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“Every Funeral Tradition of the Time Was Violated By This Burial…” (Part II)

February 13th, 2012 Sears Homes 3 comments

“It would have been totally unacceptable for a community to wake up the next the day and find out, ‘Enoch’s wife died last night and Addie’s already in the ground,’” said Marty Mitchell, Funeral Director of Mitchell Funeral Home in Marshalltown, Iowa.

Marty has extensive knowledge of turn-of-the-century burial customs, and has an amazing collection of artifacts from that period.

“Addie’s immediate burial - dead at 2:00 a.m., and buried by 10:00 a.m. - would have been quite a scandal,” he told me. “People in town would have been wondering what in the world was going on.”

Based on my reading of more than 75 obituaries from that time period, Marty is (pardon the pun), “dead on.”

For the last few days, I’ve been methodically reading the Lake Mills Leader newspaper on microfilm. Thus far, I’ve read from 1894-1898. And how many of those 75+ obituaries had same-day burials (as in, within 24 hours)?

NONE.

Not one.

Although I’ve not yet sat down and tallied up the precise numbers, there were a few deaths from typhoid, pneumonia, grippe (flu), and consumption (TB), all of which were considered communicable diseases. All of those folks - rich and poor - had proper funeral services, spanning a period of two, three or four days (from death to burial).

Not one of these obituaries tell a bizarre story like Addie’s, of dying in the wee hours and being buried the same morning. Then again, none of these people were married to Enoch James Fargo.

To learn more about Victorian-era funeral customs, click here.

Addies

Addie was buried on June 19th, 1901 in a shallow, hastily dug grave. On November 3, 2011, her body was exhumed. Her remains are now in Norfolk, VA (with her family).

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This obit from September 1898

Charles Ives died from Typhoid in September 1898. It was also considered a highly contagious disease, and yet he was transported by train and buried three days after death.

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Oatway

At the time of Addie's death (June 1901), Oatway was still a neophyte. He'd been a doctor for 2-1/2 years in June 1901 (when Addie died) He'd started his practice the year before in Waterloo.

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Good old genial Dr. Oatway.

Good old genial Dr. Oatway.

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As mentioned in another blog, the anti-toxin was in use by 1895. If Addie *did* have diphtheria - which she did NOT - this anti-toxin had already proven itself to be a good remedy.

As mentioned in another blog, the anti-toxin was in use by 1895. (The article above is from the "Lake Mills Leader," December 19, 1895.) If Addie *did* have diphtheria - which she did NOT - this anti-toxin had already proven itself to be a good remedy. About 90% of the adults who contracted diphtheria survived it. The 10% who perished typically died when the bacteria made its way to their heart or lungs. No one - young or old - died from diphtheria in 15 hours. It took several *days* for the diphtheritic membrane to form, and it was the formation of the membrane (and obstruction of the airway) that killed children.

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When diphtheria was present in a community, the news spread far and wide.

When diphtheria was present in a community, the news spread far and wide, and not surprisingly, it was found in batches. In all my reading, I've yet to find a report of a single isolated case of diphtheria. As mentioned elsewhere, in 1901, the mortality rate for an adult with diphtheria was 9.1%. Almost 90% of the people who contracted diphtheria (more than six and less than 40 years old) survived it. This snippet appeared October 1896.

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Addie and Annie, about 1887. Addie was 15 years old, and her life was half over.

Addie and Annie, about 1887. Addie was 15 years old here, and her life was half over.

To read more about Addie, click here.

To read more about what Elsie Fargo told her daughter, click here.

To learn more about Victorian-era funeral customs, click here.

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Addie: Before and After

November 16th, 2011 Sears Homes 7 comments

How can anyone gaze upon this picture and not see the pain in Addies eyes? Look at the body language. Look at her face. Look at her haggard expression.

How can anyone gaze upon this picture and not see the pain in Addie's eyes? Look at the body language. Look at her face. Look at her haggard expression. Addie married Enoch in February 1896. She was 22; he was 46. She'd be dead five years later. According to Enoch's granddaughter (Mary Wilson), Enoch killed Addie so that he could marry another woman ("History of Lake Mills," 1983). One thing we *do* know - Addie did not die of diphtheria, as is stated on her death certificate. See below for more info.

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

There's no doubt that life with Enoch took a toll on Addie.

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

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

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

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

Its nearly inconceivable that this woman could end up dead at 29, buried in a shallow grave, allegedly killed by her own husband. Her life started with so much promise and potential.

It's nearly inconceivable that this woman could end up dead at 29, buried in a shallow grave. Her life started with so much promise and potential.

How do we know Addie did not die of diphtheria (as is stated on her death certificate)? Click here.

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

Please leave a comment below.

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Was Aunt Addie Shot in the Head? (Part V)

July 24th, 2011 Sears Homes 8 comments

This blog was written July 24, 2011. Since then, I’ve learned many new facts. Please click here to read the latest.

“Martha, burn these bed clothes and linens at once, for Addie has died from diphtheria, and we want no one in this household to become afflicted with this scourge.”

If Enoch did kill Addie, it seems likely that other people would have been involved in this crime, and even complicit. Were Fargo’s two servant girls in on it?

According to the 1900 Census, there were two servants listed in the Enoch Fargo household (see picture below).  I’m not even sure of their names, but they appear to be Mary Frey (18-year-old German girl) and Marthia or Martha Draper (also from Germany, about 29 years old).  (Please look at the photos below and see if you can discern the names.)

What became of Mary and Martha? Discovering the answer to that might help solve the mystery of Aunt Addie’s mysterious demise. Did Mary and Martha live well beyond 1901? If so, that casts more doubt on the story that Addie died from diphtheria, as that was a highly contagious disease, and surely one of them would have been tending to Addie and washing her bed linens and bringing her food and tending to her chamber pot.

Or maybe Mary Frey and Martha Draper came into some money after Addie died? Perhaps they went from being immigrant Germanic servants to prosperous landowners.

If Addie Hoyt Fargo was indeed shot in her sleep by her husband Enoch, surely Mary (age 18) or Martha (age 29) would have heard the shot. Enoch allegedly paid off Dr. Oatway to falsify the death certificate. Two young immigrants, working as mere servants, would have been easy for Enoch to “manage.” Did he pay them off? Or did he just threaten to kill them if they ever uttered a word?

If you’d just discovered that your employer had shot his wife in the head, it’d be real easy to believe that he could do the same to you.

Especially if you’re an immigrant, far from family, broke, and have virtually no life outside of the household.

Did Mary and Martha come running to Addie’s room when they heard the gunshot? Or had Enoch sent them away that Tuesday night so that no one would hear the explosive crackle of a revolver? Even if they were not home when it happened, there would have been a mess to clean up later.

And cleaning up a mess of that magnitude would have required far more housekeeping than Enoch was accustomed to doing.

Perhaps he stripped off the bedsheets and piled them into Martha’s hands and told her, “Burn these bed clothes and linens at once, for Addie has died from diphtheria, and we want no one in this household to become afflicted with this scourge.”

By 1905, Mary Frey and Martha Draper were gone, replaced by two new Germanic immigrant servants: Mary Zimmerman and Minne Lewis (see below). By 1905, maybe Mary Frey and Martha Draper were comfortably ensconced in their new home on Mulberry Street, alongside Enoch and his newest wife, Mattie Fargo.

Please take a look at the pictures below and offer a guess as to these two names. If you’ve any idea what became of Mary Frey and Martha Draper (of Lake Mills, Wisconsin), please leave a comment below.

To read the next piece (Part VI), click here.

To read Part IV, click here.

To read Part III, click here.

To read Part II, click here.

Thanks to David Spriggs (Norfolk) and Bruce A. Samoore, Volunteer Historical Researcher (Wisconsin) for unearthing much of the hard-to-find genealogical facts, death certificates and obituaries.

Census

The 1900 Census shows two servant girls living in the Fargo household. One was Marthie, Marthia or Martha A. Draper or Drager and the other was Mary Frey. Please leave a comment below if you know of any way to get in touch with their descendants and/or if you have any knowledge as to what became of these people.

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Close-up of their names. Any guesses?

Close-up of their names. Any guesses?

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By the time of the 1905 Census, both Mary and Martha were gone, and these new names appear.

By the time of the 1905 State Census, both Mary and Martha were gone, and these new names appear: Mary Zimmerman and Minnie something, perhaps Lewis?

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Closer view of the 1905 state census, showing the names of the two servant girls. Note, one of them was a lass of only 17, and the *older* girl was 18 years old. The census also shows that both girls (and their parents) were born in Germany.

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Enoch

Extreme close-up of the names of the servant girls, as they appeared on the 1905 state Census.

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.

Addie's death certificate, allegedly falsified by Dr. Oatway.

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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.

I bet Addie was "very much shocked" too. This obituary attempted to explain her fast death from a slow disease process.

Addie, about 1899.

Addie, about 1899.

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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Was Aunt Addie Poisoned With Arsenic?

July 9th, 2011 Sears Homes 11 comments

Was Addie poisoned by her husband, Enoch Fargo?

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