The Hoyts: One of the First Families of Jefferson County (Wisconsin)

In the unspoken but ever-present caste system of Victorian America, 24-year-old Addie Hoyt was a socialite, and a woman of note. According to information gleaned from the Lake Mills Leader (newspaper), young Addie Hoyt possessed much promise and potential. She was intelligent, witty, articulate, talented, sophisticated, accomplished (as accomplished as polite society would permit) and she was beautiful.

And Addie Hoyt had deep roots in her community, which – in Small Town America – added greatly to her social standing.  She was the granddaughter of one of the “pioneer families” of Jefferson County (Wisconsin). Addie’s paternal grandparents (Kimball Hoyt and his wife, Sally Sanborn Hoyt) moved from Vermont to Jefferson County (Wisconsin) in 1843, and Mr. and Mrs. Kimball Hoyt were among the first families to settle the area.

And I also discovered an interesting item in the Lake Mills Leader where Robert Fargo (from another “original family”) recounts his memories of the Fargo family’s move to Jefferson County.

In that piece he states,

In 1844, my brother Lyman, like one of the Hebrew spies made a tour of Wisconsin with a view of establishing himself in business and decided Lake Mills was the ideal place in the new Eldorado. Two years from this time found him with Brother Enoch [Enoch B. Fargo, father of Enoch James] located and trading on the ground now occupied by Reed and Coombe under the firm name of L. & E. B. Fargo.

In other words, Addie’s family settled in Jefferson County in 1843, one year before the Fargos.

And yet, thus far, I’ve been unable to find a single solitary piece of information about Addie’s family from local resources in the Lake Mills area, such as the libraries or historical societies or museums.

Addie’s family moved to the area in 1843, purchased more than 100 acres of land from the government, and in time, they became prosperous and wealthy. I am baffled as to why no one in the county seems to have a letter or a journal or any correspondence or information on the Hoyt family.

One of the main reasons I keep writing about Addie is in the hopes that someone somewhere will remember a story they heard from their great aunt, or that someone will discover a scrap of paper or a journal or a letter that gives some insight into what happened to Addie.

*   *   *

Five years later, shed be dead.

Addie's family was one of the first families to settle in Jefferson County. According to commentary found in the local newspaper, Addie Hoyt possessed much promise and potential. She was intelligent, witty, articulate, sophisticated and talented.



Addie's paternal grandmother, Sally Sanborn Hoyt, died June 1894. In a two-year period, six of Addie's closest family members died and her two siblings moved out of the area. The obit was an interesting read. It notes that the Hoyts were "pioneers" of Jefferson County.


About 1889, Addies sister (Anna Hoyt) married Wilbur W. Whitmore, and the newlyweds moved out to Denver, Colorado.

About 1887, Addie's sister (Anna Hoyt) married Wilbur W. Whitmore, and the newlyweds moved away from Lake Mills, settling in Denver, Colorado. By 1894, they had three children, Ernie (six years old), Florence (age three) and Victor (age one).


And then Ernie

In November 1894, the entire Whitmore family was stricken with Scarlet Fever. Julia Hawley Hoyt (Addie and Anna's mother) took a train to Denver to help the family and provide nursing duties. The day of her arrival into Denver, Ernie (shown above) died from the disease.


In November 1894, Annas entire family was stricken with Scarlet Fever. s beloved nephew (Ernie) became ill with Scarlet Fever. Addies mother (shown above) rushed out to Denver to help her daughters family. Ernie died December 1st, the same day Julia arrived in Denver.

In February 1894, Addie's father (Homer Hoyt) had died suddenly in Washington State. In late 1894, Julia Hawley Hoyt traveled to Denver helping her daughter's family. Julia never returned to Lake Mills. She contracted Scarlet Fever and died six months later. Julia was 51 years old.



In May 1895, Eugene Beach Hoyt (Addie's brother) took a job with W. W. Ingram and moved to Chicago, about 125 miles southeast of Lake Mills. His timing wasn't good. Eugene departed for Chicago the same month that Julia (mother of Eugene, Addie and Anna) died from complications of Scarlet Fever. With Eugene's departure to the big city, Addie was now utterly alone in Lake Mills. She married Enoch James Fargo nine months later after her mother's death. Addie was 24 years old.


Five years later, shed be dead, killed by her own husband.

Five years later, she'd be dead, at the age of 29.



  1. Rita Wilson

    I have to thank you so very much for having this wonderful blog and for igniting my love of mystery and history.

    I have been busy researching the town of Lake Mills and other small communities such as this throughout the Can/Am border. It is a time period in history that is rich in history and in particular the history of the end years of the Victorian era.

    Snobbery and the drawing of the wagons of the higher class to protect their own from public recriminations of their actions far surpasses what we find today in our society. Most interesting.

  2. Mandie Brewer

    So many times even today young women get taken in by the charms of an older man. At first everything is wonderful, they are showered with gifts, houses, and vacations. But as time passes things turn.

    Slowly the emotional abuse and control starts, and soon that young woman is trapped, and convinced that nobody else would want her. Especially in Addie’s time when (according to the social mores), she was nothing but “used goods”, and that’s often followed quickly by the physical abuse.

    Who knows, Enoch may have backhanded Addie once or twice in the entire marriage, which was probably pretty good for back then.

    But it is what happened the night she died that counts, that one time he took his anger to the next level, ending the life of sweet Addie. That was bad enough, but then the lies that he told to cover up his evil acts are simply shameful.

    She stayed with him because she had little choice, her only escape from him was into a little box not fit for a woman of her class and into a shallow grave not fit for any human being.

  3. Lucille Palifka

    Thank you so much for posting theses pictures and information.

    Addie’s great grandparents, Abraham and Hannah Smith are my great, great, great grandparents. I have often wondered what happened to the family after they moved to Wisconsin. My family still lives on the Vermont/New Hampshire border.

    There are other Hoyt’s in my family tree.

  4. Fredette Linda

    My grandfather was a Hoyt from somewhere near Eu Claire, Wisconsin. My grandmother was Vera Brownell, and they had a son named Hilton Leland Brownell. He was later adopted by Hallis Colby. If you know anything about this, please contact me at my e-mail address.



  5. Tom Godfrey

    My grandfather was Heber Hoyt from Waterloo. He later moved to Seattle and became a prominent lawyer there. He died in Texas from Spanish Flu around the end of World War One. If anyone had additional data, please post. I was also told that a a family member, named Ann Tenna was the first woman lawyer in Wisconsin.