Wagner Ranch on the Verge of Being Lost

May 4, 2009 8:34:28 PM PDT
Nowadays, more and more families are being forced out of their homes because of foreclosure. But one Madera woman says she's losing more than just her home, but generations of history. "These are my great-grandparents" Linda Helm remembers visiting her grandparents at the Wagner Family Ranch when she was just a kid. Years later, she now calls the 60-acre-plot of land home.

"We moved up here because we inherited it and it was debt free and we were able to maintain it for a year like that, but I had lost my job and I was going through whatever resources we had," said Helm.

When the money ran out, Helm took out two mortgages, totaling nearly 300-thousand dollars. But like many Americans, she's struggling to make ends meet, and is now facing foreclosure.

"I lose everything. I lose the house, I lose the land," said Helm.

Helm's story is not unique, but her property is. It's been in her family since the 1800's and several of her family members are buried here.

"My great-grandparents, great uncles, some of my aunts and uncles anyone related to the Wagners and my parents are buried there," said Helm.

Helm claims she's tried to work with her lender, Wells Fargo, but that they've been anything but helpful.

"I've been doing everything and they won't work with me," said Helm.

After selling some antique items and barrowing money from family members, Helm says she now has the money she needs.

The only problem, she claims the bank says it's too late. Leaving her without a home, and with a lifetime of guilt.

"It's the same thing when I go past the cemetery, I feel this guilt. You know, I'm trying to forgive myself and apologize to my parents because my mom said doesn't ever take a mortgage out," said Helm.

We spoke with a Wells Fargo representative. He says they are looking into Helm's case, and will work with her to try and resolve the issue.

But if Helm does lose the property, her family's cemetery will stay put because it's in a charitable trust, which means it can't be disturbed and she can still visit her loved ones.

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