Abe L. Helmick

Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Valerie & Tommy Crook
July 23, 2000

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 522-523

HON. ABE L. HELMICK, state senator from the Fourteenth
District, belongs to one of the old families of Tucker
County, and has achieved a number of important associa-
tions with the business and civic affairs of that section of
the state. He is president of the Blackwater Coal Company,
is vice president of the Miners & Merchants Bank of Thomas
and is a director in the Peoples Bank of Davis.

The old home of the Helmick family is in Pendleton
County, where at least four generations of the name have
lived. Senator Helmick was born at Circleville in that
county, August 31, 1864. His great-grandfather and the
founder of the name on this side of West Virginia was
Phillip Helmick. A son of Phillip Helmick was Miles Hel-
mick, a native of Pendleton County. Abe B. Helmick,
father of the senator, was born in Pendleton County in 1843,
and married Catherine Mullennax. Her father, Salathiel
Mullennax, was a native of Pendleton County and lived there
all his life. Abe B. Helmick and three of his brothers were
in the Confederate army during the first half of the war,
and if they were not Union men in sympathy at the be-
ginning they finally became convinced of the righteousness
of the Federal cause and all of them one way or another
found their way within the Union lines and fought as sol-
diers in that cause. Abe Helmick while on a furlough was
taken prisoner by his Confederate comrades, and was kept
in Libby Prison for some time without a hearing before
being released. Mrs. Abe B. Helmick died in 1877, mother
of the following children: Albert C., of Pinto, Maryland;
Georganna, wife of John J. Knotts of St. George District,
Tucker County; and Abe L.

When Abe L. Helmick was seven years of age his par-
ents moved into Tucker County, settling at Sugarland, near
St. George, and in that community he grew to manhood,
having such educational opportunities as were afforded by
the local schools and the summer normals. Senator Helmick
had a brief teaching experience in his home district. He
assisted his father in farming and the stock business until
his majority, and after leaving home he began work for the
builders of the Western Maryland Railroad on a portion of
the land between Thomas and Davis in Tucker County. For
six weeks he did common labor and was then made a fore-
man. After the road construction was ended he clerked
in a store at Thomas for two years, and in 1888 was ap-
pointed postmaster of that village, which then contained
between 400 and 500 people. He was postmaster for six
years, and in the meantime engaged in general merchandis-
ing and sold goods at Thomas for eighteen years, finally
retiring when elected sheriff of the county.

While a merchant at Thomas he was a member of the
County Court for six years, and for five years was president
of the court. A large number of county road bridges were
built during his administration, and his name ia on record
as one of the commissioners at the time the conrthouse was
erected. In 1908 he was elected sheriff, as successor of
Sheriff Jack Jenkins, and served that post of duty four
years, when he was succeeded by John F. Repair.

During his time of sheriff Mr. Helmick had become inter-
ested in business at Parsons, and on retiring from office he
bought the Cheat Valley Insurance Agency at the county
seat, and until recently was active in that line. He became
a coal developer and operator in 1916 as an organizer of
the Blackwater Coal Company. He also helped organize the
Kanawha Colliery Company. He was one of the organizers
of the Miners and Merchants Bank of Thomas, the strongest
financial institution of the county, and which has a record
of substantial success and prosperity for nearly twenty

Mr. Helmick was elected mayor of Thomas, and was en-
dorsed by both parties for re-election, but declined that
honor. While mayor he brought about the improvement
of the city water plant and some of the streets. Mr. Hel-
mick is a stanch republican, having cast his first vote for
Benjamin Harrison in 1888. He was republican committee-
man of Tucker County for many years, and has also served
as republican state committeeman. He was elected to the
first Senate, in November, 1920, as successor of Senator
Cobun of Preston County. At the organization of the
Senate he was made a member of the finance committee,
bank and corporations, railroads, military, federal relations,
mines and mining, medicine and sanitation, public library
and the redistricting committees, being chairman of the
military committee. In the Senate he was father of the
movement which resulted in the employment of stenog-
raphers by the circuit courts of the state. He introduced
the original bill for the hiring of stenographers by the dis-
trict judges, thus saving to the state a great expense that
was so frequently brought about by witnesses before grand
juries, without the service of a public stenographer, denying
their testimony. He also introduced a bill for the censor-
ship of the moving pictures of the state, a measure that was
defeated through the organized opposition of the movie
interests. He also introduced a bill to make a felony the
act of a father deserting without just cause his wife or
family and leaving them without proper support. Another
bill introduced by him was to abolish the State Hotel In-
spector, a meritorious measure in view of the farcical char-
acter of hotel inspection under the old law. At the opening
of the session of the Senate, Senator Helmick was chairman
of the joint committee to wait upon the house and the
governor to notify each that the Senate was organized and
ready for business.

At Thomas, in 1891, Senator Helmick married Miss Kate
Flinn, daughter of Patrick Flinn. She died leaving two
children, Marie, wife of Alexander Parks, of Thomas; and
Joe, who served with the Canadian army in the World war.
In 1905 Senator Helmick married Fannie Liller, daughter
of Oliver Liller, of Ridgeville, West Virginia, where Mrs.
Helmick was born. She was educated in the Fairmont State
Normal School, and was a prominent teacher in Mineral
County for ten years. She was appointed postmistress to
succeed Mr. Helmick’s first wife, and held the office of post-
mistress of Thomas for two terms. During the war she was
actively engaged in work as a member of the executive
committee of the Red Cross in Tucker County, and Mr.
Helmick was chairman of the membership drive for the