My involvement in Addie’s story began on June 13, 2011 when I was cleaning out my late father’s apartment and found a couple old photo albums amongst his possession. Inside the old albums were pictures of people I knew nothing about, and a couple photos were dated 1896. I would later learn that these were photos of my great Aunt Addie, born in 1872, married in 1896, and dead – at the age of 29 – in 1901.
I’ve posted dozens of pictures but of all the pictures I’ve posted, there are four photos that I find especially haunting. I’ve included them below.
To learn more about Addie’s story, click here.
This is a photo of Addie's home in Lake Mills, known as The Fargo Mansion. The handwriting on this photo is now confirmed to be that of Anna Hoyt Whitmore, Addie's sister.
So what makes this so haunting? Addie died in 1901. When did her family find out she was dead? Apparently, not until 1904.
My father's twin brother - Ed Fuller - is still alive and well and living on the West Coast. For a man of 92, he still possesses an impressive degree of mental acuity. Despite some rigorous questioning, the fact is he knew nothing of Addie Hoyt Fargo. What makes this even more incredible is that Addie's sister - Anna Hoyt Whitmore (Ed's grandmother) - lived with Ed for a time. Anna Hoyt lived to be 99 years old, and was sharp as a tack right to the end of her life. This story of Addie Hoyt Fargo was apparently one family secret that was never discussed. Which brings me back to the original question: When did the family - then living in Denver - first learn that Addie Hoyt Fargo was dead? Because judging by this photo, it appears that she was assumed alive as late as 1904.
There's a sweetness and naivete on this young woman's face that is wholly compelling. She was just a girl - 24 years old - and full of hope and dreams and ideas. Perhaps she'd planned on having a whole passel of children or maybe she was looking forward to being a socialite, carrying the torch for whatever causes that filled her heart with passion. She's so young and sincere-looking in this photo. So untarnished by the world. And five years later, she'd be dead, murdered (allegedly) by the man that had promised to love her for the rest of his life.
The most haunting photo of them all, is this one. It's a comparison of Addie's wedding photo with the last known photo taken sometime in late 1900. This photo presents an argument that Addie was sickly at the end of her life. There's also a swollen lip and other distortions around her nose. I can't help but wonder if this photo - sent to her brother-in-law Wilbur Whitmore - was a plea to save her what might have been a hellish marriage - before it was too late.
This shows the remarkable difference in the hairline.
Comparison of Addie's lips, showing the swelling and misalignment (on the latter photo on right).
To read Part VI, click here.
To read the latest, click here.
* * *