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The Hoyts: One of the First Families of Jefferson County (Wisconsin)

February 24th, 2012 Sears Homes 4 comments

In the unspoken but ever-present caste system of Victorian America, 24-year-old Addie Hoyt was a socialite, and a woman of note. According to information gleaned from the Lake Mills Leader (newspaper), young Addie Hoyt possessed much promise and potential. She was intelligent, witty, articulate, talented, sophisticated, accomplished (as accomplished as polite society would permit) and she was beautiful.

And Addie Hoyt had deep roots in her community, which - in Small Town America - added greatly to her social standing.  She was the granddaughter of one of the “pioneer families” of Jefferson County (Wisconsin). Addie’s paternal grandparents (Kimball Hoyt and his wife, Sally Sanborn Hoyt) moved from Vermont to Jefferson County (Wisconsin) in 1843, and Mr. and Mrs. Kimball Hoyt were among the first families to settle the area.

And I also discovered an interesting item in the Lake Mills Leader where Robert Fargo (from another “original family”) recounts his memories of the Fargo family’s move to Jefferson County.

In that piece he states,

In 1844, my brother Lyman, like one of the Hebrew spies made a tour of Wisconsin with a view of establishing himself in business and decided Lake Mills was the ideal place in the new Eldorado. Two years from this time found him with Brother Enoch [Enoch B. Fargo, father of Enoch James] located and trading on the ground now occupied by Reed and Coombe under the firm name of L. & E. B. Fargo.

In other words, Addie’s family settled in Jefferson County in 1843, one year before the Fargos.

And yet, thus far, I’ve been unable to find a single solitary piece of information about Addie’s family from local resources in the Lake Mills area, such as the libraries or historical societies or museums.

Addie’s family moved to the area in 1843, purchased more than 100 acres of land from the government, and in time, they became prosperous and wealthy. I am baffled as to why no one in the county seems to have a letter or a journal or any correspondence or information on the Hoyt family.

One of the main reasons I keep writing about Addie is in the hopes that someone somewhere will remember a story they heard from their great aunt, or that someone will discover a scrap of paper or a journal or a letter that gives some insight into what happened to Addie.

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Five years later, shed be dead.

Addie's family was one of the first families to settle in Jefferson County. According to commentary found in the local newspaper, Addie Hoyt possessed much promise and potential. She was intelligent, witty, articulate, sophisticated and talented.

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Kimball

Addie's paternal grandmother, Sally Sanborn Hoyt, died June 1894. In a two-year period, six of Addie's closest family members died and her two siblings moved out of the area. The obit was an interesting read. It notes that the Hoyts were "pioneers" of Jefferson County.

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About 1889, Addies sister (Anna Hoyt) married Wilbur W. Whitmore, and the newlyweds moved out to Denver, Colorado.

About 1887, Addie's sister (Anna Hoyt) married Wilbur W. Whitmore, and the newlyweds moved away from Lake Mills, settling in Denver, Colorado. By 1894, they had three children, Ernie (six years old), Florence (age three) and Victor (age one).

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And then Ernie

In November 1894, the entire Whitmore family was stricken with Scarlet Fever. Julia Hawley Hoyt (Addie and Anna's mother) took a train to Denver to help the family and provide nursing duties. The day of her arrival into Denver, Ernie (shown above) died from the disease.

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In November 1894, Annas entire family was stricken with Scarlet Fever. s beloved nephew (Ernie) became ill with Scarlet Fever. Addies mother (shown above) rushed out to Denver to help her daughters family. Ernie died December 1st, the same day Julia arrived in Denver.

In February 1894, Addie's father (Homer Hoyt) had died suddenly in Washington State. In late 1894, Julia Hawley Hoyt traveled to Denver helping her daughter's family. Julia never returned to Lake Mills. She contracted Scarlet Fever and died six months later. Julia was 51 years old.

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Eugene

In May 1895, Eugene Beach Hoyt (Addie's brother) took a job with W. W. Ingram and moved to Chicago, about 125 miles southeast of Lake Mills. His timing wasn't good. Eugene departed for Chicago the same month that Julia (mother of Eugene, Addie and Anna) died from complications of Scarlet Fever. With Eugene's departure to the big city, Addie was now utterly alone in Lake Mills. She married Enoch James Fargo nine months later after her mother's death. Addie was 24 years old.

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Five years later, shed be dead, killed by her own husband.

Five years later, she'd be dead, at the age of 29.

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Dr. Oatway, Your Slip is Showing!

October 13th, 2011 Sears Homes 2 comments

Dr. Oatway misrepresented the facts on Addie’s death certificate. Or he misrepresented the facts to the state board of health. Either of which tell us, Dr. Oatway filed a false report - with someone.

In 1876, Wisconsin (and many other states) created a “State Board of Health” that compiled facts and stats on communicable diseases. “Health Officers” were appointed (and paid) by the state, and it was their job to help track, record and monitor the prevalence and severity of the dreaded scourges of the day such as diphtheria, small pox, consumption, cholera and typhoid.

Each year, these health officers filed a report with the state, wherein they answered several specific questions. Two of the most interesting questions they were asked were, “Are the laws regarding birth certificates and burial permits enforced in your community?” and “What’s the incidence of communicable disease in your community?”

As mentioned in a prior blog, I was fascinated to see that it wasn’t death certificates the state was interested in, but burial permits. More on that here.

God bless the great state of Wisconsin, which not only preserved these reports, but has put them online. And thanks to Mark Hardin, for finding these reports.  Full text here.

The report referenced in this blog covers the time period during which Addie Hoyt Fargo allegedly died of diphtheria (”Nineteenth Report of the State Board of Health to Wisconsin” for 1901/1902).

And the health officer that filed the report for Lake Mills was our Dr. Oatway. The same Dr. Oatway that attended to Addie as she lay dying from diphtheria. The same Dr. Oatway that filled out her death certificate, and certified it as true, and falsified the burial permit number. The same Dr. Oatway that allegedly falsified this death certificate and later admitted, “No one was fooled.”

In the report he filed with the state of Wisconsin, Oatway stated, “the law requiring the report of dangerous contagious diseases is observed with regard to small pox, diphtheria and scarlet fever only.”

Reporting as the health officer, he mentions the deaths from a number of diseases but he says nothing about any cases of diphtheria in Lake Mills, or deaths from diphtheria in Lake Mills.

But wait, why did he sign (and certify) on Addie’s death certificate that she died of diphtheria?

That’s a pretty big inconsistency. Did he lie on the death certificate, or did he lie when he filed his report with the state?  Because Oatway DID lie, and the question is WHERE?

As my brother Ed would say, “This certainly puts another wheel on the wagon…”

And it gets even better. Further on in the report, Oatway says that “the laws requiring the issuing of burial permits are observed.”

Oh really?

Then why isn’t there a burial permit for Addie? Why did he lie on the death certificate and say there was a burial permit, when there was not? Why did he lie to the state? How many lies did this man tell?

Did Addie die of diphtheria? According to the report he filed with the state of Wisconsin, she did not.

More happy news can be found on page 15 of this report, which states that the deceased victims of diphtheria and other communicable diseases were to be placed in “sturdy coffins.” When Addie’s disinterment day arrives, that could be a real blessing.

To read more about Addie, click here.

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This snippet appeared in the 1902 "Report of the State Board of Health" for Wisconsin and covered the the time period during which Addie Hoyt allegedly died of diphtheria. How did Oatway forget about Addie's horrible diphtheric death?

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This statement, taken from the above text and penned by Oatway, says that if there was a case of diphtheria in his town (Lake Mills), it *would* be reported.

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Unless you're paid off by Enoch Fargo to falsify a death certificate...

Addies death certificate, allegedly falsified by Dr. Oatway.

Under the date (June 1901), Addie's death certificate 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.

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

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

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How It All Began…

September 28th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

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.

Overwhelmed with the monumental task before me, I couldn’t deal with it all.

I threw the albums into one of those big trash bags.

A few minutes went by and I got to thinking about those two albums. I couldn’t stand it. I retrieved them.

And then after looking at them 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.

On Friday, June 24th, I scanned a few photos from the album and sent them to 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.

I assumed 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, 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.

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.

My father in 1961 with my beloved mother.

My father in 1961 with my beloved mother.

father

My brother Eddie sits on the arm of the big old chair, while I have the coveted spot - my father's lap. I hope my feet weren't really that big.

To read more about Addie, click here.

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