My adventure into this Addie Hoyt story began with an ending: My father’s.
June 10, 2011, my father passed on. He was 91 years old.
Three days later, I was cleaning out the apartment at my late father‘s assisted living facility and found a book of old photos. The most significant clue was this lone sentence on the back of a wedding photo: “Enoch and Addie Hoyt Fargo on their wedding day, 1896.”
Thanks to David Spriggs (a local historian), I learned that Enoch and Addie lived in Lake Mills, WI, and that Addie was my great, great Aunt.
Addie was 22 years younger than Enoch and she was his second wife. She was 24 at the time of her marriage to Enoch, and only four years older than Enoch’s eldest daughter (Elsie Fargo). This was Addie‘s first marriage and it would be her last. Five years later, she was dead. According to Enoch’s own granddaughter (Mary Wilson), Addie was murdered by Enoch. Addie was only 29 years old.
Seven months after young Addie died, Enoch married his third wife, Martha Hoyt (no relation to Addie) in February 1902.
A proper period of mourning in the Victorian era was a minimum of twelve months. Remarriage during the period of mourning would have been scandalous.
Maddie (wife #3) died in 1964, having outlived Enoch by 40 years. Enoch died in 1921 in Tarpon Springs, Florida.
Anna Hoyt was my great-grandmother, and Anna and Addie were sisters. Anna Hoyt ended up marrying Wilbur W. Whitmore and landed in Denver, Colorado. This photo album that I found amongst my father’s treasured possessions was inscribed, “A Merry Christmas, to Wilbur, from Addie.” (To see photos of Anna and Wilbur, click here.)
Anna and Addie had a baby brother, Eugene B. Hoyt (1874-1950) that never married. Anna (my great-grandmother) died four months shy of her 100th birthday (1866-1966).
Anna was a real card and whenever the 90-something woman had a chance, she’d surreptitiously slip out the door of her daughter’s home in Santa Monica (where she was living at the time), and catch a bus to Vegas where she’d play the slots. As told by my eldest brother Tom, our grandparents hired a fierce German “housekeeper” whose real job was to keep an eye on Anna Hoyt Whitmore (who would have been my grandmother’s mother). Tom relates,
This worked for a few weeks but Anna Hoyt Whitmore heard the casino’s siren call once too often. One afternoon, she suddenly began choking and gasping and wheezed out the message, “Quick. Get my medicine!”
There was none of that medicine in the medicine cabinet (per Anna’s plan) so Brunhilda dashed off to the neighborhood drug store. A minute later Anna snatched her already-packed suitcase from under her bed, caught the Greyhound bus at the corner, and was on her way to Las Vegas. It was masterpiece of theater and logistics.
The housekeeper returned minutes later to discover an empty house. She searched every room, the yard, and neighboring yards, terrified that she would find the expired elderly woman under the next bush. When she finally reached our grandparents, she was beside herself with fear and guilt.
They laughed and said, “Well, I guess Mother’s done it again.” Brunhilda quit on the spot, saying they couldn’t pay her enough to go through that again.
Some years later, Anna told her grandson (Thomas Hoyt Fuller, our father), that she was done with “that clip joint” (Las Vegas) forever.
Dad wondered if someone had taken her money. It turned out that she had lost money for the first time ever. Actually she had won some money, but had not won enough to cover bus fare, lodging, and meals. This apparently was the first time she had not won enough to cover all her expenses. According to Dad, she was as good as her word, and never returned to Nevada (Reno or Las Vegas) again.
* * *