Biography - DOUGLAS W. HELM

Metropolis possesses a citizen of more than state-wide fame, in whose achievements the city, Massac county and the fifty-first senatorial district feel a possessive pleasure, for Hon. Douglas W. Helm, to whom reference is made, has represented all these civic divisions and is as proud of them as they are of him. Senator Helm is a member of the law firm of Courtney and Helm at Metropolis, and is for the third term representing the fifty-first senatorial district in the general assembly of Illinois as its member of the upper house. Senator Helm represents the counties of Massac, Pope, Johnson, Saline and Hamilton, succeeding ex-Congressman Chapman in the state senate. He entered upon his legislative duties as a member of the forty-third general assembly and was appointed on the judiciary committee, being also made chairman of the committee on judicial department and practice! He was also made a member of the appropriations committee and at the historic "Lorimer" session of the legislature he was made chairman of the committee authorized to investigate the election of William Lorimer, of Chicago, to the United States senate. This bore his name, being called the "Helm Committee." Senator Helm was a participant in the initial fight for a primary election law for the state. He stood out for a law that would not fall before the scrutiny of the Supreme Court, and supported the best measure that could be had at the various sessions at which the subject was considered.

The Senator's public life began almost as soon as he had finished his classical and legal education. He entered politics as a Republican in his home town and was elected city attorney of Metropolis. In 1888 he was elected state's attorney of Massac county and was twice reelected, filling the office for three full terms. He was appointed by Governor John R. Tanner as trustee for the Southern Illinois Normal, being the first graduate of that school to receive such distinction. Governor Yates subsequently selected him as a member of the Illinois Commission of Claims, and he resigned from the Normal board. He had not completed his term on the Commission when elected to the State Senate, and resigned for the purpose of accepting the latter honor. His trained mind, keen sense of perception and indomitable will have served him in the successive steps of his public positions, and he is known as a champion of the right who never fears a foe or admits defeat, but adroitly turns the latter into victory. No public servant of any community stands higher among his constituents than does Senator Helm among the people of Southern Illinois. He has served them long and well, honestly and faithfully, and they honor him accordingly.

The Senator is a native of Johnson county. He was born July 23, 1860, and went from the public schools to the Southern Illinois Normal University at Carbondale. He graduated from the Wesleyan Law School at Bloomington in 1883. He took the bar examination the following year at Mt. Vernon and entered upon practice with his present partner, under whom he had read law. Senator Helm is a son of Robert A. Helm, who gave his life to the service of his country while a member of Smith's battery of light artillery, attached to the Sixth Illinois Cavalry. The father was born in Tennessee, a son of Thomas Helm, who came to Illinois when his son was a youth, and who died on a farm in Johnson county. His father, the great-grandfather of Senator Helm, was Thomas Helm, a soldier of the Revolution, who was killed in the battle of Guilford Court House. He was a Virginia soldier and his family eventually followed the trend of immigration to Tennessee, whence his son later brought his own family to Illinois. Thomas Helm, Jr., was married to a Miss Cowden, whose father was killed in a cavalry charge during the War of the Revolution, so the traditions of the relationship through many branches are coupled with the memories of the heroic dead whose love of country was greater than their love of life. The issue of the Helm-Cowden union consisted of four children, who are now all dead. They were: Robert A., Thomas, Leroy and Elizabeth, the latter of whom became the wife of Lee Walker. Robert A. Helm married Mary J. Rice, a daughter of Thomas Rice, who came originally from North Carolina, where his father was proprietor of an old time inn. Senator Helm is the only surviving issue of his parents. His mother died in 1908, at the age of seventy.

On April 13, 1884, Senator Helm married in Johnson county, Illinois, Miss Mary Howell, a daughter of Henry C. Howell, who was a volunteer soldier in the Union army during the Civil war. Mr. Howell was himself married in Johnson county, his wife being Margaret Johnson, a grand-daughter of one of the very earliest settlers of that county. Mrs. Helm was born in Johnson county in 1863, and the children from her marriage with the Senator are Roy R., Lloyd L., Herbert and Verna May. The children have made splendid records as students. Roy Helm graduated from the University of Illinois with the degree of LL. D. and from the law department of the University of Chicago, where he made a record as a brilliant and deep student. He is engaged in the practice of law in Metropolis, his wife having formerly been Miss Mabel Moore, and a member of his graduating class at the State University. Lloyd Helm will finish his course in the University of Illinois in 1912, with the degree ol A. B. Herbert will graduate from the Metropolis high school in 1912, and his sister is still pursuing her studies.

Extracted 07 Nov 2018 by Norma Hass from History of Southern Illinois, by George Washington Smith, published in 1912, volume 3, pages 1670-1671.

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