William Helm

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
William Helm
William Helm.jpg
William Helm ca. 1900
William Helm

March 9, 1837
Ontario, Canada
DiedApril 10, 1919
ResidenceCorner of Fresno and R Streets, Fresno, California
OccupationSheep Farmer
Spouse(s)Francis Sawyer Newman
ChildrenJessie Marie Helm
George Helm
Mary M. Helm
Francis Jayne Helm
Agnes Helm
Frank M. Helm
Maude Armenia Helm

William Helm (March 9, 1837 – April 10, 1919) was a sheep farmer and noteworthy among the early pioneer settlers of Fresno county.[1]

Early life[edit]

Helm was born in the province of Ontario, Canada on March 9, 1837, about forty miles above Montreal, on the St. Lawrence River. He was instrumental in the growth and prosperity of the San Joaquin Valley. He is the son of George and Mary (Oliver Helm), both of whom were born in Scotland.[2] In 1861, Mr. Helm married Francis Sawyer Newman in Placer County.

In 1859, Helm sailed from New York City to San Francisco, California by way of Panama. He traveled to Sacramento and searched for gold in Placer country but soon found it unprofitable. He spent the next three years as a butcher in Placer County. He saved his money and decided to raise sheep for a living.[3]

In 1861, Helm married Francis Sawyer Newman in Placer County. He had six children, Jessie Marie Helm (born in Clovis), George Helm, Mary M. Helm, Francis Jayne Helm, Agnes Helm, Frank M. Helm, and Maude Armenia Helm.

Fresno, California[edit]

In 1877, Helm made Fresno his home with a five-acre tract of land at the corner of Fresno and R streets. He was vice-president of the Bank of Central California, and the president of the Fresno Canal and Irrigation Company.[4]

Helm was the largest individual sheep grower in Fresno County. In carrying his wool to market at Stockton, he used three wagons, each drawn by ten mules, and spent twelve days in making the round trip.[5] At Dry Creek, on section four, he bought a ranch six miles east of Fresno and acquired up to 16,000 acres, paying 1 dollar an acre from Mr. Chapman. He owned 22,000 head of sheep.[6]

In 1881, because of a growing family, Helm bought the block bounded by Fresno, R, Merced and S Streets from Mr. Einstein. He built his home there in 1881 where it stood for 71 years. As their daughters married, Helm gave them parts of the block on which to build their homes. This block is now the site of the Fresno Community Hospital.[7]

The city Helm, California was named after William Helm.[8]


Helm died on April 10, 1919 at the home of his daughter. He was buried at the Mountain View Cemetery, Fresno, California.[9]


  1. ^ "Fresno County, California Biographies". Historic Record Company. 1919. Retrieved 2013-02-20.
  2. ^ History of Fresno County California.
  3. ^ The Valley's Legends & Legacies by Catherine Morison Rehart
  4. ^ Source: Memorial and Biographical History of the counties of Fresno, Tulare, and Kern, California.
  5. ^ History of the State of California and Biographical Record of the San Joaquin Valley, California.
  6. ^ History of Fresno County and the San Joaquin Valley
  7. ^ Source: Saint James Episcopal Cathedral Web site.
  8. ^ Durham, David L. (1998). California's Geographic Names: A Gazetteer of Historic and Modern Names of the State. Clovis, Calif.: Word Dancer Press. p. 1045. ISBN 1-884995-14-4.
  9. ^ https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/23066377

External links[edit]