House located in Oregon City, a community in the Willamette valley, Portland, near Oregon that is thought to be haunted. Once owned by pioneer Dr John McLoughlin (1784–1857) – a colourful character in pioneer history who founded Oregon City in 1839 – phenomena reported at the house include mysterious footsteps and voices, poltergeist activity and a shadowy figure thought to be McLoughlin’s ghost.
In 1821, McLoughlin, a physician for the Hudson Bay Company, was sent to Oregon to preside over the company’s new headquarters. Despite incredible generosity to the Oregon City community he founded, McLoughlin was resented because he was British, wealthy and a Catholic in a Protestant town who was married to a Chippewa woman. When the US government disputed his claim to the land he had few supporters. In a desperate bid to save his title he became an American citizen but this still wasn’t enough and Congress stripped him of ownership. McLoughlin died bitter and disillusioned in 1857. His house became a bordello before being abandoned. In 1908 it was moved to its present location overlooking the city and in 1930 was restored and opened to the public. In 1970 McLoughlin’s grave was moved to the new grounds.
Haunting phenomena were not reported at the house until the mid-1970s when Nancy Wilson, who had no belief in ghosts prior to working at the house, became its curator. One of the earliest experiences Wilson reported was a tap on the shoulder when the house was closed to the public and she was cleaning upstairs. On turning around no one was in sight and the only other employee was downstairs. As the days passed the phenomena increased. Wilson and other staff members began to report seeing a shadowy figure that resembled a painting of McLoughlin in the upstairs hall. Footsteps on the upstairs hall were also heard when no one was there. A child’s bed mysteriously appeared to have been slept in when staff arrived in the morning to open up. Rocking chairs rocked by themselves and objects were moved with no logical explanation. The phenomena continued until the late 1980s when the house became quiet again, although McLoughlin’s non-threatening presence continued to be felt by Wilson and her staff.
After the hauntings began Wilson began to research her past to see if there was any link between her and McLoughlin that might have activated the haunting. She discovered that her ancestors included the Wells, a family of pioneers who arrived in Oregon City in 1842. When Mr Wells died leaving behind a wife and family, McLoughlin had loaned them money, which they were never able to fully repay. Wilson speculated that McLoughlin may have been attempting to collect his debt, or perhaps he wanted to express his satisfaction with the quality of her work in preserving and promoting the house and his reputation.