Posts Tagged ‘addie and anna’

Dr. Oatway, Your Slip is Showing!

October 13th, 2011 Sears Homes 2 comments

Dr. Oatway misrepresented the facts on Addie’s death certificate. Or he misrepresented the facts to the state board of health. Either of which tell us, Dr. Oatway filed a false report - with someone.

In 1876, Wisconsin (and many other states) created a “State Board of Health” that compiled facts and stats on communicable diseases. “Health Officers” were appointed (and paid) by the state, and it was their job to help track, record and monitor the prevalence and severity of the dreaded scourges of the day such as diphtheria, small pox, consumption, cholera and typhoid.

Each year, these health officers filed a report with the state, wherein they answered several specific questions. Two of the most interesting questions they were asked were, “Are the laws regarding birth certificates and burial permits enforced in your community?” and “What’s the incidence of communicable disease in your community?”

As mentioned in a prior blog, I was fascinated to see that it wasn’t death certificates the state was interested in, but burial permits. More on that here.

God bless the great state of Wisconsin, which not only preserved these reports, but has put them online. And thanks to Mark Hardin, for finding these reports.  Full text here.

The report referenced in this blog covers the time period during which Addie Hoyt Fargo allegedly died of diphtheria (”Nineteenth Report of the State Board of Health to Wisconsin” for 1901/1902).

And the health officer that filed the report for Lake Mills was our Dr. Oatway. The same Dr. Oatway that attended to Addie as she lay dying from diphtheria. The same Dr. Oatway that filled out her death certificate, and certified it as true, and falsified the burial permit number. The same Dr. Oatway that allegedly falsified this death certificate and later admitted, “No one was fooled.”

In the report he filed with the state of Wisconsin, Oatway stated, “the law requiring the report of dangerous contagious diseases is observed with regard to small pox, diphtheria and scarlet fever only.”

Reporting as the health officer, he mentions the deaths from a number of diseases but he says nothing about any cases of diphtheria in Lake Mills, or deaths from diphtheria in Lake Mills.

But wait, why did he sign (and certify) on Addie’s death certificate that she died of diphtheria?

That’s a pretty big inconsistency. Did he lie on the death certificate, or did he lie when he filed his report with the state?  Because Oatway DID lie, and the question is WHERE?

As my brother Ed would say, “This certainly puts another wheel on the wagon…”

And it gets even better. Further on in the report, Oatway says that “the laws requiring the issuing of burial permits are observed.”

Oh really?

Then why isn’t there a burial permit for Addie? Why did he lie on the death certificate and say there was a burial permit, when there was not? Why did he lie to the state? How many lies did this man tell?

Did Addie die of diphtheria? According to the report he filed with the state of Wisconsin, she did not.

More happy news can be found on page 15 of this report, which states that the deceased victims of diphtheria and other communicable diseases were to be placed in “sturdy coffins.” When Addie’s disinterment day arrives, that could be a real blessing.

To read more about Addie, click here.


This snippet appeared in the 1902 "Report of the State Board of Health" for Wisconsin and covered the the time period during which Addie Hoyt allegedly died of diphtheria. How did Oatway forget about Addie's horrible diphtheric death?


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.


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

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.


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

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

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Addie Hoyt Fargo - on Facebook!

September 21st, 2011 Sears Homes 3 comments

The story of Addie’s life is proving to be a popular one, so even though Addie is “an old fashioned girl,” she’s now on Facebook.

To find Addie, search for “Addie Hoyt Fargo” in Lake Mills.

To learn more about Addie, click here.

To learn about Addie’s house, click 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.


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. In 1896, Addie married Enoch and she moved into the Fargo Mansion.


Addie was a beautiful young woman.



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. This photo was captioned, "All of us."





Mary Rutherford’s Obit:

At her residence in the village of LM, Mrs. E J Fargo died at 11:30 pm MOnday, March 4th 1895 of typhoid fever after a sickness of two weeks. Mrs. Fargo was the scond daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Rutherford and had reached the age fo 38 years.

She was married in 1875 to Mr. E. J. Fargo, with two daughter, Elsie and Mattie survive her.

The funeral took place on Wednesday the 6th.

From the family residence on Washington Street.

Reverend E. B. Longsberry officiating and was attended by a large number of neighbors and friends who united with the many relative in their expression of sorrow and grief. Mrs. Fargo’s affectionate nature, and kindly lovable disposition and warm attachment for friends were well known. and the tender attachment existing between her and her children reveals the true mother heart, and her loss to them must be beyond repair.

Will last, make more poignant the pangs that now rack the heart of the bereaved husband and loving father. As in his grief, he views the wreck-strewn death has wrought in home’s sacred circle.

“No more they’ll look in those love lit eyes.
No more they’ll feel the mother’s touch
Nor feel the breath of her loving sigh,
nor hear the voice they loved so much,

but daily, nightly, realize there’s gloom at home when mother dies.”

The floral decorations furnished by the women’s club and other kind friends were profuse, bueaitfful and appropriate and their sweet fragrance, which liek the breath of heaven, fills the air, seen as a loving tie between the visible and invisble. Or as the sweet perfume of angelic sighs, linking mortals to the skies.

The women’s club met on Tuesday afternoon at 3 pm and out of respect to the memory of our friend and comrage, Mrs. Mary R Fargo so recently passed away and adjournament was immediately taken.

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Enoch Fargo’s Obituary

Enoch J. Fargo, the second son of Mr. and Mrs. Enoch B. Fargo, was born in Lake Mills, March 14, 1850, and died in Tarpon Springs, Florida, January 31, 1921, where he in company with his wife, was spending the winter.

Mrs. Fargo accompanied by the body, arrived here Thursday evening and the funeral services were held at the home of Mrs. Frank B. Fargo, Friday afternoon at two o’clock. Dr. John Faville officiating in the presence of relatives and friends from here and several other cities.

Mr. Fargo’s first wife was Miss Mary Rutherford. Three children were the result of this union. Mrs. C. D. McCammon of the town of Lake Mills, Miss. Mattie Fargo, Los Angeles, California, and Myrtle, who died at the age of nine years. Mrs. Fargo died in March 1895. His second wife, Miss Addie Hoyt, passed away in June 1901, and third wife, Miss Mattie Hoyt mourns the death of her husband.

Mr. Fargo was deeply interested in the enlargement of the school grounds, in the building of the middle bilding and he and his brother, Frank, were the next to the largest contributors in the building of the present Methodist church.

Mr. Fargo’s fine residence was often the place of social gatherings and he and Mrs. Fargo were given to hospitality.

The second of two brothers has passed away and it may be truly said that no other two men have wrought as much for the upbuilding of Lake Mills. They are entitled to their full share of praise.

The bearers at the funeral were neighbors and intimate friends in a social and business way and were as follows:  S. A. Reed, O. B. Coombe, F. M. Griswold, N. H. Falk, E. C. Dodge and C. S. Heimstreet.

The guests from out of town included Mr. and Mrs. C. T. Fargo, Mr. and Mrs. Ray Hellen, Miss Tillie Grimm, Mr. and Mrs. H. B. Fargo, Mr. Fred Perkins, Deerfield, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Fargo, Ripon; Mr. and Mrs. Wegner, Oakland; Mrs. Schellenberg, Beloit; William and Miss Bessie Harbeck, Milwaukee; Fred C. Mansfiled, Johnson Creek; Mr. and Mrs. A. R. Hoard, and Mr and Mrs Carl Becker, Fort Atkinson; Mayor Herman Wertheimer, Mr. Siebert, Mr. and Mrs. Rhoda, and Mr. and Mrs. Will Schultz, Watertown.


To read about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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The Beautiful Emails from Beautiful People

September 18th, 2011 Sears Homes 6 comments

Since Addie’s story appeared on a popular genealogy blog, the readership at my website has gone way up, and in five days, I’ve had more than 7,000 new visitors, which is a lot. The great majority of the comments and emails I’ve received from the new readers were supportive, but some of them were just filled with vitriol and hatred. Really bad stuff.

I’ve now learned that two of the nastiest comments came from two someones who subscribe to the Crab Theory, better known as Schadenfreude.  (By the way,  you know who you are, and I do too, and we’ll be praying that the light of God’s love will shine into your dark, troubled soul and bring you peace.)

But let’s get back to those beautiful emails!

One of the best (and most well thought out) comments came from Susan Waggoner of New York.

A friend in Lake Mills sent me the link to the Sears site, because she knows I’m a history and architecture buff. I was sad to read that Addie died so young. But even before I learned of all the suspicions surrounding that, I thought it was an odd death because I’d thought of diphtheria as a killer of children and the elderly.

After reading everything else Addie-related here, I looked up diphtheria. For someone of Addie’s age, the mortality rate was only between 5 and 10%! Moreover, diphtheria has a short incubation period, then rapid onset that peaks quickly, so any prolonged “mystery illness” would have been unrelated. I didn’t see any mention in the obits about a diphtheria epidemic going on concurrently, and if there wasn’t, how would she have gotten it, since the Fargos hardly lived in squalid, third world circumstances.

I wish I knew more about Martha (”Maddie”).  If Addie was 29, Martha would have been 28. A woman 28 and unmarried in that era didn’t have a lot of options, other than office work, and these people seem too upper class for that. She might have been quite jealous of Addie and eager — or desperate — to take her place. Perhaps it was she who gave Addie a not-so-gentle shove into eternity.

If EJ Fargo was already having an affair with Martha, what would his motive be for something as high-risk as killing Addie? There were lots of what were referred to as “odd women” — i.e., spinsters (”odd” as in odds and evens, not peculiar) — in that era, and it was seen as something of a masculine duty to take on a wife’s unmarried sister or close female relative.

Lots of men in the Victorian era (including Freud and Dickens) had their wives’ sisters living with them. No one batted an eye, so the arrangement could have gone on indefinitely on whatever terms it was. If, however, Martha killed Addie, EJ would probably have pressured the doctor to falsify the death certificate in order to avoid scandal and be left with at least one wife.

Another consideration with Martha — arsenic would have been more of a woman’s method than a man’s. Men don’t have the patience for it. And a wealthy man like EJ buying it would have raised eyebrows, whereas women, even well-off ones, would buy it to control kitchen rodents.

Susan, your comment above is the VERY reason I started blogging about Addie in the first place! One, I wanted to share her story so that this beautiful, intelligent and interesting 29-year-old woman wouldn’t be forgotten, and two, I was hoping the smart women in the world would take an interest in this story and provide fresh insight and new information. I know a lot about old houses, but not so much about arsenic, diphtheria and high society in the late 1800s.

So first, thank you for your wonderful note! And all the facts that you’ve stated above are concurrent with what I’ve learned.

Secondly, I’ve also wondered if Maddie was complicit in Addie’s death. Maddie’s life was not an easy one, to say the least. If you click here, you’ll see the talk I gave in Lake Mills, where I discuss Maddie’s past in some detail.

Here’s the short version.

“Maddie” (Martha Harbeck Hoyt Fargo) was born August 12, 1873 to 19-year-old Marie Harbeck of Lake Mills, Wisconsin. Marie was the daughter of William and Elizabeth (Betsy) Harbeck. From what we can glean from old records, Marie was not married at the time of Maddie’s birth, which in 1873 would have been quite remarkable (okay, scandalous).

In 1879, Marie (mother of Maddie) married Henry Hoyt and moved out of her parent’s home in Lake Mills. Marie Harbeck and Henry Hoyt had four children together (born from 1881-1891). According to census records, Marie’s first child (young Maddie Harbeck) remained behind with her grandparents. For a little girl growing up in small-town 1870s America, this must have been devastating.

In the eyes of Victorian society, this child was “illegitimate” (a term I personally disdain), and that must have been hard, but that pain must have been multiplied when her mother remarried, created a new family, and then left Maddie behind with the grandparents.

It was in later years that Maddie took on the name “Hoyt,” but in fact, she was not blood kin to the Hoyts. Further, Henry Hoyt (Maddie’s step-father) and Addie Hoyt (my aunt) are not related. So the four children of Henry Hoyt were not related to the children of Homer Hoyt (father of Addie and Anna), and Maddie was not blood kin to either Henry Hoyt or Homer Hoyt.

What is truly incredible is Maddie’s grandmother’s (Elizabeth Harbeck’s) maiden name:  Fargo.

There’s an old story that Maddie Harbeck and Addie Hoyt were cousins, but (as mentioned above), that’s not true. However, it’s certainly possible that Elizabeth Fargo Harbeck and Enoch J. Fargo were related and perhaps even cousins. That’s conjecture. I don’t really know.

Back to Maddie:  Her early years could not have been easy ones. The 1900 census shows 28-year-old Maddie living with her mother and step-father (Henry Hoyt) at their home in Lake Mills. It’s then that Maddie’s name appears as “Hoyt,” and her relationship to “head of household” is listed as “step-daughter.”

Sometime before Addie’s death (June 1901), Maddie allegedly moved into the Fargo Mansion. I don’t have any written documentation on that, but it’s part of the old story.

For about three months, I’ve studied and even memorized these old pictures from Addie’s two photo albums, but just four days ago I glimpsed something that I had missed before.

Addie trusted Maddie.

There are about 30 photos in these albums, depicting Addie’s life in Lake Mills. The only human beings shown in this album are Addie, Enoch, and Addie’s two step-children (Elsie and Mattie), and…


I just don’t think Addie would have gone to the trouble and expense of including a photo of Maddie in her photo album - a photo album she sent home to her family in Denver - unless Maddie was someone important in her life. I think Maddie was a friend to Addie.

And I think that there’s a fair chance that your theory about Maddie is correct, which is very sad.

If you were Maddie, and your own mother had walked out of your life when you were six years old, and this wealthy older gent shows up and promises the moon and the stars to you when you’re in your late 20s, unmarried, living an unsatisfying, lonely life, there’s a chance you’d do anything and everything to become part of his life, to have a home of your own, and to have one chance at the “happy ever after” you’ve seen pass by too many times to count.

It’s a theory.

Maddie and Enoch were married February 17, 1902, a scant eight months after Addie’s death (June 19, 1901). Victorian (Edwardian?) mourning rituals required a mourning period of 12 months. It would have caused quite a stir for a marriage to take place during the mourning period.

Enoch died in 1921 in Tarpon, Florida. Originally, I’d believed that Maddie was living in California at the time, but I’ve discovered new evidence that suggests she was in Lake Mills at the time of Enoch’s death. I’m still trying to sort that out. I do know that Maddie remained in Lake Mills until her death in 1964.

I wish I knew more about Maddie, but that’s everything I’ve got.

In addition to Susan’s email (quoted above), I’ve received many others - as powerful and beautiful and insightful  - and I’ll write about those in a few days.  :)

Addies friend, Maddie Harbeck Hoyt (no relation to Addie), who became Enochs third wife eight months after Addie died.

Addie's friend, Maddie Harbeck Hoyt (no relation to Addie), who became Enoch's third wife eight months after Addie died.


Love the dress!

Maddie - close up.

Maddie - close up.


Maddie and Enoch were married eight months after Addie's death.

To learn about Sears Homes, click here.

To learn more about Addie, click here.

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