Posts Tagged ‘addie hoyt’s story’

The Hoyts: One of the First Families of Jefferson County (Wisconsin)

February 24th, 2012 Sears Homes 4 comments

In the unspoken but ever-present caste system of Victorian America, 24-year-old Addie Hoyt was a socialite, and a woman of note. According to information gleaned from the Lake Mills Leader (newspaper), young Addie Hoyt possessed much promise and potential. She was intelligent, witty, articulate, talented, sophisticated, accomplished (as accomplished as polite society would permit) and she was beautiful.

And Addie Hoyt had deep roots in her community, which - in Small Town America - added greatly to her social standing.  She was the granddaughter of one of the “pioneer families” of Jefferson County (Wisconsin). Addie’s paternal grandparents (Kimball Hoyt and his wife, Sally Sanborn Hoyt) moved from Vermont to Jefferson County (Wisconsin) in 1843, and Mr. and Mrs. Kimball Hoyt were among the first families to settle the area.

And I also discovered an interesting item in the Lake Mills Leader where Robert Fargo (from another “original family”) recounts his memories of the Fargo family’s move to Jefferson County.

In that piece he states,

In 1844, my brother Lyman, like one of the Hebrew spies made a tour of Wisconsin with a view of establishing himself in business and decided Lake Mills was the ideal place in the new Eldorado. Two years from this time found him with Brother Enoch [Enoch B. Fargo, father of Enoch James] located and trading on the ground now occupied by Reed and Coombe under the firm name of L. & E. B. Fargo.

In other words, Addie’s family settled in Jefferson County in 1843, one year before the Fargos.

And yet, thus far, I’ve been unable to find a single solitary piece of information about Addie’s family from local resources in the Lake Mills area, such as the libraries or historical societies or museums.

Addie’s family moved to the area in 1843, purchased more than 100 acres of land from the government, and in time, they became prosperous and wealthy. I am baffled as to why no one in the county seems to have a letter or a journal or any correspondence or information on the Hoyt family.

One of the main reasons I keep writing about Addie is in the hopes that someone somewhere will remember a story they heard from their great aunt, or that someone will discover a scrap of paper or a journal or a letter that gives some insight into what happened to Addie.

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Five years later, shed be dead.

Addie's family was one of the first families to settle in Jefferson County. According to commentary found in the local newspaper, Addie Hoyt possessed much promise and potential. She was intelligent, witty, articulate, sophisticated and talented.



Addie's paternal grandmother, Sally Sanborn Hoyt, died June 1894. In a two-year period, six of Addie's closest family members died and her two siblings moved out of the area. The obit was an interesting read. It notes that the Hoyts were "pioneers" of Jefferson County.


About 1889, Addies sister (Anna Hoyt) married Wilbur W. Whitmore, and the newlyweds moved out to Denver, Colorado.

About 1887, Addie's sister (Anna Hoyt) married Wilbur W. Whitmore, and the newlyweds moved away from Lake Mills, settling in Denver, Colorado. By 1894, they had three children, Ernie (six years old), Florence (age three) and Victor (age one).


And then Ernie

In November 1894, the entire Whitmore family was stricken with Scarlet Fever. Julia Hawley Hoyt (Addie and Anna's mother) took a train to Denver to help the family and provide nursing duties. The day of her arrival into Denver, Ernie (shown above) died from the disease.


In November 1894, Annas entire family was stricken with Scarlet Fever. s beloved nephew (Ernie) became ill with Scarlet Fever. Addies mother (shown above) rushed out to Denver to help her daughters family. Ernie died December 1st, the same day Julia arrived in Denver.

In February 1894, Addie's father (Homer Hoyt) had died suddenly in Washington State. In late 1894, Julia Hawley Hoyt traveled to Denver helping her daughter's family. Julia never returned to Lake Mills. She contracted Scarlet Fever and died six months later. Julia was 51 years old.



In May 1895, Eugene Beach Hoyt (Addie's brother) took a job with W. W. Ingram and moved to Chicago, about 125 miles southeast of Lake Mills. His timing wasn't good. Eugene departed for Chicago the same month that Julia (mother of Eugene, Addie and Anna) died from complications of Scarlet Fever. With Eugene's departure to the big city, Addie was now utterly alone in Lake Mills. She married Enoch James Fargo nine months later after her mother's death. Addie was 24 years old.


Five years later, shed be dead, killed by her own husband.

Five years later, she'd be dead, at the age of 29.


Little Ernie Whitmore: The Story of a Very Short Life

February 23rd, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

After my father passed on in June 2011, I was cleaning out his assisted living facility and that’s when I discovered two photo albums from the late 1800s, belonging to Addie Hoyt, my great, great Aunt. In that same old shoe box, I also found - laying loose in the box - a professionally done photograph of a young boy, about five years old. The back of the photo said the child’s name was Ernie Eugene Whitmore, 1888 - 1894.

Ernie was the eldest child of Anna Hoyt Whitmore and Wilbur W. Whitmore (my great-grandparents, and Addie’s sister and brother-in-law). Anna and Wilbur had three children, Ernie, Florence and Victor. Florence was my grandmother, and she was born in 1891. Her brother Victor was born in 1893.

Looking at these pictures of this little boy, I wondered, what happened to Ernie? He looks healthy and strong.

If you look closely at his folded hands, you’ll see the dirty fingernails of a young boy who loves to play outside and does not love to wash his hands! Ernie did not look like a frail little boy.

His small hands are clasped so tightly, it looks like he was struggling mightily to sit still on picture day! As a mother of three girls (one of whom was a real “wiggle worm”),  it’s easy for me to imagine that day at the photographer’s studio in 1893.

“Mrs. Whitmore, I can not get a good picture if that boy does not stop his squirming!”

I can imagine Grandmother Whitmore leaning toward Ernie, and - for the umpteenth time - admonishing her little boy to be still.

“Ernie, you must do as you’re told and sit still. If you’re a good boy, we’ll stop by the confectionery on the way home and I’ll let you pick out a treat.”

Ernie clutches his hands tightly together, desperately yearning to keep the inner wiggle worm still for just a few…more…seconds.

Finally, after a few shutter clicks and blinding flashes of light, young Ernie is released from this torturous stillness.

Ernie was not quite five years old when that photo was taken in June 1893. It was to be his last photo.

What happened to Ernie? How did his life end so quickly?

On February 22, 2012, I learned the rest of the story.

While reading my way through ten years of the Lake Mills Leader (the newspaper of Lake Mills Wisconsin), I found a little snippet in the corner of the page for December 1894. It said that Julia Hoyt (of Lake Mills) had rushed off to Denver to be with her daughter’s family (Anna Hoyt Whitmore and her husband, Wilbur).  Julia Hawley Hoyt was Ernie’s maternal grandmother.

The entire household had contracted Scarlet Fever, one of the most terrifying disease of that time.

Julia caught the express train from Chicago to Denver, rushing out to help her daughter’s young family. Julia left on November 31st, 1894 and arrived 26 hours later, on December 1st. That was to be the day that six-year-old Ernie died.

There’s no word that Julia ever returned to Lake Mills. Perhaps she did, but if she did, it was never recorded in the newspaper. Six months later, Julia Hoyt died in San Mateo, California (Alameda County). She was 51 years old.

UPDATED:  Julia Hoyt contracted Scarlet Fever during her stay in Denver, and died six months later in San Mateo.

Learning about Addie’s life in Lake Mills has been fascinating, and learning more about the rest of the Hoyt Family has been an unexpected bonus.

To read more about Julia Hoyt, click here.

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I find this photo of Ernie (taken June 1893) to be utterly captivating.

This photo of Ernie (June 1893) is enchanting.


Look at those hands!

Look at those dear little hands - and the lace on his cuffs and shirt!


And here

And he had a very sweet expression.


Addie thought so, too. She called him, Aunties Sweetheart.

Addie thought so, too. Written on the back of the photo is an inscription (written by Addie) where she called him, "Auntie's Sweetheart."


He was 10 monhts old

Ernie was 10 months old in this photo.



On December 6, 1894, the Lake Mills Leader reported that Julia Hoyt had left one week prior (November 31st) to be with Anna Hoyt Whitmore and her family, all of whom were afflicted with Scarlet Fever. The next day, Ernie would be gone.


And December 1st 1894, young Ernie died of Smallpox.

December 1st 1894, Ernie died of Scarlet Fever. It's difficult for me to think of a child - a six year old - being described as "a brave, beautiful example of Christian fortitude," while he lays dying.


Despite a whole lot of searching, I have not been able to find an obit for Julia Hawley Hoyt, my great-great grandmother.

Despite a whole lot of searching, I have not been able to find an obit for Julia Hawley Hoyt, my great-great grandmother. She died less than six months after little Ernie. She was 51 years old. This photo was taken in 1888.

To learn more about Addie Hoyt, click here.

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

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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 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.


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'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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Addie’s Death Certificate *WAS* Falsified…

September 12th, 2011 Sears Homes 5 comments

We now have compelling evidence that Doctor Oatway did falsify Addie’s death certificate.

Why would he do that? What was his motive?

According to two published accounts and local lore, William H. Oatway was bribed by Enoch Fargo to falsify Addie’s death certificate. It seems that 29-year-old Addie didn’t die from diphtheria, but was killed by her husband, Enoch Fargo.  Enoch needed Addie out of the way, so he could marry his new love, Martha Harbeck Hoyt (no relation to Addie).

Oatway was summoned to the Fargo Mansion at the time of Addie’s death (June 19, 1901, Wednesday morning at 2:00) and agreed to list her cause of death of diphtheria, giving old Enoch just the excuse he needed to bury her immediately.

Less than eight hours later, Addie Hoyt Fargo’s 29-year-old body was “laid to rest” at Rock Lake Cemetery in Lake Mills.

Logistically, this is an amazing feat. To read more about why this is nearly impossible, click here.

Physically speaking, it’s very unlikely that Addie - a 29-year-old woman in the prime of her life - died of diphtheria (which had a mortality rate of 5% in the early 1900s). And according to her obituary, she died of diphtheria within 16 hours of her first sniffle. Now *that’s* rare. Read more about that here.

Why would 52-year-old Enoch kill his young wife? He was in love with another woman (whom he later wed). Ready more about that here.

This is a complicated story. Today’s piece focuses on the falsified death certificate.

And that falsified death certificate is the smoking gun, which provides compelling evidence that Addie was murdered.

Here’s what I’ve learned thus far.

Enoch married Addie Hoyt Fargo in February 1896. He was 46 and she was 24. Shortly before her death (at the age of 29), her health deteriorated dramatically. Frankly, I suspect it may have been arsenic poisoning. You can read about that here.

In addition, it appears that Enoch may have been an abusive husband, as these photos show (click here to see photos).

So how do we know that Oatway falsified the death certificate?

On the death certificate, Oatway states that a burial permit has been obtained, and it’s “burial permit #32.”

Thanks to Robin Untz and Bill Hartwig in Lake Mills, we were able to check burial permits for that time period (early 1900s). The burial permits are chronological. Addie’s burial permit should have been #22 (date of death - June 19, 1901), but it was not to be found between May 1901 and July 1901. In fact, within the many pages of this meticulously maintained ledger book (shown to us by Bill Hartwig, current sexton for Rock Lake Cemetery), there was no burial certificate for Addie.

You read that right.

No burial certificate.

This wasn’t some pauper’s grave or an unknown soul.  This was the wife of one of the community’s wealthiest men. In fact, even if she had been a pauper, there would have been a burial permit. (See photo below.)

Looking at Addie’s death certificate, it’s obvious that Oatway filled it out in great haste. For “mother’s name” and “father’s name,” he wrote, “Mrs. Hoyt” and “Mr. Hoyt.” Addie’s age is also erroneous on this death certificate (see below).

In his mad rush to complete this death certificate, he probably guessed at what burial certificate was coming up next. Perhaps he remembered the old lady he’d attended to last month who’d died of consumption, and wasn’t her burial permit #29?

Oatway guessed wrong.

In fact, I’m not sure how he could have even filled out this line in the form. Most likely, it was the province of the undertaker to obtain a burial permit, and it was his duty to fill in this information. In fact, the burial permits we saw were issued - with a lone exception - were issued one day after the “day of death.” And that makes sense. Dead on May 1st, burial permit is obtained on May 2nd.

But there was no time for that the undertaker to get a burial permit for Addie. She was dead, and she had to be buried immediately, and if anyone saw her lifeless form, they’d know instantly that she’d been the victim of a violent murder. So Oatway had to work fast.

Besides, who’d ever know that there was no burial permit?

As Robin sat with me in Bill Hartwig’s office in Lake Mills on Friday, September 2, she had the presence of mind to ask, “What if this was a family plot? Would a burial permit be needed?”

Bill explained, “This isn’t about the real estate. This is about opening up a grave and preparing it for a burial.”

Robin also had the wisdom to go through the 110-year-old ledger and make sure no pages were missing. Each numbered page was right where it was supposed to be.

This newest revelation raises even more questions. Is Addie in the grave that bears her name? Or is it an empty tomb? I suspect it’s an empty tomb, for many reasons. For one, Enoch may have realized that if the family (now living in Denver) showed up and asked about Addie, they may ask to have her body exhumed. If there was a bullet in her skull, it’d be hard to pass that off as an especially violent case of diphtheria. Conversely, if he disposed of her body in a more sinister way, and there was an exhumation, Enoch could claim that grave robbers had visited the cemetery and - knowing Addie was the wife of a wealthy man - had stolen her corpse.

Next, it’s my hope to press forward and meet the legal requirements to have Addie’s body exhumed. If her body is not in that grave, then we’ll know - once and for all - that Enoch did indeed murder my great aunt, Addie Hoyt Fargo. If her body is in that grave, we’ll transport her remains to a medical examiner, who’ll test for arsenic, and also do forensic tests to determine how Addie died.

If you’d like to help with this project, please leave a comment below. If you have any information to share, please leave a comment.

To see a video of a talk I gave last weekend in Lake Mills, click here.

Take a moment and study the photos below. They substantiate the facts that are stated above.


Is Addie in the grave that bears her name?

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

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

Addies death certificate, allegedly falsified by Dr. Oatway.

Note the date (near the bottom), and directly underneath the date is the burial permit number. In fact, burial permit #32 was issued to Alinda G. Hornikle, who died on March 26, 1902 at 3:00 am. Alinda G. Hornikle was 24 years old.


Close-up of the parental info. Why didnt Oatway bother to contact Homer Hoyt, who was still living in the small town of Lake Mills, and get this information?

Close-up of the parental info. "Mr. Hoyt" was not born in Wisconsin, but Vermont. Was it really too much trouble for Oatway to ask Enoch about the first names of Addie's parents?



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


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

I bet Addie was "very much shocked" too.


Addie, about 1899.

Addie, about 1899.


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


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.


As mentioned above, burial permits were required for every grave that was opened. This burial permit was for a stillborn baby (unnamed). As Bill told us, 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.

Did you notice the name of the cemetery secretary?

Robert Fargo.

Uncle Bob to Enoch J. Fargo.

In my mind, this makes an even stronger case for obtaining a proper burial permit and keeping everything good and legal. Enoch didn’t even have to wait for office hours to get a burial permit for Addie. He needed only to call his Uncle, and I’m sure Uncle Bob wouldn’t have taken care of it for him.

Even that was too much trouble for Enoch.


Enoch J. Fargo: By all accounts, he was a megalomaniac and a narcissist. Just the type that probably thought he could get away with murder.

Anna Hoyt Whitmore (left) in 1910, at the age of 44, pictured beside Addie Hoyt Fargo (right) in 1896, at the age of 24.  Anna lived to be 99 years old. Its likely that Addie would have also lived a long life.

Anna Hoyt Whitmore (left) in 1910, at the age of 44, pictured beside Addie Hoyt Fargo (right) in 1896, at the age of 24. Anna lived to be 99 years old. It's likely that Addie would have also lived a long life. Anna moved to Denver in the 1880s. In early 20th Century America, Denver was a long way from Lake Mills. Notes written in Anna's own hand suggest that - as late as 1904 - she did not know that her baby sister was dead.

And perhaps

And perhaps most chilling of all is this photo of Addie - before and after Enoch. These two photos were taken five years apart. On the left, she was 24 years old. On the right, she was barely 29. Addie's life with Enoch was a hard life. Notice the swollen lip, skewed nose and puffy eyes. In addition, her hairline has receded significantly. She hardly looks like the same woman.


The Fargo Mansion - sometime around the late 1890s.

If you’d like to help with this project, please leave a comment below. If you have any information to share, please leave a comment.

To read more about Addie, click here.

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Was Aunt Addie Poisoned With Arsenic?

July 9th, 2011 Sears Homes 12 comments

Was Addie poisoned by her husband, Enoch Fargo?

Her remains are in Milwaukee being autopsied, and we’ll soon know for sure.