Posts Tagged ‘elsie fargo’

“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)?


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.


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).


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.



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.


Good old genial Dr. Oatway.

Good old genial Dr. Oatway.


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.


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.


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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The Fargo Mansion in The News - Then and Now

February 11th, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

In the early 1980s, the Fargo Mansion Inn was slated for demolition. The two men who purchased it and saved it (Tom Boycks and Barry Luce) have done a remarkable job of restoring it.

This weekend, this wonderful house (and one of the Innkeepers, Tom Boycks) were featured in the news.

And it’s a very photogenic house. I’ve given 200 lectures in 25 states, and I’ve stayed in a lot of B&Bs, and I can honestly say that the Fargo Mansion Inn was my favorite. Perhaps part of the reason is my family connection. The house belonged to my great, great Aunt Addie and her husband, Enoch J. Fargo. As mentioned in other blogs, the current owners have done a first-class job of restoring this beautiful 7,500-square-foot Queen Anne manse.

In the last few days, David Spriggs and I have been slowly working our way through old editions of the Lake Mills Leader (newspaper) and in the process, we found some fascinating historical tidbits about the grand old house. On a personal note, one of the most interesting tidbits was discovering that my grandmother visited “Aunt Addie’s house” when she was six years old.

To read about the murder of Addie Hoyt, click here.

To learn more about the Fargo Mansion, click here.

To book a room at this magnificent B&B, click here.


Enoch married Addie on February 11, 1896. This notice about the remodeling of the Fargo Mansion appeared in the newspaper on August 13, 1896.


more here

The same newspaper (August 13, 1896) said that the Fargos had moved into their "cottage by the lake." You might think that was so the work could be done to the "big house" and yet the article says that the Hubbs family had moved in!



On August 27, 1896 the paper said that Mr. Henningson was making good progress on the remodeling of the Fargo Mansion.



As of October 29, 1896, Enoch and Addie's home was "nearing completion."


house house

On November 12, 1896, Addie and Enoch moved into a corner of the house.


house warming

The big housewarming was on July 8, 1897, almost a full year after the work had started.



In 1887, Anna Hoyt (Addie's sister) married Wilbur Whitmore and moved away from Lake Mills, settling in Denver, Colorado. Anna's first child died at the age of six. Anna's second child ("Florence") was born in 1891. Florence Whitmore (my grandmother) was six years old when she went east to visit "Aunt Addie" in Lake Mills. This item appeared in the Lake Mills Leader on July 8, 1897. Little Florence had traveled - by train - alone from Denver for Addie's big house-warming party.


My grandmother, Florence Whitmore (Fuller).

My grandmother, Florence Whitmore (Fuller). It was quite something to think that my grandmother had visited Addie and Enoch at their home in Lake Mills.



Florence didn't return to Denver until October 26, 1897. This snippet (above) appeared on October 27th. Florence was with her Auntie in Lake Mills for almost four months (from early July to late October . Perhaps even more interesting, six-year-old Florence traveled *alone* from Chicago to Denver. I'd imagine that Auntie took little Florence to Chicago, because there was "non-stop service" from Chicago to Denver.


Apparently Florence survived that long train ride in 1897.

Apparently little Florence survived that long train ride in 1897. "Grandmother Fuller" lived into her 90s, passing on in 1985. I wish I'd known to ask Florence about Addie.


Fargo Mansion

Addie put together a photo album for her sister (living in Denver), and in that photo album, there were several pictures of the Fargo Mansion.



This was a rarity for this time period: A photo of the bedroom. One of my friends (who's well versed in the ways of Victorian women) asked me, "Was Addie pregnant here?" I told her, "I don't think so." She replied, "This photo really makes me wonder. The rocking chair, the fluffy dress, and the needlework, plus it was very unusual for a woman to permit a professional photographer to take pictures of her in the bedroom."


Addie in front

Addie in front of the Fargo Mansion.

To learn more about Addie, click here.

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A History of Lake Mills and The Story of a Murder

December 18th, 2011 Sears Homes 8 comments

“A number of persons who knew [Enoch] will tell the same story - he shot Addie!”

So wrote Mary Wilson (Enoch’s granddaughter) on page 274 of A History of Lake Mills.

Since the articles on Addie have started to appear, I’ve received a surprising number of supportive comments from people who tell me, “I knew Mary Wilson personally, and she was very proud of her book and her work. If Mary Wilson said that Enoch murdered Addie, you can believe that it’s true.”

In fact, three long-time Lake Mills residents have told me that yes, Mary was a little eccentric, but she was also a thorough and honest historian, and she was a woman that was ahead of her time. In an article that appeared in the Tahlequah Daily Press on Mother’s Day 2008, Mary Wilson’s son (E.  James Fargo Wilson) was quoted as saying, “[Mary] was way ahead of her time.” (It’s a fascinating piece, and you can read the full article here.)

Last week, I called Tom Boycks, who (together with Barry Luce) owns the Fargo Mansion Inn in Lake Mills. The first time I met Tom, he proudly displayed his own copy of Mary’s book, The History of Lake Mills, hand-delivered to him almost 30 years ago by Mary Wilson herself.

Tom and Barry knew Mary Wilson very well, and thought very highly of her.

I asked Tom about something that Mary did not address in her book: The source of the story about Addie’s murder.

“Barry and I closed on the mansion in April of 1985,” Tom said. “And it wasn’t long after we closed that Mary Wilson came to the house and introduced herself. The house was still boarded up and it was a real mess in here. Mary Wilson stood right in the foyer, and pointed up at the top of the staircase and said, ‘That’s where my grandfather did Addie Hoyt in - right at the top of the stairs. She was his second wife. To cover it up, he got the doctor to alter the death record.’”

And how does Tom remember that conversation so well?

As they came to know Mary Wilson, she re-told them that story about Addie’s murder, and there was never any deviation from its original telling.

And the source of the story?

Tom said, “Mary Wilson told us that it was her mother, Elsie Fargo Mccammon (Enoch’s daughter), who told Mary about the murder of Enoch’s second wife. It was Elsie that told Mary about Enoch killing his second wife at the top of the staircase.”

Elsie was born in 1876, so she was a scant four years younger than Addie. At the time of Addie’s death, Elsie was 25 years old, and according to the 1900 census, Elsie was living at the Fargo Mansion.

And speaking as a historian and a mother, this account - handed down from Elsie to Mary - is one of the most important pieces of evidence that Addie Hoyt Fargo was indeed murdered.

Why would a mother tell this fantastic story to her daughter, unless it was true?

By all accounts, Elsie was an upstanding, moral, and respectable member of her community. She picked an ordained Methodist minister (Reverend Charles Mccammon) to be her life partner, and remained married to him until his death in 1946. It does not seem likely that a woman like this would lie to her own child about something so important.

Why did Elsie share this story with Mary? Maybe she didn’t want the story of this crime to be forgotten or lost.

Sadly, I’ve also heard from people who attempt to disparage and discredit Mary Wilson’s telling of these events. At the end of her long life (1910 - 1999), Mary Wilson is said to have suffered some dementia, but her book was published in 1983, and speaking as a fellow writer, I’d venture to guess she’d been working on this book for many years prior to its publication. Those who knew her in the early 1980s tell me that Mary was sharp as a tack.

The handful of negative comments I’ve received about Mary Wilson have come from Lake Mills’ natives and/or residents. And that strikes me as especially unfortunate, because those are the very people that Mary was seeking to help and to bless. In the preface of The History of Lake Mills, Mary wrote,

Thanks to my supportive friends, and those who are very interested in the preservation of local history. Also, I would like to recognize the encouragement given by the members of my family. With gratitude, we shall remember those who parted the branches for those of us who followed.

In writing this 820-page tome, it’s clear that Mary was striving to preserve the history of Lake Mills, and I, for one, am grateful that she “parted the branches” for those of us who are following in her footsteps.

To learn more about the history of the Fargo Mansion, click here.

To learn about visiting the Fargo Mansion, click here.

If you’ve enjoyed reading about Addie, please share this link with others on Facebook!


Elsie Fargo was the daughter of Enoch James Fargo and Mary Rutherford Fargo. Elsie married Reverend Mccammon, and they had two children, Paul and Mary. It was Elsie's daughter (Mary Wilson) who wrote the book, "The History of Lake Mills." According to Mary Wilson, her information about Addie's murder came from Elsie Fargo Mccammon.

Mary WilsonElsie Fargo at the Fargo Mansion, about 1899. Elsie told her daughter, Mary Wilson, that Enoch murdered Addie.
Addie in her bedroom at the Fargo Mansion.

Addie in her bedroom at the Fargo Mansion.

The Fargo Mansion in the late 1890s.

The Fargo Mansion in the late 1890s.

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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.


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