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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.

Photo

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 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.

pic

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.

pic

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.

pic

Another view of the grave site.

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Eleven Signposts That Suggest A Suspicious Death

November 24th, 2011 Sears Homes 6 comments

According to Mary Wilson’s book (A History of Lake Mills, published 1983), Addie was murdered by her husband, Enoch J. Fargo. A cover-up story was contrived (diphtheria) to hide the truth. Wilson also states that Addie’s physician, William Oatway, participated in the cover-up, falsifying Addie’s death certificate.

That’s the story. To read more about the background of this story, click here. (The autopsy was inconclusive. To read about that, click here.)

It looks like Mary Wilson was right. Below are the facts that we’ve discovered along the way.

1) Addie Hoyt Fargo was buried without a burial permit, and this was a violation of Wisconsin state law. The county health officer was Dr. Oatway, and as county health officer, he knew that failure to obtain a burial permit was a direct violation of state law. These laws had been created specifically to help track and mitigate the spread of contagious disease.

Yet on Addie’s death certificate, Dr. Oatway stated that a burial permit had been obtained, and it was “burial permit #32″ (see below). Permit #32 belonged to Alinda Hornily who died on March 26, 1902 (these permits were in chronological order).

The absence of a burial permit is very compelling evidence, and tells us, a) Oatway did falsify the death certificate, b) Oatway knowingly violated state law by signing off on the death certificate and then certifying it as true (while knowing it was false), c) A funeral director was not involved in Addie’s burial (or if he was, he was also complicit, because he knew the death certificate was a falsified document because there was no corresponding burial permit).

2) The burial permit was a STATE document, but the death certificate was NOT a state document. If a burial permit had listed diphtheria as the cause of death, the state *may* have investigated. When a contagious disease occurred, there were protocols required to prevent the spread of disease. For instance, state law required that a home be fumigated after death from contagious disease had occurred and personal possessions be burned or buried. A burial permit listing diphtheria as the cause of death would have raised a red flag. Oatway, entrusted with the position of County Health Officer knew this, so he lied on the death certificate and never obtained a burial permit for Addie. Doing this meant that the diphtheria story stayed local, and the information would probably not reach the state.

3) The State Board of Health (in Wisconsin) was formed in 1876 to track and mitigate the spread of contagious disease. Each county health officer had to answer this statement in his annual report: “Are the laws requiring the issuance of burial permits enforced?” Oatway, in 1901, stated that yes, the laws requiring the issuance of burial permits were enforced in Lake Mills.

4) Oatway, being a county health officer, also certified Addie’s death certificate, meaning he swore that it was true and accurate. That’s especially egregious.

5) In Addie’s obituary (probably written by Oatway), he goes on at length, describing Addie’s fast-acting Ninja Stealth Diphtheria as the most virulent, fast-acting strain he’d ever seen, that prevailed even in the face of aggressive treatment and modern medical care. It’s quite a prosaic obit, and the doctor is the saddened hero in the story.

6) SO it’s the most virulent strain, the fastest-acting strain, and no modern treatment could bring it into subjugation. And Addie was married to Lake Mill’s wealthiest resident, largest employer, and they were living in Lake Mills’ largest mansion. Yet a few months later, in his capacity of County Health Officer, when Oatway files his report with the State Board of Health, he reported that there were no cases of diphtheria in Lake Mills in 1901 (the year Addie died), and no deaths from diphtheria in 1901. Did Oatway lie when he wrote up Addie’s death certificate, or did he lie to the State Board of Health?

7) In the obit, Oatway opines that Addie probably contracted diphtheria during a recent trip to Portage. The newspaper reported she’d traveled to Portage for a convention on June 4th, 1901. Diphtheria germs don’t last longer than 1-4 days. And the county health officer in Portage reported that there were no case of diphtheria in Portage in 1901. There’s that stealth component again. Addie contracted diphtheria in a town with no diphtheria.

8 ) In the obit, Oatway says that Addie died 15 hours after onset, when the membrane formed in her throat, broke off and suffocated her. In the progression of diphtheria, this membrane doesn’t even start to form until 2-3 days after onset (according to the CDC), and children (its most frequent victims) died 4-6 days after onset (if the membrane was the cause of death). Typically, diphtheria killed adults when it settled into their heart and/or brain.

9) Diphtheria was not an automatic death sentence: Far from it, in fact. In 1900, in the state of Wisconsin, the death rate for a diphtheria victim was 13% state-wide, and 9% in small towns (population less than 2,000) and that number included children. If you could take children out of the mix, the rate would probably be less than half that. Children more than five, and adults under 40 had the best chance of surviving a bout of diphtheria. In other words, people Addie’s age (29) had the best chance of surviving diphtheria.

10) During the exhumation, we found that Addie was buried at 34″ which is incredibly shallow. This tells us that Addie’s grave was dug by someone who was not a professional grave digger, in part because of the depth, and in part because there was no burial permit. Before the exhumation, I consulted with several professionals in the funeral business, and they told me that I should be prepared to dig to 6-8 feet to find Addie’s remains. The “freeze line” in Wisconsin is 3-4 feet, and in case of contagious disease, periodical literature recommended that a grave be dug “extra deep” as a protection. Plus, grave robbing was a problem in the late 1800s, and the six-foot depth offered some protection against that.This was NOT a professional grave digger. It’s more likely that this was someone’s hired man, who got tired and stopped at 34″ (or as the sun was rising). On June 19th, 1901, the sun rose at 4:11 am. A professional grave digger would not have stopped at 34″. But whomever buried Addie, put her coffin in the dirt as soon as there was enough clearance to put a layer of topsoil over the grave. After all, who would ever know?

11) The most compelling piece: Addie was wearing her shoes in that grave. The obit says she died at 2:00 am after a valiant struggle with this awful disease and was buried immediately. How many people wear shoes in their sick bed?

12) And a bonus question. If you look at the burial permits (pictured below), you’ll see that the secretary of the cemetery was Robert Fargo (aka “Uncle Bob”). He also happened to be one of Enoch’s neighbors there on Mulberry Street. It would have been very easy to rouse Uncle Bob from his bed at 2:00 am and tell him, “Addie has died. We need to bury her before the sun rises. Can you get us a burial permit immediately?”

Surely, Uncle Bob could have arranged that.

Why didn’t Enoch do that?

on

This snippet appeared in the "Report of the State Board of Health" for Wisconsin and covered the the time period during which Addie Hoyt allegedly died of diphtheria.

on

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.

one

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

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%.

Addie

Actually, Addie was born in January 1872. Sheesh.

page two

At the bottom, it does say Addie had a funeral, but that would have been logistically problematic. Dead at two, buried by 10, how did they notify people? Typical Victorian funerals were grandiose affairs; the wealthier the better! More on that below.

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.

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.

Page one of Dr. Bentleys report from Portage, WI. This covered all of 1901.

From the State Board of Health Report, this is the first page one of Dr. Bentley's report from Portage, WI. This covered all of 1901. Page two continues below.

stealth

Dr. Bentley's report on Portage, second page (see top).

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Theres no doubt that life with Enoch took a toll on Addie.

Life with Enoch took a toll on Addie. She was 29 here.

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And why would a woman - who prided herself on her appearance - send this photo to her brother-in-law in Denver? I am confiident she wanted them to know what was happening to her in Lake Mills.

And why would a woman - who prided herself on her appearance - send this photo to her family in Denver? Did she want them to know what was happening to her in Lake Mills?

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Addie: Before and After Enoch. The photo on the right was taken five years after her marriage to Enoch. She was 29 years old, and shed be dead soon after this photo was taken.

Addie: Before and After Enoch. The photo on the right was taken five years after her marriage to Enoch. She was 29 years old, and she'd be dead soon after this photo was taken. Look at her receding hairline and swollen lower lip. Her "cupid's bow" is now misaligned, and there's pronounced puffiness under her right eye.

*

Look at that waist-line!  Good thing I wasnt around then. That wasp-waist thing wouldnt have worked for me. Id have to say that my shape is more reminiscent of an egg than a wasp.

I'm comforted to know that Addie had some happy days at the mansion.

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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.

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close-up

close-up

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Fluffy plays with Addie

Addie loved cats.

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Addies little

Was this what the well-dressed, sick-in-bed diphtheria patient wore in 1901? Based on the remnants found in Addie's grave, these were probably similar to the shoes that Addie was wearing (and was buried with) when she died in June 1901.

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Addie was exhumed on November 3, 2011. She will not be returning to Lake Mills.

Addie was exhumed on November 3, 2011. She will not be returning to Lake Mills. After the autopsy is complete, Addie's remains will be coming home with me.

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Addies grave was empty by 12:00 noon.

Addie's grave was empty by 12:00 noon.

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Addie in 1886 (about 14 years old).

Addie in 1886 (about 14 years old).

Addie - close-up

Addie - close-up

Addie and her sister, Anna Hoyt (my great-grandmother).

Addie and her sister, Anna Hoyt (my great-grandmother).

Addie in 1894, about 18 months before she married Enoch.

Addie in 1894, about 18 months before she married Enoch.

Addie in her traveling clothes

Addie in her traveling clothes

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

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UPDATE: Did Mattie P. Fargo Give That Talk on June 20, 1901?

November 18th, 2011 Sears Homes 2 comments

Updated!  See highlighted text below!

According to the Lake Mills’ High School program, Mattie P. Fargo (Addie’s step-daughter) was scheduled to give a talk at the commencement, June 20, 1901. Her step-mother - Addie - had died the day before (June 19th).

Mattie’s scheduled talk was “The New Pilgrim’s Progress.”

When I was in Lake Mills recently, I read 15 months worth of the Lake Mills’ Leader. After I got home and really studied a few of these newspaper clippings, I realized I had the answer to this question about Mattie at my fingertips - sort of. In my zeal to copy articles about Addie, I copied the June 27, 1901 front page (where the ladies at the DAR that expressed their sadness at Addie’s sudden departure), but I didn’t notice the little nuggets just to the side.

On the right side of the newspaper’s front page was a detailed synopsis of the students’ talks at the commencement one week prior, complete with a summary of the young people’s public speaking abilities.

UPDATE!  Thanks to a friend in Lake Mills, we don’t know if Mattie was in attendance at her graduation, but according to the newspaper article that appeared the next week (June 27, 1901), her essay appeared in the Lake Mills Leader with a small note that said, “Essay of Mattie P. Fargo, not read at commencement exercises.”

Mattie

Was Mattie there, on June the 20th?

J

Did she deliver her prepared talk on "The New Pilgrim's Progress"?

Matties graduation picture

Mattie's graduation picture from 1901.

To learn more about Addie, click here.

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Addie: 11 Signposts That Suggest A Suspicious Death

November 8th, 2011 Sears Homes 5 comments

Addie allegedly died of diphtheria on June 19, 1901. Click here to read the full obituary. According to Mary Wilson’s book (A History of Lake Mills, published 1983), Addie was murdered by her husband, and the diphtheria story was fabricated to hide the true story. Wilson also states that Addie’s physician, William Oatway, participated in the cover-up, falsifying Addie’s death certificate.

That’s the story. To read more about the background of this story, click here.

It looks like Mary Wilson may have been right.  Below are the facts that we’ve discovered along the way.

1) Addie Hoyt Fargo was buried without a burial permit, and this was a violation of Wisconsin state law. The county health officer was Dr. Oatway, and as county health officer, he knew that failure to obtain a burial permit was a direct violation of state law.  These laws had been created specifically to help track and mitigate the spread of contagious disease.

Yet on Addie’s death certificate, Dr. Oatway stated that a burial permit had been obtained, and it was “burial permit #32″ (see below). Permit #32 belonged to Alinda Hornily who died on March 26, 1902 (these permits were in chronological order).

The absence of a burial permit is very compelling evidence, and tells us, a) Oatway did falsify the death certificate, b) Oatway knowingly violated state law by signing off on the death certificate and then certifying it as true (while knowing it was false), c) A funeral director was not involved in Addie’s burial (or if he was, he was also complicit, because he knew the death certificate was a falsified document because there was no corresponding burial permit) and d) Addie’s grave may have been dug by someone who was not a professional grave digger (again, because there was no burial permit).

2) The burial permit was a STATE document, but the death certificate was NOT a state document. If a burial permit had listed diphtheria as the cause of death, the state *may* have investigated. When a contagious disease occurred, there were protocols required to prevent the spread of disease. For instance, state law required that a home be fumigated after death from contagious disease had occurred and personal possessions be burned or buried. A burial permit listing diphtheria as the cause of death would have raised a red flag. Oatway, entrusted with the position of County Health Officer knew this, so he lied on the death certificate and never obtained a burial permit for Addie. Doing this meant that the diphtheria story stayed local, and the information would probably not reach the state.

3) The State Board of Health (in Wisconsin) was formed in 1876 to track and mitigate the spread of contagious disease. Each county health officer had to answer this statement in his annual report: “Are the laws requiring the issuance of burial permits enforced?” Oatway, in 1901, stated that yes, the laws requiring the issuance of burial permits were enforced in Lake Mills.

4) Oatway, being a county health officer, also certified Addie’s death certificate, meaning he swore that it was true and accurate. That’s especially egregious.

5) In Addie’s obituary (probably written by Oatway), he goes on at length, describing Addie’s fast-acting Ninja Stealth Diphtheria as the most virulent, fast-acting strain he’d ever seen, that prevailed even in the face of aggressive treatment and modern medical care. It’s quite a prosaic obit, and the doctor is the saddened hero in the story.

6) SO it’s the most virulent strain, the fastest-acting strain, and no modern treatment could bring it into subjugation. And Addie was married to Lake Mill’s wealthiest resident, largest employer, and they were living in Lake Mills’ largest mansion. Yet about four months later, in his capacity of County Health Officer, when Oatway files his report with the State Board of Health, he reported that there were no cases of diphtheria in Lake Mills in 1901 (the year Addie died), and no deaths from diphtheria in 1901. Did Oatway lie when he wrote up Addie’s death certificate, or did he lie to the State Board of Health?

7) In the obit, Oatway opines that Addie probably contracted diphtheria during a recent trip to Portage. The newspaper reported she’d traveled to Portage for a convention on June 4th, 1901. Diphtheria germs don’t last longer than 1-4 days. And the county health officer in Portage reported that there were no case of diphtheria in Portage in 1901. There’s that stealth component again. Addie contracted diphtheria in a town with no diphtheria.

8 ) In the obit, Oatway says that Addie died 15 hours after onset, when the membrane formed in her throat, broke off and suffocated her. In the progression of diphtheria, this membrane doesn’t even start to form until 2-3 days after onset (according to the CDC), and children (its most frequent victims) died 4-6 days after onset (if the membrane was the cause of death). Typically, diphtheria killed adults when it settled into their heart and/or brain.

9) Diphtheria was not an automatic death sentence: Far from it, in fact. In 1900, in the state of Wisconsin, the death rate for a diphtheria victim was 13% state-wide, and 9% in small towns (population less than 2,000) and that number included children. If you could take children out of the mix, the rate would probably be less than half that. Children more than five, and adults under 40 had the best chance of surviving a bout of diphtheria. In other words, people Addie’s age (29) had the best chance of surviving diphtheria.

10) During the exhumation, we found that Addie was buried at 34″ which is incredibly shallow. If you thought someone had to buried immediately due to this Ninja Stealth Diphtheria, wouldn’t you make sure they went down at least six feet? Again, it’s doubtful that this was a professional grave digger. It’s more likely that this was someone’s hired man, who got tired and stopped at 34″ (or as the sun was rising). On June 19th, 1901, the sun rose at 4:11 am.  A professional grave digger would not have stopped at 34″.  But whomever buried Addie, put her coffin in the dirt as soon as there was enough clearance to put a layer of topsoil over the grave. After all, who would ever know?

11) The most compelling piece: Addie was wearing her shoes in that grave. The obit says she died at 2:00 am after a valiant struggle with this awful disease and was buried immediately. How many people wear shoes in their sick bed?

12) And a bonus question. If you look at the burial permits (pictured below), you’ll see that the secretary of the cemetery was Robert Fargo (aka “Uncle Bob”). He also happened to be one of Enoch’s neighbors there on Mulberry Street. It would have been very easy to rouse Uncle Bob from his bed at 2:00 am and tell him, “Addie has died. We need to bury her before the sun rises. Can you get us a burial permit immediately?”

Surely, Uncle Bob could have arranged that.

Why didn’t Enoch do that?

on

This snippet appeared in the "Report of the State Board of Health" for Wisconsin and covered the the time period during which Addie Hoyt allegedly died of diphtheria.

on

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.

one

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

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%.

Addie

Actually, Addie was born in January 1872. Sheesh.

page two

At the bottom, it does say Addie had a funeral, but that would have been logistically problematic. Dead at two, buried by 10, how did they notify people? Typical Victorian funerals were grandiose affairs; the wealthier the better! More on that below.

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.

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.

Page one of Dr. Bentleys report from Portage, WI. This covered all of 1901.

From the State Board of Health Report, this is the first page one of Dr. Bentley's report from Portage, WI. This covered all of 1901. Page two continues below.

stealth

Dr. Bentley's report on Portage, second page (see top).

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Addies little

Was this what the well-dressed, sick-in-bed diphtheria patient wore in 1901? Based on the remnants found in Addie's grave, these were probably similar to the shoes that Addie was wearing (and was buried with) when she died in June 1901.

*

Addie was exhumed on November 3, 2011. She will not be returning to Lake Mills.

Addie was exhumed on November 3, 2011. She will not be returning to Lake Mills. After the autopsy is complete, Addie's remains will be coming home with me.

*

Addies grave was empty by 12:00 noon.

Addie's grave was empty by 12:00 noon.

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Addie in 1886 (about 14 years old).

Addie in 1886 (about 14 years old).

Addie - close-up

Addie - close-up

Addie and her sister, Anna Hoyt (my great-grandmother).

Addie and her sister, Anna Hoyt (my great-grandmother).

Addie in 1894, about 18 months before she married Enoch.

Addie in 1894, about 18 months before she married Enoch.

Addie in her traveling clothes

Addie in her traveling clothes

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

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Diphtheria? Not So Fast.

November 8th, 2011 Sears Homes 7 comments

Dr. William Oatway proclaimed that Addie’s fast-acting diphtheria was the most virulent form of the disease he’d ever witnessed.

In fact, he said “[the diphtheria] had advanced with unusual rapidity…it was the most stubborn, and rapidly developing case he has ever met with, and the result seems to justify the belief that no human power or skill could have furnished relief…” (And yet he forgot to report it to the State Board of Health a few months later, when he told them there were no cases of diphtheria in 1901 in Lakes Mills.)

A mere 16 hours after the first symptoms appeared, Addie was dead, killed when the membrane in her throat (a trademark feature of diphtheria) broke off or closed up (depending on which version of the two obits you read). She died from asphyxiation.

Sounds awful, for sure. The good news is, according to an online report I found from the CDC, that’s not how diphtheria works. In other words, Oatway’s story is pretty far-fetched.

PHARYNGEAL AND TONSILLAR DIPHTHERIA

The most common sites of infection are the pharynx and the tonsils. Infection at these sites is usually associated with substantial systemic absorption of toxin. The onset of pharyngitis is insidious.

Early symptoms include malaise, sore throat, anorexia, and lowgrade fever. Within 2-3 days, a bluish-white membrane forms and extends, varying in size from covering a small patch on the tonsils to covering most of the soft palate. Often by the time the person seeks medical attention, the membrane is greyish-green in color, or black if there has been bleeding. There is a minimal amount of mucosal erythema surrounding the membrane. The membrane is adherent to the tissue, and forcible attempts to remove it cause bleeding. Extensive membrane formation may result in respiratory obstruction.

Did you see that? 

Within 2-3 days, a bluish-white membrane forms and extends, varying in size from covering a small patch on the tonsils to covering most of the soft palate.

Typically in children, diphtheria killed them 5-6 days after onset, due to this membrane formation. How could Addie die in 15 hours? In fact, according to Oatway, the membrane formed and then broke off. None of this makes sense.

And how could Addie die from this “membrane” in 15 hours, when it takes several days to form?

Part of the problem with diphtheric membrane was it was part of the tissue and could not be removed without causing excessive bleeding. How could all this happen in 15 hours?

It probably did not.

Addie

Addie as a child, at about age 8-10 (1880-1882).

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Addie at about 22 years old, in 1894.

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Addie in her fancy coat and matching muff.

To learn more about Addie, click here.

Was Aunt Addie Shot in the Head? (Part V)

July 24th, 2011 Sears Homes 8 comments

This blog was written July 24, 2011. Since then, I’ve learned many new facts. Please click here to read the latest.

“Martha, burn these bed clothes and linens at once, for Addie has died from diphtheria, and we want no one in this household to become afflicted with this scourge.”

If Enoch did kill Addie, it seems likely that other people would have been involved in this crime, and even complicit. Were Fargo’s two servant girls in on it?

According to the 1900 Census, there were two servants listed in the Enoch Fargo household (see picture below).  I’m not even sure of their names, but they appear to be Mary Frey (18-year-old German girl) and Marthia or Martha Draper (also from Germany, about 29 years old).  (Please look at the photos below and see if you can discern the names.)

What became of Mary and Martha? Discovering the answer to that might help solve the mystery of Aunt Addie’s mysterious demise. Did Mary and Martha live well beyond 1901? If so, that casts more doubt on the story that Addie died from diphtheria, as that was a highly contagious disease, and surely one of them would have been tending to Addie and washing her bed linens and bringing her food and tending to her chamber pot.

Or maybe Mary Frey and Martha Draper came into some money after Addie died? Perhaps they went from being immigrant Germanic servants to prosperous landowners.

If Addie Hoyt Fargo was indeed shot in her sleep by her husband Enoch, surely Mary (age 18) or Martha (age 29) would have heard the shot. Enoch allegedly paid off Dr. Oatway to falsify the death certificate. Two young immigrants, working as mere servants, would have been easy for Enoch to “manage.” Did he pay them off? Or did he just threaten to kill them if they ever uttered a word?

If you’d just discovered that your employer had shot his wife in the head, it’d be real easy to believe that he could do the same to you.

Especially if you’re an immigrant, far from family, broke, and have virtually no life outside of the household.

Did Mary and Martha come running to Addie’s room when they heard the gunshot? Or had Enoch sent them away that Tuesday night so that no one would hear the explosive crackle of a revolver? Even if they were not home when it happened, there would have been a mess to clean up later.

And cleaning up a mess of that magnitude would have required far more housekeeping than Enoch was accustomed to doing.

Perhaps he stripped off the bedsheets and piled them into Martha’s hands and told her, “Burn these bed clothes and linens at once, for Addie has died from diphtheria, and we want no one in this household to become afflicted with this scourge.”

By 1905, Mary Frey and Martha Draper were gone, replaced by two new Germanic immigrant servants: Mary Zimmerman and Minne Lewis (see below). By 1905, maybe Mary Frey and Martha Draper were comfortably ensconced in their new home on Mulberry Street, alongside Enoch and his newest wife, Mattie Fargo.

Please take a look at the pictures below and offer a guess as to these two names. If you’ve any idea what became of Mary Frey and Martha Draper (of Lake Mills, Wisconsin), please leave a comment below.

To read the next piece (Part VI), click here.

To read Part IV, click here.

To read Part III, click here.

To read Part II, click here.

Thanks to David Spriggs (Norfolk) and Bruce A. Samoore, Volunteer Historical Researcher (Wisconsin) for unearthing much of the hard-to-find genealogical facts, death certificates and obituaries.

Census

The 1900 Census shows two servant girls living in the Fargo household. One was Marthie, Marthia or Martha A. Draper or Drager and the other was Mary Frey. Please leave a comment below if you know of any way to get in touch with their descendants and/or if you have any knowledge as to what became of these people.

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Close-up of their names. Any guesses?

Close-up of their names. Any guesses?

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By the time of the 1905 Census, both Mary and Martha were gone, and these new names appear.

By the time of the 1905 State Census, both Mary and Martha were gone, and these new names appear: Mary Zimmerman and Minnie something, perhaps Lewis?

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Closer view of the 1905 state census, showing the names of the two servant girls. Note, one of them was a lass of only 17, and the *older* girl was 18 years old. The census also shows that both girls (and their parents) were born in Germany.

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Enoch

Extreme close-up of the names of the servant girls, as they appeared on the 1905 state Census.

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

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

Addies death certificate, allegedly falsified by Dr. Oatway.

Addie's death certificate, allegedly falsified by Dr. Oatway.

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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.

I bet Addie was "very much shocked" too. This obituary attempted to explain her fast death from a slow disease process.

Addie, about 1899.

Addie, about 1899.

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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