Note: In recent years, Helen Jelinske was an active and greatly valued consultant for this Oconto County WIGenWeb Site, working through her niece Gloria Olson. Her knowledge and kindness have added countless items of importance for site visiting researchers. The site volunteers will always be grateful for her help. - Rita
Helen was born March 17, 1910 in Couillardville the daughter of Desire and Zora Couillard Laduron, at the home of her grandparents Thomas Edwin Couillard and Matilda Matravers. Couillardville to her, was the center of her life, although she spent a considerable amount of years away from it. Her grandparents Ed and Matilda were very special to her. She was a descendent of Jacob Whiting Couillard and Susan B. Lary (O’Lary) Couillard, who were settled at Couillardville by July 1851; John and Mathilda Clark Matravers, in Oconto County in 1855; and Gerard (AKA Jerry) and Mathilda Fabry Laduron who settled in Brookside in 1870.
Her early years were spent between Couillardville and Brookside, with a brief period of time in Stiles when her father worked for the mill. She received her first 8 years of education at the Brookside school and then went to Oconto High School. While attending Oconto High School she stayed with her aunt, Mary Laduron Russell in Oconto. Following graduation from high school she attended Oshkosh Normal where she received her degree in elementary teaching in 1928. She started her teaching career at the Oak Orchard School. In 1929 she married Ernest Janssen son of Peter Janssen and Rosalie Thomas.
Helen and Ernie spent a part of the early-married life in Green Bay, where Ernie worked Northwest Engineering. Ernie was laid off in 1929 and they returned to the Couillardville farm of her grandparents and helped them on the farm. Their first son Dean was born in Oconto in 1929. In circa 1935 Ernie found a job at the Waukesha Foundry and they moved to Waukesha for a short period of time. In Waukesha Helen returned to teaching as a substitute teacher. In the fall of 1935 Ernie returned to Green Bay and was again employed at Northwest Engineering. Shortly after his return, the entire family returned to Green Bay.
In the summer of 1942 she and her husband bought the Couillardville farm of her grandparents where she had been born, from her mother Zora and her Aunt Nell who had inherited the farm from their father in 1939. Helen and Ernie moved to the farm with their sons Dean and Gail, who had been born at the farm when they lived their earlier in their marriage. They settled in to a life style of many other farm families. During this time she became active in the 4-H along with her children. For 15 years, she was a 4-H leader, where she was a judge at county fairs and speaking contests. In 1944 Helen returned to teaching and taught at the Victory School in Town of Oconto where she taught for 3 school years.
Her husband Ernie died suddenly on October 15, 1954 leaving her a window with a young son to raise. Her son Gail and his wife Janice Detaeje were living and working the farm with them. In 1955 she completed the school year of 1954/1955 as the teacher of the Couillardville School, when her daughter-in-law Janice went on maternity leave. In the fall of 1955, she returned to Oshkosh, to obtain a degree so she could work in social work and in 1956 she started working for Oconto County.
In 1957 it was decided the farm should be sold. At this time her son Gail decided to obtain a college education and with his wife and child moved to Madison to attend the University of Wisconsin, Madison from which he graduated with two degrees. Helen in 1957 went to work for Outagamie County and moved to Appleton, Wisconsin.
While working in Oconto County she met Leo Jelinske, who was in charge of the Shawano County Department of Social Services and married him in June of 1958 in Appleton, Wisconsin. This marriage also gave her 4- stepchildren; Marie, Bill, Jean and Leah Jelinski. Helen transferred to the Shawano County Social Services Department in approximately 1960. Both Helen and Leo were dedicated to their chosen profession and finished their working years with the Shawano County Department.
Helen served as a member of the State Legislative Board for Social Work in Madison; she represented Shawano County. She was also on the State Mental Health Board from Shawano County and in 1972 was selected "Woman of the Year" by Business and Professional Women of Shawano County. She served several terms as a school board member for the Couillardville School and City of Shawano.
In 1974, her husband Leo Jelinske died leaving her a widow once more. This started a life of retirement, which she filled with many activities. She was very interested in her ancestors and was the first in the family to do research and document her family history. She wrote two books filled with genealogy information and family history and stories. She was responsible for grandsons, a niece and a cousin being involved in genealogy research. She was always willing to contribute what she could and her memories have proven in most cases to be accurate, especially on who married who and their children’s names.
She made a major change in her life when she decided she wanted to live closer to her children and moved to Waupaca where her oldest son Dean and wife Pauline Thornton and family were living. She rented an apartment in the downtown area so she did not have to drive far for her necessities. She then became involved with her church’s women’s group and a volunteer at the Riverside Hospital. While in Waupaca she decided to take up painting on porcelain plates. She always wanted to be busy.
Her last move was to Waukesha, Wisconsin in November 1997 to an assisted living home which she enjoyed. This move brought her closer to her son Leon and his wife Betsy Danielson & family. Also in the area were some of her grandchildren and her two sisters, Marion and Beverly Jean who were now living in the southern part of the state. Her sister Marion had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and this allowed the two to talk daily with no long distance charges involved.
During at least the last six months of her life, she was actively involved in an UW-Oshkosh project studying the influenza breakout of 1918. She interviewed people in the living center, wrote up their experiences and forwarded them to the university in addition to her own experience. On the day she went to the hospital, she was scheduled to go to Oshkosh, part of which was for a four generation picture of graduates from the University of Oshkosh, plus recognition of her work regarding the 1918 flu breakout.
Two weeks before her death she provided eight hand written pages of her memories regarding Couillardville along with a map to be used for a story regarding the area starting in 1913. This also came with a warning that these were her memories, she wanted them written as she remembered which will be done.
She was a lady who controlled her life, stayed active and never stopped learning and participated to the last moment. She died 4/29/2001 at 91 years of age at Waukesha Memorial Hospital, Waukesha, WI.
This was written with the cooperation
of her three sons Dean, Gail and Leon Janssen.
Written by her niece, Gloria A. Olson