the grumpy genealogist
CLAIM #3: Addie died at 2 A.M. and was buried the same day
at 10 A.M. To do this they had to bribe gravediggers out of bed to
dig a grave in the dark!
TRUTH #3: Sunrise on 19 June 1901 (pre-Daylight
Savings Time) in Lake Mills, WI was at 4:15 A.M. So by
10 A.M. the gravediggers were done for the day and had
already finished their lunch. Gravediggers don't get to
sleep in late, unlike bloggers. (Sunrise on 19 June 2011 was 5:16 A.M.
In these pre-telephone days, the doctor had to be
summoned to the Fargo residence.
Addie didn't even have a funeral. Is this proof of foul
TRUTH #5: No, it's proof that the family was
exposed to a contagious disease. During the influenza
outbreak of 1918, our local cemetery had 50 burials in one
month, and zero funerals. The church didn't want to be
responsible for spreading the disease, and discouraged large
Diphtheria only has a fatality rate of 5%, and victims
died slowly over weeks, after the infection overwhelmed
their immune system.
TRUTH #6: Diphtheria is a highly contagious respiratory illness that
causes swelling of the throat and death by choking (Wikipedia).
Fatality rates in 2011 for treated patients is 5% to 10%.
In 1901 it was closer to 50%, and killed more Americans than
Measles, Scarlet Fever and Whooping Cough combined. The test
for Diphtheria was invented in 1910 and a vaccine in 1920,
cutting the fatality rate to 15%.
If Addie had diphtheria, why didn't the servant girls
catch it? They were waiting on her hand and foot, feeding her and wiping her brow
during her illness. Did the servants die of diphtheria?
Did they hear a gunshot? Did Enoch kill them, or pay
TRUTH #7: Servants weren't stupid, and didn't
go anywhere near a person with diphtheria.
The servants probably fled the house when they heard the
A trained nurse was
brought in to care for her, as mentioned in
Obituary. Martha Amelia Draeger, the elder
servant, did not die and was not paid off. She married Benjamin Bird Smith
in 1907, but they were poor and lived on the farm of her
brother, Wm. Frank Draeger, about 15 miles away in Dane
reading Part 3>
to Tick-Off your Relatives
"If you cannot get rid of the family
skeleton, you may as well make it dance." - George Bernard Shaw