Joseph C. Helm

Joseph C. Helm. (Image: Duluth Public Library)

Joseph C. Helm was only thirteen years old when his father died, and not long afterward he had to make his own work his dependence for self support. After completing his education in public schools he was employed on a farm three years, worked in a wholesale pickle factory at Chicago for about a year, followed that with clerking in a store at Ridgefield, Illinois, another year, and for about eight months was again in Chicago, employed in a wholesale house.

This was the preparation and experience which he brought with him when he came to Duluth in March, 1886. At Duluth Mr. Helm took up the real estate business on his own account and conducted one of the general busy real estate agencies of the city for about twelve years.

He also became interested in local politics, and was elected and served as a city alderman in 1892-93. The City Council appointed him county commissioner, an office he held during 1894-95. From 1905 until 1912 Mr. Helm was in the brokerage business. For two and a half years he kept books for the firm of French & Bassett, and in February, 1915, was appointed supervisor of assessments by the Board of County Commissioners, and has held that position of public responsibility ever since.

Mr. Helm is a former president of the West End Commercial Club. He is affiliated with Ionic Lodge No. 186, A. F. and A. M., and is also a member of the Scottish Rite bodies and the Mystic Shrine.

In May, 1889, at Duluth, he married Miss Kate B. Swanstrom, daughter of E. G. Swanstrom, lbng a prominent merchant and business man of Duluth and at one time receiver of the Land Office. Mrs. Helm was educated in the public schools of Duluth. To their marriage were born two children, Viola B. on April 29, 1891, now the wife of Mr. Sidney Morterud, of Duluth, and Meredith E. Helm, born January 24, 1893.

The son, Dr. M. E. Helm, was educated at Duluth, graduated from the Duluth Central High School, is a graduate of Northwestern University of Chicago, and is now in the active practice of dentistry at Duluth.

Soon after America entered the war with Germany he enlisted in the Dental Reserve Corps, was called into active service September 13, 1917, and for about eight months was a dental officer with the rank of first lieutenant at Camp Funston, Kansas. He left Camp Funston May 22, 1918, for overseas, accompanying the 355th Infantry of the 89th Division landing in England and afterwards going to France. He was with his command throughout the war and came home with it. He was on sion, landing in England and afterward going to France. He was with duty during the St. Mihiel Drive and the battle of the Argonne, and after the signing of the Armistice accompanied the 89th Division to Germany with the Army of Occupation. While in Germany he was promoted to the rank of captain. Dr. Helm returned home June 22, 1919.


  • Van Brunt, Walter, ed. Duluth and St. Louis County, Minnesota Vols. 1 – 3. The American Historical Society. Chicago: 1922.
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