Biography of J. H. Heltman
North Central Ohio Biographies

J. H. Heltman is among the recognized business men and dependable merchants of Ashland, where he has engaged in the grocery business for a period of 45 years. He was born in this city, Aug. 5, 1862, the son of W. G. and Mary (Rebman) Heltman.

W. G. Heltman was born in Center County, Pa., and died in Ashland in 1914. He was one of the city's most prominent men and served as mayor of the municipality for four terms between 1894 and 1902. Among the many ways in which he proved a benefactor to the municipality was that of securing for the city its waterworks, built in 1895, and of which he is justly termed the father. He spent many years in the aggressive warfare in behalf of establishing the plant until he secured its erection, having spent a great deal of his own time and means visiting various cities throughout the state in the investigation of other water plants. The local plant was built at a cost of $45,000. Mr. Heltman was born June 1, 1835, the son of Joseph and Catherine (Goldman) Heltman, and grandson of John Heltman, a native of Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany, who came to America and afterward was a soldier in the Revolutionary War. He was a prominent citizen of Center County, Pa., where he reared his family. His son, Joseph, was born in Center County in 1791, and came to Ashland County in 1836. Together with his own family he brought that of William Goodman, a brother in law, each family including nine members, the company having made the journey in two wagons. When they reached Canton, Ohio, which at that time was a small village, Mr. Heltman was robbed during the night by three highwaymen, who took $3,000 in silver, the money being packed in a strong box with clothing. Both families, thus stranded, found $700 of the money had been spent in gambling and horse racing, but Mr. Heltman had some of the money marked and later recovered $2,300. Upon arriving in Ashland County he purchased a farm of 160 acres in Milton Township, and here he followed farming and general carpenter work until his death in 1873 at the age of 83 years. His wife, born in Lebanon County, Pa., in 1792, died at the age of 96 years. Both were members of the Evangelical Church.

William G. Heltman, son of Joseph and Catherine (Goldman) Heltman, was one year old when his family settled in Ashland County. He attended the district schools, and taught school for a time, after which he was employed as a clerk in the Mansfield post office. In 1859 he became associated in the grocery business with E. W. Wallack, and this partnership continued until 1863, during which time he was also chief clerk of Montgomery Township In 1863 he was elected clerk of the common pleas court by a majority of 270 votes, and performed the duties of this office three months, when the return of the soldier vote gave the office to Capt. S. M. Barber, by a slight majority. He was elected as city treasurer in 1865 and during the same year was elected county treasurer on the Democratic ticket, being reelected in 1867. From 1871 until 1873 he engaged in the dry goods business, but in 1874 disposed of his interest and became interested in the grocery business. In 1879 Mr. Heltman, in company with W. T. Albertson, became one of the owners and publishers of the Ashland Press, and during the four years in which he gave his financial support and influence to the publication it attained phenomenal success. He served on the board of education from 1882 until 1889, serving as clerk of the board one term, and two terms as president. He was influential in establishing a non partisan school board, and under the new system the schools were made more efficient, so they attained a rank equal to any in the state. Mr. Heltman was a Mason and for many years served as Worshipful Master of the Ashland Lodge. He was widely known through his integrity as a business man, and enjoying the reputation of being one of the foremost who had the interests of the city and its people at heart, he was in every sense of the word an influential representative of Ashland. Mr. Heltman married Miss Mary Rebman, who was born in Pennsylvania and was reared on a farm adjoining the Heltman farm in Milton Township, Ashland County. She died June 1, 1915, and with her husband is buried in Ashland.

To W. G. and Mary (Rebman) Heltman were born seven children: 1. J. H., the subject of this sketch. 2. Mrs. Mary H. Brandt, lives at Ashland. 3. Mrs. Emma R. Sharick, lives at Ashland. 4. Mrs. Caroline Brownell, lives at Washington Court House, Ohio. 5. Frank R., born Aug. 28, 1872, lives in Ashland. In 1895 he married Miss Grace Reaser, the daughter of E. W. and Nettie (Leininger) Reaser, of Ashland. They have a daughter, Portia, who is the wife of F. E. Drake, of Niagara Falls, N. Y., and they have a son, Richard Drake, born in 1919. 6. George A., who died in 1928. 7. Golda M. Barr, lives at Sandusky, Ohio.

J. H. Heltman attended the public schools of Ashland and attended Ashland College. He was associated in business with his father from 1874 until 1886, at which time he established the J. H. Heltman Grocery. During his 45 years as a merchant in the city, his store has been located at East Main and Union streets, and he has established an excellent trade.

On Aug. 20, 1884, Mr. Heltman was united in marriage with Miss Carrie B. Dresskell, of Saranac, Mich, who died Nov. 5, 1925. She was the daughter of Dr. Dennis and Mary (Smith) Dresskell, natives of Ohio. The former died in 1880, and the latter in 1911. Mr. and Mrs. Heltman's only child, Fred D., was born in Ashland, May 4, 1887. He lives in Cleveland and is nationally known in musical circles, having established a mail order publishing business in that city when he was 22 years of age. Since he attained the age of 14 years he has been recognized as a composer. He married Miss Evelyn Learn, of Canada, and they have three children: Frederick William, born in 1912; Harriet, born in 1914; and Mary Jane, born in 1922.

J. H. Heltman has always been a Democrat and he is a devout member of the Congregational Church, of which he has been a member of the board of trustees for many years. The family residence is located at 834 Center Street, where Mr. Heltman has resided most of his life.

History of North Central Ohio
Embracing Richland, Ashland, Wayne,
Medina, Lorin, Huron and Knox Counties
BY: William A. Duff
Historical Publishing Company
Topeka-Indianapolis 1931

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