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A Brief Social History of 20th Century America, As Told By Porches

February 27th, 2013 Sears Homes 3 comments

When you cut a tree down, you can learn a lot about local history by examining its exposed trunk. How many rings does it have? How old is the tree? During which years did the area experience a drought?

By studying America’s early architecture, you can learn a lot about life in that time period. For instance, in the early 1900s, why did the Victorian Manse fall from favor so fast? Why did the diminutive bungalow gain ground so fast?

What ignited The Bungalow Craze?

The germ theory.

In the late 1800s, about one in five children died before their 18th birthday. Parents were desperate to do anything to protect their children’s health. When it was discovered that “germs” were the culprit and that sanitation was the cure, people couldn’t get out of those big houses fast enough. It’s a fascinating topic, and to learn more about this one slice of American architectural history, click here.

Porches also tell a story about the social fabric in early 20th Century America.

In the mid-1800s to the early 1900s, we loved our front porches, and by design, they were intended to “woo and welcome the weary wanderer.”

Men, women and children passed many happy hours on the oversized front porch, and it was an open invitation for folks to drop by a “set a spell” (as we say in the south).

In pre-air conditioning days, the front porch also provided a welcome respite from the summer heat.

Last but not least, there were the salutary effects of fresh air. Primitive heating systems (usually fired by coal) had no filtration, and were probably partly to blame for the fact that so many children suffered from pulmonary diseases.

And there was a body of belief that fresh air was a cure for so many diseases. Being “cooped up” in an unevenly heated, often drafty old house was a recipe for disease, according to the prevailing thought of the day. In the early 1900s, a daily dose of fresh air was akin to today’s fascination with vitamins and herbal remedies.  (In the 1920s, “sleeping porches” became the rage for this very reason.)

And we were a society of walkers. Most communities were full of walkers, on their daily rounds. Without modern refrigeration, excursions to the butcher, the grocer, the baker and the general store were daily events.

And if you passed by The Thornton Home on Thornrose Avenue and saw Rose sitting in her wicker swing on the front porch, it was de rigueur to walk up to (but not on) the front steps and say hello. If Rosemary was in a fittin’ mood, she’d invite you to “set down for a bit and rest a spell.”

Front porches were a significant piece of our social construct in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

When houses got smaller, so did the front porch. By the 1910s, they were significantly downsized. And by 1920, a funny thing happened on the way to the wicker swing. The porch got moved to the side of the house. We still wanted to be part of the community, but we also wanted our privacy, and some alone time with our loved ones.

And in the 1950s, the porch moved again - to the back of the house. After making the commute back home from the foundry or the mill or the Skippy Peanut Butter Plant, we wanted to relax and put our feet up and enjoy our own little oasis in the back yard, away from the madding world. If someone wanted to drop by, they’d darn well better call first, and if they just showed up at the door, we could ignore them, and remain safely ensconced (and hidden) on the back of the house.

As I said, it’s a fascinating thumbnail sketch of American society.

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Aunties home

My great Aunt (Addie Hoyt) lived in this classic Victorian home, which was extensively remodeled (completely rebuilt) in 1895. Note the massive front porch, replete with three hammocks hanging from the porch posts. This photo as taken about 1899 or 1900.

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close up

Here's a close-up of those three hammocks. Very inviting!

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auntie poker

Front porches were very inviting - by design - and also became kind of an "outdoor den" and social center. Here is Addie (facing the camera) playing poker with an unidentified woman friend on the front porch of her home. She captioned this photo, "We have a real kitty for the kitty!"

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contemporary shows off porch

A contemporary view of Addie's home (2012). This photo really shows off those amazing porches. The second floor porches facing the street were sometimes known as "Parade Porches." This house has two second-floor porches. BTW, this house is now a famous Wisconsin landmark, and it's also a B&B. It's known as the Fargo Mansion Inn. Look below for a link to the site.

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1920sw

In 1957, my parents moved into this house at 515 Nansemond Street (Waterview) in Portsmouth, Virginia. It was built in 1924, and you can see the open porch is now on the side of the house. By the early 1920s, porches had migrated to the side, giving the homeowner a little privacy.

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side porch

My parents loved this house, and they captured a picture that really showcases the idea of the "private oasis" and the side porch. This house was in the suburbs (of the time), and not many people were likely to be walking down the street (compared to downtown districts), and yet we still wanted a bit of privacy from the world. Between the long awnings and the tall shrubs, it's hard to see much of anything on that porch, and that was probably by design.

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house house

Close-up of the side porch. In the late1950s, my mother stepped out to her beloved side porch one summer evening and saw a bat hanging upside down in the corner. The next week, a contractor was at the house, screening in Mother's porch. She dearly loved that screened-in porch and spent many happy hours there, looking out at the side yard.

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front porch shelter rain

By 1925, front porches were a place to stand for a moment, sheltered from the elements, while you dug out your house keys. Or in this case, pose for an Easter photo (1957). My brother Tommy stands on the left, with Rickey on the right.

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house house

By the 1950s, porches had migrated to the back of the house. After a hard day at the office, we wanted our privacy and we didn't want to share our quiet time with strollers meandering down the street. There were new social rules. Visitors were by invitation only, and if someone decided to drop by (without calling ahead), we could hide safely in the back of the house. This house (my house) was built in 1962. The porch on the back is invisible from neighbors on either side. When built, this was a screened-in porch with a cement floor. In 1979, the windows were installed, and the 12x14' room became a sunporch. We purchased the home in 2012, and did a few more improvements to the room (some repairs and the installation wall-to-wall carpet). This is now the place where we spend 95% of our time.

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house house

Even before proper porches, people tended to congregate in the front of the "old home place." This is a soddie ("the first house") in Dighton, Kansas. It was made of sod - literally.

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To learn more about Addie, click here.

To stay at Addie’s home, click here.

To read more about Rose’s much-loved mid-century brick ranch, click here.

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Another Gordon Van Tine Kit Home in Lake Mills, Wisconsin!

June 25th, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

In September and November 2011, I traveled to Lake Mills, Wisconsin to do more research on my Aunt Addie, who was allegedly murdered by her husband, Enoch Fargo. It’s a fascinating story and you can learn more about that here.

Whilst there, I discovered a handful of kit homes in Lake Mills. Click here to see photos of those houses.

More recently, my friend Rachel sent me a picture of a very unique house sold by Gordon Van Tine. Immediately, I recognized it as a house I’d seen in Lake Mills. I asked folks in Lake Mills if they could get me a photo of the house and they gladly obliged. Scroll down to see this very interesting house!

And as Rachel Shoemaker observed, the GVT #126 was also built in Mechanicsville, Ohio (according to the testimonial in the 1913 catalog) and she also found one in Fayette, Ohio!

From the 1913 Gordon Van Tine house

House Plan #126 from the 1913 Gordon Van Tine catalog.

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1913 catalog

Close-up of #126. Note the flare at the bottom of the dormer's columns.

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house

Close-up of the floorplan.

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Lake Mills

A small snapshot at the bottom of the catalog page shows an interior shot of the living room. Notice the heavy drapes over the entrance to the stairwell.

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Dawn Stewart

Here's what I *think* could be GVT #126 in Lake Mills (on Lake Street). (Photo is copyright 2012 Dawn Stewart and may not be used or reproduced without permission.)

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Joeylynn Mattson

Another shot of the GVT #126. Notice that the front door is not centered on the Lake Mills house and yet the catalog house has a centered door. However, the living room spans the entire width of the house, so this would be a simple change to make. (Photo is copyright 2012 Joeylynn Mattson and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Angie Hallmark

A better view of that front door. (Photo is copyright 2012 Angie Hallmark and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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compare dawn

Is this the GVT #126? I'm still not sure, but it's mighty close. That flare at the bottom of the dormer is a very unusual feature, and the house in Lake Mills is a beautiful match to the catalog image. The rest of the features are so very close that it does seem likely that the house in Lake Mills is the GVT #126. (Photo on the left is copyright 2012 Angie Hallmark and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Addie

And here's the reason I became interested in Lake Mills in the first place. The above is a picture of my great Aunt Addie (on the left) and her sister, my great grandmother (Anna Hawley Hoyt Whitmore). Addie and Anna were the children of Julia Hawley Hoyt and her husband, Homer. Julia and Homer's families both had deep roots in the Lake Mills area, and their children were born and raised in Jefferson County. According to "A History of Lake Mills," Addie was shot and killed by her husband in 1901. Addie was 29 years old at the time.

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To learn more about Gordon Van Tine houses, click here.

To read what the funeral director told me about Addie’s burial, click here.

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And Then Julia Contracted Scarlet Fever…

February 23rd, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

Thursday evening, after some diligent searching, I found the obituary for Julia Hawley Hoyt, Addie’s mother. The microfilm was so badly faded that the text was barely legible, but I did find it.

As I expected, Julia Hawley Hoyt never made it back to Lake Mills after November 30, 1894. She left her home in Lake Mills, Wisconsin after Thanksgiving to rush out to Denver, Colorado. Her eldest daughter (Anna Hoyt Whitmore) was sick with Scarlet Fever, as was Anna’s whole family (husband and three children, ages six, three and one).

The trek from Chicago to Denver took 26 hours. Julia would have arrived into Denver on December 1st. That was the day that little Ernie, Anna’s eldest child, died from the Scarlet Fever.

According to the obituary I found in the Lake Mills Leader Julia Hoyt contracted Scarlet Fever while she was there in Denver, and died in May, almost six months later.

Obituary

Died, at San Mateo, California, May 9th (1895), Mrs. Julia Hoyt of Lake Mills, Wisconsin at the age of 51 years. Mrs. Hoyt was born in Milford, Jefferson County in 1844 where she grew to womanhood. She was married to Mr. Homer Hoyt on October 16, 1862 at Milford.  She was the mother of three children, two daughters and one son,  Mrs. Wilbur Whitmore, Denver Colorado, Eugene B. Hoyt, and Miss Addie Hoyt of Lake Mills, all of whom survive to mourn the loss of a gentle and loving mother.


The funeral took place at San Mateo, California May 12th and the deceased was buried beside her father and sister. Mrs. Hoyt was called to Denver about last Thanksgiving time to assist her daughter in the care of her children who were sick with Scarlet Fever and during these tender ministrations contracted the disease, which at last resulted in dropsy causing her death.


As a devoted wife, a kind and loving mother, and a true neighbor, Mrs. Hoyt will long be remember, and her numerous friends will be moved with tenderest sympathy for the mourning children, who must sustain through grief and sorrow their irreparable loss.

“No more to hear her voice of love,

Nor feel her touch so kind,

waiting until the shadows move,

Revealing the beyond.”

From what I can glean, Addie was not able to attend her mothers funeral in San Mateo. That would also have been difficult. Addie last saw her mother around Thanksgiving 1895, when Julia Hoyt went to Denver to help Annas family deal with Scarlet Fever.

Addie last saw her mother around Thanksgiving 1894, when Julia Hoyt (shown here in 1888) went to Denver to help Anna's family deal with Scarlet Fever. Julia never returned to Lake Mills. While providing nursing duties to her family in Denver, she contracted Scarlet Fever which developed into "dropsy" or severe swelling, most likely occasioned by heart or kidney failure. This was a common cause of death from Scarlet Fever. Julia died May 1895, six months after her visit to Denver.

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How did beautiful young Addie end up with a troll like Enoch? Thats a good question. Losing her mother must have been tough, and in 1893, 94 and 95, there were a lot of losses for Addie. Perhaps she was so stricken with grief, she couldnt think clearly.

How did beautiful young Addie end up with a troll like Enoch? That's a good question. Losing her mother must have been tough, and in 1893, 94 and 95, there were a lot of losses for Addie. Perhaps she was so stricken with grief, she couldn't think clearly. Addie is shown here with her sister, Anna (right), who moved to Denver in 1887.

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Apap

This notice appeared in the Lake Mills Leader (newspaper) on December 6, 1894.

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Anna Hoyt Whitmore had three children, two of whom survived their bout with Scarlet Fever. Ernie did not, and he died on December 1, 1894.

Anna Hoyt Whitmore had three children, two of whom survived their bout with Scarlet Fever. "Ernie" did not, and he died on December 1, 1894.

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Ernie

Ernie's obit was published in both the "Denver Rock Mountain News" and the "Lake Mills Leader."

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Victor survived

Florence Whitmore and her baby brother "Victor" both survived Scarlet Fever in 1894. They're shown here in 1895, one year after Ernie's death.

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How did Addie

Between 1893 and 1895, Addie lost six of her closest family members to death, and her brother and sister moved out of the area. These eight losses left Addie isolated and alone and vulnerable. Nine months after the last death (her mother's passing in May 1895), Addie married Enoch. It was a mistake that would have fatal consequences. And Addie's "aloneness" in the world made it easier for Enoch to get away with murder - literally.

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“Every funeral tradition of the time was violated by this burial” (Yes, it’s really as interesting as it sounds).

To read more about little Ernie, click here.

To learn more about Addie, click here.

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The Worm Has Turned

December 26th, 2011 Sears Homes 5 comments

Wouldn’t it be nice if the City of Lake Mills would have treated you better? And not only the city, but all of Lake Mills’ past and present residents? Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone interested in this mystery would treat everyone with respect? I wish you the best of luck and pray that someday the mystery will be solved!

Someone left the above comment at my website this evening (December 26, 2011).

I thanked them for the comment, and responded with a comment of my own which said,

Ever since I first learned of Addie Hoyt Fargo, all I wanted to do was to get to the bottom of this amazing story, and figure out what happened to my great Aunt, a beautiful, intelligent, interesting 29-year-old woman.

I’m a few months older now, and a lot wiser, and I’ve learned that when people can not attack the facts, they attack the person, and it saddens me greatly that I was *attacked* (verbally), because I wanted to uncover the true facts of this old story.

When I first came into Lake Mills in September 2011, I was so impressed with the idyllic little town. I called my daughter (who lived in Appleton for many years) and told her how beautiful it was. She said, “Mom, I miss Wisconsin so much. It’s a wonderful place to live.”

And then the hate mails started coming - sometimes 2-3 per DAY. I read a few of them to my daughter and she said, “That’s not the Wisconsin I remember. I can’t believe these people are treating you like this.”

But in the last couple weeks, things have changed - for the better.

Now, I receive a steady stream of supportive comments from people asking, “Why would *anyone* send you hate mail, and protest so much and react so strongly when all you’re trying to do is solve an old murder mystery? You’re after the facts, but the opposition seems to be after YOU personally.”

In fact, I’ve had several old timers contact me and share several stories about Enoch Fargo, and none of them are good. Enoch and his contemporaries may be long dead, but stories of Enoch’s misdeeds were passed from generation to generation, and I’ve been told some chilling tales about Enoch J. Fargo.

And according to Enoch’s own granddaughter, he got away with murder in June 1901, when he killed Addie Hoyt Fargo.

Well, he almost got away with murder.

Thank you to the many kind souls who have written me and  phoned me and offered their support and encouragement, and private stories. It’s gratifying to know that there are others, like me, who have a deep, abiding hunger to find the truth about what happened to Addie Hoyt Fargo.

To learn more about Addie Hoyt Fargo, click here.

To learn more about the results of the autopsy, click here.

Enoch

Enoch J. Fargo

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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

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.

Kim

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

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 House at Christmastime

December 24th, 2011 Sears Homes 2 comments

In Lake Mills, the beautiful and elegant Fargo Mansion is decorated in style for the Christmas holidays. The Fargo Mansion Inn is one of the most grandiose and remarkable mansions in Wisconsin, and incredibly, it was slated for demolition in the early 1980s. The two men who purchased it (Tom Boycks and Barry Luce) have done a remarkable job of restoring it.

Since purchasing the 7-500-square foot Queen Anne Manse in 1985, Barry and Tom have poured their heart and soul (and a kajillion dollars) into the careful restoration of the old house, and they’ve done a first-class job. If visiting this house is not on your “bucket list,” it certainly should be. To make a reservation, click here.

Take a look at Addie’s House, all dressed up for Christmas.  (Thanks to Jan Vanderheiden for the photos!)

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

Extero

The Fargo Mansion Inn at night - all dressed up for Christmas. (Photos are copyright 2011 Jan Vanderheiden and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

Christmas tree at the foot of the staircase in the mansion.

Christmas tree at the foot of the staircase in the mansion. (Photos are copyright 2011 Jan Vanderheiden and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

When Tom and Barry bought the mansion in 1985, many of the original moldings and mantels had been removed, in anticipation of its demolition. This settee was one of the few original items that remained.

When Tom and Barry bought the mansion in 1985, many of the original moldings and mantels had been removed, in anticipation of its demolition. This settee was one of the few original items that remained. (Photos are copyright 2011 Jan Vanderheiden and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

Chi

A small tree and "Christmas Village" adorn the solarium at the Fargo Mansion.(Photos are copyright 2011 Jan Vanderheiden and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

And a spacious tree in the main parlor.

And a beautifully decorated tree sits in the main parlor. (Photos are copyright 2011 Jan Vanderheiden and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

It was Christmas 1900 when Addie sent this photo album to her brother-in-law in Denver (my great-grandfather).

It was Christmas 1900 when Addie sent this photo album to her brother-in-law in Denver (my great-grandfather).

Scroll on down to see photos of Addie’s house in Addie’s time (late 1890s).

A

Addie sent this photo to her family in Denver, Colorado. Her sister Anna Hoyt Whitmore lived in Denver with her husband Wilbur, and their two children. Addie was obviously very proud of her home, and wanted to let her big sister know, she finally had a home of her own.

Another pic

Addie is on the lower left, with Enoch above her. Elsie and Mattie (sisters) are on the right.

This is my favorite photo, and shows Addie sitting in the master bedroom.

This is my favorite photo, and shows Addie sitting in the master bedroom.

Close-up of that amazing bed!

Close-up of that amazing bed!

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From the staircase, looking out toward the front parlor.

caption

This "electrolier" (both electric and gas) is adorned with magnolia leaves.

Close up

Close up of the fretwork, trim and heavy curtain over the doorway.

Chair

I just love these chairs!

Enoch in repose with his evening newspaper.

Enoch in repose with his evening newspaper.

pi

A picture from one of the parlors, looking toward the front door and grand staircase.

Addie (at the piano) and Mattie (singing) enjoy some quality family time.

Addie (at the piano) and Mattie (singing) enjoy some quality family time. Elsie is to the right and out of frame in this shot.

pic

This is the front parlor (nearest the front door) looking into the room (on the far right) that adjoins the dining room.

And this is also a favorite photo. Thats a heckuva newel post light! Unfortunately, Our Lady With the Light is gone, and Tom and Barry would love to know what became of her.

And this is also a favorite photo. That's a heckuva newel post light! Unfortunately, "Our Lady With the Light" is gone, and Tom and Barry would love to know what became of her.

j

Enoch invented a central vacuum system, and he's shown here "getting his suit cleaned" by one of the servants. This photo appeared in a manual on the central vacuum system that Tom and Barry found. It also shows great detail of the home's interior. This would have been a little after Addie's time, in the early 1910s.

Another photo of Enochs central vacuum, and this one is in the kitchen.

Another photo of Enoch's central vacuum, and this one is in the kitchen.

Tom and Barry

Tom and Barry have done a phenomenal job of restoring this grand old mansion. They told me that this house was slated for demolition when they purchased it (in1985) and began their life-long labor of restoration. It's an ongoing project, but their love of this house shines through in each and every faithfully restored nook and cranny.

Loo

This is one of my favorite pictures, for it captures the workmanship of the original structure, and the painstaking work that had to be done in the restoration.

A view of the parlor today.

A view of the parlor today.

I highly recommend the Fargo Mansion Inn.

I shudder to think that this incredible house nearly ended up as another memory in another small town. Were it not for Tom and Barry, this house would be another pile of forgotten construction debris at the local landfill.

To learn more about Addie, click here.

To learn more about old houses, click here.

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Enoch Fargo Should Have Come with a Surgeon General’s Warning

December 22nd, 2011 Sears Homes 2 comments

Being married to Enoch was hard on a woman. To see just how hard it was, take a look at these photos below.

In fact, this guy should have come with a Surgeon General’s warning label.

Scroll on down to see photos of Enoch’s first two wives, in their youth, and a few years later.

These images are haunting. Being married to Enoch took a real toll on these women.

Ad

It's hard to believe but this IS the same woman ( Enoch's first wife - Mary Rutherford Fargo) in both photos. 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.

The

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.

Addie

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

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. Eleven months after her death, he remarried Martha Harbeck Hoyt, a woman that had been living in the Fargo Mansion prior to Addie's death.

Did Enoch murder his young wife, Addie Hoyt Fargo? According to Mary Wilson, he did. To learn more about that, click here.

We do know that Addie’s death certificate was falsified. And we now know that Addie did not - could NOT - have died from diphtheria.

This is a complicated, detailed story. Click on the above links to learn more about the proof we’ve found that establishes - Mary Wilson was right.

To learn more about the Fargo Mansion, click here.

Please leave a comment below.

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The People in Addie’s Life and Death

December 9th, 2011 Sears Homes 1 comment

If you’re new to this site, it can be hard to figure out who’s who. For that reason, I’m writing this blog which will give a brief synopsis on the people involved.

Enoch

Enoch James Fargo was the son of a wealthy merchant, Enoch B. Fargo. Enoch James Fargo (1850-1921) married my great, great Aunt, Addie Hoyt, in February 1896.

According to Mary Wilson (Enoch’s granddaughter), Enoch shot Addie. (See page 274 of Wilson’s book, The History of Lake Mills.)

And there’s a lot of specific evidence that support’s Mary Wilson’s statement that Addie was murdered. In other words, Mary Wilson got it right.  When Addie was exhumed, she was found in a shallow grave. That, in and of itself, is very damning. And she was found wearing her shoes, which blows a few holes in the official story of Addie’s death. Read more here.

Addie was my great, great Aunt.

Addie (left) was my great, great Aunt. She's shown here with her sister (Anna) who was my great-grandmother. This photo was taken in 1887, when Addie was 15 years old. Anna would have been 21, and already married. Note the wedding band on Anna's hand.

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Addie in 1894, shortly before her marriage to Enoch James Fargo.

Addie in 1894, shortly before her marriage to Enoch James Fargo.

In the late 1880s, Addie’s beloved sister Anna married and moved to Denver.

In 1893, Addie’s paternal grandfather (Kimball Hoyt) died. In 1894, her paternal grandmother died. Addie probably lived with her grandparents at the time of their death.

These would be hard, hard years for Addie and full of losses.

Addie’s father and nephew (”Ernie”) died in 1894.  Her father’s brother (Addie’s Uncle) also died in 1894.

And then her mother died in January 1895.

Dad

Addie's father (Homer Hoyt) died in 1894.

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cap

Ernie (born 1888) died in 1894. He was six years old.

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Her mother died in early 1895.

Her mother died in January 1895.

This about this for a moment.

Between 1893-1895, Addie buried;

Her Grandmother,

Grandfather,

Uncle Smith Hoyt,

Six-year-old nephew (”Ernie”),

Mother,

and Father.

The six most important people in her life were dead in a period of two years.

And her sister (Anna) had moved away.

Addie was alone in the world, and probably scared to death.

And then she made the worst mistake of her life.

Literally.

She married Enoch James Fargo.

Enoch Fargo and his bride, Addie Hoyt Fargo. This is labeled as their wedding photo from 1896.

Addie married Enoch in February 1896. This is their wedding picture.

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Enoch had been married before, to this woman: Mary Rutherford Fargo.

Enoch had been married before, to this woman: Mary Rutherford Fargo. Mary and Enoch were married July 4, 1876, and had three children. Their first child (Elsie) was born December 1, 1876. Myrtle was born in 1878 and died 1887 (at nine years of age). Their youngest was born in 1884, and her name was Martha, but she was called, "Mattie." Mary Rutherford died in March 1895, and eleven months later, Enoch married young Addie (age 24).

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Elsie

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."

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Mattie Pauline Fargo was the youngest child of Enoch and Mary. The day before Mattie's graduation, her step-mother (Addie Hoyt) died at the Fargo Mansion. Mattie was slated to give a talk on "The New Pilgrim's Progress" the next day (June 20th, 1901) at her commencement. In October 1922, Mattie Pauline married Dr. C. K. Faber of Junction City, KS.

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Addie was only four years older than Elsie, Enochs oldest daughter.

Addie was only four years older than Elsie, Enoch's oldest daughter. According to long-time Lake Mills' residents, Enoch wasn't a big fan of children. Mary Wilson was not a frequent visitor to the mansion, but grew up hearing about Enoch from her mother, Elsie Fargo (upper right). Addie is seated on the lower left.

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Enoch liked having servant girls in the house.

Enoch being vacuumed by one of two women servants in his employ.

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Ser

The 1900 census shows two servant girls from Germany living at the Fargo Mansion. One is Martha Draeger (perhaps Drager) and the other is Mary Frey or Fry. If Addie was killed in the house, you have to wonder if these two servant girls saw anything.

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Addie and Enoch lived in his pad, The Fargo Mansion.

Addie and Enoch lived in his little bungalow, The Fargo Mansion, in Lake Mills. It's now a bed and breakfast, and it's 7,500 square feet of grandeur and opulence.

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To learn more about the Fargo Mansion, and see a plethora of vintage photos, click here.

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Oatway

Dr. William H. Oatway was Enoch's personal physician, and may have been complicit in the cover-up of Addie's suspicious death. According to Mary Wilson, "He (Dr. Oatway) was quoted then as having said, 'No one was fooled'" by this claim that diphtheria was Addie's cause of death. This paper above shows the bottom-most portion of Addie's death certificate. Oatway was both the attending physician and the County Health Officer. Several months later, when Oatway filled out a report for the State Board of Health, he happily reported that there were no deaths from diphtheria in Lake Mills in 1901. Plus, the burial permit number (shown above) is false.

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Maddie.

In Victorian times, a proper mourning period was 12 months. The townsfolk must have been scandalized when 53-year-old Enoch married his third wife (Martha) a scant seven months after Addie's suspicious death. Martha (shown above) was 28 years old. This photo came from Addie's own picture album, and is captioned, "Mattie" (a nickname for Martha). This tells me that Addie *trusted* Martha. According to Mary Wilson's book, Martha stayed overnight at the Fargo Mansion for several days at a time. Did Enoch kill Addie so that he could marry his true love, Martha? The legend is that Martha was a cousin to Addie, but this is NOT correct. Martha's mother was Marie Harbeck, who married Henry Hoyt in 1880. Martha was born in 1873 and lived with her maternal grandparents, William and Elizabeth "Betsy" Harbeck. Martha died in 1964.

To learn more about the falsified death certificate, click here.

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

To see Addie’s pretty dresses, click here.

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Addie and Her Story

November 29th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

If you’ve enjoyed hearing about Addie Hoyt Fargo, please bookmark this page. You can also sign up at the website to automatically receive an email notification when new blogs are posted. I highly recommend that feature, too.

On the upper right side of the page, there’s an “@” with an orange background and it says, “Email Feed.” Click on that logo, and you can sign up for the automatic email notification. (Your email will not be saved and/or used for any other purpose.)

Many people found out about Addie through Facebook but due to time constraints and other issues (and frankly, problems with Facebook), I’ll be posting less and less there.

As more and more people get interested in this story, more and more facts are coming to light, and it’s my expectation that - before long - we’ll learn a lot more about what happened to Addie on Tuesday night (June 18th), 1901 and Wednesday morning (June 19th).

It’s deeply gratifying to know that Addie’s silence in a shallow grave has come to an end. After 110 years, she has a voice again.

Please share this link with your friends, and spread the word. It’s a fascinating story, and an important story, and with so many good souls working laboriously to get to the truth, something wonderful is bound to happen. Of that, I am sure.

Please stay in touch with Addie via this website. www.searshomes.org

Thank you for caring about Addie.

Rosemary Thornton

thorntonrose@hotmail.com

Addie sitting on the steps of the Fargo Mansion. I love this outfit for its practicality and simple beauty.

Addie sitting on the steps of the Fargo Mansion.

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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.

Shallow

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

Addies exhumation shallow

This photo shows how shallow the grave was.

Robin

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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