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Little Ernie Whitmore: The Story of a Very Short Life

February 23rd, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

After my father passed on in June 2011, I was cleaning out his assisted living facility and that’s when I discovered two photo albums from the late 1800s, belonging to Addie Hoyt, my great, great Aunt. In that same old shoe box, I also found - laying loose in the box - a professionally done photograph of a young boy, about five years old. The back of the photo said the child’s name was Ernie Eugene Whitmore, 1888 - 1894.

Ernie was the eldest child of Anna Hoyt Whitmore and Wilbur W. Whitmore (my great-grandparents, and Addie’s sister and brother-in-law). Anna and Wilbur had three children, Ernie, Florence and Victor. Florence was my grandmother, and she was born in 1891. Her brother Victor was born in 1893.

Looking at these pictures of this little boy, I wondered, what happened to Ernie? He looks healthy and strong.

If you look closely at his folded hands, you’ll see the dirty fingernails of a young boy who loves to play outside and does not love to wash his hands! Ernie did not look like a frail little boy.

His small hands are clasped so tightly, it looks like he was struggling mightily to sit still on picture day! As a mother of three girls (one of whom was a real “wiggle worm”),  it’s easy for me to imagine that day at the photographer’s studio in 1893.

“Mrs. Whitmore, I can not get a good picture if that boy does not stop his squirming!”

I can imagine Grandmother Whitmore leaning toward Ernie, and - for the umpteenth time - admonishing her little boy to be still.

“Ernie, you must do as you’re told and sit still. If you’re a good boy, we’ll stop by the confectionery on the way home and I’ll let you pick out a treat.”

Ernie clutches his hands tightly together, desperately yearning to keep the inner wiggle worm still for just a few…more…seconds.

Finally, after a few shutter clicks and blinding flashes of light, young Ernie is released from this torturous stillness.

Ernie was not quite five years old when that photo was taken in June 1893. It was to be his last photo.

What happened to Ernie? How did his life end so quickly?

On February 22, 2012, I learned the rest of the story.

While reading my way through ten years of the Lake Mills Leader (the newspaper of Lake Mills Wisconsin), I found a little snippet in the corner of the page for December 1894. It said that Julia Hoyt (of Lake Mills) had rushed off to Denver to be with her daughter’s family (Anna Hoyt Whitmore and her husband, Wilbur).  Julia Hawley Hoyt was Ernie’s maternal grandmother.

The entire household had contracted Scarlet Fever, one of the most terrifying disease of that time.

Julia caught the express train from Chicago to Denver, rushing out to help her daughter’s young family. Julia left on November 31st, 1894 and arrived 26 hours later, on December 1st. That was to be the day that six-year-old Ernie died.

There’s no word that Julia ever returned to Lake Mills. Perhaps she did, but if she did, it was never recorded in the newspaper. Six months later, Julia Hoyt died in San Mateo, California (Alameda County). She was 51 years old.

UPDATED:  Julia Hoyt contracted Scarlet Fever during her stay in Denver, and died six months later in San Mateo.

Learning about Addie’s life in Lake Mills has been fascinating, and learning more about the rest of the Hoyt Family has been an unexpected bonus.

To read more about Julia Hoyt, click here.

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I find this photo of Ernie (taken June 1893) to be utterly captivating.

This photo of Ernie (June 1893) is enchanting.

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Look at those hands!

Look at those dear little hands - and the lace on his cuffs and shirt!

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And here

And he had a very sweet expression.

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Addie thought so, too. She called him, Aunties Sweetheart.

Addie thought so, too. Written on the back of the photo is an inscription (written by Addie) where she called him, "Auntie's Sweetheart."

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He was 10 monhts old

Ernie was 10 months old in this photo.

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Scarelt

On December 6, 1894, the Lake Mills Leader reported that Julia Hoyt had left one week prior (November 31st) to be with Anna Hoyt Whitmore and her family, all of whom were afflicted with Scarlet Fever. The next day, Ernie would be gone.

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And December 1st 1894, young Ernie died of Smallpox.

December 1st 1894, Ernie died of Scarlet Fever. It's difficult for me to think of a child - a six year old - being described as "a brave, beautiful example of Christian fortitude," while he lays dying.

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Despite a whole lot of searching, I have not been able to find an obit for Julia Hawley Hoyt, my great-great grandmother.

Despite a whole lot of searching, I have not been able to find an obit for Julia Hawley Hoyt, my great-great grandmother. She died less than six months after little Ernie. She was 51 years old. This photo was taken in 1888.

To learn more about Addie Hoyt, click here.

To learn more about the kit homes of Lake Mills, click here.

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Dr. Oatway, Why *Were* You in Such a Hurry?

November 23rd, 2011 Sears Homes 6 comments

Doctor Oatway must have been in quite a hurry when he filled out Addie’s death certificate, for he made a number of mistakes on the form.

1)  Addie’s name. Oatway wrote “Adelina,” which he apparently assumed was Addie’s given name. It was not. Her real name was Ada, and on her own marriage certificate (dated February 1895), Addie gave her legal name as “Addie.” You’d think Oatway would have asked the bereaved husband about the recently deceased’s real name, but apparently Enoch was busy doing other things at the time.

2)  Addie’s birth date. For Addie’s birth date, Oatway put down 1872. That’s just sloppy. Addie’s birth date was January 22, 1872. Why didn’t Oatway ask Enoch or one of the girls about Addie’s birthday? One would have to guess that Enoch wasn’t very good at remembering Addie’s birthday.

3)  Addie’s age. Okay, so he got the year right (1872), but how did he come up with 29 years and 1 month as her age? It was probably just a wild guess. Oatway apparently reasoned that no one was going to examine this document too closely. There’s a line on the form for years, months and days. He left the “days” blank, and took a stab at the “months.”

4)  Mother and Father’s name. Oatway listed them as “Mr. and Mrs. Hoyt.” That’s rather pathetic. Couldn’t he ask Enoch about this one? I guess not. Apparently Enoch was busy doing other things.

5) Mother and Father’s birthplace. Oatway listed both parents as being from Wisconsin. Ding, ding, ding, wrong answer for Father! Homer was from Vermont.

6)  Birthplace of deceased: Wisconsin. Given the extra long line at this entry, I think the preparers of this form are asking for a CITY or county, not just the state. But I suspect Oatway was in quite a state himself, and this was the best he could do. Addie was born in Milford. At least Oatway got it right on the obituary.

7)  Cemetary? Okay, this isn’t a true mistake but it’s an interesting aside. Oatway misspelled “cemetery.” He spelled it, cemetary. You’d think that in his line of work, he had probably spelled out that word a few times in past years. Was it stress? Or was he just a lousy speller?

8 )  Burial permit. He said Addie’s burial permit had been obtained, and it was burial permit #32. This was not true. There was no burial permit for Addie. Burial permit #32 belonged to Alinda Hornickle, who died March 1902. The burial permit was a state document, and Dr. Oatway was a county official, falsifying a state record. Now that’s bad. And yet later, when he filed his report to the State Board of Health, he said there were no deaths from diphtheria in Lake Mills in 1901. To learn more about why this is so important, click here.

9) Funeral director: Given the tremendous haste with which Addie was allegedly buried (and the fact that she wasn’t even buried to a proper depth), it’s not likely that a funeral director had any involvement in this. Had he been involved, he would have been at risk for incurring the wrath of state officials for participating in a “wee hours”  burial with no burial permit. As mentioned elsewhere, the burial permit was a state record, and to be a party to this chicanery could have caused the funeral director to lose his license.

10)  Cause of death: Diphtheria. This is the principle reason that this death certificate is such a farce. Oatway said that Addie died when the diphtheric membrane broke off in her throat and strangled her. According to the CDC, it takes 2-3 days for that membrane to form. There are entire blogs written about why this is such a farce, but in short, when children perished from the growth of this diphtheria membrane, they typically died 4-5 days after onset of the disease. According to Oatway’s own report, Addie died 16 hours after a slight sore throat began. To read the full story as to why this is such nonsense, click here, here or here.

How did Oatway ever end up as County Health Officer?

And I’d love to know the precise circumstances under which this was written. Was he sitting on the top step at the Fargo Mansion, bearing down on his knee as he tried to calm his nerves and scribble out something in a hurry?

To learn more about Addie, click here.

Addie was born into wealth and privilege, and its mighty hard to understand how this beautiful, smart, vivacious woman ended up dead at 29, buried in a shallow grave.

Addie was born into wealth and privilege, and it's mighty hard to understand how this beautiful, smart, vivacious woman ended up dead at 29, buried in a shallow grave. And you can see here, she was a snappy dresser by the age of two.

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This is my favorite Addie photo. It really bespeaks her station in life.

This is my favorite Addie photo. It really bespeaks her station in life, and it shows her elegance and poise. Given the pose struck here, one wonders if she was a model.

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But it all ended tragically when she ended up dead at 29.

But it all ended tragically when she ended up dead at 29. As mentioned above, this death certificate is rife with errors. Look at the name: Adalina? Where'd he come up with that?

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Note the "name of mother" and "name of father," and also Addie's age (line 7). She was born on January 22, 1872, and her age would have been 29 years, four months and 27 days.

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Burial

Burial permit #32 belonged to Alinda Hornickle who died March 26, 1902 at 3:00 am. This is very damning evidence that Oatway did falsify this document. Addie's burial permit should have been number 22 (based on the date of her death).

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This report (shown above) appeared in the "Report of the State Board of Health" for Wisconsin and covered the the time period during which Addie Hoyt allegedly died of diphtheria. You'll note, there's no mention of any deaths (or even cases) of diphtheria in Lake Mills in 1901.

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This statement, taken from the above text and penned by Oatway, says that if there was a case of diphtheria in his town (Lake Mills), it *would* be reported.

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Unless you're paid off to falsify a death certificate...

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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%.

To learn more about Addie, click here.

Please leave a comment below!

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Addie Hoyt Fargo - on Facebook!

September 21st, 2011 Sears Homes 3 comments

The story of Addie’s life is proving to be a popular one, so even though Addie is “an old fashioned girl,” she’s now on Facebook.

To find Addie, search for “Addie Hoyt Fargo” in Lake Mills.

To learn more about Addie, click here.

To learn about Addie’s house, click here.


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

When I first started looking at these photos, I thought that Addie had it all. Here she was, a beautiful young woman married to an older wealthy gent. In 1896, Addie married Enoch and she moved into the Fargo Mansion.

Close-up

Addie was a beautiful young woman.

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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. This photo was captioned, "All of us."

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Mary Rutherford’s Obit:

At her residence in the village of LM, Mrs. E J Fargo died at 11:30 pm MOnday, March 4th 1895 of typhoid fever after a sickness of two weeks. Mrs. Fargo was the scond daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Rutherford and had reached the age fo 38 years.

She was married in 1875 to Mr. E. J. Fargo, with two daughter, Elsie and Mattie survive her.

The funeral took place on Wednesday the 6th.

From the family residence on Washington Street.

Reverend E. B. Longsberry officiating and was attended by a large number of neighbors and friends who united with the many relative in their expression of sorrow and grief. Mrs. Fargo’s affectionate nature, and kindly lovable disposition and warm attachment for friends were well known. and the tender attachment existing between her and her children reveals the true mother heart, and her loss to them must be beyond repair.

Will last, make more poignant the pangs that now rack the heart of the bereaved husband and loving father. As in his grief, he views the wreck-strewn death has wrought in home’s sacred circle.

“No more they’ll look in those love lit eyes.
No more they’ll feel the mother’s touch
Nor feel the breath of her loving sigh,
nor hear the voice they loved so much,

but daily, nightly, realize there’s gloom at home when mother dies.”

The floral decorations furnished by the women’s club and other kind friends were profuse, bueaitfful and appropriate and their sweet fragrance, which liek the breath of heaven, fills the air, seen as a loving tie between the visible and invisble. Or as the sweet perfume of angelic sighs, linking mortals to the skies.

The women’s club met on Tuesday afternoon at 3 pm and out of respect to the memory of our friend and comrage, Mrs. Mary R Fargo so recently passed away and adjournament was immediately taken.

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Enoch Fargo’s Obituary

Enoch J. Fargo, the second son of Mr. and Mrs. Enoch B. Fargo, was born in Lake Mills, March 14, 1850, and died in Tarpon Springs, Florida, January 31, 1921, where he in company with his wife, was spending the winter.

Mrs. Fargo accompanied by the body, arrived here Thursday evening and the funeral services were held at the home of Mrs. Frank B. Fargo, Friday afternoon at two o’clock. Dr. John Faville officiating in the presence of relatives and friends from here and several other cities.

Mr. Fargo’s first wife was Miss Mary Rutherford. Three children were the result of this union. Mrs. C. D. McCammon of the town of Lake Mills, Miss. Mattie Fargo, Los Angeles, California, and Myrtle, who died at the age of nine years. Mrs. Fargo died in March 1895. His second wife, Miss Addie Hoyt, passed away in June 1901, and third wife, Miss Mattie Hoyt mourns the death of her husband.

Mr. Fargo was deeply interested in the enlargement of the school grounds, in the building of the middle bilding and he and his brother, Frank, were the next to the largest contributors in the building of the present Methodist church.

Mr. Fargo’s fine residence was often the place of social gatherings and he and Mrs. Fargo were given to hospitality.

The second of two brothers has passed away and it may be truly said that no other two men have wrought as much for the upbuilding of Lake Mills. They are entitled to their full share of praise.

The bearers at the funeral were neighbors and intimate friends in a social and business way and were as follows:  S. A. Reed, O. B. Coombe, F. M. Griswold, N. H. Falk, E. C. Dodge and C. S. Heimstreet.

The guests from out of town included Mr. and Mrs. C. T. Fargo, Mr. and Mrs. Ray Hellen, Miss Tillie Grimm, Mr. and Mrs. H. B. Fargo, Mr. Fred Perkins, Deerfield, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Fargo, Ripon; Mr. and Mrs. Wegner, Oakland; Mrs. Schellenberg, Beloit; William and Miss Bessie Harbeck, Milwaukee; Fred C. Mansfiled, Johnson Creek; Mr. and Mrs. A. R. Hoard, and Mr and Mrs Carl Becker, Fort Atkinson; Mayor Herman Wertheimer, Mr. Siebert, Mr. and Mrs. Rhoda, and Mr. and Mrs. Will Schultz, Watertown.

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