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The Beautiful Letters from Beautiful People

December 25th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

In the last six months, more than 22,000 new visitors have come to my website just to learn more about Addie Hoyt Fargo. Her story has also appeared in the Wisconsin State Journal, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and several other newspapers.

According to A History of Lake Mills, Enoch J. Fargo killed his wife Addie Hoyt Fargo (my great, great Aunt), in 1901. On November 3, 2011, I had Addie’s body exhumed, and that’s when we discovered that she’d been buried her in a shallow grave in Lake Mills.  Enoch Fargo allegedly bribed a local doctor to falsify Addie’s death certificate.

As a result of the newspaper stories and the new visitors to this website, I’ve received many supportive and lovely emails. In October, a woman who’s been following Addie’s story contacted me and urged me to push on.

Her story, her insights, and her comments touched me to tears. It was one of the most powerful notes I have ever received in my long career. With her permission, her story is below. Names have been changed.

Several years ago, my only daughter, Emily (age 16) was killed in a car crash. That day I lost my only daughter and my best friend, in one swoop. She knew me better than anyone before, and anyone since. It’s not just a mother’s heart that would tell you that Emily was a special bright young lady. Her teachers, her peers and the community as a whole felt that way too, and they also felt the loss of this remarkable, insightful and precious young woman.

In dealing with my grief then, and even now, my greatest fear was that people would forget her.

And what if my Emily had married someone like Enoch? What if she found herself alone, with no family and no support system and no one to help her? What if there was no one she could call upon when her world was falling apart? What if she died at the hands of a cold hearted, narcissistic, megalomaniac who was bold enough to murder his young wife, rich enough to buy off people and powerful enough to get to away with murder? More specifically, get away with her murder?

What if her soul couldn’t rest because nobody cared enough to reach beyond their own lives and their own busy-ness and their own problems and uncover the truth? What if her remarkable life was reduced to a few gossipy stories, excitedly whispered in the shadows of a small town?

What if the story of her accomplishments, her successes and the stories of her charity, graciousness, gentleness and goodness, were forgotten, and all that remained was this heart-wrenching legend of a tormented soul, trapped in the nightmarish memory of her own murder, aimlessly wandering the hallways of an old house, unable to find her way to the light of God’s love?

And then what if someday, someone discovered Addie’s photos, and started digging into the whole story, and started sharing that story with others, exposing that shadowy gossip to the light of day, so that the soul could finally find rest?

And what a glorious thing it would be, that the story of a 29-year-old woman’s life could be resurrected so many years later, so that she was not forgotten after her death, and so that her real life story could be told, thoroughly and truthfully.

We live, we die. Those who knew us die, and we might be reduced to pictures in a photo album. For someone to take such interest in our being,who never met us face to face, that can only be described as a gift of Love.

I DO believe in spirits. I believe that our life continues on after the body has “breathed its last.”

I read about you tossing those old photo albums and then retrieving them from the trash. I believe Addie is with you, saying “Rose, take this journey. Keep going forward. Don’t give up, and see this journey to the end.”

Rose, please please take this journey Addie gave you. You are meeting wonderful new people, affecting others lives, and enriching your own.

And most importantly, you’re “setting the record straight” about someone else’s remarkable, insightful and precious little girl.

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

Addie

Addie on her wedding day, February 1896. She was 24 years old. Five years later, she was dead. According to Enoch's own granddaughter, Addie was murdered by Enoch J. Fargo.

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Christmas 1900, Addie sent this leatherette photo album to her brother-in-law. This story started for me when I found this photo album amongst my late father's possessions.

Photos inside the album covered a span of about five years.

Photos inside the album covered a span of about five years.

A

The inscription reads "A Merry Christmas to Wilbur, from Addie." Wilbur was married to Anna, Addie's older sister. Wilbur and Anna were married about 1886, and moved to Denver in the late 1880s. Why did Addie send this to her brother-in-law, and not her sister?

Last month, a dear friend created and sent this necklace along to me, to serve as a reminder that Addie is gently holding on to Rose. She said the delicate hands reminded her of Addie (who was very petite). I keep this on the lamp by my night stand, so that I may look at it each night.

Last month, a dear friend created and sent this necklace along to me, to serve as a reminder that Addie is gently holding on to "Rose." She said the delicate hands reminded her of Addie (who was very petite). I keep this on the lamp by my night stand, so that I may look at it each night, and be reminded that I am doing the right thing, and I am not alone.

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

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Addie’s Non-Existent Burial Permit: Even More Important Than Originally Thought

October 11th, 2011 Sears Homes 3 comments

This weekend, I discovered a blog that questioned some of my statements about Addie’s murder. The blog writer feels that Addie was not murdered, and that my conclusions are erroneous.

I’m right, and he’s wrong (I love it when that happens), and I can explain the reasons why.

For instance, this fellow refuted my statement regarding the low mortality rate of diphtheria. (I’d said that in the early 2oth Century, someone in Addie’s age bracket had a 5-10% chance of dying from diphtheria.) His blog denounces that statistic, and claims that the contemporary rate (the 2011 mortality rate) from diphtheria is 10%, but that in the early 20th Century, the mortality rate “was closer to 50%.”

His source for this information is a chart, with lots of pretty colors and squiggly lines, but if he’d looked closer at his own chart, he’d see that it actually represented mortality rates per 100,000 people, and it was a chart referencing disease rates of the population as a whole. In other words, it was designed to show what percentage of the U. S. population had perished in a particular year from diphtheria (and the rate for 1901 was .00004%).

That chart tells us nothing about the 1901 mortality rate for patients afflicted with diphtheria.

Monday morning and afternoon, I spent too many hours reading, “Report of the State Board of Health, State of Wisconsin, 1899-1900″ (and what a page turner that was). The document represents the time period from September 1899 to September 1900, and it’ll have to do until I can find the report for 1900-1901. (Addie died in June 1901.)

Now keep in mind that this report included all ages. Children under five and adults past 40 had twice the mortality rate of other age groups. And within this document was a section titled, “Health Officer’s Correspondence,” with a plethora of notes from physicians declaring that diphtheria often moved through families, killing all the young children. In other words, children’s deaths, due to diphtheria, probably represent a lot of these “mortality rate” numbers.

In the state of Wisconsin, in 1899, the mortality rate for diphtheria was 13% (see graphic below). But being the intrepid researcher, I wanted to learn even more.

In 1900, physicians agreed that proper sanitation was the key to inhibiting the spread of diphtheria-laden germs. Larger cities with sanitation issues and close living arrangements had higher mortality rates. For instance, in Milwaukee, the mortality rate for diphtheria was 16.75%. Conversely, if you just looked at the cities and villages with 2,000 people or less, the mortality rate was a mere 9.1%.

[Milwaukee (population 280,000), reported 746 cases of diphtheria and 125 deaths. Conversely, the smaller towns of Menomonie, Kaukauna, Hortonville and Westfield reported 10, 6, 5 and 4 cases of diphtheria and no deaths. In Schleisingervhle, there were 20 cases and only 1 death. This was pretty typical of small towns in Wisconsin.]

Back to cities and villages with less than 2,000 people:  About 9% of the people in those areas perished from diphtheria. Bear in mind, that 9.1% rate included children. If you could strip away the “under five and more than 40″ group, the number would surely be significantly less. In Hay River, there was one case of diphtheria and one death: A child.

Hay River Health Officer J. C. Lake’s report says that he would not have lost that one child if the parents had sought help earlier.

In the 1890s, diphtheria rates began to decline, due to the discovery and availability of an anti-toxin, developed by German scientist Emil von Behring. By 1895, the anti-toxin was in production in the United States, and in use throughout the country.

All of which is to say, the 1900 mortality rate of 9.1% is very believable, and if we could extract adults from that number, it would surely be much lower.

In conclusion, I stand by my original statement. The odds that Addie died from diphtheria are pretty low. Factor in her age (29 years old), and her duration of illness (16 hours) and those odds become almost laughable.

And more to the point, there were zero cases of diphtheria in Lake Mills and surrounding areas. And this was not uncommon. About 25% of Wisconsin’s small cities had no reported cases of diphtheria. In these smaller towns, there was lots of small pox, pneumonia. consumption, la grippe, and dysentery, but no diphtheria.

In the anti-Addie blog mentioned above, there was another fact he took exception to. He claimed that the lack of a burial permit proved only that there’d been a bureaucratic boo-boo. My afternoon in this dusty old tome proved him wrong on that score, too.

With few exceptions, the physicians’ comments included a statement such as, “The laws requiring the reporting of births and burial permits are observed,” or some physicians wrote, “The laws requiring the reporting of births are not always observed because neighbor women sometimes attend to the birth…”

In regards to the burial permit, most doctors said that the “reporting of burial permits are always observed…”

The lone exception was a health officer in a rural setting who stated that all of his deceased patients did have “properly filled out burial permits,” but then his report took an interesting turn with a commentary about a quack on the edge of town and “who knows what he’s doing out there.”

I was impressed that there were two documents the state wanted a report on: Birth certificates and burial permits. Not death certificates, but BURIAL permits. This tells me that burial permits were considered an important state document and it was expected that health officers would make certain that these records were meticulously maintained.

Of the 135 physicians’ reports that I read, there was only one that said that “the laws regarding the issuing of burial permits are strictly maintained.”

Notice the addition of that word, “strictly”?

That statement with its extra important words came from the health officer in Lake Mills.

Yup.

Lake Mills.

Perhaps if someone died out on the farm and was buried in the family plot and later moved to a city cemetery, there would not have been a burial permit from the city of Lake Mills.

But if someone (oh, say, someone like Addie) died in the city of Lake Mills, and was attended to by a local physician (oh say, someone like Oatway) who just happens to be the HEALTH OFFICER who understands that he’ll be duty bound to file a report in a few weeks, explaining that “laws regarding the issue of burial permits are strictly maintained,” then I’d guess that someone like Addie had darn well better have a burial permit filed and properly executed.

Oatway knew that the state required that Addie’s death certificate have a burial permit number, so he made one up. Oatway also knew that Enoch’s demand that Addie be buried at once (before 10:00 am the next morning), prevented Oatway from getting a legitimate burial permit, so he falsified the document and made up a burial permit number (#32), and then signed a sworn affidavit that the information was true.

So which is worse, conspiring to cover up a murder, or malfeasance and violation of state law?

Thanks to Mark Hardin for finding this report from early 20th Century Wisconsin!! What an amazing bunch of facts and figures!!

To learn more about Addie, click here.

To see the talk Rose gave in Lake Mills, click here.


Lake Mills

Lake Mills' Health Officer Dr. Dodge states here that the "laws requiring the report of births and the issuing of burial permits are strictly observed." Of the 135 reports that I read, only one contained the phrase "strictly observed" and that was the report from the Lake Mills Health Officer.

burial

Stats on diphtheria deaths, as seen in the 1899-1900 "Report of the State Board of Health." In smaller towns, the mortality rate from diphtheria was much less than the statewide average of 13%, and was closer to 9%. In Milwaukee (Wisconsin's largest town with 280,000 residents), the mortality rate was closer to 16.75%.

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 was 22 years younger than Enoch. He allegedly murdered Addie so that he could marry Maddie Hoyt (no relation).

And perhaps

Addie at age 24 (left) and age 29 (right). Life with Enoch was hard. On the right, notice the swollen lip, skewed nose and puffy eyes. She hardly looks like the same woman.

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Addies death certificate, allegedly falsified by Dr. Oatway.

Addie's death certificate, falsified by Dr. Oatway. Under the date (June 1901), it reads, "Burial Permit #32." State law demanded accuracy in reporting of birth certificates and burial permits. He would be required to lie again when he submitted his written report to the state of Wisconsin. That's the problem with lying; one lie requires another and another and another.

word

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

word

Addie's should have been permit #22 (judging by the date). But "John Smith" died on June 26th, and this burial permit was dated June 27th. Addie died on June 19, 1901.

wor

As mentioned above, burial permits were required for every grave that was opened. This burial permit was for a stillborn baby (unnamed). As cemetery sexton Bill Hartwig explained, a burial permit was required for every grave - no exceptions. This was the only permit I saw that had the same permit date and death date. In the case of an unnamed, stillborn child, the logistics involved in burial were very different.

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On October 2, 1913, the Waukesha Freeman (newspaper) reported that Dr. Oatway was moving from Lake Mills to Waukesha to open a new office there.  Interesting that, years after establishing a successful practice in Lake Mills, hed up and move to Waukesha.

On October 2, 1913, the Waukesha Freeman (newspaper) reported that Dr. Oatway was moving from Lake Mills to Waukesha to open a new office there. Interesting that, years after establishing a successful practice in Lake Mills, he'd up and move to Waukesha.

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the

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

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

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

Addie

Her life ended when she was 29 years old.

Close-up

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.

close-up

close-up

Fluffy plays with Addie

Addie loved cats.

Talk about a feather in your cap!

And the cats tolerated her.

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Unknown person

Addie preparing for a trip.

Addie, about 1899.

Addie, about 1899.

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

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

And heres Maddie, the woman Enoch was (allegedly) willing to kill for.

And here's Maddie, the woman Enoch was (allegedly) willing to kill for. Contrary to local lore, she was not related to the Hoyts of Lake Mills in anyway. Maddie Louise Harbeck Hoyt Fargo was born seven years before her mother (Marie Harbeck) married Henry Hoyt. In 1880, Maddie (then seven years old) was living with her grandparents in Lake Mills. Her grandmother was Elizabeth Fargo Harbeck.

To read more about Addie and Annie Hoyt, click here.

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