Henrietta (Beauchamp) Helm

Henrietta (Beauchamp) Helm (ca. 1863-1942) was born enslaved in Spencer County, KY to Milton and Malinda (Whitaker) Beauchamp on the farm of Isaac Costin Beauchamp, a miller. Henrietta was one of at least three children. According to her obituary, Henrietta’s family was freed and moved to Louisville where Beauchamp had “gifted” them a home on Short Street in the Portland Neighborhood. Henrietta lived there almost her entire life. In 1882, Henrietta became a teacher, and she was allowed to continue teaching even after she married due to a shortage of teachers. On August 29, 1890, she married Samuel W. Helm, a postal worker from Eminence, KY. Rev. D.A. Gaddie of Green Street Baptist Church performed the ceremony (He has been featured previously for BHM). Witnesses for their wedding include Julia Gaddie (Rev. Gaddie’s wife), C.H. Parrish (President of Simmons College), and Mary J. Taylor. Unfortunately, Samuel passed away on July 18, 1901 from tuberculosis and was buried in Eminence.

Henrietta taught at a school for African Americans at 29th and Lytle, Eastern Colored School, and Portland Colored Night School on Lytle Street. She was also principal of the night school, which was created for students over the age of 14 who had to work during the day. The school accepted children and adults. Henrietta retired in 1926 when she continued to teach piano lessons in her home. Her obituary noted that she was the only African American, at the time, receiving retirement benefits from a fund created to assist public school teachers. Henrietta died on May 3, 1942. She was buried in Cave Hill Corner, Row 26, Grave 8 of Eastern Cemetery. Her grave is unmarked. Her mother and brother Thomas are also buried in Eastern Cemetery. The photo of Henrietta is from the Portland Museum.