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Addie Has Left Lake Mills - UPDATED!

November 4th, 2011 Sears Homes 25 comments

As of Thursday (November 3rd) at 11:45 am, Addie Hoyt Fargo is no longer in Lake Mills. (Update: Read the autopsy results here!)

Her skeletal remains were removed from the grave that bears her name and transported to Milwaukee, for a state-of-the-art, top-notch autopsy by Milwaukee Medical Examiner, Dr. Brian Peterson and Dr. Fred Anapol, Professor of Anthropology at University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.

November 3rd was Addie’s exhumation day. To read more about why this exhumation was performed, click here.

At 7:15 am, I arrived at the gravesite. At 7:30, Minister McBride met me there, and we “gathered together” at Addie’s gravesite and asked for God’s blessings on the exhumation.

In all my travels, I don’t know when I’ve met a more Christly individual than  Bill McBride. Lake Mills is richly blessed to have such a spiritual warrior in their midst.

And  I think many of us present at the exhumation felt that Christly presence at this holy event. I know I did.

At 8:00 a.m., David Olsen (Olsen Funeral Home, Jefferson) arrived to assist the family (that’d be me). David Olsen is one of the heroes in this story, and without him, Addie’s exhumation would never have happened. I can’t say enough good things about this incredible man. He volunteered his services and gave countless hours of his time to make this come together.

His motive: He said it was the “right thing to do.”

Attorney Kurt Anderson arrived about 8:45 am. Like Dave Olsen, he was also a hero in this story. Without Kurt, there would not have been an exhumation. He spent countless hours working to get the court order and dealt with other legal issues.

Tom Boycks arrived about 9:00 am, and as soon as I laid eyes him, he gave me a big, warm smile. I was so happy to see him there. Innkeepers Tom Boycks and Barry Luce were another pair of angelic helpers in this story. I could talk for days about their many kindnesses. And don’t get me started on their gorgeous mansion. During my prolonged stay in Lake Mills, they treated me like a member of  their own family, and permitted me to stay at their home.

Dr. Brian Peterson and Dr. Fred Anapol arrived at the cemetery about 9:40 am. (The exhumation was scheduled to start at 10:00 am.) These two men were the consummate professionals. As I watched them work, at times on their knees in the damp grave, I felt that Addie was smiling from above, pleased that all the right people had stepped into my life at exactly the right time, to unearth the truth. God, His Angels and maybe Addie herself didn’t just send me helpers; She sent me the “best of the best.”

As expected, skeletal remains were found in Addie’s grave, and the bones were mostly intact.

Yesterday, as the exhumation progressed, there were a few surprises.

First, a fact:  I learned that coffins were typically buried at a depth of about 6-8 feet deep in Wisconsin.

Addie’s remains were found at 34″ (as measured by the medical examiner).

If she were in an 18″ high coffin, the top of the coffin would have been 16″ below the top of the soil. That’s an extremely shallow grave and a disturbing bit of evidence. (She was buried June 19, 1901. The ground would not have been frozen.)

This, coupled with the fact that there’s no burial permit for Addie is suspicious, and it suggests that it was not a professional grave digger who dug the grave.

Addie was wearing dress shoes, black leather with a tight lace on the front, and a small heel.

I’m still wrapping my mind around this. She died at 2:00 am from diphtheria. According to the obit, the disease was so fast-acting and so awful that she died in 16 hours, and was hastily buried and in the ground by 10:00 am. That’s eight hours later. If you were in bed, dying from diphtheria, would you be wearing your dress shoes? And if you died of a communicable disease and you were in the ground eight hours later, do you think someone would take the time to put on your high-top lace-up shoes? Probably not. They knew there’d be no viewing. Why was she wearing shoes? I’m still thinking about this.

Inside the grave were countless pieces of broken window glass, and it’s possible that the container in which Addie was buried had a glass top, but that doesn’t make sense either, because of the thickness of window glass. It was so thin that the first shovel full of dirt would have cracked the too-thin glass.

Update:  We’re now fairly confident that this coffin had a small viewing window on the top.  These were known as “safety coffins,” because they provided a means for viewing the deceased without the threat of contagion. Was it a “display coffin”? Was it the only thing in stock at 4:00 am at the local funeral home? Enoch knew there’d be no viewing. Why did he use such a coffin?

Second update!  Unfortunately, due in large part to the extremely shallow grave (she was buried at 34″, above the frost line), and the length of time (110 years),  and some missing pieces (much of her skull was missing), the autopsy was inconclusive. To read more about the autopsy results, click here..

To read more about Addie, click here.

To read about the inconsistencies in Addie’s obituary, click here.

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The city required this "fence" at the site.

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Addie's grave is now empty.

Addies foot stone still remains at her empty tomb.

Addie's head stone in Lake Mills is now a cenotaph.

Please leave a comment below.

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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?

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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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Who is Addie to Me?

September 30th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

One of the questions I’m most frequently asked is, “How are you related to Addie?”

When I gave my talk in Lake Mills on September 4th, I explained this in some detail, and perhaps it’d be a good idea to do that here, as well.

My great-great grandfather was Homer Hoyt, born in Vermont about 1840. In the early 1860s, he moved to Lake Mills, and met the woman who’d become my great-great grandmother, Julia Hawley Hoyt.

Homer Hoyt at age 17 (late 1850s or early 1860s)

Homer Hoyt was my great-great grandfather. He's pictured here at age 17 (about 1858). Homer was front Vermont, but by 1870, Homer and his wife (Julia) were living in the Lake Mills (Wisconsin) area.

Homer and his wife Julia had three children: Anna, Addie and Eugene.

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Homer and Julia had two daughters and one son. Pictured above are their two daughters, Anna Hoyt (left) and Addie Hoyt (right). Anna was 44 in this photo. Addie (right) was 24. The photo on the left was taken in 1910, and the photo on the right was 1896.

Homer and Julia’s son (Eugene) was an itinerant machinist and never married and never had children.

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Anna met and married this man, Wilbur W. Whitmore in Lake Mills. She and Wilbur moved to Denver soon after their marriage. She remained there until 1939, when Wilbur died. In the early 1940s, Anna moved to Santa Monica, California, to be with her daughter.

Addie married Enoch Fargo.

Addie married Enoch Fargo in 1896, and remained in Lake Mills until her death in 1901. Addie and Enoch never had children. Enoch had three daughters by his first wife, Mary Rutherford. Two of them survived to adulthood, and also had children.

Ernie

Anna Hoyt Whitmore and Wilbur Whitmore had three children, Ernie (shown above), Victor, and Florence (my grandmother). Ernie was six years old in this photo, and he died shortly after this picture was taken. He was born in 1888 and died in 1894.

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Florence Whitmore was Anna's daughter, and she married a tall thin gent named Edgar Atkinson Fuller. Florence is pictured here in 1922. She was born in 1891.

Baby Boys in 1919

Florence and Edgar had only two children: Thomas Hoyt Fuller (left) and Edgar A. Fuller, Junior (right). The twins were born June 13, 1919. Thomas Hoyt Fuller was named after his grandmother's side of the family. Florence's brother Victor never had children, and Ernie died at six years old. The twins were the only great-grandchildren of Homer and Julia Hawley Hoyt.

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This photo - from 1922 - shows Wilbur and Anna Hoyt Whitmore taking their twin grandsons out for a ride. My father is sitting with Wilbur and my Uncle Ed is sitting with his maternal grandmother, Anna Hoyt Whitmore (Addie's sister).

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Thomas Hoyt Fuller (left) and Edgar Atkinson Fuller (right) about 1943.

The Fuller Twins in 1982.

The Fuller Twins in 1979.

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In 1947, Tom Fuller married Betty Mae Brown of Berkeley and they had four children.

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Betty Mae and Tom Fuller in 1960.

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I'm pictured here are me with my father and three brothers, Rick, Tommy and Eddie at the Hoover Dam (1966). Notice my eldest brother Tom has a shirt made of fabric that matches my short little dress. My mother was an accomplished seamstress, and often made our clothes.

On June 10, 2011, my father died, three days shy of his 92nd birthday.

On June 10, 2011, my father died, three days shy of his 92nd birthday. It was while I was cleaning out his apartment in an assisted living facility that I found the photos of Addie and Enoch Fargo. (Photo is courtesy of Dave Chance and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.)

My father (Thomas Hoyt Fuller), had four children, of which I am one. My Uncle Ed had two daughters, one of whom has passed on.  My cousin and my three brothers and myself are the only great-great grandchildren of Homer and Julia Hoyt.

To read more about Addie, click here.

To learn about Sears Homes, click here.

If you’d like to help in the quest to learn what happened to Addie, please leave a comment below.

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Addie and Her Outfits

September 17th, 2011 Sears Homes 3 comments

Not only was Addie strikingly beautiful, but she was also a snappy dresser.  When I was cleaning out my late father’s apartment, I found this photo album, and many of the pictures showed intricate detail of Addie’s stunning wardrobe! The photos provide an amazing keyhole peek at Addie’s wardrobe and life - more than 11 decades ago!

Addie’s older sister (Anna) was born the year after the Civil War ended, and she lived to be 99 years old. Addie was born six years later (1872) and died at the age of 29.  She lived at the Fargo Mansion (her home with Enoch) until her death in 1901.

To see more pictures of Addie’s home life, click here.

If you enjoy the photos, please leave a comment below.

First, my favorite. I assume this was a traveling outfit for Addie, judging by the little bag at her side.

First, my favorite. I assume this was a traveling outfit for Addie, judging by the little bag at her side. I read a story years and years ago about a Victorian woman who left behind a suicide note that said simply, "All this buttoning and unbuttoning." Looking at Addie's dress, one can understand how much buttoning one must have endured back then!

And its even got a little tie at the neck.

And it's even got a little scarf at the neck.

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And what a hat!

And what a hat!

Addie

Same hat. Different dress. Awesome parasol!

Addie

This is an interesting outfit, but it looks so incredibly heavy. And look at the fabric on the arms. Perhaps it's layered?

Another favorite is the riding outfit with a crop. Notice the kitty at her feet.

Another favorite is the riding outfit with a crop. Notice the kitty at her feet.

Addie

Apparently, Addie had a "favorite side" and this was it. She must have had a separate closet for parasols and hats, because she had a lot of both.

Apparently Addie had an outfit for cycling, too. However, this looks somewhat staged, as I can not imagine riding a bike in this complicated, flowing dress.

Apparently Addie had an outfit for cycling, too. However, this looks somewhat staged, as I can not imagine riding a bike in this complicated, flowing dress. Look at the detail on the cuffs, and lapels and buttons!

Another stunningly beautiful dress.

Another stunningly beautiful dress.

Hard to imagine playing tennis like this.

Hard to imagine playing tennis like this. However, I love the cap, and also the scarf around the neck. Look at the wasp waist!

Addies wedding dress (I surmise). This photo was dated 1896, the year that she and Enoch Fargo were married.

Addie's wedding dress (I surmise). This photo was dated 1896, the year that she and Enoch Fargo were married. She was 24 years old; he was 46.

Addie sitting on the steps of the Fargo Mansion. I love this outfit for its practicality and simple beauty.

Addie sitting on the steps of the Fargo Mansion. I love this outfit for its practicality and simple beauty.

I love this photo.

I love this picture of Addie in a white dress.

Its the only photo in the whole album where shes smiling.

It's the only photo in the whole album where she's got a big smile.

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Addie and Katty. And another dandy hat.

Addie at the piano in the Fargo Mansion.

Addie in yet another gorgeous dress, as she sits at the piano in the Fargo Mansion.

And apparently, theres even appropriate attire for boating.

And apparently, there's even appropriate attire for boating.

Last but not least, this is a photo taken of Addie in 1889, when she was 17 years old. Even as a kid, she knew how to dress. Id love to know more about the history of this photo, which was found in the vertical files at the Fargo Library.

Last but not least, this is a photo taken of Addie in 1889, when she was 17 years old. Even as a kid, she knew how to dress. I'd love to know more about the history of this photo, which was found in the vertical files at the Fargo Library.

To learn more about the Fargo Mansion, click here.

To learn more about Addie, click here.

If you’ve any information to add about Addie’s beautiful clothes and/or styles of the day, please leave a comment!

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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.

page two

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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