again.

My great-grandmother (right) was Anna Hoyt Whitmore. Shes pictured here with her sister, Addie. Addie would have been about 15 in this photo (born 1872) and Anna would have been 21.

My great-grandmother (right) was Anna Hoyt Whitmore. She's pictured here with her sister, Addie (Ada) Hoyt. Addie (born January 22, 1872) would have been about 15 in this photo and Anna (born December 1, 1866) would have been 21.

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.

Anna Hoyt Whitmore lived to be 99 years old, and when she was in her 90s, she would often sneak away to Las Vegas where she played the slots. Addie Hoyt Fargo and Anna Hoyt Whitmore were sisters, and Anna Hoyt Whitmore was my great-grandmother. Here's a picture of Anna Hoyt Whitmore from 1910. Anna, born in 1866, would have been 44 years old in this photo.

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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Anna Hoyt Whitmore (Addie's sister) had three children, and this is one of them (Ernie Eugene Whitmore). Ernie (born 1888) would have been Addie's nephew, and she was 16 when he was born. This photograph was taken a few weeks before his death. He was six years old. In 1894, Anna Hoyt Whitmore buried her six-year-old son, and seven years later, her baby sister died at the age of 29.

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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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Anna Hoyt Whitmore (left) holds Edgar A. Fuller (Junior) and Wilbur holds Thomas (my father). This picture is about 1921. At this time, Anna Hoyt Whitmore was still living in Denver. It's incredible to think that Anna Hoyt Whitmore lived another 45 years after this photo was taken. After her husband Wilbur died in 1939, Anna moved to California.

The Fargo Mansion in 1896, soon after my Great, Great Aunt Addie moved in with her new husband, Enoch Fargo.  Enoch was 22 years older than Addie.

The Fargo Mansion in 1896, soon after my Great, Great Aunt Addie moved in with her new husband, Enoch Fargo. Enoch was 22 years older than Addie.

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Fargo Mansion in Lake Mills, Wisconsin. This photo is courtesy of Brice Anderson (copyright 2011) and can not be reproduced or used without written permission.

Adie

Addie in 1896 (left) and in 1901 (right), shortly before she died. She was 29 years old in the photo on the right. Five years with Enoch had taken its toll on dear Addie.

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Addie, the papers dutifully recorded, died within 24 hours of her "sickness."

sElise Fargo (Mccammon) at the Fargo Mansion sometime in the late 1890s. Elsie was one of three daughters born to Mary Rutherford Fargo (Wife #1) and Enoch Fargo. Elsie was the eldest, and it was Elsies daughter (Mary Mccammon Wilson) who wrote The History of Lake Mills. Its in that book that Mary Wilson states plainly, [Enoch] shot Addie! (p 341).

Elise Fargo (Mccammon) at the Fargo Mansion sometime in the late 1890s. Elsie was one of three daughters born to Mary Rutherford Fargo (Wife #1) and Enoch Fargo. Elsie was the eldest, and it was Elsie's daughter (Mary Mccammon Wilson) who wrote "The History of Lake Mills." It's in that book that Mary Wilson states plainly, "Enoch shot Addie!" (p. 275).

Maddie.

Here's Enoch's third wife, "Maddie." The legend is that Maddie was a cousin to Addie, but this doesn't appear to be correct. Genealogical research shows that Maddie Louise Hoyt (given name "Martha") was *no* blood relation to Addie Hoyt. Maddie's mother was Marie Harbeck, who married Henry Hoyt in 1880. Maddie was born in 1873, and was listed in the 1890 census as the step-child of Henry Hoyt. Incredibly, Maddie's grandmother (Elizabeth "Betsy" Harbeck) was also a Fargo. Maddie died in 1964.

To read more about Addie Hoyt’s murder, click here.

To learn about the kit homes in Lake Mills, click here.

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How It All Began…

September 28th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

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.

Overwhelmed with the monumental task before me, I couldn’t deal with it all.

I threw the albums into one of those big trash bags.

A few minutes went by and I got to thinking about those two albums. I couldn’t stand it. I retrieved them.

And then after looking at them 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.

On Friday, June 24th, I scanned a few photos from the album and sent them to 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.

I assumed 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, 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.

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.

My father in 1961 with my beloved mother.

My father in 1961 with my beloved mother.

father

My brother Eddie sits on the arm of the big old chair, while I have the coveted spot - my father's lap. I hope my feet weren't really that big.

To read more about Addie, click here.

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Sears Modern Home #163: Elusive *and* Odd-looking!

September 27th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

In all my travels, I’ve only seen two examples of Sears Modern Home Model #163.

The first was in Taylorville, Illinois, and the second was in Raleigh, NC.

In talking with my dear friend Rebecca Hunter, I learned that she’d never seen one either. In other words, this is a very rare model. The one in  Taylorville, is a victim of insensitive remodeling and the one in Raleigh is in splendiferous condition!

To learn more about the Sears Homes of Illinois, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

Now whod think that this is a Sears kit home? Strangely enough, it is.

Now who'd think that this is a Sears kit home? Strangely enough, it is.

house

Mega House

here

Looking much like the day it was built is this Modern Home #163 in Raleigh. Every detail is perfect. And the best part - it retains its original siding, windows and rafter tails.

Another view

A view from the front of the house. Every detail is perfect. May God bless those pesky vinyl siding salesmen - and keep them FAR AWAY from this house!

Sears Modern Home #163 in Taylorville, Illinois.

Sears Modern Home #163 in Taylorville, Illinois. This one is in sad, sad shape.

Modern Home #163 from the Sears Modern Homes catalog

Modern Home #163 from the Sears Modern Homes catalog

To read another blog about Sears Homes, click here.

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Old Kit Homes in New England, Part II

September 24th, 2011 Sears Homes 6 comments

Sometime in the late 1910s, Mr. D. S. Chase of Grafton, Massachusetts bought and built a Sears Maytown in Grafton, Massachusetts.

I discovered this when I was reading through the testimonials in a 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

The house in the 110-year-old snapshot (shown below) was a real beauty, but given its location, I was very concerned that the house had been put to death by some overzealous developer, municipality, and/or a large institution filled with academia nuts (otherwise known as a bungalow-eating institution of higher learning).

All of these entities are a clear and present danger to modest dwelling places and they are notorious for cutting a wide swath through the heart of older neighborhoods, knocking down any little houses that get in their way (so they can build steel and glass monuments to further historical research on American culture).

The model that Mr. Chase selected and built - the Sears Maytown - was one of Sears nicer homes and fairly distinctive with that cantilevered turret on the front. Thanks to Kelly McCall Creeron, I now have a plethora of beautiful photographs showing the Maytown as it looks today.

It appears that those beautiful shakes (seen in the original photo) have been covered with a substitute siding, but siding or not, the house still is easily recognizable as a Maytown, and perhaps best of all, it was not torn down to make way for some plasticine palace.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

If you’re here to learn about Aunt Addie mysterious murder, click here.

Sears Maytown

Sears Maytown in Grafton, Mass, as pictured in the 1921 Sears catalog.

Ma

Thanks to Kelly McCall Creeron, I now have a picture of Mr. Chase's Maytown in Grafton, Massachusetts. It's been through some changes since that photo (above) was taken in the late 1910s or early 20s, but it's still easily recognizable as The Maytown. Photo is courtesy of Kelly McCall Creeron and can not be used or reproduced with written permission.

may

It appears that the house been re-sided. It's hard to tell from the photo, but the facia boards are now missing in action, which makes me suspect that this is a substitute siding job. Nonetheless, this Maytown has the two bay windows (front and side) and that remarkable turret. Photo is courtesy of Kelly McCall Creeron and can not be used or reproduced with written permission.

Original house

The original snapshot of Mr. Chase's Maytown shows a little detail on the fascia and soffit.

other

A close-up of the contemporary photo shows that the facia is gone, and the soffit appears to have been wrapped in a substitute material (aluminum perhaps).

Testimonial as it appeared in the 1921 catalog

Testimonial as it appeared in the 1921 catalog

Testimonial of D. S. Chase from 1921 catalog

Testimonial of D. S. Chase from 1921 catalog

Sears Maytown

Sears Maytown as shown in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Maytown

This Maytown is in Edwardsville, Illinois and still retains its original siding. Notice the sculpted block that's used on the front porch columns and even balustrade.

Ma

My favorite Maytown is this beauty in Shenandoah, Virginia.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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“Give The Kiddies a Chance!” (Get Them Out of the Slums)

September 24th, 2011 Sears Homes 4 comments

My dad used to joke about our little Puritan (Sears house). He said the postman brought it.

When my mother died in 1918 (in the flu epidemic), she left behind five children, ages 10, 8, 6, 4 and an 18-month old toddler. At the time, we were living in a poor area - kind of a slum - and to get us out of that, Dad decided to get us into a home of our own in a different neighborhood. In 1924, we moved into our new home.

I know that if it had not been for Sears and their kit homes, my dad could never have afforded to have a home of his own. It was so good for us to have that little home. Everything in it was shiny and bright and clean.

Reminiscence of Ruth Sward,

Sears Modern Home “The Puritan”


In the early 1900s, many American cities were filthy.

We were burning coal for transportation (trains), and for home heating and cooking, and also for industry (to power large machinery and heat large buildings).  The ubiquitous coal dust and soot wreaked havoc on the health of young children, particularly their lungs. Stories abound of women’s flower beds and veggie gardens being destroyed by the soot that rained down from the skies above. In large cities, garments hung out on the line were quickly ruined by the omnipresent, greasy soot.

Pictured below are two workers on the side of a tall building. It looks like they’re painting a building, but they’re not.

They are scrubbing off the coal soot. Now, if that’s what the side of a massive building looks like, imagine what a child’s lungs might look like.


caption

This image appeared in a 1920s Social Studies textbook, and was captioned, "The amount of soot and dust in the air of some cities is shown by the striking contrast between the parts of this building that have been cleaned and those which have not been cleaned."

The mail-order catalogs issued by both Aladdin and Sears promoted the idea of happy, healthy children, playing with their siblings outside in the fresh, clean air. The Sears ad (below) says, “Know the joy of living close to nature where your children have a chance to play in safety…”

In this context, “safety” was not about dirty old men luring children into their dark sedans with promises of candy and kittens. It was about getting your children into a salutary environment - with tall trees and fresh breezes and clean air - so that the children might live to adulthood.

One old advertisement read, “Give the kiddies a chance…get them out of the city.”

caption

From the 1928 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Happy children playing in expansive yards on well-tended suburban lots were an important part of the kit home literature. Below is a picture of two young children, playing under the watchful eye of their mother, in the shadow of a darling little Sears Barrington. The graphic appeared in the 1928 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

1928 caption

We know this is pure fantasy, because Big Brother is pulling Little Sister in the red wagon. Speaking as the youngest girl in a family with three older brothers, I can authoritatively state that if I'd been placed in a red wagon pulled by an older brother, I would have been bound head to toe in extra-heavy duty duct tape, and we would be heading for a cliff.

Sears caption

Just look at Dolly's face. She knows what's going down.

Like Sears, Aladdin kit homes were also offered through a mail-order catalog. Aladdin actually started selling homes in 1906, two years before Sears, and lasted until 1981. Sears closed up their Modern Homes department in 1940.

In the late 1910s and early 1920s, Aladdin (like Sears) also leaned on the “healthy, happy children” aspect to sell their homes. The image below is from the inside cover of the 1919 Aladdin catalog. By the way, these children are playing in front of an Aladdin Pasadena. What a pretty picket fence! These rosy-cheeked children are enjoying the pleasures of strolling along well-maintained city sidewalks.

caption

Again, pure fantasy. Little Sis has a *parasol* and is sitting in a CHAIR within the wagon. No brother on earth could resist taking Lil Sis around a corner at a high rate of speed and dumping her and the parasol.

caption Aladdin

Not only does she have a chair within the wagon, but her vehicle has a coach light on its front.

Like Ruth’s story above, Sears through open a door and offered families a way out of the filth in the slums and into a pretty little house, where the “kiddies” would have a chance.

Sears Modern Homes opened the door to a brighter future, and a sweet little two-bedroom, 1100-square-foot Dutch Colonial on a small lot with a picket fence. They offered people their very own piece of the American Dream, at an affordable price. Best of all, they offered men and women a promise that their little children could grow up in safety. And for the low, low price of $34 a month.

From the 1925 catalog, heres the Sears Puritan, the Sears kit home that Ruth Swards father built for her family. According to Ruth, the attic was converted into living space and became a third bedroom.

From the 1925 catalog, here's the Sears Puritan, the Sears kit home that Ruth Sward's father built for her family. According to Ruth, the attic was converted into living space and became a third bedroom.

A sweet little Puritan in Mounds, IL.

A sweet little Puritan in Mounds, IL.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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The Sears Gladstone - a Popular House!

September 23rd, 2011 Sears Homes 1 comment

One of Sears most popular kit homes was The Gladstone. It was a small foursquare, but apparently its design, size and price appealed to thousands of American families. It was most certainly on of Sears Top Ten Most popular homes.

Below are some pictures of The Gladstone.

The Sears Gladstone - 1916

The Sears Gladstone - 1916

Close-up of the Sears Gladstone

Close-up of the Sears Gladstone. One distinctive feature is that teeny tiny window inside that large hipped dormer. Another is that third window on the front wall.

This Gladstone in Champaign is almost in perfect condition. Note the original columns, and that itty bitty window in the big dormer window.

This Gladstone in Champaign, IL is almost in perfect condition. Note the original columns, and that itty bitty window in the big dormer window. BTW, in Champaign, it's either in the middle of snowing, getting ready to snow, or just finished snowing. This photo is "B."

A Sears Gladstone in Carbondale, Illinois

A Sears Gladstone in Carbondale, Illinois

Gladstone/Langston

Gladstone/Langston from the 1920 catalog. There's very little difference between the Sears Gladstone and the Langston. Other than the placement of a couple windows, they're the same house.

Langston

The salt-treated porch railings, foundation lattice work, and satellite dish are probably not original, but this is a Sears Gladstone (verified).

Gladstone

The spacious porch on this Gladstone was closed in, but the remodeling was done in a sensitive manner. You can still see the unique porch columns with their flared blocks at the top. This Sears House. The fireplace was added. This house is in Carlinville, IL.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s books, click here.

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