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As It Was: Jacksonville House Provides Material for Ghost Stories

The approach of Halloween is often accompanied by stories of ghosts and otherworldly spirits.

One of the many tales about haunted houses concerns the Helms house on South Orange Street in Jacksonville, where it is said a woman appears on the staircase late at night, strolls the hallways, and just as suddenly, disappears.  Some even claim to hear a child or a woman crying. 

The house originally belonged to Herman and Augusta von Helms, who were married in 1862 and at first lived in a small cabin at the same address.  Of their nine children, three daughters died in a typhoid epidemic, and one was murdered by her estranged husband.  That’s enough to haunt any house!

The von Helms youngest daughter, Minnie, was less than 2 years old when she died and was buried next to the original log cabin, where the Italianate style house was built in 1878. 

The ghost story says the child’s spirit remains at the house and can be heard crying at night, or the ghost is Augusta crying for her youngest daughter.  Take your pick.

Sources: "Von Helms House." Historic Jacksonville Inc, Historic Jacksonville, Oregon, historicjacksonville.org/von-helms-house. Accessed 20 Sept. 2018; Claflin, Terrie. "Floating around Rogue Valley's 'haunted' houses are…ghosts of a tale." The Mail Tribune, 31 Oct. 1982 [Medford, Oregon], lifestyles ed., p. B1; McCarthy, Dennis. "To all the ghosts in Oregon: Here's lookin' through you!" The Sunday Oregonian, 30 Oct. 1983, living ed., p.1.        

Sharon Bywater of Ashland, Oregon grew up in Southern California. She taught English literature and writing at Syracuse University in New York, where she also wrote and edited adult literacy books and published freelance articles in local media. Later, she lived in Washington, D.C., where she worked as an international telecommunications policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Commerce. She has Master’s degrees in English and Communications Management.