What became the village of Helmar grew up around the Norwegian Lutheran Church located in that community. For years the area was known as North Prairie because of the churches geographical location to the "mother" church at Lisbon. The Norwegian Lutheran Church at Lisbon was known as the South Prairie church. The Norwegian Lutheran Church on present day, Illinois State Route 47 across the road from the Morris Airport was known as the East Prairie church.
In 1894, the good folks of Helmar sought better mail service by establishing a post office in Mike Fries' general store. In the June 20, 1894 issue of the Record, there was a note that "Mick (sic) Freze (sic) has opened his new grocery store near North Prairie church." When the postal authorities approved the opening of post office it was necessary to select a new name as North Prairie was already being used. What follows is an account of how the community came to be named Helmar, which is the anglicized version of the Norwegian name Hjalmer.
We canít help saying to you fellows who are so dissatisfied with the name of the post office that you canít call it anything but Hell. Now you know that is not right. We canít help looking cross-eyed at you until the tears trickle down our back. We all agreed, with exception of two or three, to name it Helmar, in honor of Mr. Andrew Andersonís Scandinavian name. He was a man that deserves to be remembered. And further, he was with the first Scandinavians that settled here. Besides that he was the owner of the land where the store is built. His son Newt now owns the land.
Now, would it be right to let a couple of men name it? We have not appointed any of you a mayor or governor. Now, we donít know what in the deuce to do with you fellows to cause you to stop insulting the name of Helmar. If you are so struck on the name Hell, why donít you start a post office on your own premises and call it that, or go where that place is? I think you will find it without any trouble. Signed: A. Bachelor.
Return to Helmar Index
Return to Town Sketches
Return to Table of Contents