Mary Wilson’s Source

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.

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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.

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  1. Sandra

    Well, at least we know he didn’t murder Addie while she slept in her bed! I wonder where Elsie was in the house when it happened? And if her father knew what she knew?

  2. Debbie

    The top of the stairs? Was Addie shot, strangled, pushed? And the shallow grave is also very telling. You don’t bury people in shallow graves unless there’s something else going on! At least, if it’s an honest and respectful burial you don’t. Are there other descendants of Elsie?

  3. Mandie Brewer

    If only walls could talk, Fargo Mansion what secrets you hold.

  4. Linda

    I just wonder how much Elsie had to go through growing up? She was a beautiful girl. I think it says it all that she married a man of the church….maybe trying to run from whatever demons she felt her father had put on her.

  5. Joeylynn

    Elsie, Elsie, Elsie; THANK YOU! This is NOT the kind of story a woman makes up about her father, and tells to her daughter.

  6. Vivian

    Could Addie’s blood still be deep in the wood floor at the top of the stairs? On Brad Meltzer’s Decoded 11/23/11 Season 2 Episode 6 (“Billy the Kid”), the investigating team visited the inside of an the old building where Billy was shot. The “Guide” showed them the very spot that Billy was killed, and said that his blood had seeped into the wood floor. The guide knew that because he had a team of forensic guys come in and spray a chemical blood indicator (Luminol) on the very old, refinished hardwood floor, and the Luminol causes the spot to glow when blood DNA is present. Billy died in 1881, and yet the Luminol showed his blood. Now, Mary Wilson (and Elsie) say that Addie was murdered at the top of the stairs. Did her blood seep through the carpet and into the wood floor? Could there still be some DNA present there today? Also, I don’t know much about gunshot wounds, but I am very curious about the fact that her face in missing!!

  7. Linda Derse

    Descendants of the Wilson family, please won’t you share Mary’s notes or Elsie’s diary?

    Maybe you could put this whole story to rest once and for all, if you just shared some information with us. It is okay for the skeleton to come out of the closet now. It has been 110 years. We all are so lucky that your mother and grandmother were strong people and could share the truth about Addie’s murder. But it’s time that we found out “the rest of the story.”

    May God bless Addie.

  8. Lauren

    Obviously my post regarding blah blah blah* has stuck a chord or else you would have allowed it to be public by now. This is proof that you are just another sensationalist writer blah blah blah*.

  9. Sears Homes

    For all those who send hate mail via the comments section at this website, your ugly comments and personal attacks will not be published here. This is my website which I pay to maintain, and I’m the moderator at this site, and such vitriol will not be published.

    And on this topic of Addie’s murder, anonymous comments will not be published, and real emails will be required.