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Our New Home - in Norfolk, Virginia

August 17th, 2011 Sears Homes 12 comments

The beautiful pink house on Gosnold is now a closed chapter in our lives, and we’re delighted to be settling into our new home in another section of Norfolk. The big pink house was fun, but we’re grateful to have handed over the reins to a delightful young couple that have an inherent understanding that they are not just “homeowners” but caretakers.

There are countless blogs at this site detailing the work we’ve done to our 1925 center-hallway, Colonial Revival, so this blog will be all about the new house!

The new house is ideal for us, at this time in our lives. It’s a smaller house and a simpler house, and it’s all on one level. The best part is, the beautiful back yard adjoins a small canal off of Lake Whitehurst. For most of my life, I’ve dreamt of living on the water, and that dream has now come true.

When I was a little girl, my mother would walk through the halls of our home saying, “I’m so blessed to live in such a beautiful place. Just so blessed.” Such things leave a deep impression on a little girl, and I’m sure that my mother’s enjoyment of that home is a big part of the reason that historic architecture became my career.

And now, walking through the splendid rooms of my recently purchased 1962 brick ranch and gazing out the many windows at the beautiful yard with its water views, I hear my mother’s words return to me.

I’m so blessed to live in such a beautiful place. Just so blessed.

Realtor Gary Crawford sits on the front steps of our new home. This photo was taken several days before we moved in, and we were there for the property inspection. Gary Crawford was incredibly professional and thoughtful, too. Notice that hes dressed to match the beautiful Ringer Ranch.

Realtor Gary Crawford sits on the front steps of our new home. This photo was taken several days before we moved in, and we were there for the property inspection. Gary Crawford was incredibly professional and thoughtful, too. It's clear that he loves being a Realtor, and that's reflected in his attitude and actions. Notice that he's dressed to match the beautiful "Ringer Ranch."

Close-up of Gary Crawford of ReMax Alliance (Virginia Beach).  Im a tough customer, but I was very impressed with Gary.

Close-up of Gary Crawford of ReMax Alliance (Virginia Beach). I'm a tough customer, but I was very impressed with Gary.

The Ringer Ranch is an L-shaped brick ranch, with the large den on the back of the house forming the L.

The Ringer Ranch is an L-shaped brick ranch, with the large den on the back of the house forming the "L". For several years, my late father had lived in an L-shaped brick ranch and I always thought it was one of the prettiest houses I'd ever seen. The last day he was in that house, I sat in his living room and said a prayer that somehow, someway, I'd one day live in a home as beautiful as his. This house is an answer to that prayer.

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A large Silver Maple and several pine trees in the back yard create a beautiful, park-like setting.

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The sunporch is 168 square feet of heaven on earth. I was delighted to find that these are Andersen casement windows, and even though they're probably 20+ years old, they still work like new. This ravishing room in the Ringer Ranch will be known as "The Ringer's River Room."

Another view of The River Room in the Ringer Ranch!

Another view of The River Room in the Ringer Ranch!

And just off the sunporch is this delightful deck. Weve already found it be a favorite spot, where we can sit in the morning and evening, and watch the fishies jump in the lake.

And just off the sunporch is this delightful deck. We've already found it be a favorite spot, where we can sit in the morning and evening, and watch the fishies jump in the lake.

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So come on in and take the full tour!

And shut the door!

Notice the COAT CLOSET! It's a closet that's just for coats! WOW!

When we started looking at houses several months ago, I told my husband that I knew exactly what I wanted, and I described it this way:  I want a custom-built brick ranch from the late 1950s or early 60s, that has had only one owner, and that one owner will have taken extraordinarily good care of his beloved home, and the house will have two baths and at least three bedrooms and a two-car garage. The house will be a step-back in time, and will have its original kitchens and baths, and while other people may say that the house needs updating, Ill be thrilled to find a house in such perfectly original condition.

When we started talking about moving, I told my husband that I knew *exactly* what I wanted, and I described it this way: "I want a custom-built brick ranch from the late 1950s or early 60s, that has had only one owner, and that one owner will have taken extraordinarily good care of his beloved home, and the house will have two full baths and at least three bedrooms and a two-car garage. Entering the house will be like a step-back in time, and our new house will have its original kitchens and baths, and they'll be in pristine condition. In the kitchen, it'll have the original Formica counter-tops with a chrome edge. The bathrooms will be a snazzy color combination with tile wainscoting and walls. While other people may say that the house 'needs updating,' I'll be thrilled to find a house in such perfectly original condition." And I found *that* house! It is a "one-owner home" and it's in wonderful shape!

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The kitchen is in beautifully original condition. Look at that Formica!

Another view of our wonderful kitchen!

Another view of our wonderful kitchen! The Formica counter tops - now almost 50 years old - are in flawless condition. It's just amazing to see a house that's been cared for this well. For many years, I've told lecture attendees that while we may own our homes, we're really caretakers, and we have a duty to keep our homes in good condition. The previous owner of this house (Mr. and Mrs. Martin) lived this principle, and I am grateful.

And perhaps my favorite room is the spacious den, just off the kitchen.

And perhaps my favorite room is the spacious den, just off the kitchen. The den sits behind the two-car garage, and is isolated from the bedrooms - which is ideal - as this will be our "Snoratorium," where Hubby can retreat when his snoring becomes loud! The masonry fireplace is in beautiful condition.

But perhaps the very best feature of the den is

But perhaps the very best feature of the den is the entire wall of built-in bookcases. As my daughter pointed out, I have built and installed book-cases in every single home I have ever owned - no exceptions. It's nice to walk into a house with ready-made bookcases (which happen to be far nicer than anything I ever built).

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Another view of our den, with the matching Realtor!

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The long hallway back to the bedrooms has a lush, deep-pile blue carpet. At first, I thought the 1980s blue would bother me, but I've grown to love it. Above all, it makes the house incredibly quiet, and that's a big plus. Mr. Hubby has big, heavy feet!

And just down the hallway is the worlds most beautiful bathroom! Its PINK!  And like the kitchen, the formica countertops are in pristine condition. The tile floors and wall are also in beautiful shape. What could be better than a cast-iron, 1960s Kohler bathtub? Nothing! Unless its a PINK cast-iron, 1960s Kohler bathtub!

And just down the hallway is the world's most beautiful bathroom! It's PINK! And like the kitchen, the formica countertops are in pristine condition. The tile floors and wall are also in beautiful shape.

My pink bathtub!

What could be better than a cast-iron, 1960s Kohler bathtub? Nothing! Unless it's a PINK cast-iron, 1960s Kohler bathtub! And the tub - like everything else - is in excellent condition. Mr. Martin was a mechanical engineer and it's obvious that he took great pride in this fine old house.

The master bedroom has its own bathroom, and is also in wonderfully original condition.

The master bedroom has its own bathroom, and is also in wonderfully original condition. The vanity is not original (nor are the faucets), but everything else is much the same as it was in 1962 when the Ringer Ranch was first built.

I firmly believe the key to marital bliss is his and her bathrooms. This bathroom - with its tan and brown colors - is HIS bathroom. It also has an unusually spacious shower.

I firmly believe the key to marital bliss is "His and Her Bathrooms." This bathroom - with its tan and brown colors - is HIS bathroom. It also has an unusually spacious shower.

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I love a tiled shower enclosure. The walls, floor and even ceiling are fully tiled, and there's a handy dandy light in the ceiling! Incredibly, all the tile and grout is in beautiful condition.

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As much as I love the house, I may love the back yard even more. It's on a finger of Lake Whitehurst, and this is navigable water leading to the Lake (Norfolk's reservoir). In my heart of hearts, I really do believe that this house is a gift from God, an answer to many prayers. As I made lists and thought about what I wanted in a house, I never dared to dream that I'd land in a house that was on waterfront property. That was a heavenly bonus. In my career as an architectural historian and lecturer, there were three times that I ended up living in a bedroom because I was out of money and out of options. And while I was sincerely grateful to have a bedroom of my own, I sometimes felt like a fraud - standing in front of a large crowd - talking about houses, while I was too poor to have a home of my own. Now, I *do* have a home of my own and it is the home of my dreams.

Another view of our beautiful lake-front property!  :)

Another view of our beautiful lake-front property! :)

This canal is on a finger of Lake Whitehurst

This canal is on a finger of Lake Whitehurst

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From the backyard, looking toward the house.

Down by the creek

Down by the creek

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Another view of the back yard.

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The view from the master bedroom.

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Our living room, furnished with a few of our favorite things!

My mothers china hutch looks right at home in the corner of our dining room.

My mother's china hutch looks right at home in the corner of our dining room.

Teddy the dog loves the new house and the front door, designed for easy Sheltie viewing.

Teddy the Dog loves the new house and she especially appreciates that the front door is designed for easy Sheltie viewing.

C. S. Lewis said, “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by an offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

For more than 10 years, I’ve pondered the spiritual meaning of that awe-inspiring quote. Now I’ve started to ponder its literal meaning as well, and that’s a very lovely thing. Maybe by experiencing the literal meaning of that quote, I can better understand its spiritual meaning.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  Soli Deo Gloria.

:)

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s books, click here.

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Was Aunt Addie shot in the head? (Part II) UPDATED!

June 28th, 2011 Sears Homes 7 comments

When I started writing these blogs in late June 2011, I was still learning vast amounts of new information every day.

The original blog that appeared on this page has been revised and updated, and below you’ll find a plethora of the most up-to-date information that I have available.

So, was Aunt Addie shot in the head? According to Mary Wilson’s book (A History of Lake Mills, published 1983), Addie was murdered by her husband, Enoch J. Fargo. A cover-up story was contrived (diphtheria) to hide the truth. Wilson also states that Addie’s physician, William Oatway, participated in the cover-up, falsifying Addie’s death certificate.

That’s the story. To read more about the background of this story, click here. (The autopsy was inconclusive. To read about that, click here.)

It looks like Mary Wilson was right. Below are the facts that we’ve discovered along the way.

1) Addie Hoyt Fargo was buried without a burial permit, and this was a violation of Wisconsin state law. The county health officer was Dr. Oatway, and as county health officer, he knew that failure to obtain a burial permit was a direct violation of state law. These laws had been created specifically to help track and mitigate the spread of contagious disease.

Yet on Addie’s death certificate, Dr. Oatway stated that a burial permit had been obtained, and it was “burial permit #32″ (see below). Permit #32 belonged to Alinda Hornily who died on March 26, 1902 (these permits were in chronological order).

The absence of a burial permit is very compelling evidence, and tells us, a) Oatway did falsify the death certificate, b) Oatway knowingly violated state law by signing off on the death certificate and then certifying it as true (while knowing it was false), c) A funeral director was not involved in Addie’s burial (or if he was, he was also complicit, because he knew the death certificate was a falsified document because there was no corresponding burial permit).

2) The burial permit was a STATE document, but the death certificate was NOT a state document. If a burial permit had listed diphtheria as the cause of death, the state *may* have investigated. When a contagious disease occurred, there were protocols required to prevent the spread of disease. For instance, state law required that a home be fumigated after death from contagious disease had occurred and personal possessions be burned or buried. A burial permit listing diphtheria as the cause of death would have raised a red flag. Oatway, entrusted with the position of County Health Officer knew this, so he lied on the death certificate and never obtained a burial permit for Addie. Doing this meant that the diphtheria story stayed local, and the information would probably not reach the state.

3) The State Board of Health (in Wisconsin) was formed in 1876 to track and mitigate the spread of contagious disease. Each county health officer had to answer this statement in his annual report: “Are the laws requiring the issuance of burial permits enforced?” Oatway, in 1901, stated that yes, the laws requiring the issuance of burial permits were enforced in Lake Mills.

4) Oatway, being a county health officer, also certified Addie’s death certificate, meaning he swore that it was true and accurate. That’s especially egregious.

5) In Addie’s obituary (probably written by Oatway), he goes on at length, describing Addie’s fast-acting Ninja Stealth Diphtheria as the most virulent, fast-acting strain he’d ever seen, that prevailed even in the face of aggressive treatment and modern medical care. It’s quite a prosaic obit, and the doctor is the saddened hero in the story.

6) SO it’s the most virulent strain, the fastest-acting strain, and no modern treatment could bring it into subjugation. And Addie was married to Lake Mill’s wealthiest resident, largest employer, and they were living in Lake Mills’ largest mansion. Yet a few months later, in his capacity of County Health Officer, when Oatway files his report with the State Board of Health, he reported that there were no cases of diphtheria in Lake Mills in 1901 (the year Addie died), and no deaths from diphtheria in 1901. Did Oatway lie when he wrote up Addie’s death certificate, or did he lie to the State Board of Health?

7) In the obit, Oatway opines that Addie probably contracted diphtheria during a recent trip to Portage. The newspaper reported she’d traveled to Portage for a convention on June 4th, 1901. Diphtheria germs don’t last longer than 1-4 days. And the county health officer in Portage reported that there were no case of diphtheria in Portage in 1901. There’s that stealth component again. Addie contracted diphtheria in a town with no diphtheria.

8 ) In the obit, Oatway says that Addie died 15 hours after onset, when the membrane formed in her throat, broke off and suffocated her. In the progression of diphtheria, this membrane doesn’t even start to form until 2-3 days after onset (according to the CDC), and children (its most frequent victims) died 4-6 days after onset (if the membrane was the cause of death). Typically, diphtheria killed adults when it settled into their heart and/or brain.

9) Diphtheria was not an automatic death sentence: Far from it, in fact. In 1900, in the state of Wisconsin, the death rate for a diphtheria victim was 13% state-wide, and 9% in small towns (population less than 2,000) and that number included children. If you could take children out of the mix, the rate would probably be less than half that. Children more than five, and adults under 40 had the best chance of surviving a bout of diphtheria. In other words, people Addie’s age (29) had the best chance of surviving diphtheria.

10) During the exhumation, we found that Addie was buried at 34″ which is incredibly shallow. This tells us that Addie’s grave was dug by someone who was not a professional grave digger, in part because of the depth, and in part because there was no burial permit. Before the exhumation, I consulted with several professionals in the funeral business, and they told me that I should be prepared to dig to 6-8 feet to find Addie’s remains. The “freeze line” in Wisconsin is 3-4 feet, and in case of contagious disease, periodical literature recommended that a grave be dug “extra deep” as a protection. Plus, grave robbing was a problem in the late 1800s, and the six-foot depth offered some protection against that.This was NOT a professional grave digger. It’s more likely that this was someone’s hired man, who got tired and stopped at 34″ (or as the sun was rising). On June 19th, 1901, the sun rose at 4:11 am. A professional grave digger would not have stopped at 34″. But whomever buried Addie, put her coffin in the dirt as soon as there was enough clearance to put a layer of topsoil over the grave. After all, who would ever know?

11) The most compelling piece: Addie was wearing her shoes in that grave. The obit says she died at 2:00 am after a valiant struggle with this awful disease and was buried immediately. How many people wear shoes in their sick bed?

12) And a bonus question. If you look at the burial permits (pictured below), you’ll see that the secretary of the cemetery was Robert Fargo (aka “Uncle Bob”). He also happened to be one of Enoch’s neighbors there on Mulberry Street. It would have been very easy to rouse Uncle Bob from his bed at 2:00 am and tell him, “Addie has died. We need to bury her before the sun rises. Can you get us a burial permit immediately?”

Surely, Uncle Bob could have arranged that.

Why didn’t Enoch do that?

To read more about Addie’s exhumation, click here.

To read more about how we know she did NOT die of diphtheria, click here.

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This snippet 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.

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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...

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%.

Addie

Actually, Addie was born in January 1872. Sheesh.

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At the bottom, it does say Addie had a funeral, but that would have been logistically problematic. Dead at two, buried by 10, how did they notify people? Typical Victorian funerals were grandiose affairs; the wealthier the better! More on that below.

Addies death certificate, allegedly falsified by Dr. Oatway.

Under the date (June 1901), Addie's death certificate 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.

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This burial permit (#21) is dated May 1st, and the death occurred the day before - April 30th.

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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.

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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.

Page one of Dr. Bentleys report from Portage, WI. This covered all of 1901.

From the State Board of Health Report, this is the first page one of Dr. Bentley's report from Portage, WI. This covered all of 1901. Page two continues below.

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Dr. Bentley's report on Portage, second page (see top).

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Theres no doubt that life with Enoch took a toll on Addie.

Life with Enoch took a toll on Addie. She was 29 here.

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And why would a woman - who prided herself on her appearance - send this photo to her brother-in-law in Denver? I am confiident she wanted them to know what was happening to her in Lake Mills.

And why would a woman - who prided herself on her appearance - send this photo to her family in Denver? Did she want them to know what was happening to her in Lake Mills?

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Addie: Before and After Enoch. The photo on the right was taken five years after her marriage to Enoch. She was 29 years old, and shed be dead soon after this photo was taken.

Addie: Before and After Enoch. The photo on the right was taken five years after her marriage to Enoch. She was 29 years old, and she'd be dead soon after this photo was taken. Look at her receding hairline and swollen lower lip. Her "cupid's bow" is now misaligned, and there's pronounced puffiness under her right eye.

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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 some happy days at the mansion.

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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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Addies little

Was this what the well-dressed, sick-in-bed diphtheria patient wore in 1901? Based on the remnants found in Addie's grave, these were probably similar to the shoes that Addie was wearing (and was buried with) when she died in June 1901.

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Addie was exhumed on November 3, 2011. She will not be returning to Lake Mills.

Addie was exhumed on November 3, 2011. She will not be returning to Lake Mills. After the autopsy is complete, Addie's remains will be coming home with me.

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Addies grave was empty by 12:00 noon.

Addie's grave was empty by 12:00 noon.

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Addie in 1886 (about 14 years old).

Addie in 1886 (about 14 years old).

Addie - close-up

Addie - close-up

Addie and her sister, Anna Hoyt (my great-grandmother).

Addie and her sister, Anna Hoyt (my great-grandmother).

Addie in 1894, about 18 months before she married Enoch.

Addie in 1894, about 18 months before she married Enoch.

Addie in her traveling clothes

Addie in her traveling clothes

To read more about Addie’s death, click here.

Update as of 11:33 pm on November 24, 2011: Click here and read the comment by SteveWO:

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