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

February 27th, 2013 Sears Homes 1 comment

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, and they'd never know we were home. This house (my house) was built in1962. 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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These Are a Few of My Favorite Things…

January 30th, 2013 Sears Homes No comments

Since August 2010, I’ve written almost 700 blogs. That’s a lot of blogs. Each blog has three or more photos. That’s thousands of photos.

Some of these blogs took several hours to compose, and then get bumped off the page within a week of their creation.

So I’m posting a few of my favorite blogs below. If you’ve enjoyed this site, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.

The Sears Corona has always been one of my favorite houses (1921).

The Sears Corona has always been one of my favorite houses (1921).

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Sears Corona in Gillespie, Illinois.

A perfect Sears Corona in Gillespie, Illinois.

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Last year, I wrote a blog about the San Jose. I’ve never seen one, but this was Rebecca’s find. Awesome house. Click here.

This blog was devoted to Alhambras, and had pictures of my favorite Alhambras of all time.

The Magnolia is my favorite house, and this blog has photos of all six Magnolias that are in existence today.

In this blog (also picture heavy) I provided lots of info on how to identify a Magnolia.

And this features a story from a 92-year-old man that built a Magnolia in the 1920s.

This blog was created from photos sent in by Pat, an Ohio resident. LOTS of Sears Homes in Ohio!

West Virginia is one of my favorite places in all the world, and Lewisburg is loaded with Sears Homes. Click here to see many fun photos.

And if you have about 10 hours to spare, click here to read the story of my Aunt Addie’s apparent murder. Let me warn you, her story is addictive! You can’t read just one link!!

Click here to read about her exhumation, and let me tell, that’s quite a story too!

Really awesome photos of Carlinville, IL (which has 150 Sears Homes) can be seen here.

This is one of the MOST popular blogs at this site. It’s picture-heavy tour of my old house in Colonial Place. We sold it a couple years ago, and yet this blog is a perennial favorite.

Another perennial favorite is the story of how we redid our bathroom in the old house. Came out beautiful, but what a project!

Here’s a detailed blog on one of Sears most popular homes: The Vallonia.

This was another fascinating historical research project: Penniman - Virginia’s Ghost Town. Wow, what a story that turned out to be!

Those are just a few of my favorites.  If you want to read more, look to the right of the page and you’ll see this (shown below). Click on any one of those months to navigate through the older blogs.

Call

Click on this column (to the right) and you'll find the rest of those 680 blogs!

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Thanks for reading the blog, and please leave a comment below!

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“A Conveniently Arranged Home of Eight Rooms at Low Cost”

January 6th, 2013 Sears Homes 7 comments

The Chelsea (Modern Home #111) was first offered in the 1908 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

This spacious foursquare endured until the early 1920s, when the more modern Colonial Revivals and Tudor Revivals bumped it out of the catalogs.

As is seen by the photos below, Modern Home #111 changed a bit as the years rolled by. In my travels, I’ve found only two examples of this house. The first was in Mattoon, Illinois (Central Illinois) and Colonial Heights, Virginia (near Richmond).

And yet I see there’s also one in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Anyone in Wisconsin willing to get a photo? :)

To learn more about the Sears Homes in Wisconsin, click here.

To read more about how to identify Sears Homes, click here.

The Sears Chelsea appeared in the first Modern Homes catalog (1908).

The Sears Chelsea appeared in the first Modern Homes catalog (1908). In the floorplan for the 1908 "Chelsea," the bathroom was an optional upgrade.

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By 1916,

By 1916, the price had dropped by almost half. It was not offered as a pre-cut home until late 1917. Notice that the house now has a slightly different appearance with that center closet window (front), broader windows and more substantial woodwork around the front porch.

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By 1919

By 1919, the price was back to 1908 levels. This was probably due to some post-war inflation. In 1919, the Chelsea was offered as a pre-cut kit home.

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This testimonial (and photo) appeared on the back cover of the 1916 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

This testimonial (and photo) appeared on the back cover of the 1916 Sears Modern Homes catalog. The porch columns and lack of a closet window suggest it was the earlier (1908) model Chelsea.

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Accompanying testimonial.

The accompanying testimonial explains that the house was built in Ossining, NY.

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Heres a picture-perfect Chelsea in Colonial Heights, VA.

Here's a picture-perfect Chelsea in Colonial Heights, VA. The owner has done a thorough, meticulous and painstakingly perfect job of restoring this 100+ year old house to its original grandeur.

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This later-model Chelsea is in Mattoon, IL.

This later-model Chelsea is in Mattoon, IL. Lots of sidings there.

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house

A comparison of the Chelsea in New York (1916) and the Chelsea in Virginia (2010).

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To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

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500,000th Visitor To This Website!

December 16th, 2012 Sears Homes 5 comments

Yesterday, this website had its 500,000th visitor.

That’s pretty exciting news.

Since 1999, I’ve been writing and talking about Sears Homes. In August 2010, I started “blogging regularly” at this site. And then in June 2011, a new topic appeared: Addie Hoyt Fargo. She was my great Aunt, who died under very suspicious circumstances in Lake Mills, Wisconsin in 1901.

Apparently, folks share my interest in these topics, and for that, I’m very grateful.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To read about my beautiful aunt Addie, click here.

Interesting in learning more about the rich and complex funeral customs of the late 19th Century? Click here.

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Addie Hoyt Fargo and Anna Hoyt Whitmore were sisters. Anna Hoyt was my great-great grandmother, and the Hoyt family moved to Lake Mills in the early 1840s.

Addie Hoyt Fargo and Anna Hoyt Whitmore were sisters. Anna Hoyt was my great grandmother. The Hoyt family moved to Lake Mills in the early 1840s. Anna was born in 1866 and Addie was born in 1872. In this photo (taken about 1889), Addie is on the left.

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This picture was taken on Addies wedding day in February 1896. Was this photo taken on the same day as the first photo shown above (with the cape)? I dont think so, but its hard to know for sure.

This picture was taken on Addie's wedding day in February 1896.

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This photo, taken in 1894, really showcases Addies elegance and sophistication. She came from a wealthy family.

This photo, taken in 1894, really showcases Addie's elegance and sophistication. She came from a wealthy family.

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I love it that theres a mink *in* her hat.

I love it that there's a mink *in* her hat.

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A photo of Addie in her bedroom at the Fargo Mansion (Lake Mills) in the late 1890s.

A photo of Addie in her bedroom at the Fargo Mansion (Lake Mills) in the late 1890s.

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This photo was taken in the early 1890s in Lake Mills. It was titled Addie and her pony. I found it at the Lake Mills Library.

This photo was taken in the early 1890s in Lake Mills. It was titled "Addie and her pony." I found it at the Lake Mills Library during a research trip in November 2011.

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A photo of Addie

As shown in this photo, Addie was a snappy dresser.

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To read about Addie’s exhumation, click here.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

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Christmas at the Fargo Mansion

December 12th, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

It’s been about a year since I last stayed at the Fargo Mansion Inn in Lake Mills, Wisconsin but the many fond memories of that visit still remain. Many folks in that small, picturesque village showed me so many kindnesses. And two of the kindest, most sincere people I met during that trip were Tom Boycks and Barry Luce, owners of the Fargo Mansion Inn.

Were it not for these two, the 7,500-square foot Queen Anne mansion would have been reduced to several tons of construction debris at the county landfill. It was slated for demolition when they stepped in and bought it, sans heat, plumbing and electricity.

It’s been 25 years since those two saved this house, and today, it’s hard to imagine what Lake Mills would look like without this most impressive manse.

Since purchasing the solid-brick, 112-year-old house, Barry and Tom have poured their heart and soul (and a lot of money) into a thoughtful and thorough restoration. Visiting this house should be high on your “bucket list.” To make a reservation, click here.

The Fargo Mansion first came into my life in Summer 2011, shortly after my father’s death. Amongst his things, I found two old photo albums. One of the albums had an inscription: “Merry Christmas, Wilbur.”

Wilbur was my great-grandfather, but who was Addie Hoyt Fargo? Well, that’s a long story. To learn more about Addie Hoyt, click here.

To see pictures of Addie’s House, all dressed up for Christmas, scroll down!  (Thanks to Jan Vanderheiden for the photos!)

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

To reserve a room at the Fargo Mansion (and see more gorgeous photos), click here.

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Addies house as it appeared in 1896, soon after a major remodeling.

Addie's house as it appeared in 1896, soon after a major remodeling.

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This beautiful house underwent a major remodeling in 1895 and 1896. Today, its a nationally known B&B. Addie would be proud!

This beautiful house underwent a major remodeling in 1895 and 1896. Today, it's a nationally known B&B. Addie would be proud! (Photos are copyright 2011 Jan Vanderheiden and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Inside, Tom and Barry have done a beautiful job of decorating the house for the holidays.

Inside, Tom and Barry have done a beautiful job of decorating the house for the holidays. (Photos are copyright 2011 Jan Vanderheiden and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Addie also did a fine job of decorating, back in 1896.

Addie also did a fine job of decorating, back in 1896. This photo faces the same corner as the contemporary photo shown above. Sadly, that newel post light ("Our Lady of the Naked Light") disappeared in the intervening decades.

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Tom and Barry love this old house, and it really shows.

Tom and Barry love this old house, and it really shows. (Photos are copyright 2011 Jan Vanderheiden and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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Addie loved her house, too.

Addie loved her house, too. In the background, you can see that massive staircase and reception hall. Look at the fretwork and heavy curtains over the doorways.

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house

I love the vintage toys at the base of the tree. This tree sits at the base of the staircase. (Photos are copyright 2011 Jan Vanderheiden and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

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house house

Notice the magnolia leaves on the Electrolier!

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photo

When my father died in June 2011, I found this photo album buried in an old nightstand. Apparently Addie gave this to her brother-in-law Wilbur Whitmore for a Christmas gift.

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Heres a picture of Addie with her older sister, Anna. Anna (born 1866) married Wilbur and moved to Denver. Wilbur and Annas families were both from Lake Mills and theyre my great-grandparents.

Here's a picture of Addie with her older sister, Anna. Anna (born 1866) married Wilbur and moved to Denver. Wilbur and Anna's families were both from Lake Mills and they're my great-grandparents.

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Wilbur and Anna about the time of their engagement (late 1880s).

Wilbur and Anna about the time of their engagement (late 1880s).

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To learn more about the Hoyts, 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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Greatest Home Bargain in Norfolk (Colonial Place): Only $11,000!! (In 1924)

March 14th, 2012 Sears Homes No comments

David Spriggs and I have spent countless hours reading old newspapers. We’re reading the Lake Mills Leader (Wisconsin) looking for more information on Addie Hoyt, and we’re also reading the Virginian Pilot, hoping to find a photo of the houses that were shipped here from Penniman Virginia.

In the process of reading these old papers, David happened upon an old photo of a house for sale in Colonial Place (Norfolk). We’re sharing it here, just because it’s a neat old photo, showcasing one of the finer homes in Colonial Place.

To learn more about Riverview and Penniman, click here.

To read more about the Sears Homes in Colonial Place, click here.

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Colonial Place

David figured out that this house is at 711 Pennsylvania Avenue in Colonial Place (1924).

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Porch people not included.

Porch people do not convey (but it would be fun to know who they are).

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Close-up of the homes description.

Close-up of the home's description. Sounds pretty swanky!

Text reads,

All tapestry brick home located on Pennsylvania Avenue, concrete driveway, and double garage to match. Built on lot 50 x 110 feet, next to 150 by 150 Gosnold Avenue site, and surrounded by beautiful trees and shrubbery. As you enter this beautiful tapestry brick home you enter a large reception hall; to the right is a large living room with a beautiful tapestry brick fireplace, also large dining room with double French doors between dining room and living room, large hall, kitchen and bath; No. 1 oak floors downstairs.

Second floor has a large hall in center, with four large bedrooms, with closets in all rooms. Large tiled bath, leading from hall to large observation porch. Stairway to exceptionally large attic fully floored. House thoroughly screened and shades included, bone dry cellar with hot water heat, and plumbing of the very best, stationary tubs, No. 1 Buckingham slate roof.

This home was built by the owner, who is a contractor and was not built to sell, but is sacrificing because he is leaving Norfolk.

To learn more about Colonial Place, click here.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

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

February 25th, 2012 Sears Homes No comments

On Friday, I posted a detailed blog about Addie’s deep roots in the Lake Mills community.

Addie Hoyt (1872-1901) was the granddaughter of Kimball Hoyt and his wife, Sally Sanborn Hoyt. The Hoyts first came to Jefferson County in 1843. When Sally Sanborn Hoyt died in June 1894, her obituary described her and Kimball as “pioneers” of the area. Click here to read more about that side of Addie’s family.

After that blog appeared, one of Addie’s many friends in Lake Mills contacted me and said, “Rose, don’t forget about the Hawleys. They were also pioneers in this county.”

Captain Hezekiah Beach Hawley and his wife, Theresa Hawley were Addie’s maternal grandparents. They were originally from New York, and I’m not sure when they arrived in Jefferson County, but by August 1, 1844, the Captain and his wife were the proud owners of 40 acres of the prettiest piece of farmland you ever did see in Milford, Wisconsin, purchased directly from the United States Government.

John Tyler was the president at the time (as is noted on the deed).  In 1843, one year earlier, some folks from Vermont had purchased some land not too far from the Hawleys. Their name was Mr. and Mrs. Kimball Hoyt.

The Hoyts had a little boy named Homer (born 1844), and the Hawleys had a little girl named Julia (also born 1844).

On October 16, 1861, Homer Hoyt married the Captain’s daughter, Julia Hawley. Oh, how I would love to know a little more about that courtship.

Captain Hezekiah Beach Hawley was an old sea captain, and I’m sure any landlubber who came calling for young Julia endured quite a grilling. Captain Hawley was 40 years old when Julia was born. By the time of her marriage, Hezekiah was 57 (and the newlyweds were 17!). Judging by look on his face in this old photo (below), it’d be safe to guess that the old captain didn’t soften with age.

Homer and Julia had three children, Anna (born 1866), Addie (born 1872) and Eugene (born 1875).  In 1877, Captain Hawley died. At least he got to meet his three grandchildren. And maybe by then, he’d even forgiven Homer for marrying his beautiful daughter.

One can hope.

In the social mathematics of the era that defined a woman’s worth, young Addie Hoyt had great value. According to information gleaned from the Lake Mills Leader (newspaper), Addie’s life was full of promise and potential. She was intelligent, witty, articulate, talented, sophisticated and accomplished.

Addie Hoyt had deep roots in her community, which - in Small Town America - added greatly to her social standing. On both her father’s side (the Hoyts) and her mother’s side (the Hawleys), Addie came from a “good old Wisconsin family.”

And yet, thus far, despite some pretty strenuous searching, I’ve been unable to find a single piece of information about either the Hoyts or the Hawleys from local libraries or historical societies or museums.

Addie’s grandparents - the Hoyts and the Hawleys - both moved to the area in the early 1840s and purchased quite a bit of land (more than 100 acres) from the government, and in time, both families became prosperous and wealthy. I am baffled as to why no one in Jefferson County seems to have a letter or a journal or any correspondence or information about these two important families.

One of the main reasons I keep writing about Addie is in the hopes that someone somewhere will come forward with some information that tells us exactly happened to Addie.

How did Addie’s life story - which started off so rich with hope and promise - end so tragically?

The cemeteries of Jefferson County are well populated with Hoyts and Hawleys. These “pioneer families” worked hard to build something that the settlers and other followers would enjoy in the decades ahead.

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Captain Hezekiah Beach Hawley looks like quite a character. He was the father of Julia Hawley (Addies mother) and Captain Hawley and his wife Theresa were two of the pioneers of Jefferson County.

Captain Hezekiah Beach Hawley looks like quite a character. He was the father of Julia Hawley Hoyt (Addie's mother). Captain Hawley and his wife Theresa moved into Jefferson County in the early 1840s, and they were two of the pioneers of that area.

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He was born in 1804 and died in 1877. Addie was five years old when The Captain died.

He was born in 1804 and died in 1877, when Addie was five.

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And the Captains wife, Theresa Hathaway Hawley. She outlived the Captain by 21 years, dying in 1898 in Dayton, WI.

And the Captain's wife, Theresa Hathaway Hawley. She outlived the Captain by 21 years, dying in 1898 in Dayton, WI. In fact, she outlived her daughter (Julia), her son-in-law (Homer), her granddaughter (Addie) and even her great-grandson (Ernie).

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He purchased land

Captain Hawley purchased 40 acres from the US Government in 1844.

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Close up of the

Close up of the paperwork. The date was August 1, 1844.

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A picture of young Homer Hoyt at the time of his marriage to Julia Hawley (in 1861). He was a dapper young fellow, wasnt he?

A picture of young Homer Hoyt at the time of his marriage to Julia Hawley (in 1861). He was a dapper young fellow, wasn't he?

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Homer Hoyt and Julia Hawley Hoyt had three children, Anna (1866), Addie (1872) and Eugene (1875).

Homer Hoyt and Julia Hawley Hoyt had three children, Anna (1866), Addie (1872) and Eugene (1875). Homer and Julia died within a year of each other (1894 and 1895). This picture was taken in 1888.

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What happened to Addie?

What happened to Homer and Julia's little girl, "Addie"? How did someone with such a bright future get tangled up with someone like Enoch?

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To learn more about Addie, 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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“Every Funeral Tradition of the Time Was Violated By This Burial…” (Part II)

February 13th, 2012 Sears Homes 3 comments

“It would have been totally unacceptable for a community to wake up the next the day and find out, ‘Enoch’s wife died last night and Addie’s already in the ground,’” said Marty Mitchell, Funeral Director of Mitchell Funeral Home in Marshalltown, Iowa.

Marty has extensive knowledge of turn-of-the-century burial customs, and has an amazing collection of artifacts from that period.

“Addie’s immediate burial - dead at 2:00 a.m., and buried by 10:00 a.m. - would have been quite a scandal,” he told me. “People in town would have been wondering what in the world was going on.”

Based on my reading of more than 75 obituaries from that time period, Marty is (pardon the pun), “dead on.”

For the last few days, I’ve been methodically reading the Lake Mills Leader newspaper on microfilm. Thus far, I’ve read from 1894-1898. And how many of those 75+ obituaries had same-day burials (as in, within 24 hours)?

NONE.

Not one.

Although I’ve not yet sat down and tallied up the precise numbers, there were a few deaths from typhoid, pneumonia, grippe (flu), and consumption (TB), all of which were considered communicable diseases. All of those folks - rich and poor - had proper funeral services, spanning a period of two, three or four days (from death to burial).

Not one of these obituaries tell a bizarre story like Addie’s, of dying in the wee hours and being buried the same morning. Then again, none of these people were married to Enoch James Fargo.

To learn more about Victorian-era funeral customs, click here.

Addies

Addie was buried on June 19th, 1901 in a shallow, hastily dug grave. On November 3, 2011, her body was exhumed. Her remains are now in Norfolk, VA (with her family).

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This obit from September 1898

Charles Ives died from Typhoid in September 1898. It was also considered a highly contagious disease, and yet he was transported by train and buried three days after death.

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Oatway

At the time of Addie's death (June 1901), Oatway was still a neophyte. He'd been a doctor for 2-1/2 years in June 1901 (when Addie died) He'd started his practice the year before in Waterloo.

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Good old genial Dr. Oatway.

Good old genial Dr. Oatway.

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As mentioned in another blog, the anti-toxin was in use by 1895. If Addie *did* have diphtheria - which she did NOT - this anti-toxin had already proven itself to be a good remedy.

As mentioned in another blog, the anti-toxin was in use by 1895. (The article above is from the "Lake Mills Leader," December 19, 1895.) If Addie *did* have diphtheria - which she did NOT - this anti-toxin had already proven itself to be a good remedy. About 90% of the adults who contracted diphtheria survived it. The 10% who perished typically died when the bacteria made its way to their heart or lungs. No one - young or old - died from diphtheria in 15 hours. It took several *days* for the diphtheritic membrane to form, and it was the formation of the membrane (and obstruction of the airway) that killed children.

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When diphtheria was present in a community, the news spread far and wide.

When diphtheria was present in a community, the news spread far and wide, and not surprisingly, it was found in batches. In all my reading, I've yet to find a report of a single isolated case of diphtheria. As mentioned elsewhere, in 1901, the mortality rate for an adult with diphtheria was 9.1%. Almost 90% of the people who contracted diphtheria (more than six and less than 40 years old) survived it. This snippet appeared October 1896.

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Addie and Annie, about 1887. Addie was 15 years old, and her life was half over.

Addie and Annie, about 1887. Addie was 15 years old here, and her life was half over.

To read more about Addie, click here.

To read more about what Elsie Fargo told her daughter, click here.

To learn more about Victorian-era funeral customs, click here.

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