The People in Addie’s Life and Death

If you’re new to this site, it can be hard to figure out who’s who. For that reason, I’m writing this blog which will give a brief synopsis on the people involved.


Enoch James Fargo was the son of a wealthy merchant, Enoch B. Fargo. Enoch James Fargo (1850-1921) married my great, great Aunt, Addie Hoyt, in February 1896.

According to Mary Wilson (Enoch’s granddaughter), Enoch shot Addie. (See page 274 of Wilson’s book, The History of Lake Mills.)

And there’s a lot of specific evidence that support’s Mary Wilson’s statement that Addie was murdered. In other words, Mary Wilson got it right.  When Addie was exhumed, she was found in a shallow grave. That, in and of itself, is very damning. And she was found wearing her shoes, which blows a few holes in the official story of Addie’s death. Read more here.

Addie was my great, great Aunt.

Addie (left) was my great, great Aunt. She's shown here with her sister (Anna) who was my great-grandmother. This photo was taken in 1887, when Addie was 15 years old. Anna would have been 21, and already married. Note the wedding band on Anna's hand.


Addie in 1894, shortly before her marriage to Enoch James Fargo.

Addie in 1894, shortly before her marriage to Enoch James Fargo.

In the late 1880s, Addie’s beloved sister Anna married and moved to Denver.

In 1893, Addie’s paternal grandfather (Kimball Hoyt) died. In 1894, her paternal grandmother died. Addie probably lived with her grandparents at the time of their death.

These would be hard, hard years for Addie and full of losses.

Addie’s father and nephew (“Ernie”) died in 1894.  Her father’s brother (Addie’s Uncle) also died in 1894.

And then her mother died in January 1895.


Addie's father (Homer Hoyt) died in 1894.



Ernie (born 1888) died in 1894. He was six years old.


Her mother died in early 1895.

Her mother died in January 1895.

This about this for a moment.

Between 1893-1895, Addie buried;

Her Grandmother,


Uncle Smith Hoyt,

Six-year-old nephew (“Ernie”),


and Father.

The six most important people in her life were dead in a period of two years.

And her sister (Anna) had moved away.

Addie was alone in the world, and probably scared to death.

And then she made the worst mistake of her life.


She married Enoch James Fargo.

Enoch Fargo and his bride, Addie Hoyt Fargo. This is labeled as their wedding photo from 1896.

Addie married Enoch in February 1896. This is their wedding picture.


Enoch had been married before, to this woman: Mary Rutherford Fargo.

Enoch had been married before, to this woman: Mary Rutherford Fargo. Mary and Enoch were married July 4, 1876, and had three children. Their first child (Elsie) was born December 1, 1876. Myrtle was born in 1878 and died 1887 (at nine years of age). Their youngest was born in 1884, and her name was Martha, but she was called, "Mattie." Mary Rutherford died in March 1895, and eleven months later, Enoch married young Addie (age 24).



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."



Mattie Pauline Fargo was the youngest child of Enoch and Mary. The day before Mattie's graduation, her step-mother (Addie Hoyt) died at the Fargo Mansion. Mattie was slated to give a talk on "The New Pilgrim's Progress" the next day (June 20th, 1901) at her commencement. In October 1922, Mattie Pauline married Dr. C. K. Faber of Junction City, KS.


Addie was only four years older than Elsie, Enochs oldest daughter.

Addie was only four years older than Elsie, Enoch's oldest daughter. According to long-time Lake Mills' residents, Enoch wasn't a big fan of children. Mary Wilson was not a frequent visitor to the mansion, but grew up hearing about Enoch from her mother, Elsie Fargo (upper right). Addie is seated on the lower left.


Enoch liked having servant girls in the house.

Enoch being vacuumed by one of two women servants in his employ.



The 1900 census shows two servant girls from Germany living at the Fargo Mansion. One is Martha Draeger (perhaps Drager) and the other is Mary Frey or Fry. If Addie was killed in the house, you have to wonder if these two servant girls saw anything.


Addie and Enoch lived in his pad, The Fargo Mansion.

Addie and Enoch lived in his little bungalow, The Fargo Mansion, in Lake Mills. It's now a bed and breakfast, and it's 7,500 square feet of grandeur and opulence.


To learn more about the Fargo Mansion, and see a plethora of vintage photos, click here.



Dr. William H. Oatway was Enoch's personal physician, and may have been complicit in the cover-up of Addie's suspicious death. According to Mary Wilson, "He (Dr. Oatway) was quoted then as having said, 'No one was fooled'" by this claim that diphtheria was Addie's cause of death. This paper above shows the bottom-most portion of Addie's death certificate. Oatway was both the attending physician and the County Health Officer. Several months later, when Oatway filled out a report for the State Board of Health, he happily reported that there were no deaths from diphtheria in Lake Mills in 1901. Plus, the burial permit number (shown above) is false.



In Victorian times, a proper mourning period was 12 months. The townsfolk must have been scandalized when 53-year-old Enoch married his third wife (Martha) a scant seven months after Addie's suspicious death. Martha (shown above) was 28 years old. This photo came from Addie's own picture album, and is captioned, "Mattie" (a nickname for Martha). This tells me that Addie *trusted* Martha. According to Mary Wilson's book, Martha stayed overnight at the Fargo Mansion for several days at a time. Did Enoch kill Addie so that he could marry his true love, Martha? The legend is that Martha was a cousin to Addie, but this is NOT correct. Martha's mother was Marie Harbeck, who married Henry Hoyt in 1880. Martha was born in 1873 and lived with her maternal grandparents, William and Elizabeth "Betsy" Harbeck. Martha died in 1964.

To learn more about the falsified death certificate, click here.

To learn more about Addie’s suspicious death, click here.

To see Addie’s pretty dresses, click here.

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1 Comment

  1. Margaret Hill

    I can’t help but wonder what Enoch’s first wife died of – as someone who is an abuser and murderer doesn’t just one day wake up that way. I also noted from your info that they “had to get married” – she was pregnant at the time of their marriage – which likely engendered anger on his part as someone who was capable of murder in order to get his own way isn’t going to be someone who takes kindly to having to “do the right thing” and “make an honest woman” of the mother of his child.

    I can’t help but think that everyone in that house knew what happened but were in such fear of him that all kept quiet until mother told daughter after her father had died. I also wonder what Enoch held over the doctor’s head to be able to force him to lie so hugely and to cover up a murder. I wonder if his third wife – Mattie controlled him and his abusive behavior by basically blackmailing him that she would let the “cat out of the bag” if he didn’t do what she wanted.

    I also have to say that in the picture of Addie standing behind Enoch in which she is clearly disheveled and has a swollen face it also looks as if her nose has been broken as it seems off center from earlier pictures. Also – I found it interesting that in that picture she is holding the chair behind him – awkwardly rather than actually touching him and holding his shoulders that would be more natural and comfortable.

    I can’t help but wonder if he married her for money as well as youth considering that she had lost so many family members so recently and therefore may have inherited a considerable amount from those deaths – just one more reason to sweeten the attraction for him.