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The Prettiest Kit Homes You Ever Saw in Tahlequah, Oklahoma (Second Update)

December 31st, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

Dear friend and indefatigable researcher Rachel Shoemaker has found an abundance of kit homes in Oklahoma, and now she’s found FOUR kit homes in Tahlequah, Oklahoma!

What is a kit home? Kit houses typically arrived by train in 12,000 pieces and came with a 75-page instruction book that told the homeowner how all those pieces and parts went together.  Each kit included everything you would need to finish your dream home, including 750 pounds of nails, 27 gallons of paint and varnish, 10 pounds of wood putty, 72 coat hooks, roofing shingles, door knobs, lumber, windows, flooring…well you get the idea. It really was a complete kit.

Homes sold by Sears and Roebuck are the most well-known, but in addition to Sears, there were five other national companies selling kit homes through a mail-order catalog (Gordon Van Tine, Aladdin, Lewis Manufacturing, Sterling and Harris Brothers).

Tahlequah also has  kit homes from Aladdin , and Gordon Van Tine, in addition to Sears.

It’s not surprising that Tahlequah has Aladdins, as Aladdin had huge mills in Mississippi and Louisiana. Aladdin (in Bay City, MI) was in business from 1906-1981.  There are more than 75,000 Aladdin kit homes in the country (compared with about 70,000 Sears Homes). Sears started offering homes by mail order  in 1908 (two years after Aladdin), and in 1940, they closed  their Modern Homes Department once and for all.

Tahlequah also has the  fanciest home offered by Gordon Van TineGVT sold about 50,000 kit homes from 1910 - 1945. They were based in Davenport, Iowa, but sold kit homes throughout the country.

Tahlequah, Oklahoma was the original capital of the Cherokee Nation in 1838. According to Wikipedia, Tahlequah became a settlement in 1832. The Cherokees also beat the United States to the punch (so to speak) in adopting prohibition well before the temperance movement was even a gleam in Lyman Beecher’s eye. According to Oklahoma Genealogy, in 1841, Cherokee councils enacted a law prohibiting the sale “ardent spirits” within the Cherokee Nation.

To learn more about kit homes, click here.

To learn more about the kit homes in Oklahoma, click here.

To learn more about Addie Hoyt Fargo, click here.

Aladdiin

The quality of lumber found in these early 20th Century kit homes was first rate. Framing members were #1 southern yellow pine from Louisiana and Mississippi. It was first-growth lumber that grew slowly and naturally in virgin forests.

Aladdin Cape Cod, as seen in the 1923 catalog. This catalog page shows one floor plan (L-shaped), but in later years, it was offered in three floorplans, one of which was rectangular. .

Aladdin Cape Cod, as seen in the 1923 catalog. This catalog page shows one floor plan (L-shaped), but in later years, it was offered in three floorplans, one of which was rectangular.

Close-up of the Aladdin Cape Cod

Close-up of the Aladdin "Cape Cod"

And here it is, in the flesh! An Aladdin Cape Cod in stunningly original condition!  Even retains its original casement windows!

And here it is, in the flesh! An Aladdin "Cape Cod" in stunningly original condition! Even retains its original casement windows! (Photo is copyright 2011, Rachel Shoemaker and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

An Aladdin Wenonah, as seen in the 1917 catalog.

An Aladdin Wenonah, as seen in the 1913 catalog.

Aladdin Wenonah in Tahlequah.

Aladdin Wenonah in Tahlequah. The porch has been altered, but that's not a big deal. Porches are often changed through the years, and this house is probably close to 100 years old. (Photo is copyright 2011, Rachel Shoemaker and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

is this

Sears Modern Home #126 looked a lot like an early 20th Century train station.

Is this

Notice the inset porch and chamfered corners.

Is this

Is this Sears Modern Home #126? Sure looks a lot like it to me. (Photo is copyright 2011 Doug Moore, and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

GVT Roberts as seen in the 1921 catalog.

GVT Roberts as seen in the 1921 catalog.

GVT Roberts in Tahlequah, OK

GVT Roberts in Tahlequah, OK, and it's a beauty! Like the house above, this also has the two-story porch on the left side. (Photo is copyright 2011, Rachel Shoemaker and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

Rober

The GVT Roberts has had several additions through the years, but still looks much like the catalog page shown above. (Photo is copyright 2011, Rachel Shoemaker and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

Im not sure why this house has a periscope.

I'm not sure why this house has a periscope. (Photo is copyright 2011, Rachel Shoemaker and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

Street signs are printed in both English and in Cherokee language.

Street signs are printed in both English and in Cherokee language. (Photo is copyright 2011, Rachel Shoemaker and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

To contact Rachel Shoemaker, send her an email at ffshoe@olp.net

Rachel has done extensive research on the kit homes in Oklahoma, and has traveled countless miles, researching and documenting these historically significant homes. We’re both puzzled as to how and why so many kit homes landed here, but it’s time that someone hired Rachel to do a proper survey of this impressive collection of Oklahoma’s architectural treasure trove of kit homes. Heretofore, all the work she’s done has been at her own expense.

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What Do Caylee Anthony and Addie Hoyt Have in Common?

December 30th, 2011 Sears Homes 6 comments

In June 2011, the Casey Anthony trial in Orlando mesmerized the nation. The 25-year-old mother was on trial for the 2008 murder of her two-year-old daughter Caylee. Ultimately, the jury returned a verdict of “not guilty,” due in large part to the coroner’s statement that the cause of death was “homicide by undetermined means.

In other words, they know that Caylee did not die from natural causes, and they know she was killed, but they can’t prove how.

According to several news articles, this could be due to what experts call “The CSI Factor,” which is an expectation that in our modern scientific era, a forensic pathologist should be able to solve any murder mystery that comes across their stainless steel tables.

In an news story that appeared yesterday on MSNBC, Orlando Medical Examiner Dr. Jan Garavaglia was quoted as saying that Caylee’s bones were “very dry,” and didn’t “have anything” remaining on them, for that reason, they  were not able to perform typical forensic tests.  Dr. Garavaglia concluded by saying that this is a case that may never be solved until the murderer steps forward and  confesses.

Dr. Garavaglia’s comments reminded me of what Dr. Peterson (Milwaukee Medical Examiner) said after Addie’s autopsy results were deemed “inconclusive.”

On November 17th, Peterson told me that forensic science “is like a camera. The further away you get from the subject, the harder it is to see.”

Addie died in 1901, and that’s a long, long way from 2011.

“That’s the problem with these contemporary criminal dramas like CSI,” Peterson said. “They create unrealistically high expectations.”

If modern forensics can’t determine a cause of death from remains found six months after a child’s disappearance, then it makes it easier to understand how no cause of death could be found from Addie’s remains after 110 years.

According to “A History of Lake Mills,” Addie was shot by her husband, Enoch James Fargo. What makes that story even more compelling is that “A History of Lake Mills” was written by Enoch’s own granddaughter. In addition to the written record, there’s also an impressive paper trail that’s been discovered, establishing that Addie Hoyt Fargo’s life did not end naturally.

To read more about Addie, click here.

To read about the autopsy results, click here.

Addie was exhumed on November 3, 2011.

Addie was exhumed on November 3, 2011.

Her skeletal remains were found in a shallow grave.

Her skeletal remains were found in a shallow grave.

Addie was the wife of one of Lake Mills wealthiest men, Enoch J. Fargo. At the time of Addies death, a young woman named Martha (Maddie) was living in the Fargo Mansion. Seven months after Addies death, Enoch had married Martha.

Addie was the wife of one of Lake Mills' wealthiest men, Enoch J. Fargo. At the time of Addie's death, a young woman named Martha ("Maddie") was living in the Fargo Mansion. Seven months after Addie's death, Enoch had married Martha.

Enoch Fargo (shown here) violated state law when he did not obtain a burial permit for Addies burial at Lake Mills cemetery. According to published accounts, Enoch bribed a local doctor to falsify Addies death certificate. Weve now found proof that her death certificate was falsified.

Enoch Fargo (shown here) violated state law when he did not obtain a burial permit for Addie's burial at Lake Mills cemetery. According to published accounts, Enoch bribed a local doctor to falsify Addie's death certificate. We've now found proof that her death certificate was falsified.

Addie in 1894, two years before she married Enoch.

Addie in 1894, two years before she married Enoch.

Addie, shown here with her sister Anna (right), married Enoch when she was 24. She was dead five years later.

Addie, shown here with her sister Anna (right), married Enoch when she was 24. She was dead five years later. Addie was my great, great Aunt. Her sister Anna Hoyt Whitmore was my great grandmother.

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A Fascinating Little Tidbit about WLS and Sears, Part II

December 29th, 2011 Sears Homes 1 comment

If you’re following the story of the Thomas Family and Kelly Family, and their adventure in building a Sears kit home, you can read the rest of it below.

To return to Part I, click here.

C

From WLS newsletter (continued from page 11).

The last page of this fascinating story.

The last page of this fascinating story.

Another page from this employee newsletter. Note - this is not an advertisement for dresses, this is an ad for FABRIC. It was expected that women would sew their own clothes (and that men could build their own homes). It was a different time in American history.

Another page from this employee newsletter. Note - this is not an advertisement for dresses, this is an ad for FABRIC. It was expected that women would sew their own clothes (and that men could build their own homes). It was a different time in American history.

To return to Part I, click here.

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A Fascinating Little Tidbit about WLS and Sears

December 29th, 2011 Sears Homes 10 comments

“What does WLS stand for?” is a question I often ask lecture attendees.

After giving more than 200 lectures in 25 states, only two people have answered this question correctly.

I’ll give you a hint. It has to do with Sears and Roebuck.

Thanks to eBay, I’ve located and purchased all manner of Sears Modern Homes ephemera, and one of my treasures is this employee newsletter. In fact, it was the very first edition of the “WLS” employee newsletter! Published in early 1925, it featured an interesting story titled, “The House The Kelly’s Built,” which told the story of a next-door neighbor  (Mr. Kelly) who’d hired “Jerry” (a 12-year-old boy) to help him build his newly purchased Sears kit home, The Clyde.

Jerry’s father (Mr. Thomas) was incredulous when he heard about this. After all, housebuilding is a difficult trade, for seasoned and experienced craftsman. When Jerry tries to explain that it’s a Sears kit house, with a 75-page instruction book, and numbered framing members (for easy assembly), his father chastises him for his impunity and reminds him that he is not to interrupt his elders.

It has a happy ending, as Mr. Kelly (the new Sears Homeowner) explains to Mr. Thomas (Jerry’s dad), that it is a very easy house to build, and when completed, it’ll be a real dandy of a home.

There are three important take-away lessons from this story.

1)  Building a kit home (12,000 easy pieces) was considered to be a simple task by the people who lived in the early 20th Century.

2) It was acceptable (and even common practice) to hire 12-year-olds for hard work.

3) Mr. Thomas was a horse’s ass.

To read another fascinating story about a murder in Lake Mills, click here.

Here

This short story appeared in the first edition of an employee newsletter issued for employees of Sears Roebuck. The name of the newsletter was "WLS."

*

Lumber was numbered to facilitate construction

Framing members were marked with a three-digit number and a letter (D is for 2x8s, C for 2x6s, B for 2x4s). This mark, together with a 75-page instruction book, made assembly easy for even the novice homebuilder.

*

The house that the Kellys are building (with young Jerrys help) is the Sears Clyde, a very modest and popular bungalow.

The house that the Kellys are building (with young Jerry's help) is the Sears Clyde, a very modest bungalow. Because it is such a modest house, it often gets severely remuddled through the passing decades. Identifying these simple houses is very difficult.

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Clyde

The Clyde, as seen in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

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At least 98.76% of the time, the bay window in a little bungalow such as this is used for the dining room. The Clyde is an odd exception. In this little house, that bay on the side is for a bedroom, and the bathroom is right behind it. This is a useful detail for identifying The Clyde, as you should expect to see a bathroom vent roof pipe behind the bay.

At least 98.76% of the time, the bay window in a little bungalow such as this is used for the dining room. The Clyde is an odd exception. In this little house, that bay on the side is for a bedroom, and the bathroom is right behind it. This is a useful detail for identifying The Clyde, as you should expect to see a bathroom vent roof pipe behind the bay.

*

This little Clyde in Cairo, IL is not feeling very well, and yet - it is definitely a Sears Clyde. That lowered platform on the front porch is still in place, but obscured by this white sedan. The gable ornaments and porch details are gone, and someone thought itd be a swell idea to do a thatch effect roof (shudder), but its a Sears Clyde.

This little Clyde in Cairo, IL is not feeling very well, and yet - it is definitely a Sears Clyde. That lowered platform on the front porch is still in place, but obscured by this white sedan. The gable ornaments and porch details are gone, and someone thought it'd be a swell idea to do a "thatch effect roof" (shudder), but it's a Sears Clyde.

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WLS

WLS stood for "World's Largest Store." The famous Chicago radio station, WLS, actually began as a promotional tool for Sears. The station signed on in 1924 with farm reports and weather information. Sears sold the radio station in the fall of 1928. Back in the day, call signs had meanings. Here in Norfolk, we had WGH which stood for "World's Greatest Harbor."

To read Part II, click here.

To learn more about how to identify a Sears home, click here.

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Fake Half-Timber: Just Not a Good Idea for Kit Homes

December 28th, 2011 Sears Homes 2 comments

Sears kit homes were made of first-class building materials, such as #1 southern yellow pine (framing members). The exterior sidings were offered in red cedar, redwood or cypress.  Most frequently, exterior sidings were cypress, and exterior trim pieces (corner boards, door and window trim, eaves, etc.) were also cypress.

The cypress came from Louisiana and Mississippi and it was a quality of lumber which we’ will never see again in this country. To learn more about building materials used in these early 20th Century kit homes, click here.

With that being said, it’s a puzzle as to why homeowners feel a need to cover this old siding with substitute materials, such as vinyl (bad, bad idea) or permastone (almost as bad as vinyl) or even this fake half-timber effect (shown below).

Half-timber may have been appropriate on houses built in the 17th Century, but it doesnt look so good on kit homes from the early 1900s.

Half-timber may have been appropriate on houses built in the 17th Century, but it doesn't look so good on kit homes from the early 1900s. (Photo is copyright Rebecca Hunter 2011, and may not be used or reproduced with written permission.)

Heres the original catalog image for the house above. It came from Harris Brothers (Chicago).

Here's the original catalog image for the house above. It came from "Harris Brothers" (Chicago).

Sears Madelia, as it appeared in the 1919 catalog.

Sears Madelia, as it appeared in the 1919 catalog.

Hard to understand. Just hard to understand.

Sears Madelia (built in 1919) clad in its fake 17th Century garb. (Photo credit Dale Wolicki. Photo is copyright 2010, Dale Wolicki and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

To learn more about kit homes, click here.

To contact Rebecca Hunter, click here.

To learn more about early 20th Century building materials, click here.

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The Prettiest Kit Homes You Ever Saw in Tahlequah (Updated!)

December 27th, 2011 Sears Homes 6 comments

To read the most recent update on this article (with new photos!), click here.

Dear friend and indefatigable researcher Rachel Shoemaker has found an abundance of kit homes in Oklahoma, and she’s now found THREE kit homes in Tahlequah, Oklahoma!  The most impressive of her finds is a beautifully maintained Gordon Van Tine “Roberts.”

Gordon Van Tine was a competitor of Sears in the kit home business. GVT sold about 50,000 kit homes from 1910 - 1945.

More recently, she discovered an Aladdin “Cape Cod,” and an Aladdin “Wenonah,” in TahlequahAladdin was one of six national mail-order companies that sold entire kit homes through their catalogs.  (Sears was better known, but Aladdin was bigger.) These “kit houses” typically arrived by train in 12,000 pieces and came with a 75-page instruction book that told the homeowner how all those pieces and parts went together. Today, there are about 75,000 Aladdin kit homes in the country (compared with about 70,000 Sears Homes in the country).

It’s not surprising that Tahlequah has Aladdins, as Aladdin had  huge mills in Mississippi and Louisiana.

Tahlequah, Oklahoma was the original capital of the Cherokee Nation in 1838. According to Wikipedia, Tahlequah became a settlement in 1832.  The Cherokees also beat the United States to the punch (so to speak) in adopting prohibition well before the temperance movement was even a gleam in Lyman Beecher’s eye.  According to Oklahoma Genealogy, Cherokee councils enacted a law in 1841, prohibiting the sale of “ardent spirits” within the Cherokee Nation.

Street signs in the city of Tahlequah are printed in both English and the Cherokee language.

On a final note, we think we may have found a Sears Modern Home #126 in Tahlequah, but we need a kind soul to get a photo for us. If you live near the area, and you’d be willing to do that, please leave a comment below.

To learn more about kit homes, click here.

To learn more about the kit homes in Oklahoma, click here.

To learn more about Addie Hoyt Fargo, click here.

Aladdin Cape Cod, as seen in the 1923 catalog. This catalog page shows one floor plan (L-shaped), but in later years, it was offered in three floorplans, one of which was rectangular. .

Aladdin Cape Cod, as seen in the 1923 catalog. This catalog page shows one floor plan (L-shaped), but in later years, it was offered in three floorplans, one of which was rectangular.

Close-up of the Aladdin Cape Cod

Close-up of the Aladdin "Cape Cod"

And here it is, in the flesh! An Aladdin Cape Cod in stunningly original condition!  Even retains its original casement windows!

And here it is, in the flesh! An Aladdin "Cape Cod" in stunningly original condition! Even retains its original casement windows! (Photo is copyright 2011, Rachel Shoemaker and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

An Aladdin Wenonah, as seen in the 1917 catalog.

An Aladdin Wenonah, as seen in the 1913 catalog.

Aladdin Wenonah in Tahlequah.

Aladdin Wenonah in Tahlequah. The porch has been altered, but that's not a big deal. Porches are often changed through the years, and this house is probably close to 100 years old. (Photo is copyright 2011, Rachel Shoemaker and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

GVT Roberts as seen in the 1921 catalog.

GVT Roberts as seen in the 1921 catalog.

GVT Roberts in Tahlequah, OK

GVT Roberts in Tahlequah, OK, and it's a beauty! Like the house above, this also has the two-story porch on the left side. (Photo is copyright 2011, Rachel Shoemaker and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

Rober

The GVT Roberts has had several additions through the years, but still looks much like the catalog page shown above. (Photo is copyright 2011, Rachel Shoemaker and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

Im not sure why this house has a periscope.

I'm not sure why this house has a periscope. (Photo is copyright 2011, Rachel Shoemaker and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

Street signs are printed in both English and in Cherokee language.

Street signs are printed in both English and in Cherokee language. (Photo is copyright 2011, Rachel Shoemaker and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

To contact Rachel Shoemaker, send her an email at ffshoe@olp.net

Rachel has done extensive research on the kit homes in Oklahoma, and has traveled countless miles, researching and documenting these historically significant homes. We’re both puzzled as to how and why so many kit homes landed here, but it’s time that someone hired Rachel to do a proper survey of this impressive collection of Oklahoma’s architectural treasure trove of kit homes. Heretofore, all the work she’s done has been at her own expense.

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Aladdin Shadowlawn in Concord, NC - And Now I Know WHERE!

December 27th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

Last week, I published a blog about a beautiful Aladdin Shadowlawn I found in Concord, NC.  At the time, I couldn’t find the address. My addresses are stored in notebooks, and they’re not in any particular order. Retrieving an address from a trip made long ago can be pretty challenging.

However, once the hoopla of Christmas had settled a bit in the Thornton Home, I went looking for that address in Concord. And I found it! This Aladdin Shadowlawn is on Grove Street.

BTW, when I was in Concord, I was on my way to another North Carolina city, so I didn’t do a “proper” and extensive survey of Concord, but I do remember finding some other Aladdin kit homes there, including, an Aladdin Pomona, and an Aladdin Sheffield, and this Aladdin Shadowlawn (see below).

It’s not surprising that this part of North Carolina is so loaded with kit homes, because Aladdin had a major mill in Wilmington, NC. In fact, Roanoke Rapids has one of the largest collections (and most impressive collections) of Aladdins in the country! It’s worth the trip, I promise!

Aladdin was one of six national mail-order companies that sold entire kit homes through their catalogs. The houses typically arrived by train in 12,000 pieces and came with a 75-page instruction book that told the homeowner how all those pieces and parts went together. Today, there are about 75,000 Aladdin kit homes in the country (compared with about 70,000 Sears Homes in the country).

While Sears is a more well-known name in the kit home business, Aladdin actually was around a lot longer. Sears started in 1908; Aladdin started in 1906!

In 1940, Sears called it quits, and closed their Modern Homes department. Aladdin continued to sell kit homes until 1981.

More than 90% of the people living in these historically significant homes didn’t realize what they had until I knocked on their door and told them! Aladdin Kit Homes were sold from 1906-1981. (Sears, by comparison, was out of business by 1940.)

To learn more about identifying kit homes, click here.

To learn about the Aladdin Homes in Rocky Mount, click here.

To learn more about the massive collection of Aladdin kit homes in Roanoke Rapids, click here.

The Aladdin Shadowlawn was a big, beautiful kit home, and theres a perfect Shadowlawn in Concord, NC.

The Aladdin Shadowlawn was a big, beautiful kit home, and there's a perfect Shadowlawn in Concord, NC. Image is from the 1919 catalog.

And here it is, a perfect Shadowlawn in Concord, but what is the address?

And here it is, a perfect Shadowlawn in Concord, but what is the address?

Somewhere in Concord, I think I saw a Plaza, too.

Somewhere in Concord, I think I saw a Plaza, too.

And an Aladdin Pomona.

And an Aladdin Pomona.

In Roanoke Rapids, NC, youll find this *perfect* Aladdin Pomona and the best part - it really is ON the railroad tracks!

In Roanoke Rapids, NC, you'll find this *perfect* Aladdin Pomona and the best part - it really is ON the railroad tracks! As I recall, there is a Pomona in Concord.

Aladdin

Aladdin offered some pretty fancy houses, too, such as this Aladdin Villa.

If you love kit homes, you have to visit Roanoke Rapids. It was a town built by Aladdin, and it was a wide variety of Aladdin ki

If you love kit homes, you have to visit Roanoke Rapids. It was a town built by Aladdin, and it was a wide variety of Aladdin kit homes, including this Aladdin Villa (Aladdin's biggest kit home).

Aladdin

Aladdin was a kit home company based in Bay City that sold more than 75,000 kit homes during their 75 years in the kit home business.

A

Aladdin was a large, impressive company and here in the Southeast, most of the kit homes that I've found are from Aladdin,

Aladdin also sold entire cities of their kit homes, and their mill was in Wilmington, which would explain why there are so many Aladdin kit homes in North Carolina.

Aladdin also sold entire cities of their kit homes, and one sterling example is Roanoke Rapids, NC. In that small town, we've found more than 60 Aladdin Kit Homes, including some of Aladdin's biggest and fanciest homes.

Aladdin Homes were made with quality materials - first growth lumber out of virgin forests - the likes of which we will never again see in this country.

Aladdin Homes were made with quality materials - first growth lumber out of virgin forests - the likes of which we will never again see in this country.

My favorite graphic from the 1914 Aladdin catalog.

My favorite graphic from the 1914 Aladdin catalog.

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To learn more about the massive collection of Aladdin kit homes in Roanoke Rapids, click here.

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The Worm Has Turned

December 26th, 2011 Sears Homes 5 comments

Wouldn’t it be nice if the City of Lake Mills would have treated you better? And not only the city, but all of Lake Mills’ past and present residents? Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone interested in this mystery would treat everyone with respect? I wish you the best of luck and pray that someday the mystery will be solved!

Someone left the above comment at my website this evening (December 26, 2011).

I thanked them for the comment, and responded with a comment of my own which said,

Ever since I first learned of Addie Hoyt Fargo, all I wanted to do was to get to the bottom of this amazing story, and figure out what happened to my great Aunt, a beautiful, intelligent, interesting 29-year-old woman.

I’m a few months older now, and a lot wiser, and I’ve learned that when people can not attack the facts, they attack the person, and it saddens me greatly that I was *attacked* (verbally), because I wanted to uncover the true facts of this old story.

When I first came into Lake Mills in September 2011, I was so impressed with the idyllic little town. I called my daughter (who lived in Appleton for many years) and told her how beautiful it was. She said, “Mom, I miss Wisconsin so much. It’s a wonderful place to live.”

And then the hate mails started coming - sometimes 2-3 per DAY. I read a few of them to my daughter and she said, “That’s not the Wisconsin I remember. I can’t believe these people are treating you like this.”

But in the last couple weeks, things have changed - for the better.

Now, I receive a steady stream of supportive comments from people asking, “Why would *anyone* send you hate mail, and protest so much and react so strongly when all you’re trying to do is solve an old murder mystery? You’re after the facts, but the opposition seems to be after YOU personally.”

In fact, I’ve had several old timers contact me and share several stories about Enoch Fargo, and none of them are good. Enoch and his contemporaries may be long dead, but stories of Enoch’s misdeeds were passed from generation to generation, and I’ve been told some chilling tales about Enoch J. Fargo.

And according to Enoch’s own granddaughter, he got away with murder in June 1901, when he killed Addie Hoyt Fargo.

Well, he almost got away with murder.

Thank you to the many kind souls who have written me and  phoned me and offered their support and encouragement, and private stories. It’s gratifying to know that there are others, like me, who have a deep, abiding hunger to find the truth about what happened to Addie Hoyt Fargo.

To learn more about Addie Hoyt Fargo, click here.

To learn more about the results of the autopsy, click here.

Enoch

Enoch J. Fargo

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Lake Mills Cemetery and Addie’s Family

December 26th, 2011 Sears Homes 9 comments

On November 3, 2011, Addie Hoyt’s remains were exhumed and taken to Milwaukee for an autopsy. Read about the results of that autopsy here.

When I was in Lake Mills (early September and then again in late October), I walked the full breadth and length of the cemetery, looking for my (and Addie’s) relatives. (Addie Hoyt Fargo was my great, great aunt.)

I found more than a few family headstones. And I also found that I have a few questions.

Addie Hoyts remains were removed on November 3rd, 2011. She was Enoch Fargos second wife. According to Enochs granddaughter (Mary Wilson), Enoch killed Addie.

Addie Hoyt's remains were removed on November 3rd, 2011. She was Enoch Fargo's second wife. According to Enoch's granddaughter (Mary Wilson), Enoch killed Addie.

Addies sister (right) was Anna (1866-1966), and Anna married Wilbur W. Whitmore. Shortly after their marriage, they moved to Denver.

Addie's sister (right) was Anna (1866-1966), and Anna married Wilbur W. Whitmore. Shortly after their marriage, they moved to Denver. Anna is buried in Denver with her husband (1865-1939) and their young son (Ernest Eugene Whitmore, 1888-1894).

Eugene Beech Hoyt was a fairly dapper-looking fellow.

Addie's brother was Eugene Beach Hoyt. He was a fairly dapper-looking fellow.

Addie and Annie had a brother, Eugene.

Is Eugene buried here in Lake Mills, or is this simply a memorial marker?

Homer

Homer Hoyt (the father of Addie, Annie and Eugene) is not buried in Lake Mills. This is a memorial stone at the Lake Mills cemetery. According to this, Homer died in 1894 and is buried in Everett, Washington. Addie's mother died in January 1895, in San Mateo, California. Phebe was a sister of Homer, and she died at the age of 2.

Kim

Kimball Hoyt and Sally Hoyt were Addie's paternal grandparents. They died in 1893 and 1894. Addie lost six relatives between 1893 and January 1895. She lost her father, her mother, her paternal grandparents, her Uncle Smith Hoyt and her nephew (Anna's little boy).

These markers represent several of the Sanborns. Kimball Hoyt married Sally Sanborn, and apparently, there were several Sanborns in Lake Mills in the earlyy 1800s.

These markers represent several of the Sanborns. Kimball Hoyt married Sally Sanborn, and apparently, there were several Sanborns in Lake Mills in the early 1800s. Sally Sanborn Hoyt would have been Addie's father's mother (or Addie's grandmother).

Addie

Addie's foot stone is still in place at the cemetery, but as my friends have pointed out, it's only a marker. Her remains have been removed from this disrespectfully shallow grave. No piece or part of Addie Hoyt remains in the Fargo plot.

I would love to know if Eugene is buried there at the Lake Mills Cemetery. If so, he is the only immediate family member buried there. Addie’s remains have been removed, Anna is buried in Denver (with her husband), and Homer (Dad) is in Everett, Washington. Julia Hawley Hoyt (Addie’s Mom) died (and is probably buried) in California.

To learn more about Addie, click here.

To learn more about Addie and Anna, click here.

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The Beautiful Letters from Beautiful People

December 25th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

In the last six months, more than 22,000 new visitors have come to my website just to learn more about Addie Hoyt Fargo. Her story has also appeared in the Wisconsin State Journal, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and several other newspapers.

According to A History of Lake Mills, Enoch J. Fargo killed his wife Addie Hoyt Fargo (my great, great Aunt), in 1901. On November 3, 2011, I had Addie’s body exhumed, and that’s when we discovered that she’d been buried her in a shallow grave in Lake Mills.  Enoch Fargo allegedly bribed a local doctor to falsify Addie’s death certificate.

As a result of the newspaper stories and the new visitors to this website, I’ve received many supportive and lovely emails. In October, a woman who’s been following Addie’s story contacted me and urged me to push on.

Her story, her insights, and her comments touched me to tears. It was one of the most powerful notes I have ever received in my long career. With her permission, her story is below. Names have been changed.

Several years ago, my only daughter, Emily (age 16) was killed in a car crash. That day I lost my only daughter and my best friend, in one swoop. She knew me better than anyone before, and anyone since. It’s not just a mother’s heart that would tell you that Emily was a special bright young lady. Her teachers, her peers and the community as a whole felt that way too, and they also felt the loss of this remarkable, insightful and precious young woman.

In dealing with my grief then, and even now, my greatest fear was that people would forget her.

And what if my Emily had married someone like Enoch? What if she found herself alone, with no family and no support system and no one to help her? What if there was no one she could call upon when her world was falling apart? What if she died at the hands of a cold hearted, narcissistic, megalomaniac who was bold enough to murder his young wife, rich enough to buy off people and powerful enough to get to away with murder? More specifically, get away with her murder?

What if her soul couldn’t rest because nobody cared enough to reach beyond their own lives and their own busy-ness and their own problems and uncover the truth? What if her remarkable life was reduced to a few gossipy stories, excitedly whispered in the shadows of a small town?

What if the story of her accomplishments, her successes and the stories of her charity, graciousness, gentleness and goodness, were forgotten, and all that remained was this heart-wrenching legend of a tormented soul, trapped in the nightmarish memory of her own murder, aimlessly wandering the hallways of an old house, unable to find her way to the light of God’s love?

And then what if someday, someone discovered Addie’s photos, and started digging into the whole story, and started sharing that story with others, exposing that shadowy gossip to the light of day, so that the soul could finally find rest?

And what a glorious thing it would be, that the story of a 29-year-old woman’s life could be resurrected so many years later, so that she was not forgotten after her death, and so that her real life story could be told, thoroughly and truthfully.

We live, we die. Those who knew us die, and we might be reduced to pictures in a photo album. For someone to take such interest in our being,who never met us face to face, that can only be described as a gift of Love.

I DO believe in spirits. I believe that our life continues on after the body has “breathed its last.”

I read about you tossing those old photo albums and then retrieving them from the trash. I believe Addie is with you, saying “Rose, take this journey. Keep going forward. Don’t give up, and see this journey to the end.”

Rose, please please take this journey Addie gave you. You are meeting wonderful new people, affecting others lives, and enriching your own.

And most importantly, you’re “setting the record straight” about someone else’s remarkable, insightful and precious little girl.

To learn more about Addie’s life and death, click here.

Addie

Addie on her wedding day, February 1896. She was 24 years old. Five years later, she was dead. According to Enoch's own granddaughter, Addie was murdered by Enoch J. Fargo.

Photo

Christmas 1900, Addie sent this leatherette photo album to her brother-in-law. This story started for me when I found this photo album amongst my late father's possessions.

Photos inside the album covered a span of about five years.

Photos inside the album covered a span of about five years.

A

The inscription reads "A Merry Christmas to Wilbur, from Addie." Wilbur was married to Anna, Addie's older sister. Wilbur and Anna were married about 1886, and moved to Denver in the late 1880s. Why did Addie send this to her brother-in-law, and not her sister?

Last month, a dear friend created and sent this necklace along to me, to serve as a reminder that Addie is gently holding on to Rose. She said the delicate hands reminded her of Addie (who was very petite). I keep this on the lamp by my night stand, so that I may look at it each night.

Last month, a dear friend created and sent this necklace along to me, to serve as a reminder that Addie is gently holding on to "Rose." She said the delicate hands reminded her of Addie (who was very petite). I keep this on the lamp by my night stand, so that I may look at it each night, and be reminded that I am doing the right thing, and I am not alone.

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

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