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Encyclopedia > John L. Helm
John LaRue Helm
John LaRue Helm

John LaRue Helm (July 4, 1802September 8, 1867) was one of the most illustrious sons of Elizabethtown and Hardin County. His family was among the earliest settlers in the area now comprising both Hardin and LaRue counties. Throughout his life, he worked tirelessly to the benefit of the citizens of Elizabethtown and the surrounding area. Image File history File links JohnLaRueHelm. ... Image File history File links JohnLaRueHelm. ... July 4 is the 185th day of the year (186th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 180 days remaining. ... --69. ... September 8 is the 251st day of the year (252nd in leap years). ... 1867 (MDCCCLXVII) was a common year starting on Tuesday (see link for calendar). ... Elizabethtown is a city in Hardin County, Kentucky, United States. ... Hardin County is a county located in the state of Kentucky. ...

John LaRue Helm was born on Independence Day, July 4, 1802, the first child of George and Rebecca LaRue Helm. George Helm was the son of Thomas and Jean Pope Helm. The Helms migrated to Kentucky after the Revolutionary War. In payment for his services during the war, Helm received a grant for 1000 acres (4 km²) on Beargrass Creek near the Falls of the Ohio. He brought his family to this land by flat boat on the Ohio River in the spring of 1779. His sons, John and Henry, brought their livestock to Kentucky via the Wilderness Road. After several children and Negroes died of spotted fever, he decided to relocate his family to more suitable and less swampy land. Samuel Haycraft, Andrew Hynes and Thomas Helm, along with several other families, came to Severns Valley early in 1780 and built stockade forts on the hilltops overlooking the valley. “Helm Station”, as it was known, was built at the northern vertex of the triangle formed by the three forts. The Haycraft and Hynes forts were built about one mile southeast and southwest, respectively, from Helm Station and about one mile apart. The arrangement allowed the forts to protect each other from then common Indian attacks. Andrew Hynes donated 30 acres for a new village. In honor of his contribution, the new town was named after his wife, Elizabeth. The streets of Elizabeth Town were laid out in 1797. The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the American War of Independence, was a war fought primarily between Great Britain and revolutionaries within thirteen of her North American colonies. ... Official language(s) English Capital Frankfort Largest city Louisville Area  Ranked 37th  - Total 40,444 sq. ... The Wilderness Road was the principal route used by American and immigrant settlers into and across Kentucky for more than fifty years. ...

Rebecca LaRue was the daughter of John and Mary Brooks LaRue. In 1784, the LaRues immigrated to Kentucky from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and settled along the Nolin River near the present day Hodgenville. Having a knowledge of medicinal plants and herbs, Mary LaRue became know as a healer and mid-wife. She served as mid-wife to Nancy Hanks Lincoln on February 9, 1809 when Abraham Lincoln was born. The Lincolns very nearly subsisted on the charity of the LaRues. The Nolin River is a tributary of the Green River, 105 mi (169 km) long, in central Kentucky in the United States. ... Hodgenville is a city located in LaRue County, Kentucky. ... Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865), sometimes called Abe Lincoln and nicknamed Honest Abe, the Rail Splitter, and the Great Emancipator, was the 16th President of the United States (1861 to 1865), and the first president from the Republican Party. ...

George and Rebecca were married on May 14, 1801 and their first child was born, probably at Rebecca’s parents’ home near present day Hodgenville. John was a naturally bright and inquisitive child. His grandparents imparted to him a love for history. He attended various schools in Hardin County until he was 14 years old. Due to financial difficulties within his family, his education in the public schools ended at the 8th grade and he went to work on the family farm. George Helm removed to the Texas frontier in an effort to restore his financial condition and died there in 1822. As the oldest son, John became the head of the family and responsible for the $3,000 debt left by his father. That same year, John became the Deputy County Clerk under the eminent Samuel Haycraft, Jr.

While serving in this position, John became the apprentice of the prominent Elizabeth Town attorney, Benjamin Tobin. A year later, Helm was admitted to the bar and began practicing law in Elizabeth Town. In 1824, he was appointed County Attorney for newly formed Meade County, Kentucky, (formed from parts of Breckinridge and Hardin counties on December 17, 1823). A year later, at the age of 23, John Helm was elected to the lower house of the Kentucky Legislature on the Whig party ticket. Helm would remain in the state government for nearly the rest of his life. Meade County is the name of several counties in the United States: Meade County, Kansas Meade County, Kentucky Meade County, South Dakota This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... The Whig Party was a political party of the United States during the era of Jacksonian democracy. ...

Around this same time, John met Lucinda Barbour Hardin, the eldest daughter of Benjamin and Elizabeth Pendleton Barbour Hardin of Bardstown. Lucinda was born on February 2, 1809. John and Lucinda met by happenstance when she was just 14 years old. Lucinda, like many young ladies of that day, was educated at home by her father and did not attend public schools. During a meeting between Helm and Hardin, Lucinda entered the parlor of their home to show her father a map that she had been working on. 7 years later, on August 10, 1830, John and Lucinda were married at Edgewood in Bardstown. Bardstown is a city located in Nelson County, Kentucky. ... 1809 was a common year starting on Sunday (see link for calendar). ... Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix commemorates the July Revolution 1830 was a common year starting on Friday (see link for calendar). ...

In 1831, John was able to purchase his grandfather’s homestead from his uncle Benjamin. During that year, Helm sold his father’s house and some 500 acres (2 km²) to Reverend Charles J. Cecil and the Sisters of Loretto who used the property to create a girls boarding school known as Bethlehem Academy. A year later, the Helms began construction of their new home, “Helm Place”, on the site of “Helm Station”, the stockade fort built by his grandfather. Originally, the house contained 16 rooms in 3 stories, not counting butler’s closets and halls. It took 8 years to complete. It was constructed of oak lumber cut from the surrounding area and bricks made by the Helm’s laborers. Nails for the project had to be obtained from Lexington. When the house was completed, a small suburb of Elizabeth Town formed around the mansion that became known as Claysville. It has been suggested that Fayette County, Kentucky be merged into this article or section. ... Elizabethtown is a city in Hardin County, Kentucky, United States. ...

Helm served in the lower house of the State Legislature from 1824 until 1844. He was one of the youngest representatives ever elected Speaker of the House. In 1844, he was elected to the Senate and in 1848 as Lieutenant Governor on the ticket of John J. Crittenden. Helm became the 18th governor of the Commonwealth on July 31, 1850 when Governor Crittenden resigned to accept the post of Attorney General in the cabinet of President Millard Filmore. Helm completed the term that ended on September 5, 1851. John Jordan Crittenden (September 10, 1786–July 26, 1863) was an American statesman. ... Millard Fillmore (January 7, 1800 – March 8, 1874) was the thirteenth President of the United States, serving from 1850 until 1853, and the last member of the Whig Party to hold the nations highest office. ...

In the early 1840s, a group of enterprising citizens began advocating the creation of a new county to be formed exclusively from Hardin County with Hodgenville as the county seat. Originally, it was purposed that the new county should be named Lynn after the early pioneer and explorer Benjamin Lynn. To gain Helm’s support, when the bill was submitted to the Kentucky Legislature, the new county was to be named Helm. When the measure did not receive the unanimous support of his colleagues, Helm suggested that the new county should be named for his grandfather, John LaRue. On March 4, 1843, a bill was passed unanimously in both houses forming a new county from Hardin named LaRue County and naming Hodgenville as the county seat. This was one of the last counties formed in Kentucky. Hodgenville is a city located in LaRue County, Kentucky. ...

Helm could best be described as a Constitutionalist. He believed that the “organic law” was paramount and that all differences among the citizens could be resolved by careful and thoughtful interpretation of the state and federal constitutions. During his first term as governor, the legislature decided to rewrite the Constitution of Kentucky. Helm was ardently opposed to this. He argued that the few problems with the constitution could be repaired, but that it was unnecessary to rewrite the entire document. When the new constitution was submitted for his approval, he vetoed it. Subsequently, his veto was overridden by the legislature. Once the new constitution was adopted, Helm accepted it as the “organic law” and defended it with all the zeal that he exhibited when he fought to prevent the rewrite.

Helm believed that one of the primary responsibilities of the state government was to build and support public works. He argued passionately for the construction of the Louisville-Nashville Turnpike, one of the first paved roads in Kentucky. Shortly after the completion of the turnpike, Helm began advocating the construction of a railroad to connect those cities. On March 5, 1850, the Legislature granted a charter to the Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company, authorizing the company to raise funds and build a railroad to connect Louisville and Nashville. Surveying parties were dispatched in 1851 to identify the most cost-effective route for the road. Two routes were found where the road could be built. The “air-line” or straightest route passed through Bardstown and Glasgow. The other route climbed Muldraugh’s Hill just north of Elizabeth Town and continued southward and westward to Bowling Green. Helm became a commissioner for the railroad in Hardin County and fought ardently for a bond issue that would be subscribed to the company. At the same time, Benjamin Hardin, Helm’s father-in-law, argued against a bond issue in Bardstown. Coupled with the success in having a bond issue for $100,000 from Hardin County subscribed to the railroad and a $300,000 issue from Warren County, the company decided on the Elizabeth Town/Bowling Green route. The company built a shop and depot at 9th & Broadway in Louisville and began laying track from that location in May of 1853. Financial difficulties plagued the company from the beginning. By 1854, several hundred thousands of dollars had been spent, but less than 8 miles of track had been laid and work on the road had been suspended. Disgruntled with the apparent lack of progress, the Board of Alderman in Louisville demanded that the first president, Levin L. Shreve, resign which he did on June 24, 1854. Having been elected to the board of directors on July 17, 1854, John L Helm was elected President of the company on October 2, 1854. Chartered by the state of Kentucky in 1850, the L&N, as it was generally known, grew into one of the great success stories of American business. ... Louisville redirects here; for other uses, see Louisville (disambiguation). ... Nickname: Music City Official website: http://www. ... Bardstown is a city located in Nelson County, Kentucky. ... Glasgow is a city located in Barren County, Kentucky. ... Elizabethtown is a city in Hardin County, Kentucky, United States. ... Bowling Green is a city located in Warren County, Kentucky. ...

Helm worked tirelessly to complete the road. Two almost insurmountable obstacles stood between Louisville and Nashville. Muldraugh’s Hill rises more than 500 feet from its foot to the crest and was crisscrossed by a series of deep valleys. To complete the road, a tunnel was dug 135 feet below the crest and more than 2000 feet long. The second was the Green River at Munfordville. Albert Fink, the Chief Engineer for the L & N, designed and supervised the construction of a massive iron bridge over the Green River just south of Munfordville. When it was completed in July 1859, it was the longest iron bridge in the United States. Including approaches, the bridge was more than 1800 feet long and stood 115 feet above the river. The last rails were laid near the middle of October of 1859. On October 27, 1859 a special train departed Louisville bound for Nashville. In all, the main line was 187 miles long and had cost more than $7 million to build and equip. The first schedule published by the company promised transit from Louisville to Nashville in just 9 hours. Two trains left each terminal city daily and one each way on Sundays. Freight trains were run daily except Sunday. As president of the company, Helm modified the charter to require that all scheduled trains, whether northbound or southbound must stop in Elizabeth Town. Munfordville is a town located in Hart County, Kentucky. ...

Helm argued vigorously for the construction of the Memphis branch, a connection that would allow the L & N to extend its domain to Memphis, Tennessee and ultimately to New Orleans, Louisiana. He knew that with that connection, a huge portion of the passenger and freight from the south would necessarily pass through Louisville, bringing with it nearly incalculable profit for the company and Kentucky. However, a dispute erupted between Helm and several Louisville stockholders regarding the Memphis Branch. On February 2, 1860, two members of the Board of Directors joined these stockholders in accusing Helm of mismanagement. On February 24, Helm capitulated and resigned as President of the company. Almost ironically, the succeeding president, James Guthrie, continued where Helm left off and completed the Memphis Branch in March 1861. Nickname The River City, The Bluff City Location Location in Shelby County and the state of Tennessee Government Country State Counties United States Tennessee Shelby County Mayor W. W. Herenton (D) Geographical characteristics Area  - Total  - Land  - Water 294. ... New Orleans is the largest city in the state of Louisiana, United States of America. ... James Guthrie (December 5, 1792–March 3, 1869) was an American businessman and politician. ...

The Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company went on to become one of the largest railroads in the United States. In 1969, the company operated nearly 6,000 miles of track and owned more than 800 locomotives. Except for a brief period during the War Between the States, the L & N Railroad Company continuously operated passenger trains between Louisville and Nashville until 1976. When the Interstate Highway system was built in the mid-1950s, I-65 was built almost on top of the old L & N Main Line. Arguably, if the railroad had been built elsewhere, the highway would have been built elsewhere also. Chartered by the state of Kentucky in 1850, the L&N, as it was generally known, grew into one of the great success stories of American business. ...

With the Dogs of War about to be unleashed, Helm urged restraint. He argued that the states did not possess the right to secede, but that the Federal government had no right to seize the property of any citizen without due process or compensation. On January 8, 1861, he chaired a meeting in Louisville in which the Commonwealth declared its neutrality in the coming conflict. Of course, positioned between the opposing forces, neither side observed this declaration. By the fall of 1861, the state had become a pawn of the war, both sides counting Kentucky as a member state. Kentucky was one of only two states to have a star on both flags. Many Kentuckians joined one side or the other, among them Helm’s own son, Benjamin Hardin Helm. Benjamin had married Emilie Todd, the half-sister of Mary Todd Lincoln in 1856 and was a close friend of the Lincolns. Being a graduate of West Point, Abraham Lincoln called Benjamin to Washington in the summer of 1861 to offer him the position of Paymaster in the Union Army. After three days, Benjamin declined the offer and returned to Kentucky where, in the fall of 1861, he joined the Confederate Army. Mary Todd Lincoln Mary Todd Lincoln Mary Ann Todd Lincoln (December 13, 1818 – July 16, 1882) was the sixteenth First Lady of the United States when her husband, Abraham Lincoln, served as the sixteenth President, from 1861 until 1865. ... Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865), sometimes called Abe Lincoln and nicknamed Honest Abe, the Rail Splitter, and the Great Emancipator, was the 16th President of the United States (1861 to 1865), and the first president from the Republican Party. ...

Helm was an outspoken critic of the Lincoln Administration. Due to his public criticism of Lincoln, his son’s rank of General in the Confederate Army and his son-in-law’s position as Representative from Kentucky in the Confederate Congress, John Helm was vilified as a southern sympathizer and rebel. In September 1862, Colonel Knox arrested Helm near his home in Elizabeth Town. Only because he was seen being transferred to the military prison in Louisville by the then governor James Robinson, was he released and allowed to return to his home. The Union forces harassed the Helms throughout the war by destroying crops, outright theft of their property and inciting their servants to abandon their duties. With his livelihood destroyed, Helm was force to borrow money just to care for his family. When his son, Benjamin, was killed at the Battle of Chickamauga on September 20, 1863, the news came as the crowning sorrow for his father. Those close to John thought that he had gone insane. Combatants United States of America Confederate States of America Commanders William S. Rosecrans George H. Thomas Braxton Bragg James Longstreet Strength Army of the Cumberland (56,965) Army of Tennessee (66,000) Casualties 1,657 killed, 9,756 wounded, 4,757 captured/missing 2,312 killed, 14,674 wounded, 1...

When the war ended, Helm returned to the Kentucky Senate and served on the Committee for Federal Relations. He fought ardently for an end to sanctions imposed on former confederates and to improve the condition of the former slaves. In February 1867, he was nominated for Governor on the Democratic ticket. He campaigned vigorously from one end of the state to the other and in August, was elected Governor by a margin of more than 3-to-1 over the nearest opponent. Through Helm’s efforts, nearly every seat of both houses of the legislature, as well as many local positions, were also filled with candidates of his party. However, the campaign had left him weak and exhausted. He returned to his beloved Helm Place in late August 1867. Due to his illness, Lucinda requested that the inauguration be moved to Elizabeth Town rather than Frankfort. On September 3, 1867, Judge Charles J. Wintersmith administered the oath of office at Helm Place and John L. Helm became the 24th governor of the Commonwealth and the only Kentucky governor ever inaugurated outside of Frankfort. Sadly, just five days later, Helm succumbed to his illness and died. He was buried in the Helm family cemetery on September 11, 1867.

Lucinda continued living at Helm Place, with several of their children, until her death on Christmas Day, December 25, 1885. She was laid to rest next to her husband in the family cemetery. When the last of their children, Mary Helm, died in 1913, the Helm mansion was sold. Today, it still stands as a marker and silent tribute to the accomplishments this remarkable Kentucky son.

Preceded by:
John J. Crittenden
Governor of Kentucky
1850 - 1851
Succeeded by:
Lazarus W. Powell
Preceded by:
Thomas E. Bramlette
Governor of Kentucky
Succeeded by:
John W. Stevenson
Governors of Kentucky Kentucky State Flag
ShelbyGarrardGreenupScottShelbyMadisonSlaughterAdair • Desha • MetcalfeJ. BreathittJ. Morehead • Clark • Wickliffe • Letcher • OwsleyCrittendenHelmPowell • C. Morehead • Magoffin • Robinson • Bramlette • HelmStevensonLeslieMcCrearyBlackburnKnottBuckner • Brown • Bradley • Taylor • GoebelBeckham • Willson • McCrearyStanley • Black • Morrow • Fields • Sampson • LaffoonChandlerJohnsonWillisClementsWetherbyChandlerCombsE. BreathittNunnFordCarrollBrown Jr.CollinsWilkinsonJonesPattonFletcher



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