Search billions of records on

A. D. Helman Joins Majority
One of Ashland's First Citizens
Answers Final Call

Took up site as a Donation
Claim in 1852 - Was First
Postmaster and Held Position
for 27 Years - Long life ended

Capt. A. D. Helman one of Ashland's first citizens, upon whose donation claim a large part of the city is located, who was the first postmaster and who was instrumental in naming the place Ashland in honor of his native county in Ohio, and in building its first industries, passed peacefully away at his home on Helman St. in this city, Saturday morning, lacking a little more than a month from having passed his 86th mile post in the journey of life which fell to his lot.

A man of remarkably good physique and robust health, Mr. Helman, though marked by the years, was as active at 70 and even at 80 and 85 as many a generation younger, but several months ago there was pronounced evidence of a breakdown of the rugged life machinery. His last appearance on the streets was to vote at the regular city election in December. He walked to the polls on fourth street from his home many blocks distant, against the wish of his family, refusing a carriage. That exertion overtaxed his strength, and he never regained it, failing gradually until the end, which was preceded by a comatose condition of many hours during which the faithful but helpless watchers by the old pioneer's bedside patiently waited for the final dissolution.

Mr. Helman was the last survivor of the first settlers of Ashland. His donation claim and those of Hargadine and Pease (afterwards the Applegate place now covered by Railroad addition) and Wright were located about the same time and were contiguous. Mr. Helman's claim, however, took in the land upon which the principal part of the old town is located, the lines running north and south of along what is now First avenue above the Chautauqua grove and west on what is now Nutly Street, thence north about through the old north school grounds nearly to Bear creek. At the time of his death Mr. Helman lived upon a portion of the north claim embracing perhaps ten acres of land.

He was instrumental with several others of the earliest settlers in building the first sawmill on the banks of the Ashland creek and the first flour mill on the site near the center of the city which is now devoted to park purposes. These enterprises were really the nucleus around which the town of Ashland was built and expanded.

Mr. Helman served on the school board of this district for years and during the time of his service did much to advance the efficiency of the public schools of this city.

During the Indian disturbances in this section in 1855 and 1856 Mr. Helman took a part, being assigned to fort duty at Wagner Creek.

Abel D. Helman came from substantial German stock and was born in Wayne, now Ashland County, Ohio, April 10, 1824, where his father was engaged in agricultural pursuits. Fourth child in a family of seven children, he grew to man's estate on the home farm. Obtaining his early education in a subscription school, he was a pupil in the pioneer log schoolhouse, with its puncheon floor and rude slab benches, learning to write with a quill pen. Subsequently learning the carpenter's trade in Wooster, he followed that in connection with the trade of cabinet maker until he was twenty-six years of age. In January, 1850, anxious to join the gold hunters, he sailed in the steamer Ohio, to Aspinwall, and then proceeded on foot to Panama, where he waited a month for a vessel to take him to California. Arriving in San Francisco in April, 1850. He went to Weaver Creek, where he was engaged in mining for a time, worked at his trade in Sacramento for some time. In 1851 Mr. Helman made a trip over the mountains to the Willamette Valley, driving a mule team from Yreka to Salem, on the way crossing a part of the track of land that he afterwards took up as a donation claim and upon which a large portion of Ashland is now built. Returning to California, Mr. Helman resided in Yreka until January, 1852, when with others he came to this vicinity and took land claims where Ashland is now located. He made the trip back to Ohio and returned with his wife and children and Ashland, Oregon, named after the old home in the Buckeye state, became their permanent home from that year, 1853.

Mr. Helman's first wife was Martha H. Kanagy to whom he was married in Wooster, and children were born to them: Mrs. Almeda L. Shepherd, of California; John K, of this city; Mrs. Mary E. Niles of Adin, California; Mrs. Martha Jane Carter, of this city; Abraham Lincoln, now residing in Idaho; Benjamin Butler, of this city; Ulysses Grant of Petaluma. Calif., and O. O. Helman, of this city. The first Mrs. Helman died many years ago. His second wife, Mrs. Sue Rockfellow, to whom he was married in this city a number of years ago, survives him and has been a faithful companion in his declining years.

A. D. Helman was Ashland's first Postmaster and for 27 years, or from 1855to 1882 he served the small, but growing community in this capacity. In the year named the salary had grown to the munificent sum of $600 per year.

Mr. Helman's name is conspicuous in the history of Odd Fellowship in this city, county and state, having attained the highest honors in this order. One of the first members of the Ashland Lodge, No 45, I. O. O. F. he filled chairs of honor in the lodge for years. In 1892 he was the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Oregon. A member and past patriarch of the Pilot Rock Encampment, he was also Grand Patriarch of the Grand Encampment of Oregon. For two years he was Grand Representative from Oregon to the Sovereign Grand Lodge sessions. He was also a prominent member of the Rebekah degree auxiliary of Odd Fellowship.

Funeral Tomorrow

The funeral of the late Capt. A. D. Helman will be held at the First M. E. church, of which the deceased was a member, tomorrow, Tuesday afternoon, at 2:00 o'clock, conducted by Rev H. E. Van Fossen. The burial at Ashland Cemetery will be conducted by Ashland Lodge No. 45 I.O.O.F. Past Grand Master, W. D. Vawter, of Medford, officiating.

Back to: The Helman Family Home Page