Posts Tagged ‘the murder of addie hoyt’

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.


1913 catalog

Close-up of #126. Note the flare at the bottom of the dormer's columns.



Close-up of the floorplan.


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.


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.)


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.)


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.)


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.)



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.


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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“Our Trip to the Black Hills” by Addie Hoyt Fargo (1899)

February 27th, 2012 Sears Homes 4 comments

In one of Addie’s obituaries, she was described as “a gifted woman possessing…a fine literary ability.”

As a writer, I longed to hear Addie’s “voice.” The written word can provide so much insight into a writer’s soul. I yearned to know Addie better. I wanted to read her words, and have a keyhole peek into her soul.

And then in early February, while I was reading my way through 10 years of the Lake Mills Leader, I found an essay written by Addie Hoyt Fargo. In May of 1899, Addie and Enoch had taken a one-week train trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Below is her account of that trip, written in her own words.

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Our Trip to the Black Hills

By Mrs. Enoch J. Fargo

Our excursion party comprising parties of the Wisconsin Press Association with their wives and daughters, numbering 70 in all, left Chicago Thursday at 6:00 pm, May 25th over the North-Western, bound for the Black  Hills.

We occupied two handsome Wagoneer sleepers and commenced to have a jolly good time from the very beginning.

M. P. Rindlaub, of Platteville, President and O. F. Roessler, of Jefferson, Secretary of the Wisconsin Press Association directed the excursion, while the genial James Gibson of Madison, district passenger agent of the N. W., assumed complete charge of our party from Chicago to Omaha. At Clinton, Iowa he invited us to step out upon the platform to see the largest railroad locomotive in the United States.

Some of us looked at the wrong locomotive, but the most of us saw a 122-ton affair, almost as big as a church.

Omaha was reached at 9:30 the next morning, where we found cars waiting for us, provided by Omaha’s Street Railway Co., which took us to the Millard Hotel for breakfast, and after breakfast, took us around the city and, and out to the Exposition grounds.

The entire forenoon was taken up with the trip through the grounds and buildings. Talk about a miniature World’s Fair! It is ever so much more than that, and anyone who goes there thinking he is to see something small, will be much disappointed.

The Greater American Exposition will open again in July and as nearly all of the open space has been taken, it promises to be as great a success as last year. There will be a Cuban village, 180 Cubans will arrive in Omaha this week, a Hawaiian village, and 20 families of the Philippines.

This will be a greater attraction than any seen at the Exposition last year.

After our return we were given a banquet at the Paxton Hotel by the officers of the Capital Exposition. The luncheon was preceded by the singing of “America.” Dr. Miller, president of the Greater American Exposition, welcomed the party to Omaha. He invited us to take note as we went like birds of passage through the city what Omaha is. The seat of empire, he declared, had been transferred from the East to Mississippi Valley. It was politically the dominant position of the country. He called our attention to the marvelous progress made by the West, of which we saw but the border, as exemplified last summer in the Trans-Mississippi Exposition.

Since that time, though we might regret the situation forced upon us, we could not help but look up on the situation as it is. An opportunity to know the new possessions in all the phases of their life is to be given. Editor Wilder, of Madison, was called upon to respond.

Representing the state, he said, which had given Vilas, Spooner, Fairchild and a long list of other statesmen, he acknowledged the cordial welcome. These were a band of the editors, their wives and children, and perhaps their sweethearts, seeking to learn the West, but the West was hard to find.

Here we found broad avenues, excelling the devious and narrow streets of eastern cities. We had found the spices of the exposition and realize the half had never been told.

Henceforth the word “Omaha,” would be a watchword with us and we would go to our homes with it fragrant in our memory.

The program was necessarily a brief one because of the early departure of our party for Hot Springs. Three o’clock found us saying good bye to Omaha and our Mr. Gibson, and passenger agent J. H. Gable of the F. E. & M. V., took charge of our party from Omaha to the Black Hills and back, and I assure you he looked after the comfort of us all in the usual hospitable style of the N. W. system.

From Omaha we came over the F. E. and MV, stopping at Rome Millers Eating House at Norfolk for supper, and it may be incidentally mentioned that G. H. Rodgers, the manager of that institution provided us with an excellent meal.

Northern Nebraska is all a rolling prairie; the fields are so green and the horses and cattle look well cared for, but when we got into Dakota, the scene changes.  Just before reaching the hills we pass through some of the worst country imaginable, a rocky clay soil, here and there, a lump of pine trees, some buffalo grass, a muddy stream or two and that is all.

This part of Dakota is called the Bad Lands and it’s pretty bad too, though we were told we hadn’t seen the worst of it. From here we begin to go up higher and higher and we see the black hills in the distance and really black they look too. Mr. Gable tells us the reason for this is because the mountains are covered in pine trees, and approached from a distance, this black mass of pine trees rises up against the horizon giving it the appearance and name of Black Hills.

At a previous time they were the home of various Indian tribes and they also constituted the winter shelter of the winter buffalo herds.

We arrive at the foot of Battle Mountain and here we are at Hot Springs, ready for breakfast too, I assure you. We went to the Evans Hotel for breakfast, which is just across the street from the station. This is one of the finest hotels in the West, commodious and cheerful. After breakfast, carriages were waiting to take us to Wind Cave which is 12 miles from Hot Springs, over pine-clad hills and through valleys. Wind Cave in all probability represents an extinct geyser and outrivals the Mammoth Cave of Kentucky, in extent, has been explored in different directions to a distance of 91 miles and so far have found 2,100 chambers, with queer and beautiful formations in each.

There are numerous chambers uniquely named on account of some similarly or appropriate circumstance, Post Office, Theater, Cathedral, Garden of Eden, Fair Ground, etc. We explored six miles of this cave and came out after five hours, glad to stop and partake of the lunch the proprietor of the cave had waiting for us.

After we were driven back to Hot Springs, a few of us went to the Plunge, near the Evans Hotel. A handsome building enclosing the pool is, 75 x 25 feet complete in every appointment. The Plunge is the chief attraction of this popular resort and it is simply irresistible.

Myriads of tiny springs bubbling up from the pebbly bottom supply 100,000 gallons of water per hour. It is from five to nine feet in depth and so clear that the smallest object can be seen at the extreme depth. The water is highly charged with electric and magnetic properties which is highly beneficial for rheumatism.

The temperature of the water is 96 degrees years round, and one plunge almost repaid us for the long trip to Hot Springs. After the plunge we had supper, and then a dance at the “Evans” given us by the citizens of Hot Springs.

Sunday, some of our party went to church, some to the Plunge, and some to climb over the mountains; however, the day was too short and Monday found us upon our way to Deadwood, over the Elkhorn. We had breakfast at Buffalo Gap and got into Deadwood for dinner at the Ballock Hotel. The afternoon was occupied by an inspection of Deadwood until four o’clock when we left over the Elkhorn Narrow Gauge Road for a ride up Bald Mountain, visiting Terry and passing over the summit, which is 8,000 feet above sea level, and from which so fine a view is afforded of the outlying prairies. The atmosphere was favorable so the view could not have been better.

We returned to the Ballock for supper, and in the evening, a dance was given us at the Olympic parlors by the Olympic Club. Right here I might mention the fact that Harry Park, who is a commercial traveler in that section was at the hotel when we returned from Bald Mountain, so we took him with us to the Olympic Dance. Tuesday, Memorial Day, we visited Lead City, the highest city in the hills.

The forenoon was spent in seeing the Homestake Mining Plant, the largest gold mine in the world. We were unable to explore the mine, which is a privilege rarely granted because of danger of serious accident, but we inspected the stamp mills and learned how gold is extracted from quartz by the crushing and quicksilver processes. Rain kept us indoors in the afternoon, so we spent the time in the library building, recently given to Lead by Mrs. Hurst, of California.

At 5 o’clock we left Lead for Piedmont, through the most picturesque country I have ever seen, over hills and mountains through gulches and canyons, the scene changes every moment.

At Piedmont, we resumed our own cars and preceded homeward. We had breakfast at Long Pine, dinner at Norfolk, supper at Missouri Valley and a drive around the city. Arrived in Chicago, Thursday morning, June 1st after having spent as jolly and delightful a week as one could possibly wish.

Mrs. Enoch J. Fargo

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Addie wrote the essay above in 1899. She was 28 years old at the time. She's shown here in her wedding gown, in 1896 (age 24).


Addie was a beautiful young woman, and talented too. I cant help but wonder how many unwritten books Addie had germinating in her soul. According to A History of Lake Mills (published 1983) Addie was murdered by her husband in 1901. She was 29 years old.

Addie was a beautiful young woman, and talented too. I can't help but wonder how many unwritten books Addie had germinating in her soul.


Another picture of Addie on her wedding day.

Another picture of Addie on her wedding day. Addie was no retiring wall flower. She was a strong, independent woman with a remarkable intellect and a keen mind. She was the granddaughter of the Hawleys and the Hoyts, two "first families" of Jefferson County.


In 1889, Addie wrote her high school essay on the inequality of work opportunities offered to young women.

In 1889, Addie wrote her high school essay on the inequality of work opportunities offered to young women. It was a bold piece for such a young woman to write.


While reading through the old Lake Mills Leader newspaper, I was thrilled to find this travelogue, detailing Addies trip to the Black Hills. It was written in June 1899.

While reading through the old Lake Mills Leader newspaper, I was thrilled to find this travelogue, detailing Addie's trip to the Black Hills. It was written in June 1899.



In 1993, when I interviewed for my first job as a newspaper reporter, the old ink-stained wretch of an editor asked me, "Why do you want to be a writer?" I answered, "Because I would love to see my name on the byline." He laughed out loud and said, "Yeah, I love that part, too." I got the job. I'm sure it was a thrill for Addie to see her name on the byline.


In this piece, she talks about The Evans Hotel and The Plunge. This line drawing was shown with the article.

In this piece, she talks about The Evans Hotel and "The Plunge." This line drawing was shown with the article.


The Plunge was a hot springs that had been enclosed. It was believed that the hot springs had salutary benefits for all manner of afflictions.

"The Plunge" was a hot springs that had been enclosed. It was believed that the hot springs had salutary benefits for all manner of afflictions.


Addie and E. J. stayed at the Evans Hotel.

Addie and E. J. stayed at the Evans Hotel.


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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)?


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.


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).


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.



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.


Good old genial Dr. Oatway.

Good old genial Dr. Oatway.


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.


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.


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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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.


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


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!



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



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


house house

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


house warming

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



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.


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.



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.


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.


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.



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."


Addie in front

Addie in front of the Fargo Mansion.

To learn more about Addie, click here.

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