Helm, Ferdinand (History - 1860)


Janet Schwarze





----Source: 1918 History of Clark County, Wisconsin

FERDINAND HELM, a well known farmer of Lynn Township, of which he is also one of the more prominent citizens, was born in Washington County, Wis., Jan. 8, 1860, the scene of his birth being the log cabin of his parents, Ferdinand and Rosa (Nevroda) Helm. The latter were natives of Germany, but came separately to the United States and were married in Washington County, Wis. It was in the late thirties or early forties of the nineteenth century that Ferdinand Helm, Sr., came to this country, landing from a sailing vessel after a long and tedious voyage, it is said, of eighteen weeks. Coming west to Wisconsin he located at Milwaukee, which was then an insignificant hamlet situated in the midst of a tamarack swamp. There he worked at anything he could get to do.


A few years later, in Washington County, he was married to Rosa Nevroda, who had come to America several years after him. They located on a tract of forty acres of timberland in Township No. 10, where he built a log cabin with straw roof, sawing by hand the lumber for the floor. At first they used cows for draught purposes, putting in their first crops by hand and threshing with a flail. For transportation purposes Mr. Helm made a "jumper. He attached two wheels, thus making it into a sort of rude cart, and harnessing his cows to this, used it to drive to Milwaukee, a distance of forty miles through the woods, and taking four or five days for the trip. The advantages of this method of travel were obvious, as a piece of bread in his pocket a dairy lunch was always obtainable had only to jump down and milk his team. Before perfecting this admirable arrangement, however, he had walked all the way, carrying supplies on his back, as the other settlers did to a large extent. In time he added to the size of his farm until he had 140 acres, also building a frame house and barn.


He and his wife were members of the German Lutheran Church and in early days attended services in the home of his wife's parents, Charles and Rosena Nevroda, who had moved to the same neighborhood. Ferdinand Helm, Sr., lived to the advanced age of 86 years, his death, occurring November, 1915. His wife is still living at the age of' 83 years. They had a family of fourteen children: Henry, William, August, Ferdinand Jr., John, Gust, Hannah, Bertha, Gusta, Edward, Minnie, Helen and Lizzie. Nine of these children are still living. Ferdinand Jr., acquired his education in the log schoolhouse of his district and when old enough to begin industrial life, learned the carpenter's trade, which he followed for sixteen or seventeen years, at first in Jackson and West Bend.


His employment brought him in time to Clark County, the year 1879 witnessing his arrival in Neillsville, which he reached by stage from Marshfield, having walked to the latter place from Menasha. Though a mechanic for so many years, his thought now turned to the acquisition of land and it was not long before he acquired a tract covered with timber in Section 4, Lynn Township, buying it of old William Yorkston, whose father had obtained it in exchange for a barrel of flour. He then began the arduous life of a pioneer farmer, hiring an ox team at first until he could get one of his own, and gradually clearing his land from stumps until he had developed a good farm. This took many years to do, but the improvement was steady though slow. In time he bought another tract in Section 28, Lynn Township, which he has also developed. He built a frame house, and a barn 36 by 66 feet in size, and is now engaged in raising a good grade of stock. He is a member of the Farmers' Elevator Company at Chili and a stockholder in the First National Bank at Neillsville. For one year he served Lynn Township as assessor.


Mr. Helm was married Sept. 16, 1889, to Laura Stemitzky, who was born in Nasonville, Wis. daughter of Ernest Stemitzky, who is now a resident of Lynn Township. He and his wife have had nine children-Charles, Bertha, Elda, Henry, Gertrude, Ardina, Louis, Elmer and Anita. Elmer died at the age of 14 months. Charles, who now resides at Forest Junction, married Emma Steinbach, and has one child, Clarence. Elda is the wife of Fred Bartz, of York Township, they have one child, Irene.



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