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Posts Tagged ‘the fargo mansion’

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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The Fargo Mansion in The News - Then and Now

February 11th, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

In the early 1980s, the Fargo Mansion Inn was slated for demolition. The two men who purchased it and saved it (Tom Boycks and Barry Luce) have done a remarkable job of restoring it.

This weekend, this wonderful house (and one of the Innkeepers, Tom Boycks) were featured in the news.

And it’s a very photogenic house. I’ve given 200 lectures in 25 states, and I’ve stayed in a lot of B&Bs, and I can honestly say that the Fargo Mansion Inn was my favorite. Perhaps part of the reason is my family connection. The house belonged to my great, great Aunt Addie and her husband, Enoch J. Fargo. As mentioned in other blogs, the current owners have done a first-class job of restoring this beautiful 7,500-square-foot Queen Anne manse.

In the last few days, David Spriggs and I have been slowly working our way through old editions of the Lake Mills Leader (newspaper) and in the process, we found some fascinating historical tidbits about the grand old house. On a personal note, one of the most interesting tidbits was discovering that my grandmother visited “Aunt Addie’s house” when she was six years old.

To read about the murder of Addie Hoyt, click here.

To learn more about the Fargo Mansion, click here.

To book a room at this magnificent B&B, click here.

Newspaper

Enoch married Addie on February 11, 1896. This notice about the remodeling of the Fargo Mansion appeared in the newspaper on August 13, 1896.

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more here

The same newspaper (August 13, 1896) said that the Fargos had moved into their "cottage by the lake." You might think that was so the work could be done to the "big house" and yet the article says that the Hubbs family had moved in!

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House

On August 27, 1896 the paper said that Mr. Henningson was making good progress on the remodeling of the Fargo Mansion.

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house

As of October 29, 1896, Enoch and Addie's home was "nearing completion."

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house house

On November 12, 1896, Addie and Enoch moved into a corner of the house.

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house warming

The big housewarming was on July 8, 1897, almost a full year after the work had started.

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Florence

In 1887, Anna Hoyt (Addie's sister) married Wilbur Whitmore and moved away from Lake Mills, settling in Denver, Colorado. Anna's first child died at the age of six. Anna's second child ("Florence") was born in 1891. Florence Whitmore (my grandmother) was six years old when she went east to visit "Aunt Addie" in Lake Mills. This item appeared in the Lake Mills Leader on July 8, 1897. Little Florence had traveled - by train - alone from Denver for Addie's big house-warming party.

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My grandmother, Florence Whitmore (Fuller).

My grandmother, Florence Whitmore (Fuller). It was quite something to think that my grandmother had visited Addie and Enoch at their home in Lake Mills.

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Florence

Florence didn't return to Denver until October 26, 1897. This snippet (above) appeared on October 27th. Florence was with her Auntie in Lake Mills for almost four months (from early July to late October . Perhaps even more interesting, six-year-old Florence traveled *alone* from Chicago to Denver. I'd imagine that Auntie took little Florence to Chicago, because there was "non-stop service" from Chicago to Denver.

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Apparently Florence survived that long train ride in 1897.

Apparently little Florence survived that long train ride in 1897. "Grandmother Fuller" lived into her 90s, passing on in 1985. I wish I'd known to ask Florence about Addie.

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Fargo Mansion

Addie put together a photo album for her sister (living in Denver), and in that photo album, there were several pictures of the Fargo Mansion.

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Addie

This was a rarity for this time period: A photo of the bedroom. One of my friends (who's well versed in the ways of Victorian women) asked me, "Was Addie pregnant here?" I told her, "I don't think so." She replied, "This photo really makes me wonder. The rocking chair, the fluffy dress, and the needlework, plus it was very unusual for a woman to permit a professional photographer to take pictures of her in the bedroom."

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Addie in front

Addie in front of the Fargo Mansion.

To learn more about Addie, click here.

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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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Lake Mills Cemetery and Addie’s Family

December 26th, 2011 Sears Homes 9 comments

On November 3, 2011, Addie Hoyt’s remains were exhumed and taken to Milwaukee for an autopsy. Read about the results of that autopsy here.

When I was in Lake Mills (early September and then again in late October), I walked the full breadth and length of the cemetery, looking for my (and Addie’s) relatives. (Addie Hoyt Fargo was my great, great aunt.)

I found more than a few family headstones. And I also found that I have a few questions.

Addie Hoyts remains were removed on November 3rd, 2011. She was Enoch Fargos second wife. According to Enochs granddaughter (Mary Wilson), Enoch killed Addie.

Addie Hoyt's remains were removed on November 3rd, 2011. She was Enoch Fargo's second wife. According to Enoch's granddaughter (Mary Wilson), Enoch killed Addie.

Addies sister (right) was Anna (1866-1966), and Anna married Wilbur W. Whitmore. Shortly after their marriage, they moved to Denver.

Addie's sister (right) was Anna (1866-1966), and Anna married Wilbur W. Whitmore. Shortly after their marriage, they moved to Denver. Anna is buried in Denver with her husband (1865-1939) and their young son (Ernest Eugene Whitmore, 1888-1894).

Eugene Beech Hoyt was a fairly dapper-looking fellow.

Addie's brother was Eugene Beach Hoyt. He was a fairly dapper-looking fellow.

Addie and Annie had a brother, Eugene.

Is Eugene buried here in Lake Mills, or is this simply a memorial marker?

Homer

Homer Hoyt (the father of Addie, Annie and Eugene) is not buried in Lake Mills. This is a memorial stone at the Lake Mills cemetery. According to this, Homer died in 1894 and is buried in Everett, Washington. Addie's mother died in January 1895, in San Mateo, California. Phebe was a sister of Homer, and she died at the age of 2.

Kim

Kimball Hoyt and Sally Hoyt were Addie's paternal grandparents. They died in 1893 and 1894. Addie lost six relatives between 1893 and January 1895. She lost her father, her mother, her paternal grandparents, her Uncle Smith Hoyt and her nephew (Anna's little boy).

These markers represent several of the Sanborns. Kimball Hoyt married Sally Sanborn, and apparently, there were several Sanborns in Lake Mills in the earlyy 1800s.

These markers represent several of the Sanborns. Kimball Hoyt married Sally Sanborn, and apparently, there were several Sanborns in Lake Mills in the early 1800s. Sally Sanborn Hoyt would have been Addie's father's mother (or Addie's grandmother).

Addie

Addie's foot stone is still in place at the cemetery, but as my friends have pointed out, it's only a marker. Her remains have been removed from this disrespectfully shallow grave. No piece or part of Addie Hoyt remains in the Fargo plot.

I would love to know if Eugene is buried there at the Lake Mills Cemetery. If so, he is the only immediate family member buried there. Addie’s remains have been removed, Anna is buried in Denver (with her husband), and Homer (Dad) is in Everett, Washington. Julia Hawley Hoyt (Addie’s Mom) died (and is probably buried) in California.

To learn more about Addie, click here.

To learn more about Addie and Anna, click here.

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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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Mary Wilson’s Source

December 9th, 2011 Sears Homes 9 comments

To read the updated version of this piece, click here.

Since the articles on Addie have started to appear, I’ve received a surprising number of supportive comments from people who tell me, “I knew Mary Wilson personally, and she was very proud of her book and her work. If Mary Wilson said that Enoch murdered Addie, you can believe that it’s true.”

And that fits in with everything I know about people who love history and people who write books, and Mary Wilson (from all accounts) possessed both of those characteristics.

Wanting to dig deeper into this, I called Tom Boycks today, who (together with Barry Luce) owns the Fargo Mansion Inn in Lake Mills. The first time I met Tom, he proudly displayed his own copy of Mary’s book, The History of Lake Mills, hand-delivered to him almost 30 years ago by Mary Wilson herself.

Tom and Barry knew Mary Wilson very well, and thought very highly of her.

I asked Tom about something that Mary did not address in her book: The source of the story about Addie’s murder.

“Barry and I closed on the mansion in April of 1985,” Tom said. “And it wasn’t long after we closed that Mary Wilson came to the house and introduced herself. The house was still boarded up and it was a real mess in here. Mary Wilson stood right in the foyer, and pointed up at the top of the staircase and said, ‘That’s where my grandfather did Addie Hoyt in - right at the top of the stairs. She was his second wife. To cover it up, he got the doctor to alter the death record.’”

And how does Tom remember that conversation so well?

As they came to know Mary Wilson, she re-told them that story about Addie’s murder, and there was never any deviation from its original telling.

And the source of the story?

Tom said, “Mary Wilson told us that it was her mother, Elsie Fargo Mccammon (Enoch’s daughter), who told Mary about the murder of Enoch’s second wife.  It was Elsie that told Mary about Enoch killing his second wife at the top of the staircase.”

Elsie was born in 1876, so she was a scant four years younger than Addie. At the time of Addie’s death, Elsie was 25 years old, and according to the 1900 census, Elsie was living at the Fargo Mansion.

And speaking as a historian and a mother, this account - handed down from Elsie to Mary - is one of the most important pieces of evidence that Addie Hoyt Fargo was indeed murdered.

Why would a mother tell this fantastic story to her daughter, unless it was true?

By all accounts, Elsie was an upstanding, moral, and respectable member of her community. She picked an ordained Methodist minister (Reverend Charles Mccammon) to be her life partner, and remained married to him until his death in 1946. It does not seem likely that a woman like this would lie to her own child about something so important.

Why did Elsie share this story with Mary? Maybe she didn’t want the story of this crime to be forgotten or lost.

During the exhumation of Addie Hoyt Fargo’s remains, when we found Addie buried in that shallow grave, my first thought was, “Mary Wilson was right. She was right.”

To learn more about the history of the Fargo Mansion, click here.

To learn about visiting the Fargo Mansion, click here.

If you’ve enjoyed reading about Addie, please share this link with others on Facebook!

Elsie

Elsie Fargo was the daughter of Enoch James Fargo and Mary Rutherford Fargo. Elsie married Reverend Mccammon, and they had two children, Paul and Mary. It was Elsie's daughter (Mary Wilson) who wrote the book, "The History of Lake Mills." According to Mary Wilson, her information about Addie's murder came from Elsie Fargo Mccammon.

Mary WilsonElsie Fargo at the Fargo Mansion, about 1899.  Elsie told her daughter, Mary Wilson, that Enoch murdered Addie.
Addie in her bedroom at the Fargo Mansion.

Addie in her bedroom at the Fargo Mansion.

The Fargo Mansion in the late 1890s.

The Fargo Mansion in the late 1890s.

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“The Law Requiring the Report of Dangerous Disease is Observed.” Kinda. Sorta.

October 12th, 2011 Sears Homes 1 comment

Thanks (again) to Mark Hardin, I have now read parts of the “Nineteenth Report of the State Board to Health to Wisconsin” for 1901/1902, which covers the time period during which Addie Hoyt Fargo allegedly died of diphtheria. This report was for the state of Wisconsin, and has a listing of all reports from all health officers in Wisconsin cities, towns, villages and townships. Full text here.

Doctor Oatway was the county health officer at the time. The same Dr. Oatway that attended to Addie as she lay dying from diphtheria.

In this report, he states that there were no deaths from diphtheria in the city in 1901. But wait, how can that be? Addie contracted diphtheria. She died of diphtheria. The death certificate states that, and Oatway certified that the death certificate was true, but this report contradicts the death certificate.

What the heck?

So Addie allegedly died of diphtheria, but Oatway didn’t report her diphtheria or subsequent death to the state (in his report below)? Maybe if there’d been a requirement that murder victims be reported to the state of Wisconsin, he would have remembered to report Addie under that column.

No time for a loquacious blog today, so please read the text  in full, and please leave comments below.

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

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

And the best part, is the last line of this report:  Oatway says that “the laws requiring the issuing of…burial permits are observed.”

Wow, wow, wow.

Guess he’d rather lie to the state than end up in jail?

S

An interesting read. Read the entire article to get an idea of how much he lied. So, does this mean that he FORGOT about Addie, one of Lake Mills' most prominent citizens? Or did his conscience win the day, and refused to state publicly that she died from a disease process?

Please leave comments below. I always learn so much from other people’s ideas and intelligent insights.

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Addie’s Non-Existent Burial Permit: Even More Important Than Originally Thought

October 11th, 2011 Sears Homes 3 comments

This weekend, I discovered a blog that questioned some of my statements about Addie’s murder. The blog writer feels that Addie was not murdered, and that my conclusions are erroneous.

I’m right, and he’s wrong (I love it when that happens), and I can explain the reasons why.

For instance, this fellow refuted my statement regarding the low mortality rate of diphtheria. (I’d said that in the early 2oth Century, someone in Addie’s age bracket had a 5-10% chance of dying from diphtheria.) His blog denounces that statistic, and claims that the contemporary rate (the 2011 mortality rate) from diphtheria is 10%, but that in the early 20th Century, the mortality rate “was closer to 50%.”

His source for this information is a chart, with lots of pretty colors and squiggly lines, but if he’d looked closer at his own chart, he’d see that it actually represented mortality rates per 100,000 people, and it was a chart referencing disease rates of the population as a whole. In other words, it was designed to show what percentage of the U. S. population had perished in a particular year from diphtheria (and the rate for 1901 was .00004%).

That chart tells us nothing about the 1901 mortality rate for patients afflicted with diphtheria.

Monday morning and afternoon, I spent too many hours reading, “Report of the State Board of Health, State of Wisconsin, 1899-1900″ (and what a page turner that was). The document represents the time period from September 1899 to September 1900, and it’ll have to do until I can find the report for 1900-1901. (Addie died in June 1901.)

Now keep in mind that this report included all ages. Children under five and adults past 40 had twice the mortality rate of other age groups. And within this document was a section titled, “Health Officer’s Correspondence,” with a plethora of notes from physicians declaring that diphtheria often moved through families, killing all the young children. In other words, children’s deaths, due to diphtheria, probably represent a lot of these “mortality rate” numbers.

In the state of Wisconsin, in 1899, the mortality rate for diphtheria was 13% (see graphic below). But being the intrepid researcher, I wanted to learn even more.

In 1900, physicians agreed that proper sanitation was the key to inhibiting the spread of diphtheria-laden germs. Larger cities with sanitation issues and close living arrangements had higher mortality rates. For instance, in Milwaukee, the mortality rate for diphtheria was 16.75%. Conversely, if you just looked at the cities and villages with 2,000 people or less, the mortality rate was a mere 9.1%.

[Milwaukee (population 280,000), reported 746 cases of diphtheria and 125 deaths. Conversely, the smaller towns of Menomonie, Kaukauna, Hortonville and Westfield reported 10, 6, 5 and 4 cases of diphtheria and no deaths. In Schleisingervhle, there were 20 cases and only 1 death. This was pretty typical of small towns in Wisconsin.]

Back to cities and villages with less than 2,000 people:  About 9% of the people in those areas perished from diphtheria. Bear in mind, that 9.1% rate included children. If you could strip away the “under five and more than 40″ group, the number would surely be significantly less. In Hay River, there was one case of diphtheria and one death: A child.

Hay River Health Officer J. C. Lake’s report says that he would not have lost that one child if the parents had sought help earlier.

In the 1890s, diphtheria rates began to decline, due to the discovery and availability of an anti-toxin, developed by German scientist Emil von Behring. By 1895, the anti-toxin was in production in the United States, and in use throughout the country.

All of which is to say, the 1900 mortality rate of 9.1% is very believable, and if we could extract adults from that number, it would surely be much lower.

In conclusion, I stand by my original statement. The odds that Addie died from diphtheria are pretty low. Factor in her age (29 years old), and her duration of illness (16 hours) and those odds become almost laughable.

And more to the point, there were zero cases of diphtheria in Lake Mills and surrounding areas. And this was not uncommon. About 25% of Wisconsin’s small cities had no reported cases of diphtheria. In these smaller towns, there was lots of small pox, pneumonia. consumption, la grippe, and dysentery, but no diphtheria.

In the anti-Addie blog mentioned above, there was another fact he took exception to. He claimed that the lack of a burial permit proved only that there’d been a bureaucratic boo-boo. My afternoon in this dusty old tome proved him wrong on that score, too.

With few exceptions, the physicians’ comments included a statement such as, “The laws requiring the reporting of births and burial permits are observed,” or some physicians wrote, “The laws requiring the reporting of births are not always observed because neighbor women sometimes attend to the birth…”

In regards to the burial permit, most doctors said that the “reporting of burial permits are always observed…”

The lone exception was a health officer in a rural setting who stated that all of his deceased patients did have “properly filled out burial permits,” but then his report took an interesting turn with a commentary about a quack on the edge of town and “who knows what he’s doing out there.”

I was impressed that there were two documents the state wanted a report on: Birth certificates and burial permits. Not death certificates, but BURIAL permits. This tells me that burial permits were considered an important state document and it was expected that health officers would make certain that these records were meticulously maintained.

Of the 135 physicians’ reports that I read, there was only one that said that “the laws regarding the issuing of burial permits are strictly maintained.”

Notice the addition of that word, “strictly”?

That statement with its extra important words came from the health officer in Lake Mills.

Yup.

Lake Mills.

Perhaps if someone died out on the farm and was buried in the family plot and later moved to a city cemetery, there would not have been a burial permit from the city of Lake Mills.

But if someone (oh, say, someone like Addie) died in the city of Lake Mills, and was attended to by a local physician (oh say, someone like Oatway) who just happens to be the HEALTH OFFICER who understands that he’ll be duty bound to file a report in a few weeks, explaining that “laws regarding the issue of burial permits are strictly maintained,” then I’d guess that someone like Addie had darn well better have a burial permit filed and properly executed.

Oatway knew that the state required that Addie’s death certificate have a burial permit number, so he made one up. Oatway also knew that Enoch’s demand that Addie be buried at once (before 10:00 am the next morning), prevented Oatway from getting a legitimate burial permit, so he falsified the document and made up a burial permit number (#32), and then signed a sworn affidavit that the information was true.

So which is worse, conspiring to cover up a murder, or malfeasance and violation of state law?

Thanks to Mark Hardin for finding this report from early 20th Century Wisconsin!! What an amazing bunch of facts and figures!!

To learn more about Addie, click here.

To see the talk Rose gave in Lake Mills, click here.


Lake Mills

Lake Mills' Health Officer Dr. Dodge states here that the "laws requiring the report of births and the issuing of burial permits are strictly observed." Of the 135 reports that I read, only one contained the phrase "strictly observed" and that was the report from the Lake Mills Health Officer.

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%.

Enoch Fargo and his bride, Addie Hoyt Fargo. This is labeled as their wedding photo from 1896.

Enoch Fargo and his bride, Addie Hoyt Fargo in 1896 at the time of their wedding. Addie was 22 years younger than Enoch. He allegedly murdered Addie so that he could marry Maddie Hoyt (no relation).

And perhaps

Addie at age 24 (left) and age 29 (right). Life with Enoch was hard. On the right, notice the swollen lip, skewed nose and puffy eyes. She hardly looks like the same woman.

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Addies death certificate, allegedly falsified by Dr. Oatway.

Addie's death certificate, falsified by Dr. Oatway. Under the date (June 1901), it 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. That's the problem with lying; one lie requires another and another and another.

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.

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On October 2, 1913, the Waukesha Freeman (newspaper) reported that Dr. Oatway was moving from Lake Mills to Waukesha to open a new office there.  Interesting that, years after establishing a successful practice in Lake Mills, hed up and move to Waukesha.

On October 2, 1913, the Waukesha Freeman (newspaper) reported that Dr. Oatway was moving from Lake Mills to Waukesha to open a new office there. Interesting that, years after establishing a successful practice in Lake Mills, he'd up and move to Waukesha.

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the

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.

This obituary attempted to explain her fast death from a slow disease process.

Addie

Her life ended when she was 29 years old.

Close-up

Addie was a beautiful young woman.

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.

close-up

close-up

Fluffy plays with Addie

Addie loved cats.

Talk about a feather in your cap!

And the cats tolerated her.

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Unknown person

Addie preparing for a trip.

Addie, about 1899.

Addie, about 1899.

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

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

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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The Five Reasons

September 28th, 2011 Sears Homes 1 comment

Addie’s story has been picking up steam and gaining a wider audience. This ustream video - a recording of a talk I gave in Lake Mills - has had more than 700 hits (as of September 28, 2011).  In the last month, more than 7,000 people have come to my website to read about Addie.

It’s reassuring to know that so many people care about my great Aunt Addie, a beautiful 29-year-old woman, who was murdered by her husband in 1901.

And I’d like to share - with my readers - the reason that *I* am so interested in getting to the bottom of this story.

There are five primary reasons.

For starters, I’m a nut about history. And early 20th Century America is my favorite time period. When I wrote The Houses That Sears Built, I spent four years, buried in library basements across the Midwest doing research. And I loved it.

Reason #2: I grew up without grandparents or cousins or aunts or uncles (they all lived 3,000 miles away in California), and my whole life, I’ve yearned to know what it’s like to be part of an extended family. Learning about Addie and her family (my family) has helped assuage that powerful longing. Solving her murder (or at the very least, discovering the truth about this old legend) will also be very satisfying.

Reason #3: “All it takes for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing.” While it’s true that all the principals in this 110-year-old murder mystery are dead and buried, it’s also true that evil (especially something as dark and horrific as murder) needs to be exposed to the sunlight of truth. This evil has hidden in the dark shadows for long enough. It’s time to drag it out into the bright light and learn the truth and settle the question. Evil, regardless of its specific guise, needs to be unmasked and uncovered and destroyed.

Reason #4: Addie was my great-grandmother’s little sister, and she was also the youngest daughter of Homer and Julia Hoyt, my great, great grandparents. If someone I loved had been harmed or hurt (like Addie), I’d hope and pray that there’d be someone in the world who loved family enough and/or loved me enough to take on the task of uncovering the truth about their demise. Addie was a 29-year-old woman when she was murdered. She was still a young girl. I have children that age.

Reason #5: It’s the right thing to do.

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Addie

Whenever I start to wonder if I'm doing the right thing, I revisit this picture. It always re-inspires me to push forward with Addie's case.

Close-up of Addies face

When I look at her face, and see the swollen lips, twisted nose and puffy eyes, I am reminded that Addie's life could not have been an easy one.

Addie

Life before and after Enoch. These photos were taken less than five years apart. She was 29 in the photo on the right.

Addie

Her life ended when she was 29 years old.

Close-up

Addie was a beautiful young woman.

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Addie in her wedding gown?

Addie in her wedding gown.

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My favorite photo of all.

My favorite photo of all. I love the detail and the beauty and the opulence.

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pic

Close-up of the bed.

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Close-up of my great, great Aunt Addie Hoyt Fargo

Close-up of my great, great Aunt Addie Hoyt Fargo

Another

Another view of the lavish interiors of the Fargo Mansion.

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Not sure who this is, but she sure is happy!

Addie's bright-white dress looks almost ethereal in this photo.

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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 happy days at the mansion.

These were fancy people living a fancy life. As my daughter Crystal pointed out, even the horse is wearing a doily!

The fam departing on a buggy ride.

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j

I just love it that she's wearing a sailor suit.

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With a matching cap...

With a matching cap.

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j

Old Enoch didn't age well.

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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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Talk about a feather in your cap!

And the cats tolerated her.

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Unknown person

Addie preparing for a trip.

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Not sure who this is, either.

Addie in profile.

Tennis anyone?

Tennis anyone?

cap

The Fargo Mansion, as photographed in 1896, 15 years after it was built.

To learn more about the mysterious death of Addie Fargo, click here.

If you have any information to add, or if you’d like to express an opinion, please leave a comment below.

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