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Christmas at the Fargo Mansion

December 12th, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

It’s been about a year since I last stayed at the Fargo Mansion Inn in Lake Mills, Wisconsin but the many fond memories of that visit still remain. Many folks in that small, picturesque village showed me so many kindnesses. And two of the kindest, most sincere people I met during that trip were Tom Boycks and Barry Luce, owners of the Fargo Mansion Inn.

Were it not for these two, the 7,500-square foot Queen Anne mansion would have been reduced to several tons of construction debris at the county landfill. It was slated for demolition when they stepped in and bought it, sans heat, plumbing and electricity.

It’s been 25 years since those two saved this house, and today, it’s hard to imagine what Lake Mills would look like without this most impressive manse.

Since purchasing the solid-brick, 112-year-old house, Barry and Tom have poured their heart and soul (and a lot of money) into a thoughtful and thorough restoration. Visiting this house should be high on your “bucket list.” To make a reservation, click here.

The Fargo Mansion first came into my life in Summer 2011, shortly after my father’s death. Amongst his things, I found two old photo albums. One of the albums had an inscription: “Merry Christmas, Wilbur.”

Wilbur was my great-grandfather, but who was Addie Hoyt Fargo? Well, that’s a long story. To learn more about Addie Hoyt, click here.

To see pictures of Addie’s House, all dressed up for Christmas, scroll down!  (Thanks to Jan Vanderheiden for the photos!)

To read about Addie’s special Christmas present to Wilbur in 1900, click here.

To reserve a room at the Fargo Mansion (and see more gorgeous photos), click here.

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Addies house as it appeared in 1896, soon after a major remodeling.

Addie's house as it appeared in 1896, soon after a major remodeling.

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This beautiful house underwent a major remodeling in 1895 and 1896. Today, its a nationally known B&B. Addie would be proud!

This beautiful house underwent a major remodeling in 1895 and 1896. Today, it's a nationally known B&B. Addie would be proud! (Photos are copyright 2011 Jan Vanderheiden and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Inside, Tom and Barry have done a beautiful job of decorating the house for the holidays.

Inside, Tom and Barry have done a beautiful job of decorating the house for the holidays. (Photos are copyright 2011 Jan Vanderheiden and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Addie also did a fine job of decorating, back in 1896.

Addie also did a fine job of decorating, back in 1896. This photo faces the same corner as the contemporary photo shown above. Sadly, that newel post light ("Our Lady of the Naked Light") disappeared in the intervening decades.

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Tom and Barry love this old house, and it really shows.

Tom and Barry love this old house, and it really shows. (Photos are copyright 2011 Jan Vanderheiden and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Addie loved her house, too.

Addie loved her house, too. In the background, you can see that massive staircase and reception hall. Look at the fretwork and heavy curtains over the doorways.

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I love the vintage toys at the base of the tree. This tree sits at the base of the staircase. (Photos are copyright 2011 Jan Vanderheiden and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Notice the magnolia leaves on the Electrolier!

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When my father died in June 2011, I found this photo album buried in an old nightstand. Apparently Addie gave this to her brother-in-law Wilbur Whitmore for a Christmas gift.

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Heres a picture of Addie with her older sister, Anna. Anna (born 1866) married Wilbur and moved to Denver. Wilbur and Annas families were both from Lake Mills and theyre my great-grandparents.

Here's a picture of Addie with her older sister, Anna. Anna (born 1866) married Wilbur and moved to Denver. Wilbur and Anna's families were both from Lake Mills and they're my great-grandparents.

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Wilbur and Anna about the time of their engagement (late 1880s).

Wilbur and Anna about the time of their engagement (late 1880s).

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To learn more about the Hoyts, click here.

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Addie’s Exhumation: Do I Regret Having Done All This?

November 28th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

The number one question I’m asked again and again is, “Now that the the autopsy findings are in, and they’re inconclusive, do you regret having done all this?”

The answer is, no, not at all. In fact, based on what was discovered, I’m reassured that I made exactly the right choice.

If it hadn’t been for the exhumation, we never would have known that Addie was buried in a shallow grave. A 34″ deep grave is not a proper burial. Addie’s remains have now arrived at my home in Norfolk, and she will be given a Christian funeral.

Secondly, without the exhumation, we would never have known that she was buried in her dress shoes. That is a powerful bit of evidence, and provides yet another proof that the official story (diphtheria) is pure fiction.

Thirdly, knowing that she did not die of diphtheria, and knowing that there was probably foul play involved, and knowing that she was not given a proper burial at a proper depth and that there was no burial permit (a violation of state law), it feels like a good decision to move her remains out of the plot in Lake Mills.

Do I regret having gone through all the time, trouble and expense of exhuming a body to learn more about a 110-year-old murder mystery?

Nope. Not at all. It was a good decision. I’m confident that Addie would be pleased.

To see the article (and video) that appeared in Thursday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, click here.

To read more about Addie, click here.

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The digging started at about 8:45 am.

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Addie's remains were found at 34" of depth.

Addies exhumation shallow

This photo shows how shallow the grave was.

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Rose examines some of the remains that were unearthed.

Addies helpers

Addie's helpers searching for skeletal remains.

Addie

The story of Addie's mysterious demise seems to captivate everyone.

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Funeral director Dave Olsen stands in the background (orange shirt), ready to transport Addie's remains to the Medical Examiner's office in Milwaukee. Throughout this experience, Addie's remains were treated with the utmost respect. And Dave Olsen was one of the angels that helped me navigate the labyrinthine and complex process of disinterment.

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Another view of the grave site.

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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.

Addie

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.

Close-up

Addie was a beautiful young woman.

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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."

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close-up

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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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To read about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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Annie and Addie: The Hoyt Sisters From Lake Mills

July 16th, 2011 Sears Homes 5 comments

The young woman’s face in the old photo looked hauntingly familiar, but who was she?

It all started June 13, 2011, when I cleaned out the apartment at my late father’s assisted living facility and found a book of old photos. The most significant clue was this lone sentence on the back of a wedding photo: “Enoch and Addie Hoyt Fargo on their wedding day, 1896.”

Thanks to David Spriggs (a local historian and kind soul), I learned that Enoch  and Addie lived in Lake Mills, WI, and that Addie was my great, great Aunt.

Addie was 22 years younger than Enoch and she was his second wife. She was 24 at the time of her marriage to Enoch, and only four years older than Enoch’s eldest daughter (Elsie Fargo). This was Addie’s first marriage and it would be her last. According to two published accounts, her ever-loving husband Enoch slipped into Addie’s bedroom about 2:00 am on June 19, 1901, and put a bullet in her brain while she lay sleeping. Addie was only 29 years old when her life was taken.

The story is that Enoch had fallen in love with Martha (”Maddie”) Louise Hoyt (no relation to Addie Hoyt).

Seven months after young Addie died, Enoch married his third wife, Martha (in February 1902). It caused quite a scandal at the time. A proper period of mourning in the Victorian era was a minimum of twelve months. Remarriage during the period of mourning was unthinkable.

Maddie (wife #3) died in 1964, having outlived Enoch by 40 years. Enoch died in 1921 in Tarpon Springs, Florida. Maddie was living in California at the time of Enoch’s death. If I were married to Enoch, I also would have put 3,000 miles between me and the hubby.

My grandfather (who passed on in 1989) was a real fan of both history and genealogy, and yet no one in the Fuller clan had heard about Aunt Addie, prior to the discovery of this photo album. My 92-year-old Uncle Ed (my father’s twin brother), doesn’t remember hearing about Aunt Addie, either.

Anna Hoyt was my great-grandmother, and Anna and Addie were sistersAnna Hoyt ended up marrying Wilbur W. Whitmore and landed in Denver, Colorado. This photo album that I found amongst my father’s treasured possessions was inscribed, “A Merry Christmas, to Wilbur, from Addie.” (To see photos of Anna and Wilbur, click here.)

Anna and Addie had a baby brother, Eugene B. Hoyt (1874-1950) that never married. Anna died four months shy of her 100th birthday (1866-1966). It would seem that dear Aunt Addie died about 70 years before her time.

The Fuller clan (of which I am one) are Addie Hoyt Fargo’s closest (and perhaps only) living relatives.

Many thanks to David Spriggs (Norfolk) and Bruce A. Samoore, Volunteer Historical Researcher (Wisconsin) for discovering much of the genealogical information.

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 on their wedding day in February 1896. Addie was only 24 years old, and he was 46. This was her first marriage, his second. He had two daughters, the oldest of which was four years younger than Addie. Enoch allegedly shot Addie five years after their wedding day. Addie Hoyt Fargo was my great-great Aunt.

*Addie

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. He moved her into the family home, a Victorian manse built in 1881. Hers was a life of wealth, privilege, comfort and opulence - for a time.

Close-up

Addie was a beautiful young woman (age 24 in this photo). Her new husband was 46 at the time of their marriage.

My favorite photo of all.

This is one of my favorite photos, showing Addie sitting in her bedroom. Sadly, this is the very room where she was supposedly shot in her sleep.

Addie Hoyt Enoch was my grandmothers sister. Heres a picture of Annie Hoyt Whitmore from 1910. Annie, born in 1866, would have been 44 years old in this photo. This picture hangs in my formal dining room.

Addie Hoyt Fargo and Anna Hoyt Whitmore were sisters, and Anna Hoyt Whitmore was my great-grandmother. Here's a picture of Anna Hoyt Whitmore from 1910. Anna, born in 1866, would have been 44 years old in this photo. Annie lived to be 99 years old, dying four months shy of her 100th birthday. This picture hangs in my formal dining room.

Close-up of Anna Hoyt (sister of Addie)

Close-up of Anna Hoyt (sister of Addie)

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Anna (left) was 44 in this photo. Addie (right) was 24 in this photo.

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Anna Hoyt Whitmore (Addie's sister) had three children, and this is one of them (Ernie Eugene Whitmore). Ernie (born 1888) would have been Addie's nephew, and she was 16 when he was born. This photograph was taken a few weeks before his death. He was six years old. In 1894, Anna Hoyt Whitmore buried her six-year-old son, and seven years later, her baby sister died at the age of 29.

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This photo - from 1922 - shows Wilbur and Anna Hoyt Whitmore taking their twin grandsons out for a ride. My father is sitting with Wilbur and my Uncle Ed is sitting with his maternal grandmother, Anna Hoyt Whitmore (Addie's sister).

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Anna Hoyt Whitmore (left) holds Edgar A. Fuller (Junior) and Wilbur holds Thomas (my father). This picture is about 1921. At this time, Anna Hoyt Whitmore was still living in Denver. It's incredible to think that Anna Hoyt Whitmore lived another 45 years after this photo was taken. After her husband Wilbur died in 1939, Anna moved to California.

The Fargo Mansion in 1896, soon after my Great, Great Aunt Addie moved in with her new husband, Enoch Fargo.  Enoch was 22 years older than Addie.

The Fargo Mansion in 1896, soon after my Great, Great Aunt Addie moved in with her new husband, Enoch Fargo. Enoch was 22 years older than Addie.

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Fargo Mansion in Lake Mills, Wisconsin. This photo is courtesy of Brice Anderson (copyright 2011) and can not be reproduced or used without written permission.

Adie

Addie in 1896 (left) and in 1901 (right), shortly before she died. She was 29 years old in the photo on the right. Five years with Enoch had taken its toll on dear Addie.

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Addie, the papers dutifully recorded, died within 24 hours of her "sickness."

sElise Fargo (Mccammon) at the Fargo Mansion sometime in the late 1890s. Elsie was one of three daughters born to Mary Rutherford Fargo (Wife #1) and Enoch Fargo. Elsie was the eldest, and it was Elsies daughter (Mary Mccammon Wilson) who wrote The History of Lake Mills. Its in that book that Mary Wilson states plainly, [Enoch] shot Addie! (p 341).

Elise Fargo (Mccammon) at the Fargo Mansion sometime in the late 1890s. Elsie was one of three daughters born to Mary Rutherford Fargo (Wife #1) and Enoch Fargo. Elsie was the eldest, and it was Elsie's daughter (Mary Mccammon Wilson) who wrote "The History of Lake Mills." It's in that book that Mary Wilson states plainly, "Enoch shot Addie!" (p. 275).

Maddie.

Here's Enoch's third wife, "Maddie." Published accounts state that Enoch killed Addie in her sleep so that he could marry his true love, Maddie Hoyt (shown here). The legend is that Maddie was a cousin to Addie, but this doesn't appear to be correct. Genealogical research shows that Maddie Louise Hoyt (given name "Martha") was *no* blood relation to Addie Hoyt. Maddie's mother was Marie Harbeck, who married Henry Hoyt in 1880. Maddie was born in 1873, and was listed in the 1890 census as the step-child of Henry Hoyt. Incredibly, Maddie's grandmother (Elizabeth "Betsy" Harbeck) was also a Fargo. Maddie died in 1964.

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

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

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The Kit Homes in Lake Mills! (Updated #2)

July 14th, 2011 Sears Homes 5 comments

Thanks to Dawn Stewart and Sandy Spann of Lake Mills, Wisconsin, I now have photographs of three kit homes in Lake Mills, Wisconsin!

The first is from Sears, the second is from Gordon Van Tine and the third is from Montgomery Ward. In fact, Gordon Van Tine was the supplier of Wardway Homes (which explains why Montgomery Ward and GVT catalogs were identical).

Mail-order kit homes were just that - kits ordered from a mail-order catalog. These houses arrived as 12,000-piece kits (yes, 12,000 pieces) and came with a 75-page instruction book that told the wanna-be homeowner how all those pieces and parts went together. Sears (one of six kit home companies doing business on a national level) promised that a “man of average abilities” could have the house assembled and ready for occupancy in 90 days!

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.

The houses were delivered by train and most kit homes could fit in one well-packed boxcar. Today, these early 20th Century catalog homes are typically found within 1-2 miles of railroad tracks, just because the logistics of hauling all those pieces of house was so problematic!

And one last fact - about 90% of the people living in these homes had no idea about the unique origins of their home until I knocked on their door (or blogged on my website) and told them! My raison d’être is to help folks learn more about this historically significant (and nearly forgotten) piece of America’s architectural heritage.

Enjoy the photos below! And leave a comment!  :)

To learn more about how to identify kit homes, click here.

Sears

Sears Newbury, as it appeared in the 1936 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Sears

Notice the swoop in the roof as it extends over the wide front porch. On the rear, there's a small cornice return, and it's on a different plane that the front roof.

Sears

The Newbury in Lake Mills is hard to see due to the mature vegetation, but that bellcast (swooping) roof is easy to spot. And you can see the small cornice return on the rear. Sears kit homes came with 12,000 pieces and the Newbury was "Ready Cut" meaning that all framing members were pre-cut and ready to nail into place. However, masonry was not part of the kit and was obtained locally. The catalog page shows a stone chimney but this Newbury has a brick chimney. That's an inconsequential difference. (This photograph is courtesy of Sandra Spann and can not be used or reproduced without written permission. Copyright 2011, Sandra Spann.)

To read more about this Newbury in Lake Mills, click here!

1921

As seen in the 1921 catalog, this is a very unusual house, and the house in Lake Mills is a beautiful match with only one difference - that original railing across the dormer is missing.

house

And here's a photo of Gordon Van Tine Home #705 in Lake Mills, Wisconsin. It's a beautiful house in wonderful condition and a spot-on match to the original catalog picture! Look at the windows on the side, and how they're just the same in both the Lake Mills house and the vintage catalog picture. My oh my, that does indeed warm the cockles of my heart. Photograph is courtesy Dawn Stewart (copyright 2011) and may not be used or reproduced with written permission.

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These mail-order kit homes (such as the GVT 705) could be ordered "reversed," and what's shown above is the mirrored image of the catalog page (note page number on upper right). This really is a beautiful match to the house above! These catalog images are from the 1921 Gordon Van Tine catalog.

Just in case you wanted to see them side by side.

Just in case you wanted to see them side by side.

Check out this floorplan!

Check out this floorplan!

The next one is Montgomery Ward #123 (shown below).  This house is really distinctive, mainly because of that second floor bay window!

Lake Mills

Montgomery Ward sold about 25,000 kit homes during their 20+ years in the kit home business. Not surprisingly, the majority of these homes are probably within a 300-mile radius of Chicago (where Montgomery Ward was located).

House

Look at the window! The house in Lake Mills (on Water Street) is a very good match to this catalog image (1914). Note the placement of the window directly beside the front door. And also note those supersized cornice returns on either side of that second-floor bay window. The front porch has a hip roof, with three round columns. All these features are also in evidence on the house in Lake Mills (see next photo).

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Easy as 1-2-3 to identify! This is Montgomery Ward Home #123, in Lake Mills, WI. Photograph is courtesy Dawn Stewart (copyright 2011) and may not be used or reproduced with written permission.

Now this next one…I’m not so sure about. Read the caption below for more info.

Do you think you have a kit home in Lake Mills (or nearby)? Leave a comment below!

Lake

This one, I'm not so sure about. I found it whilst driving via Google Maps and made a note of it, but when I went back to get a better look, I couldn't find it!

To learn more about Wardway Homes, click here.

To learn about Addie Hoyt, click here.

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Was Aunt Addie shot in the head? (UPDATED)

June 27th, 2011 Sears Homes 1 comment

This blog was originally written June 26, 2011. Since then, I’ve traveled to Lake Mills twice and I’ve learned a lot.

To answer the question, the results of Addie’s autopsy were inconclusive, but based on other evidence that’s been discovered, Addie apparently was murdered at the age of 29.  Seven months after her death, her husband (Enoch Fargo) had remarried the young woman who’d been living in the Fargo Mansion. To learn more about this, click here.

My adventure into this Addie Hoyt story began with an ending: My father’s.

Friday morning at 2:35 am, after sitting at his bedside for some time, my father breathed his last. In the solemn quietude of that darkened room, I walked over to my husband, sleeping on the nearby couch, and tried to wake him gently.

“I think he’s passed,” I whispered.

My husband sprang up, dashed into the bedroom and felt for a pulse.

“We should call the nurse,” he said.

It was Friday, June 10, 2011.

Three days later, I was back at the assisted living facility, cleaning it out. I was supposed to meet someone there who’d take on the task of getting everything out of the tiny apartment. He was instructed to remove every item and take it to Goodwill or to the trash.

Mr. Clean-up Guy was two hours late.

While I waited for him to show up, I grabbed the super-sized black trash bags I’d brought and started sorting through the massive pile of stuff. I came upon two books of old photo albums. I flipped open one of them and saw a horse wearing a doily.

“What is this?” I thought to myself.

I didn’t know if he’d found it on a trash pile somewhere or had purchased it somewhere - or worse - maybe it belonged to his second wife’s family. I assumed the latter, and threw the 100-year-old photo albums right into the trash. I was overwhelmed and tired.

A few minutes went by and I got to thinking about those two albums. The historian in me couldn’t stand it. I retrieved them from their dark resting place.

And then after looking through the photo albums a second time, I threw them out again.

And then I cried.

Why was nothing going right? Where was Mr. Clean-up guy? Why couldn’t God give me a break? I’d just learned that I was going to be the one delivering the eulogy at my father’s funeral. I was the one organizing the funeral. I was the one who’d sat with him those last two weeks, helping him make the transition from this world to the next. And now I was the one who was cleaning this debris-laden apartment. I felt very alone. And I didn’t have the emotional energy to deal with my father’s crazy collection of paperwork, ephemera and photo albums.

I cried some more. And then I called a friend, Lisa Gould, and asked for her help.

“I’m melting,” I told her. “I’m losing it. Please come sit with me and hold my hand.”

Lisa appeared at the door within 15 minutes and gave me one of the greatest hugs of all time and said, “It’s okay, Honey. You’re not alone.

She stayed there with me for three hours. I’d like to say she helped me clean out the place but that’s not true. Lisa did all the cleaning while I sat on the couch and fought the temptation to curl up in a corner in the fetal position and make soft whimpering noises.

In the end, I tossed those photo albums into a maroon pillow case. I had not come prepared to take anything home, so those pillow cases were the best I could do. And later that evening when I arrived home, that maroon pillow case got tossed on the floor of my hallway until I had the emotional energy to deal with it.

My father’s funeral was Monday, June 20th. Once that was behind me, I felt ready to push on with life.

My daughter came to my home on Tuesday (the 21st) for a visit. I handed her the photo albums and said, “I have no idea who these people are, but these photos are pretty interesting. She took one of the albums home to show her significant other, Chris.

“He likes looking at old pictures like this,” she told me.

“You might as well take it,” I told her. “I was just going to throw them out. In fact I still don’t know what on earth I’m going to do with them.”

On Friday, June 24th, I scanned a few photos from the album and sent them to my friend and neighbor David Spriggs and asked, “How do I find out who these people are?”

There was one lone clue on the back of the first photo. It said,

Addie Hoyt and Enoch

Fargo

On their wedding day

1896.

My grandmother was born in Lead, South Dakota in 1891, so I assumed that “Fargo” was the location.

David wrote back a few hours later and said, “Fargo is not the location. It’s the last name. Your aunt lived in a small city in Wisconsin…”

And that’s how this adventure began.

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

To read the latest on Addie’s death, click here.

To read about the results of the autopsy, click here.

To learn about Sears Homes, click here.

These were fancy people living a fancy life. As my daughter Crystal pointed out, even the horse is wearing a doily!

This was the first picture my eyes fell upon when I opened the old album.

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Addie in her bedroom at the Fargo Mansion.

And this was one of the photos that convinced me to hang onto this photo album. The detail and the clarity of this photo really was breath-taking. I had a feeling that whomever owned this mansion today would love to see these incredible photos. Turns out, this is Addie sitting in her bedroom (about 1896).

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The Fargo Mansion in the late 1890s.

This was another photo that compelled me to hang onto the album. Again, as an architectural historian, I knew that SOMEONE would love to know what their home looked like in the late 1890s. Little did I know...

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My father in January 1943.

My father - Thomas Hoyt Fuller - in January 1943. He was named after Addie's side of the family, and also named for a more distant relative, "Thomas Hoyt," who was a revolutionary war hero.

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Before Enoch, Addie was a beautiful, vibrant, strong woman.

Before Enoch, Addie was a beautiful, vibrant, strong woman. She was 24 years old when she married him; he was 46. Seven months after her death, he remarried Martha Harbeck Hoyt, a woman that had been living in the Fargo Mansion prior to Addie's death.

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Enoch Fargo should have come with a surgeon general's warning. Being married to him was obviously very hard on a woman's health, physical well-being and even their life. Here are two photos of Enoch's first wife - Mary Rutherford Fargo. She died at the age of 37 (allegedly from Typhoid), so in this picture on the right she can not be more than 37 years old. Poor Mary.

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And here's a picture of Addie, in 1896 (on her wedding day), and a scant five years later. Life with Enoch took a toll on both wives, and according to Mary Wilson, being married to Enoch not only took away Addie's youth, vigor and beauty; it also took away her very life.

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Addie

What does Addie's body language tell us here? I'd love to know.

To read more about Addie, click here.

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