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What The Medical Examiner Told Me About Addie…

December 3rd, 2011 Sears Homes 21 comments

Addie was exhumed on November 3, 2011, and taken to Milwaukee for an autopsy. To read why this was done, click here. To read the latest, click here.

Two weeks after the exhumation, I talked with the medical examiner by phone, and he gave me a full report.

Perhaps the most important thing that needs to be known is that the autopsy results were inconclusive.

Inconclusive.

Based on the email and the comments received, a lot of people are very fuzzy on what that means.

It means this:  The autopsy did not prove that Addie was murdered (due to both the lack of skeletal remains and their poor condition), and it did not prove that she was not murdered.

Let me share something else the medical examiner told me in that conversation on November 17th at 10:28 in the morning. He said, and I quote, “We didn’t have a lot of [Addie's] skull.”

While her lower jaw was found, with several teeth still in place, her upper jaw and teeth were not found. Nor was her face (the skull bones underlying her face). Nor were a few other pieces and parts.

That’s one of the reasons that the results were inconclusive. You can’t make a definitive finding when there’s a lack of physical evidence.

That’s the first important point, and here’s the second. In Mary Wilson’s book (The History of Lake Mills), she writes, “A number of persons who knew Mr. Fargo will tell the same story - he shot Addie!” (page 274).

Mary Wilson doesn’t say, Enoch shot Addie in the head. She says, Enoch shot Addie.

I asked the medical examiner, if there’d be any evidence now - 110 years later - of a gunshot wound to the chest, and he said no.

Further, he said that “most of Addie’s ribs were broken,” (that’s another direct quote), and it’s likely that the breaks happened post-mortem, but it’s impossible to know for sure. Her remains were in very poor condition, and that made it difficult to test for much of anything.

Poor Addie, buried in that shallow grave - above the frost line - was not far from returning to dust.

“It hard to make sense of whether or not there was foul play,” he told me.

And he added, forensic science “is like a camera. The further away you get from the subject, the harder it is to see.”

And 1901 is a long, long way from 2011.

He added, “That’s the problem with these contemporary criminal dramas like CSI. They create unrealistically high expectations.”

In conclusion, Addie’s autopsy was inconclusive.

Again, that simply means that the autopsy did not prove that Addie was murdered (due to both the lack of skeletal remains and their poor condition), and it did not prove that she was not murdered.

Several people have sent thoughtful emails saying that they’re sorry I wasn’t able to get “closure,” and while I appreciate their kindness, the fact is, I’m glad I did this. Finding her buried in a shallow grave, coupled with the discovery that she was wearing dress shoes was enough for me to know - I did the right thing.

Further, I’ve also received many notes from people who knew Mary Wilson personally, and they affirm that she was a trustworthy source, and that she would not have fabricated such a fantastic story.

Did Enoch murder Addie? Mary Wilson certainly thought so.

The autopsy was inconclusive, but based on the amazing paper trail that Oatway left behind, it is clear that Addie Hoyt did not die of diphtheria, which begs the question, what happened to Addie, that those present at her death felt they had to fabricate the story of diphtheria. What were they trying to cover up? And there is also the fact that Enoch remarried seven months after Addie died, and in fact, he married the woman that had been living in the Fargo Mansion when Addie died.

To learn more about Addie, click here.

You can find Addie on Facebook. Search for Addie Hoyt Fargo in Lake Mills.

To learn about Addie and Annie (her sister), click here.

Addie in 1894, two years before she married Enoch.

Addie in 1894, two years before she married Enoch.

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Addie (left) was 15 when this photo was taken (in 1887), and her life was already half over. She was 29 years old when she was killed. On the right is Addie's sister, Anna Hoyt (my great-grandmother). Anna (right) was 21 and was already married to Wilbur Whitmore and living in Denver, Colorado.

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Addies foot stone still remains at her empty tomb.

Addie's head stone in Lake Mills is now a cenotaph. Her remains are now in Norfolk with me, and the rest of her family. No more shallow graves for Addie.

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Some of the nasty notes I get from anonymous nuts purport to tell me that this is not a shallow grave.  Given that the frost line is 3-4 feet, and given that the traditional burial depth is 6-8 feet, Id have to say that this picture is worth a whole lot of words.

Some of the nasty notes I get from anonymous trolls try to tell me that this is not a shallow grave. Given that the frost line in Wisconsin is 3-4 feet, and given that the traditional burial depth is 6-8 feet, I'd have to say that this picture is worth a whole lot of words.

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Turns out, we didnt need those ladders and buckets and ropes to excavate the grave. It was knee-deep in places.

Turns out, we didn't need those ladders and buckets and ropes to excavate the grave. It was about knee-deep in places. This was alarming. Assuming a coffin height of 18", the top of Addie's coffin was only about 16" below the grass.

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And there is now enough circumstantial evidence that one thing is clear; Diphtheria was not the cause of death.

Enoch was so arrogant he didn't even worry about getting caught in his lies. Despite strongly worded state laws, the Fargo Mansion was never quarantined or fumigated, following the "tragic loss" of Addie to diphtheria. You'd think that he'd at least follow the law, to create the appearance of diphtheria, especially since he'd lost his nine-year-old daughter (Myrtle) in 1887, when quarantine laws were not followed expeditiously. Myrtle (born 1878) contracted Typhoid (and died from it) when she got into a neighbor's burn pile and played with an infected doll. She was nine years old.

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Addie, shortly before her death.

Addie, shortly before her death.

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Addie in 1895, and in 1901. Life with Enoch was very, very hard.

Addie in 1896, and five years later, 1901. Life with Enoch was very, very hard.

Was she beaten? Its certainly possible. Look at her lip and her nose and her right eye.

Was she beaten? It's certainly possible. Look at her swollen lip and her nose and her right eye.

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Addie: Someone’s Beloved Little Girl

October 30th, 2011 Sears Homes 3 comments

Often people ask me why I care about pursuing this old Addie story. After all, she’s been dead 110 years, and everyone who knew her is dead. What’s the point?

My oft-repeated response is this: “Addie was someone’s beloved little girl.

Recently, I found new photos of Addie, and these are photos of her childhood. They touched my heart, and I hope they’ll touch yours.

In June 2010, my father moved from his 2,000-square foot home to a 400-square foot assisted living facility. During that move, we found an old photo album with a red velveteen cover. I glanced through the pages, but I had no idea who these people were, and the photos dated back to the mid and late 1800s. There was no information on the pictures, so there were no clues.

I didn’t know what to do with the old album, so I put it into the growing pile of “things to save and store somewhere.”

After my father was moved into his new apartment at the facility, my brother Tom asked that I ship a few items out to him, because he has a really big basement at his home in Illinois. I was delighted to have a place to send all this “old family stuff that probably should not be thrown out.” The red velveteen photo album was shipped to my brother, Tom.

In October, I visited Tom and his wife, and I asked to see that red photo album. I was hoping against hope that maybe there were more pictures of Addie and her family in this old photo album. After all, I’d had no idea that there was an Addie Hoyt Fargo until after my father died (June 10, 2011), and I discovered two photo albums devoted to Addie and her life in Lake Mills. Learn more about that discovery here.

He found the photo album on a Saturday night and by Sunday morning (about 5:00 am), I was laying on the floor of their spare bedroom, studying the photos. There were several photos of Addie - I thought - but the photos lacked any written clues. Using a sharp knife, I removed these photos from their sleeves, and their on the backs of each photo, I found incredibly detailed descriptions of the people and their relationship to Anna Hoyt Whitmore (who wrote the descriptions). Finding absolute evidence of  her handwriting was also important. Read why it matters here.

And it was also interesting to discover that Addie was apparently from a very wealthy family. The clothes and professional photography make that very clear!

Below are those photos.

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Early Sunday morning, I took a sharp knife and performed a "photo-ectomy" on the old photo album that we'd found at my father's house in 2010. It had been shipped to my brother's house in Illinois. Slicing and dicing that old album was a good decision, as there was much information contained on the back of these photos, written in my great-grandmother's hand. Finding absolute evidence of her handwriting was also a good discovery.

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Often, people ask me why I care about pursuing this old story of an alleged murder. I often tell them the same thing: Addie was someone's beloved little girl. Here is photographic proof of my oft-repeated sentiment. She was someone's precious, and much beloved child. Does time lessen the importance of righting a wrong? I don't think it does.

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Note the incredible clothing. Addie was a snazzy dresser by the age of two!

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Addie. No age is given, but I'd guestimate that she's about 9 or 10 in this photo.

Addie was born in 1872, so this photo was about 1882.

Addie was born in 1872, so this photo was about 1882.

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Addie about 10 years old. Professional photograph taken in Lake Mills.

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Addie at about 14. This photograph was done by "E. M. Ray" in Lake Mills.

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Close-up of Addie about 1886.

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My favorite photo: Addie and Anna, dated 1887. Addie would have been 15 years old here. Anna would have been 21 years old. Addie looks so petite.

Close-up of the two sisters.

Close-up of the two sisters.

Addie as a debutante?

Addie as a debutante?

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Look at the star on her forehead. Also notice the detail on the outfit.

Was Addie from an extremely wealthy family? Id say YES.

Was Addie from an *extremely* wealthy family? I'd say YES. Remember, this was in the 1880s.

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Close-up of Addie, dressed in some pretty fine clothes.

Of all the photos, this was one that tugged at my heart-strings the most. It shows that it was taken in Lake Mills, which is curious, because Anna (mother of the boy shown here), was living in Denver at the time. Apparently, they went back east for a visit to Lake Mills, and had this photo done. This was Ernie Eugene Whitmore, and he would have been Addies nephew. He died in 1894, the same year that Addies father died.

Of all the photos, this was one that tugged at my heart-strings the most. It shows that it was taken in Lake Mills, which is curious, because Anna (mother of the boy shown here), was living in Denver at the time. Apparently, they went back east for a visit to Lake Mills, and had this photo done. This was Ernie Eugene Whitmore, and he would have been Addie's nephew. He died in 1894, the same year that Addie's father died.

This inscription on the back - written in Addies hand - was what brought a tear to my eye.

This inscription on the back - written in Addie's hand - was what brought a tear to my eye. It says, "Auntie's Sweetheart. June 6, 1893, Lake Mills, Wis."

There are many more photos, but I do not have time to post them now.

Check back later for more.

To learn more about Addie, click here.

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