Helmer Family Papers

Summary Information

Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections
Helmer family, (Andrew Helmer, 1827-1916)
Helmer family papers
Date [inclusive]
2.0 Cubic feet , 30 volumes in box

Preferred Citation

Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: "Item title, Collection title, Collection Identifier, Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections, East Lansing, Michigan."

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Biographical Note

Andrew Helmer (born 1827) moved with his family from Otsego County, New York, to Battle Creek Township, Calhoun County, Michigan, in 1844. His parents, Philip Helmer Jr., and Sarah (nee Woodburn) died later that same year. Andrew, the oldest child, raised his brother John and sister on the 80-acre homestead filed by their father. John Helmer (1836-1911) became a druggist and successful businessman in Battle Creek. In 1854, Andrew married Marcia L. Andrus (born 1834). After several moves they settled, in 1856, on an 160-acre farm in the southeast quarter of section 9, Battle Creek Township. Andrew and Marcia had five children: Harriet, Frank (who died in childhood) William A., Nellie A., and Mattie.

Andrew Helmer was a general farmer, growing produce and fruit as well as raising sheep. He sold his surplus in the city of Battle Creek. Helmer was a successful farmer and accomplished businessman and served as a six term township supervisor. He and his wife retired from farming in 1890 and moved to live with his son. Though he lived on his son's farm, Helmer continued to breed horses.

William A. Helmer (1859-circa 1920) grew up on his father's farm. Trained in bookkeeping practices, he kept detailed records of his own farming operations. These began in 1878 when his father permitted him to farm several acres of the family farm. By 1890, William owned his own 140-acre farm in section 4 of Battle Creek Township, just north of his father's farm. He built his farming operation to include the wholesale distribution of his milk, fruits and vegetables (especially celery during the period 1900-1910). By 1910 he was selling his produce in Battle Creek as well as shipping it to Ohio, Illinois and Iowa. William never married.

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Scope and Contents note

Though the collection spans the period 1865-1910, the bulk of the documents covers the last decade of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th. The collection includes the papers of Andrew Helmer, the personal papers of William Helmer and the financial papers of William Helmer. The papers of Andrew Helmer comprise the smallest portion of the collection. The journals record various aspects and costs of raising sheep. One account ledger records household expenditures. The two volumes dealing with raising horses include pedigrees, foaling and stud records.

William Helmer's personal papers contain a diary, information on farm machinery, and bookkeeping exercises. The diary gives an account of a three-day wagon trip from Battle Creek to Greenville, Michigan. The bookkeeping exercises demonstrate work with cashbooks, balance sheets, ledgers and journals.

The largest segment of the collection is the financial records of William Helmer. These papers present a detailed account of Helmer's farm operation and financial condition. The cashbooks record daily expenses including labor used on the farm, particularly chopping wood during the winter. The journals also record the wood cut and sold. The milk records provide a complete account of Helmer's diary operation, from breeding, through production to distribution. The vegetable sales ledgers present a daily accounting while the fruit sales ledgers are not as extensive.

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Arranged into five series: 1. Papers of Andrew Helmer. 2. Personal Papers of William A. Helmer. 3. Financial Records of William A. Helmer. 4. Postcards. 5. Stereocards.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections September 1981

Conrad Hall
888 Wilson Road, Room 101
East Lansing , MI, 48824

Revision Description

  August 2002

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Legal Status

Copyright: Michigan State University. Property Rights: Michigan State University.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from this collection must be obtained from University Archives & Historical Collections, Michigan State University.

Custodial History

Gift of Donald R. Stilson, 1957-10-08.

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Controlled Access Headings


  • Diaries
  • Ledgers (account books)
  • Postcards

Geographic Name(s)

  • Calhoun County (Mich.)

Personal Name(s)

  • Helmer, Andrew, 1827-1916
  • Helmer, William A., 1859-circa 1920
  • Stilson, Donald R.


  • Agriculture -- Accounting
  • Dairy farming
  • Farm management
  • Fruit-culture
  • Horses -- Breeding
  • Sheep -- Breeding

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Collection Inventory

Papers of Andrew Helmer, 1865, 1869 - 1893 

Box Folder

Account Ledger -- 1865 

1 vol. 1

Journal of Sheep Accounts 

Box Folder

 1881 - 1882 (pp. 103 - 105) 

1 vol. 2

 1881 - 1883 (pp. 3 - 6) 

1 vol. 3

Horse Breeding Records 

Box Folder

Pedigrees and Foalings -- 1879 - 1889 (pp. 138 - 150) 

1 vol. 2

Studbook -- 1893 

1 vol. 4

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Personal Papers of William A. Helmer 1876, 1889 - 1897 

Box Folder

Diary -- 1889 - 1890 

1 vol. 5

Farm machinery brochures -- 1897 

1 1

Bookkeeping Exercises -- 1876 

Box Folder


1 2

Balance Sheets 

1 3


1 4-6


1 7

Commission Sales 

1 8

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Financial Records of William A. Helmer 1878 - 1911 

Box Folder

General Records - Cashbook 

Box Folder

 1893 - 1894 

1 9

 1895 - 1897 

1 10


1 vol. 6


1 vol. 7

 1898 - 1900 

1 11

 1901 - 1904 

1 12

 1904 - 1905 

1 13


Box Folder

 1878 (pp. 31, 41, 100) 

1 vol. 2


1 vol. 8


1 vol. 9

 1896 - 1897 

1 vol. 10

 1899 - 1902 

1 vol. 11

 1905 - 1908 

1 vol. 12


1 vol. 13

Journals - Wood Account 

Box Folder


1 vol. 8


1 vol. 3

 1896 - 1898 

1 vol. 14

 1899 - 1902 

1 vol. 15

Milk Records, 1895 - 1899 

Box Folder


Box Folder


2 vol. 16


2 vol. 17


2 vol. 18

 1897 - 1898 

2 vol. 19


Box Folder

August - November 1898 

2 vol. 20

November - December 1898 

2 vol. 21

Production Ledger -- 1895 - 1898 

2 vol. 22

Breeding Book -- 1895 - 1899 

2 vol. 23

Vegetable Records 

Box Folder

Sales Ledgers 

Box Folder


2 vol. 24

August - September 1906 

2 vol. 25

September - October 1906 

1 vol. 26

October - November 1906 

2 vol. 27

November - December 1906 

2 vol. 28

 1906 - 1907 

2 vol. 29

Fruit Records 

Box Folder

Sales Ledger -- 1910 

2 vol. 30

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Agriculture. Machinery. (4) 

Aircraft. Gliders. 

Alaska. Juneau. 

Animals. Chickens. 

Animals. Donkeys. 

Arizona. Desert scene. 

Art. Painting. Raphael. 


Boats. Fire boats. "New Yorker. 

Boats. Sailboats. 

Boats. Steamboats. 

Bolivia. La Paz. 

Buildings. Interiors. 


California. (8) 

California. Barstow. 

California. Los Angeles. (9) 

California. Pasadena. (3) 

California. Riverside. 

California. San Diego. 

California. San Francisco. (2) 

California. Santa Barbara. (3) 

California. Santa Cruz. 

California. Santa Monica. 

California. Santa Rosa. 

Canada. Ontario. Chatham. (4) 

Canada. Ontario. Windsor, 

Canada. Quebec. (2) 

Central Michigan University. Buildings. 

Chicago, University of. Haskell Oriental Museum. 

City College of the City University of New York. 


Colorado. (5) 

Colorado. Cripple Creek. 

Colorado. Denver. (7) 

Colorado. Estes Park. 

Colorado. Garden of the Gods. 

Colorado. Morgan County. (2) 

Colorado. Mt. McClellan. (2) 

Colorado. North Cheyenne Canyon. 

Colorado. Royal Gorge. (2) 

Colorado. Telluride. 

Colorado. Ute Pass. (2) 

Connecticut. Greenwich. 

England. Cheltenham. 

England. London. (2) 

England. Oxford. (Missing) 

England. Watford. 

Expositions and fairs. Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, Seattle, 1909. 

Florida. (2) 

Florida. Jacksonville. 

Florida. Pensacola. 

Florida. St. Augustine. (4) 

Florida. St. Petersburg. (6) 

Florida. Tampa. 

France. (5) 


Germany. Dresden. 

Idaho. Boise. Central School. 

Idaho. Snake River. Placer mining for gold. 


Illinois. Bloomington. (3) 

Illinois. Champaign. 

Illinois. Charleston. Coles County Court House. (2) 

Illinois. Chicago. (11) 

Illinois. Chicago. Hotels. (8) 

Illinois. Chicago. Parks. (9) 

Illinois. Chicago Heights. Public Library. 

Illinois. Joliet. (2) 

Illinois. Mattoon. Public Library. 

Illinois. Springfield. (6) 

Illinois. Waukegan. 

Illinois, University of. Library. 

Indiana. Martinsville. Martinsville Sanitarium. 

Indiana. Terre Haute. (2) 

Italy. Rome. (2) 

Italy. Venice. (2) 

Kalamazoo College. 

Kansas. Dodge City. Public Library. 

Kansas. Manhattan. 

Kansas State University. Dairy Building. 

Kentucky. Vanceburg. 

Louisiana. New Orleans. (9) 


Massachusetts. Salem. 

Mexico. Farm scene. 


Michigan. Adrian. St. Joseph's Academy. 

Michigan. Alpena. 

Michigan. Au Sable River. 

Michigan. Battle Creek. (11) 

Michigan. Battle Creek. Battle Creek Sanitarium. (3) 

Michigan. Battle Creek. Churches. (4) 

Michigan. Battle Creek. Country Club. (2) 

Michigan. Battle Creek. Factories. 

Michigan. Battle Creek. Parks. (3) 

Michigan. Battle Creek. Postum Cereal Company. (2) 

Michigan. Battle Creek. Railroad stations. (2) 

Michigan. Bay City. (2) 

Michigan. Bay View. (2) 

Michigan. Bedford. 

Michigan. Buchanan. 

Michigan. Cadillac. Railroad station. 

Michigan. Charlotte. (2) 

Michigan. Cheboygan. 

Michigan. Coldwater. (4) 

Michigan. Delton. 

Michigan. Detroit. (16) 

Michigan. Detroit. Belle Isle. (6) 

Michigan. Eaton Rapids. 

Michigan. Edmore. First Congregational Church. 

Michigan. Fenton. 

Michigan. Flint. Y.M.C.A. Building. 

Michigan. Galesburg. 

Michigan. Grand Haven. 

Michigan. Grand Rapids. (3) 

Michigan. Greenville. (2) 

Michigan. Hale. 

Michigan. Harbor Point. 

Michigan. Ionia. 

Michigan. Iosco County. 

Michigan. Ithaca. Gratiot County Court House. 

Michigan. Jackson. (10) 

Michigan. Jackson vicinity. Probert Farm. (2) 

Michigan. Kalamazoo. (9) 

Michigan. Kaleva. Railroad station. 

Michigan. Lake Odessa. (4) 

Michigan. Lansing. (10) 

Michigan. Lansing. Capitol Building. (4) 

Michigan. Macatawa. 

Michigan. Mackinac Island. (2) 

Michigan. Mackinaw City. 

Michigan. Manistee. 

Michigan. Marshall. 

Michigan. Morenci. 

Michigan. Owosso. Post Office. 

Michigan. Pinconning. 

Michigan. Saginaw. (3) 

Michigan. Saugatuck. 

Michigan. Sault Ste. Marie. (3) 

Michigan. South Haven. (2) 

Michigan. Traverse City. 

Michigan. Trout Lake. 

Michigan. Tustin. 

Michigan. West Branch. 

Michigan. Wexford County. 

Michigan. White Cloud. Public School. 

Michigan, University of. Observatory. 

Minnesota. Tower. 

Mississippi. Gulfport. (4) 

Missouri. Kansas City. City Hospital. 

Nebraska. Omaha. (5) 

New Jersey. Bayonne. Hudson County Park. 

New Jersey. Blairstown. Blair Academy. 

New York 

New York. (2) 

New York. Albany. Capitol Building. (2) 

New York. Binghamton. (5) 

New York. Buffalo. (6) 

New York. Canandaigua. (3) 

New York. Cooperstown. (2) 

New York. East Aurora. (11) 

New York. New York City. (22) 

New York. New York City. Bridges. (3) 

New York. New York City. Churches. 

New York. New York City. Parks. (3) 

New York. Niagara Falls. 

New York. Olean. 

New York. Rochester. Masonic Temple. 


Ohio. (2) 

Ohio. Barberton. Railroad station. 

Ohio. Bucyrus. 

Ohio. Canton. McKinley National Memorial. (2) 

Ohio. Cincinnati. (4) 

Ohio. Cleveland. 

Ohio. Columbus. Union Station. 

Ohio. Crestline. 

Ohio. Dayton. 

Ohio. Elyria. 

Ohio. Mt. Gilead. 

Ohio. New Madison. Railroad station. 

Ohio. Van Wert. 

Oregon. Columbia River Highway. (2) 

Panama. Ancon. 

Pennsylvania. Butler. Country Club. 

Pennsylvania. Philadelphia. (4) 

Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh. (2) 

Pennsylvania. Valley Forge. 

Pennsylvania. Wissahickon Falls 


People. Bisbee, Mrs. Warren. 

People. Frease-Green, Rachael. (4) 

People. Lincoln, Jerry. 

People. Pius X, Pope. 

People. Post, C.W. 

People. Roosevelt, Theodore. 

People. Wilson, President and Mrs. Woodrow. 

Portugal. Cintra. 

Portugal. Estoril. 

Portugal. Lisbon. (4) 


Road building. 


Ships. Lake freighters. 

Ships. Paddlewheel steamers. "Robert Fulton" 

Ships. Steamships. 

Ships. Steamships. "Araguaya" 

Ships. Steamships. "Cedric" 

Ships. Steamships. "Celtic" 

Ships. Steamships. "City of South Haven" 

Ships. Steamships. "City of St. Ignace" 

Ships. Steamships. "Lusitania" 

Ships. Steamships. "Seeamdnee" 

Spain. Barcelona. 

Spain. Madrid. 




Tennessee. Chattanooga. (3) 

Tennessee. Fayetteville. 

Tennessee. Greenville. 

Tennessee. La Follette. 

Tennessee. Maryville. 

Tennessee. Memphis. Railroad station. 

Tennessee. Tullahoma. 


Texas. El Paso. Union Passenger Station. 

Texas. Fort Worth. (4) 

Texas. Garza County. (4) 

Texas. Mineral Wells. (7) 

Texas. Post. (2) 

Ursuline College. Santa Rosa, California. 

Vermont. Rutland. 

Virginia. (2) 

Washington. Seattle. (2) 

Washington, D.C. (4) 

Waterfalls. Niagara Falls. (4) 

Wisconsin. Crandon. (2) 

Wisconsin. Lake Geneva. 

Wisconsin. Milwaukee. (4) 


Wyoming. (3) 

Wyoming. Cheyenne. (9) 

Wyoming. Cheyenne. Cheyenne Frontier Days. (13) 

Wyoming. Dale Creek Valley. 

Wyoming. Green River. 

Wyoming. Sundance. Devils Tower. 

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Automobiles. Competition between automobile and oxen. 

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