Archive

Posts Tagged ‘tom boycks’

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.

*   *   *

Addie’s House, as Seen in Addie’s Time

November 7th, 2011 Sears Homes 8 comments

In late October and early November, I was back in Lake Mills, striving to fulfill a plethora of municipal and legal requirements to get my Aunt Addie’s body exhumed, so that we might learn more about her suspicious death.

During my stay in Lake Mills, I stayed at the Fargo Mansion Inn. In my career as an architectural historian, I’ve seen plenty of old houses, but the Fargo Mansion is in a class by itself. Tom Boycks and Barry Luce are the perfect hosts, and every evening, I’d plop down on the couch beside Tom or Barry while they were trying to watch their favorite shows and start chattering away. They were always incredibly gracious, and listened patiently to all my little stories. One evening, they showed me several vintage photos of the mansion, dating back to Aunt Addie’s time. And I also had several photos of my own, found amongst my late father’s belongings.

I thought it’d be fun to put all these photos together, so that folks might see where Addie Hoyt Fargo lived during her brief marriage (1896-1901) to Enoch J. Fargo.

As I said in the beginning, regardless of where you live, the Fargo Mansion Inn is worth the trip. Since 1985, Barry and Tom have poured their heart and soul (and a kajillion dollars) into this old house, and they’ve done a first-class job restoring the 7,500-square foot manse to its original splendor. 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, as it would have appeared in Addie’s time.

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 view of the Fargo Manse.

Another view of the Fargo Manse, probably post-1910.

  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.

he

The statuette is also adorned with Magnolia leaves.

caption

I believe this is taken from the main parlor, looking into "The Man Cave," or the den.

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.

close

Close-up of that same shot shows a guitar under the window. Note the newel post on the right.

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.

Piano

Same shot, sans pretty people. I guess that piano stool had a removable back?

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

Tom and Barry will have to tell me which room this is, because I'm lost!

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.

house

One of the lone original items that had not been stripped from the Fargo Mansion prior to Tom and Barry's purchase was this semi-circular settee in the front tower.

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.

*   *   *

An Architectural Gem in Wisconsin!

October 22nd, 2011 Sears Homes 1 comment

During my stay in Lake Mills in early September (2011), I was invited by gracious innkeepers Tom and Barry to be their guest at the Fargo Mansion Inn. So for two glorious days and two restful nights, I lived and moved and had my being inside the walls of this unspeakably beautiful old manse on Mulberry Street.

I’m an architectural historian. I’ve seen plenty of old houses. If I had a nickle for every old house I’ve seen…

However, the Fargo Mansion is in a class by itself. It’s an extraordinary building that’s been meticulously and faithfully restored to its former splendor. And it’s massive, with 7,500 square feet of architectural grandeur. Every single spot where your eyeballs happen to rest is a new view of opulence and magnificence and Victorian luxuriance. Built in 1881, it’s a classic Queen Anne house, with towers and turrets and Victorian refinements and frippery and fretwork.

When the Fargo Manse came into Tom and Barry’s life in the early 1980s, it was slated for demolition.  Sitting in the front parlor with Tom and Barry last month, I was captivated with the story of how these two hardworking men saved the crumbling structure. The tired old manse had a failing roof (and rain water infiltration), boarded up windows, frozen and busted pipes (radiators and domestic water) and many of the fireplace mantels and moldings were gone. In anticipation of the home’s demolition, all utility connections had been removed from the building.

It’s disturbing to think that Wisconsin nearly lost this architectural gem.

In addition to its being a real gem, this was my great Aunt Addie’s home. Judging by the many photos I have of her in this house, this was a happy home for Addie - for a time. She moved in as a bride of 24 years old, and she died there, five years later.

This is one of those times when words are inadequate, so feast your eyes on the photos below. And if you’re ever within 100 miles of The Fargo Inn Mansion, you really should treat yourself to a night or two at the Inn. And did I mention, the breakfast that Tom served was one of the Top 15 Best Breakfasts I’ve ever had in my 52 years? And that morning memory was sweetened ever more when Tom brought in a small painted porcelain vase and set it down beside me on the table.

“This was your Aunt Addie’s,” he said softly. “I knew you’d like to see it.”

He was right.


The Fargo Mansion in 1896, soon after my Great, Great Aunt Addie moved in with her new husband, Enoch Fargo.  Enoch was 22 years older than Addie.

The Fargo Mansion in 1896, soon after my Great, Great Aunt Addie moved in.

Addie in front of the Fargo Mansion.

Addie in front of the Fargo Mansion.

The fam

The fam sits on the front step of the Fargo Mansion. Addie is on the lower left, with Enoch seated above her. Elsie (born 1876) is on the upper right and Mattie (born 1884) is on the lower right. Elsie was a scant four years younger than her new step-mother, Addie.

The same spot, 110 years later.

The same spot, 110 years later.

w

Addie prepares to board the train. According to Mary Wilson's book ("The History of Lake Mills"), Addie was inspired to start a local chapter of the DAR when she met Mrs. James Sydney Peck on a train ride, coming home from Sparta. Note the traveling bag at Addie's side.

Just inside the main entry is this small (and high) window. Notice the beveled glass and ornate quartersawn oak trim. At first glance, I thought this was a mirror. I thought Id joined Addies world when I stood in front of this mirror and no one was looking back!

Just inside the main entry is this small (and high) window. Notice the beveled glass and ornate quartersawn oak trim. At first glance, I thought this was a mirror. I thought I'd joined Addie's world when I stood in front of this "mirror" and no one was looking back!

Interior shots of the mansion. This is the music room.

The music room inside the Fargo Mansion. I believe this is Mattie (seated with book), Addie at the piano and Elsie standing (far right).

w

The grand staircase in the front reception hall. The woodwork is beautifully sculpted.

Close-up of the newel post.

Close-up of the newel post.

This is a shot from the foyer looking into the music room. If you look closely, youll see a guitar in the background.

This is a shot from the foyer looking into the music room. If you look closely, you'll see a guitar in the background. Note the newel post on the right.

ro

This is a closer view of the "music room" (seen above) taken from the stairs, but it shows the horse-hair bench that sits within the rounded tower. According to Innkeeper Tom Boycks, this bench is original to the house.

Looking into the dining room

This tiled "solarium" sat at the edge of the expansive dining room. Tom explained that with its southern exposure, it made the perfect spot for growing plants and other greenery. The floor inside the massive bay window is tiled. At the far left was a small sink (cold water and a drain) for watering the plants, which was removed in later years.

Close-up  of the tiled floor

Close-up of the tiled floor, which is in beautiful condition. The floors throughout the Fargo Manse are maple, upstairs and downstairs, and they're in stunningly beautiful condition.

l

Notice the massive windows in the front parlor. As Tom pointed out, it's a tough house to decorate. It's all windows and doorways and radiators and fireplaces.

K

Detail of the oak trim and frieze in the front parlor.

A

This shot was taken from the steps, looking down toward the front door. Notice that curved wall by the front door. And all that wainscoting and trim is quartersawn oak. See that radiator to the far right? Every radiator throughout the house was destroyed when the house endured a Wisconsin winter with no heat. Tom and Barry sought out and found salvaged radiators for every room in this 7,500 square foot house. That's what's so remarkable about the Fargo Manse. To look at it today, you'd never guess that they started with a shell of a building, and brought it back to life.

Another view of this incredible staircase

Another view of this incredible staircase (second floor).

Curved hallway on the second fllor.

Curved hallway on the second floor.

Addies room is at the top of the stairs.

Addie's room is at the top of the stairs.

Close-up

Addie was a beautiful young woman. She was 24 here.

Addie in her wedding gown?

Addie in her wedding gown.

*

My favorite photo of all.

My favorite photo of all. I love the detail and the beauty and the opulence. This was Addie in the master bedroom, now known as the Enoch Fargo room.

pic

Close-up of the bed.

Happier times at the Fargo Mansion

Addie loved her cats. Judging by the look on this one's face, I'm not sure the feeling was mutual.

h

Addie stands in a bower of flowers on the grounds of the Fargo Mansion.

The Fargo Mansion today (or yesterday, actually).

The Fargo Mansion as it appears today. This photo is courtesy of Brice Anderson (copyright 2011) and can not be reproduced or used without written permission.

F

Fargo Mansion in Lake Mills. This photo is courtesy of Brice Anderson (copyright 2011) and can not be reproduced or used without written permission.

F

This grandiose Victorian manse was built in 1881 and extensively remodeled about three or four years later. This photo is courtesy of Brice Anderson (copyright 2011) and can not be reproduced or used without written permission.

h

The porch of the Fargo Mansion. This photo is courtesy of Brice Anderson (copyright 2011) and can not be reproduced or used without written permission.

Mattie

Addie sits with someone (Elsie?) on the front porch of the house. The original fretwork and railings are still evident in the contemporary picture (above).

Addie in front of the house

Addie standing in the home's side yard.

Tall tower

Tall tower of the Fargo Mansion. This photo is courtesy of Brice Anderson (copyright 2011) and can not be reproduced or used without written permission.

word

Porte Cochere on the Fargo Mansion. This photo is courtesy of Brice Anderson (copyright 2011) and can not be reproduced or used without written permission.

h

A view of the home's rear. This photo is courtesy of Brice Anderson (copyright 2011) and can not be reproduced or used without written permission.

A

Addie's obituary.

If you’ve any information to share, please leave a comment below.

* * *