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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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The Worm Has Turned

December 26th, 2011 Sears Homes 5 comments

Wouldn’t it be nice if the City of Lake Mills would have treated you better? And not only the city, but all of Lake Mills’ past and present residents? Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone interested in this mystery would treat everyone with respect? I wish you the best of luck and pray that someday the mystery will be solved!

Someone left the above comment at my website this evening (December 26, 2011).

I thanked them for the comment, and responded with a comment of my own which said,

Ever since I first learned of Addie Hoyt Fargo, all I wanted to do was to get to the bottom of this amazing story, and figure out what happened to my great Aunt, a beautiful, intelligent, interesting 29-year-old woman.

I’m a few months older now, and a lot wiser, and I’ve learned that when people can not attack the facts, they attack the person, and it saddens me greatly that I was *attacked* (verbally), because I wanted to uncover the true facts of this old story.

When I first came into Lake Mills in September 2011, I was so impressed with the idyllic little town. I called my daughter (who lived in Appleton for many years) and told her how beautiful it was. She said, “Mom, I miss Wisconsin so much. It’s a wonderful place to live.”

And then the hate mails started coming - sometimes 2-3 per DAY. I read a few of them to my daughter and she said, “That’s not the Wisconsin I remember. I can’t believe these people are treating you like this.”

But in the last couple weeks, things have changed - for the better.

Now, I receive a steady stream of supportive comments from people asking, “Why would *anyone* send you hate mail, and protest so much and react so strongly when all you’re trying to do is solve an old murder mystery? You’re after the facts, but the opposition seems to be after YOU personally.”

In fact, I’ve had several old timers contact me and share several stories about Enoch Fargo, and none of them are good. Enoch and his contemporaries may be long dead, but stories of Enoch’s misdeeds were passed from generation to generation, and I’ve been told some chilling tales about Enoch J. Fargo.

And according to Enoch’s own granddaughter, he got away with murder in June 1901, when he killed Addie Hoyt Fargo.

Well, he almost got away with murder.

Thank you to the many kind souls who have written me and  phoned me and offered their support and encouragement, and private stories. It’s gratifying to know that there are others, like me, who have a deep, abiding hunger to find the truth about what happened to Addie Hoyt Fargo.

To learn more about Addie Hoyt Fargo, click here.

To learn more about the results of the autopsy, click here.

Enoch

Enoch J. Fargo

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Addie’s House at Christmastime

December 24th, 2011 Sears Homes 2 comments

In Lake Mills, the beautiful and elegant Fargo Mansion is decorated in style for the Christmas holidays. The Fargo Mansion Inn is one of the most grandiose and remarkable mansions in Wisconsin, and incredibly, it was slated for demolition in the early 1980s. The two men who purchased it (Tom Boycks and Barry Luce) have done a remarkable job of restoring it.

Since purchasing the 7-500-square foot Queen Anne Manse in 1985, Barry and Tom have poured their heart and soul (and a kajillion dollars) into the careful restoration of the old house, and they’ve done a first-class job. If visiting this house is not on your “bucket list,” it certainly should be. To make a reservation, click here.

Take a look at Addie’s House, all dressed up for Christmas.  (Thanks to Jan Vanderheiden for the photos!)

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

Extero

The Fargo Mansion Inn at night - all dressed up for Christmas. (Photos are copyright 2011 Jan Vanderheiden and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

Christmas tree at the foot of the staircase in the mansion.

Christmas tree at the foot of the staircase in the mansion. (Photos are copyright 2011 Jan Vanderheiden and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

When Tom and Barry bought the mansion in 1985, many of the original moldings and mantels had been removed, in anticipation of its demolition. This settee was one of the few original items that remained.

When Tom and Barry bought the mansion in 1985, many of the original moldings and mantels had been removed, in anticipation of its demolition. This settee was one of the few original items that remained. (Photos are copyright 2011 Jan Vanderheiden and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

Chi

A small tree and "Christmas Village" adorn the solarium at the Fargo Mansion.(Photos are copyright 2011 Jan Vanderheiden and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

And a spacious tree in the main parlor.

And a beautifully decorated tree sits in the main parlor. (Photos are copyright 2011 Jan Vanderheiden and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

It was Christmas 1900 when Addie sent this photo album to her brother-in-law in Denver (my great-grandfather).

It was Christmas 1900 when Addie sent this photo album to her brother-in-law in Denver (my great-grandfather).

Scroll on down to see photos of Addie’s house in Addie’s time (late 1890s).

A

Addie sent this photo to her family in Denver, Colorado. Her sister Anna Hoyt Whitmore lived in Denver with her husband Wilbur, and their two children. Addie was obviously very proud of her home, and wanted to let her big sister know, she finally had a home of her own.

Another pic

Addie is on the lower left, with Enoch above her. Elsie and Mattie (sisters) are on the right.

This is my favorite photo, and shows Addie sitting in the master bedroom.

This is my favorite photo, and shows Addie sitting in the master bedroom.

Close-up of that amazing bed!

Close-up of that amazing bed!

capion

From the staircase, looking out toward the front parlor.

caption

This "electrolier" (both electric and gas) is adorned with magnolia leaves.

Close up

Close up of the fretwork, trim and heavy curtain over the doorway.

Chair

I just love these chairs!

Enoch in repose with his evening newspaper.

Enoch in repose with his evening newspaper.

pi

A picture from one of the parlors, looking toward the front door and grand staircase.

Addie (at the piano) and Mattie (singing) enjoy some quality family time.

Addie (at the piano) and Mattie (singing) enjoy some quality family time. Elsie is to the right and out of frame in this shot.

pic

This is the front parlor (nearest the front door) looking into the room (on the far right) that adjoins the dining room.

And this is also a favorite photo. Thats a heckuva newel post light! Unfortunately, Our Lady With the Light is gone, and Tom and Barry would love to know what became of her.

And this is also a favorite photo. That's a heckuva newel post light! Unfortunately, "Our Lady With the Light" is gone, and Tom and Barry would love to know what became of her.

j

Enoch invented a central vacuum system, and he's shown here "getting his suit cleaned" by one of the servants. This photo appeared in a manual on the central vacuum system that Tom and Barry found. It also shows great detail of the home's interior. This would have been a little after Addie's time, in the early 1910s.

Another photo of Enochs central vacuum, and this one is in the kitchen.

Another photo of Enoch's central vacuum, and this one is in the kitchen.

Tom and Barry

Tom and Barry have done a phenomenal job of restoring this grand old mansion. They told me that this house was slated for demolition when they purchased it (in1985) and began their life-long labor of restoration. It's an ongoing project, but their love of this house shines through in each and every faithfully restored nook and cranny.

Loo

This is one of my favorite pictures, for it captures the workmanship of the original structure, and the painstaking work that had to be done in the restoration.

A view of the parlor today.

A view of the parlor today.

I highly recommend the Fargo Mansion Inn.

I shudder to think that this incredible house nearly ended up as another memory in another small town. Were it not for Tom and Barry, this house would be another pile of forgotten construction debris at the local landfill.

To learn more about Addie, click here.

To learn more about old houses, click here.

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Historical Truth: Enoch Killed Addie

December 10th, 2011 Sears Homes 6 comments

Does the evidence found thus far against Enoch James Fargo rise to the level of proving him guilty in a criminal case? No, because the defendant must be found guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” We’re so far removed from 1901, that such a threshold is impossible to attain.

Does the evidence found thus far against Enoch James Fargo rise to the level of proving him guilty in a civil case? Perhaps so, because the rule is,”preponderance of the evidence.”

But that’s really a red herring, because we’re not preparing for a courtroom trial, we’re talking about history. And the question is, what would be sufficient evidence for historians?  As a general rule, historians consider many kinds of evidence that might not be admissible in court today.  Among the things considered by historians are oral traditions, and much of what we accept as historical truth could not be proven in a court of law today.

However, it’s important to note that in federal court, assertions of fact contained in “ancient documents” are admissible in evidence despite the fact that they are “hearsay.”  An “ancient document” is defined by the court as any document more than 20 years old. Citation: Federal Rules of Evidence 803 (16).

Thus, Mary Wilson’s statement in her book (The History of Lake Mills) that Enoch shot Addie may be considered admissible evidence. If a federal court would accept Mary Wilson’s “ancient document” as evidence, shouldn’t historians? And Mary Wilson was not just a local historian; she was Enoch’s own granddaughter.

From a historical reference point, the statement in Mary Wilson’s book, together with the report that her mother was the source, together with all the other evidence that’s been amassed provides an adequate foundation for the historical conclusion that, just as Mary Wilson told us, Enoch killed Addie.

(Many thanks to in-house counsel for providing legal terms and citations.)

To learn more about Addie, click here.

To see a short video about Addie, click here.

To learn more about Mary Wilson’s book, click here.

To sell or buy a copy of Mary Wilson’s book, click here.

Addie

Thanks to Mary Wilson, Elsie Fargo, and a whole slew of 21st Century friends (and a few miracles), Enoch did *not* get away with it.

Ada (Addie) Hoyt Fargo  1872-1901

Ada ("Addie") Hoyt Fargo 1872-1901.

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What The Medical Examiner Told Me About Addie…

December 3rd, 2011 Sears Homes 21 comments

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

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

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

Inconclusive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And 1901 is a long, long way from 2011.

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

In conclusion, Addie’s autopsy was inconclusive.

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

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

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

Did Enoch murder Addie? Mary Wilson certainly thought so.

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

To learn more about Addie, click here.

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

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

Addie in 1894, two years before she married Enoch.

Addie in 1894, two years before she married Enoch.

Addie

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

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Addies foot stone still remains at her empty tomb.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Addie, shortly before her death.

Addie, shortly before her death.

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

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

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

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

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