The business interests of Denison are represented by some of the brightest men in Crawford county among whom is named Albert Helsley, abstractor for the Crawford County State Bank and one of the progressive men of the city.
He was born in Jacksonville, Illinois, November 19, 1857, a son of John and Marie (Balsiger) Helsley, natives of Canton Bern, Switzerland. The father was a hotelkeeper in Switzerland and also conducted a butcher shop. He came to America in 1850 and lived for six years at Highland, Illinois, then removing to a farm near Jacksonville. Subsequently, he took up his residence at Bloomington, Illinois, and was employed in the shops of the Chicago & Alton Railroad. In 1872 he came to Iowa and resumed farming on a place eight miles north of Pella in Marion county, where he continued for eighteen years, then taking up his home with his son in Denison.
He passed away January 17, 1895, at the age of eighty-three years. The beloved wife and mother died two days after the death of her husband as the result of an accident. They were both members originally of the Reformed church but in Denison were identified with the German Methodist church. Mr. Helsley was a member of the regular army in Switzerland. The paternal grandfather of our subject, John Helsley, was a hotelkeeper and the maternal grandfather, John Balsiger, was a judge of the appellate court and a very prominent man in Switzerland.
There were the following children in his family, namely: Susan, who married a Mr. Montandon; Marie, the mother of our subject; John; and Ferdinand. There were seven children in the family of John and Marie Helsley, three of whom are now living: Emma, the wife of Henry Boschen, of Toronto, Kansas; Lina, now Mrs. John Schofield, of Gardina, a suburb of Los Angeles, California; and Albert, our subject.
Reared until nine years of age in Morgan county, Illinois, Albert Helsley grew to manhood in the state of Iowa. He received his early education in the public schools of Jacksonville and Bloomington, Illinois, and later pursued higher branches at Mount Pleasant University of Iowa, gaining an excellent foundation for a useful and successful career. In January, 1890, he took up his residence in Denison and entered the employment of J. P. MilIer as bookkeeper, in which position he continued for one year.
Later, having gained a practical knowledge of the abstract business he was made abstractor in the real estate office of George Naeve and when Mr. Naeve became connected with the Crawford County Bank Mr. Helsley assumed the abstract work of that institution, in which position he stilI continues. As he understands his specialty thoroughly he is regarded as an authority in this line in Crawford county.
In June, 1892, Mr. Helsley was united in marriage to Miss Susie L. Whaley, a native of Crawford county, whose parents were among the early settlers of this county. Six children have blessed the union of Mr. and Mrs. Helsley: Charles W., Marie, John A., Martha, Helen and Grace.
Mr. Helsley gives his allegiance to the German Methodist church, while his wife is identified with the English Methodist church. Fraternally he is connected with the Knights of Pythias, the Red Men and the Modern Woodmen of America. He is an active supporter of the republican party and served with general acceptance for six years as member of the city council and also for an equal length of time as member of the school board. He has been identified with the development of Denison for twenty years past and has shown an enterprise and ability and an integrity of character that have made his name favorably known throughout a wide region in this part of the state. In both public and private affairs he has exercised sound judgment and good discrimination and he deserves the confidence in which he is held by all with whom he comes in contact.
Source: History of Crawford County, Iowa. Vol. II. Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1911.