Where did Dr. Oatway live in the early 1900s?
There’s a reason that this is so very important.
First, a brief synopsis.
According to local lore and two published reports, my Aunt (Addie Hoyt Fargo) didn’t really die of diphtheria, as is stated in her death certificate. The beautiful 29-year-old woman died from a gunshot wound to the head, delivered by her ever-loving husband, Enoch Fargo.
Her 51-year-old husband (Enoch Fargo) had fallen in love with Maddie Hoyt (no relation to Addie), and wanted to marry Maddie.
Addie had to go.
Allegedly, Dr. William H. Oatway (Enoch’s personal physician and the attending physician at Addie’s death) openly stated years later, “No one was fooled” by his alleged falsification of Addie’s death certificate (showing diphtheria as the cause of death). Folks knew Enoch had killed his young wife as she lay sleeping in her bed.
Addie’s cause of death was listed as diphtheria, providing Enoch with the excuse he needed to get Addie into the ground immediately. If you examine this “diphtheria theory” for seven or eight seconds, you’ll see it’s rife with plot holes and non sequiturs. More on that here.
So, according to the long-lived legends of Lake Mills, poor Addie was shot in the head by Enoch, and the death certificate was falsified by Oatway. Addie’s obituary says that she was “feeling unwell” late Tuesday morning (June 18th) and about 16 hours later (2:00 am on the 19th), this otherwise healthy 29-year-old was dead.
More amazingly, she was in the ground by 10:00 a.m., and there was no visitation. Think for a moment about the logistics of that. This means someone had to dig a grave in the dark of night. More on that here.
Seven months later, Enoch and Maddie were joined in matrimonial bliss. (An interesting aside: At the end of their marriage, the two lovebirds lived 3,000 miles apart, with Enoch in Florida and Maddie in California. Talk about a safe distance!)
So why is Dr. Oatway’s residence in the early 1900s so important?
If this legend is true, if Oatway was indeed coerced to falsify Addie’s death certificate (a truly grievous offense), then it’s possible that rich old Enoch offered Oatway significant pecuniary incentives. In other words, he paid him off.
In the late 1890s, Oatway was living in a second floor apartment above a storefront in Lake Mills. Pretty modest circumstances, for sure. As of the 1905 State Census (four years after Addie’s mysterious death), Oatway was living six doors away from Enoch Fargo. Unfortunately, that state census does not say where, and despite some serious searching, I’ve not been able to find an address for Oatway in the early 1900s.
If Oatway went from living in a second floor apartment to a Mulberry Street Mansion in the Fall of 1901, that would be a compelling bit of evidence. And when did he move? Was it immediately after Addie’s death? That is also important. And did he have a mortgage on his fine new residence five doors down from Fargo, or did he pay cash? Who owned the house prior to Oatway? Was it a Fargo?
When working on a 110-year-old murder mystery, such questions are of vital importance.
If anyone knows the answers to these compelling questions, or even knows how to find these answers, please leave a comment below. In a few days, I’m supposed to show up in Lake Mills and give a talk, and I need a little help from my friends!
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