In the wee hours of the morning, through the blackness of a warm
summer's night, Enoch J. Fargo entered the bedroom of his
frail and sickly wife, Addie Hoyt Fargo. While his two grown
daughters, his servants, Addie's nurse, and Enoch's young
mistress all slept quietly down the hall, Enoch put a gun to
Addie's head and blew her brains out.
The family doctor was immediately summoned, bribed, and filed a
fake death certificate. Addie
was then taken directly to the cemetery for a quick burial that
morning. Or was the coffin empty? For it seems that her burial
permit is missing. And now Addie's ghost roams the grounds of her former
home, the Fargo Mansion, in Lake Mills, Wisconsin.
Well, that's what the legend's promoters say. From what I see, Addie died of diphtheria, and the ghost story was made up decades later to promote the old house, which
became a Bed and Breakfast in the 1980s. But the genealogist
in me wanted to look a little deeper, and here's what I found:
An obscure book, claiming that Addie was shot, was self-published
in 1983 by a person born some 25 years after the supposed murder.
The house was purchased by commercial developers in 1985 and
opened in 1987 as a B&B. It was heavily promoted, and was featured
in several magazines and newspapers. Though, no mention of Addie's
In 2001, a newspaper interview with one of the owners claimed
that Addie's ghost was hanging around, celebrating the 100th
anniversary of her gruesome death. They also had the ghosts of two
bears, who once lived on the property for a short time before being
sent to the zoo. And of course, the house is available for weddings
The previous 2001 story was repeated in a book of ghost stories
In 2011, one of Addie's photo albums was discovered, and a new
investigation ensued (apparently leading to a future book deal),
complete with speaking events, new claims of domestic abuse, and
appeals for donations to exhume Addie's body.
Here are some of the claims (new and old) put forth in the
legend, along with my own research: