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Fayette County, Iowa
Past and Present of Fayette County Iowa, 1910
Author: G. Blessin
B. F. Bowen & Company, Indianapolis, Indiana
Vol. I, Biographical Sketches
ROBERT WILLARD HELMS
The office of biography is not to give voice to a man's modest estimate of himself and his accomplishments, but rather to leave upon the record the verdict establishing his character by the consensus of opinion on the part of his neighbors and fellow citizens. In touching upon the life history of the subject of this sketch, the writer aims to avoid fulsome encomium and extravagant praise; yet he desires to hold up for consideration those facts which have shown the distinction of a true, useful and honorable life--a life characterized by perseverance, energy, broad charity and well defined purpose. To do this will be but to reiterate the dictum pronounced upon the man by the people who have known him long and well.
Robert W. Helms, merchant and postmaster at Brainard, was born in the state of New York, July 30, 1839, and is a son of William and Hannah (Robins) Helms. William Helms was a native of Scotland and at the age of seven years he accompanied his parents on their emigration to America. They located in Essex county, New York, where Mr. Helms spent the remainder of his years, dying at the advanced age of ninety-three years. He followed farming during his active years and was fairly successful in his business affairs. He took a leading and prominent part in local public affairs and held at different times many of the township and county public offices. He was a Republican in politics and in religion was affiliated with he Methodist Episcopal church, of which he was a class-leader at the time of his death. He married Hannah Robins, a native of Vermont, and they became the parents of thirteen children, six of whom are living, namely: Robert W., who was the first born in the family, Jennie, Martha, Carrie, Addie and Melvin. The mother of these children was sixty-three years old at the time of her death.
Robert W. Helms remained in his native state until he was twenty-four years old. At the age of twenty-one years he enlisted in the First Regiment of United States Sharpshooters and served fourteen months assisting in the suppression of the Southern rebellion. During most of this time he was on detached duty, but he was actively engaged during the three-days battle at Gettysburg, and, with his regiment, took part in several other of the noted engagements of that war, seeing much hard service. At the conclusion of his military service he returned to Essex county, New York, and, as before stated, at the age of twenty-four years he came to Fayette county, Iowa. He soon afterwards went to Wisconsin, where he remained two years and then returned to Fayette county, which has since been his home. He is the owner of some splendid farming land, his home place being located in sections 30 and 36, while he also owns a good farm in section 16. He carries on general farming and also gives considerable attention to livestock, in the handling of which he has been very successful. He is a breeder of registered Hereford cattle, maintaining on his farm a good herd of these cattle, and he also buys and sells much other stock, mostly cattle and hogs. Besides his farming interests, Mr. Helms is doing a successful general merchandise business, being the proprietor of the only store in Brainard, where he carries a large and well-selected stock of such goods as are in demand by the trade. He is postmaster and maintains the office in his store. Courteous and accommodating, he has gained for himself the good will of all who have dealings with him and is numbered among the leading men of his community.
In 1875 Mr. Helms was married to Artherlinda Mounce, who was born in Lynn county, Iowa, in February, 1849, and whose death occurred in 1903, at the age of fifty-four years. To this union were born four children, namely: Clara Louella is the wife of E. O. Randall, of Muscatine, Iowa, and they have two children: Harley W., of Brainard, married Celia Bohanan and they are the parents of three children; Ethel D. is the wife of Martin Hovey, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and they have one child; Judson, who was the first born of these children, died at the age of fourteen months.
The subject is a Republican, but has endeavored to keep clear of political affairs. He was, however, induced to serve as justice of the peace for a number of years, having retired from the office in 1908 because of the press of his other business affairs, which would not permit a division of his attention and time. He is a firm believer in the uplifting influence of the church and he gives a liberal support to the Baptist and Methodist Episcopal churches. In many ways Mr. Helms has shown qualities of the highest order and has invariably given his support to every movement having for its object the advancement of the best interests of the community. Genial in disposition, optimistic in temperament and accommodating in his dealings with others-it is not strange that he enjoys a large circle of warm and loyal friends. Such men are desirable elements in any community and are the foundation of its growth and prosperity.
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