Memorial to the life of
Mrs. Matilda Olson Helnore
at the time of her death August 14, 1931
Posted with the permission of descendant Tim Helnore
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Mrs. Matilda Helnore, daughter of John and Marie Olson, was born on the 8th of March, 1840, in Gothenburg, Sweden. She spent her childhood and youth in her native land, where, also, she married to S. John Helnore. In 1866 she emigrated with her husband to America. Their son Thor being born on shipboard in the English Channel on the way over. Arriving in this county in the summer if 1866, they made their home in Peshtigo, where Mr. Helnore found employment in a lumber mill. Those were pioneer days and the young couple experienced many of the struggles of the frontiersmen. Mr. Helnore sought to supplement his income at the mill by making brooms out of switches. After some years of hardship and privation better times came and the new settlers got along nicely.
Then came the terrible and disastrous fire of 1871, which completely wiped out the entire town of Peshtigo and devastated much of the adjacent territory. The Helnores, like so many others, lost practically all their possessions, but were at least able to save their lives, by seeking refuge with their three children in the waters of the Peshtigo River. For many hours they remained partly submerged, lying upon mattresses that were hastily dragged to the riverside and covering themselves with quilts that were kept drenched with water. After the fire had spent its fury, they found their home in absolute ruins, but fortunately their cow had somehow also managed to escape with its life and now returned to the spot where once its stable had stood. All household goods and most of their clothes were lost.
A relief train was dispatched from Green Bay, and the destitute people were brought to the city and given shelter for two weeks in Turner Hall. One of the children died soon after the family came to Green Bay, having contracted Typhoid Fever as a result of exposure in the water. Another child had previously died in Peshtigo.
In Green Bay the family took up their abode on the West Side of the (Fox) River in what was then called Fort Howard and built a house at the corner of Eighth Street and South Broadway, which has remained the family residence ever since.
Mr. Helnore found employment in the "St. Paul" shops, working for the company for about 45 years. He died on April 2, 1921. Altogether eight children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Helnore, five of whom survive. Thor having died in 1930 and two other, as already stated, dying in early life. The five3 living children are John, of Duluth, Minn., Charles (also a fire survivor), Mrs. Peter Peckinpaugh, Mrs. John Burgeson and Miss Esther Helnore, all of Green Bay. There are also 13 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Mrs. Helnore was blessed with a happy and cheerful spirit. It was ever a joy to visit her and to find her uniformly grateful for God's many mercies. She also enjoyed remarkably good health throughout her life, even down to old age. Only two weeks ago she waled about in the rooms of her home. God also spared her any pain or suffering during the final days of her earthly pilgrimage, and on the afternoon of Friday, August 14, 1931, she passes away gently and peacefully at the age of 91 years, 5 months and 6 days.
Here is a photo of survivor Thor and wife Mayme (Mamie)
Thor was actually married twice, Maymie is his second wife. Mary was his first. Mary died along with one of their children, a daughter named Iowa, in about 1918 during a flu epidemic.
All of Thor's children were with Mary.