C. L. Sonnichsen

HELM, JACK (?–1873). Jack Helm, captain of the State Police under Edmund J. Davis, is said to have worked for Abel Head (Shanghai) Pierceqv as a cowboy shortly after the Civil War. In June 1869 he was appointed a special officer to assist Capt. C. S. Bell in attacking the "Taylor Party" in the Sutton-Taylor Feud. Helm went to Austin and became the leading figure in the band of special officers spoken of by nonmembers as "regulators." Through July and August 1869 they carried on a reign of terror in Bee, San Patricio, Wilson, DeWitt, and Goliad counties. The Galveston News reported that they killed twenty-one persons in two months and turned over only ten to the civil authorities. On August 23, Bell and Helm arranged a second attack on Taylor's ranch, in which Hays Taylor was killed and Doboy Taylor was wounded. After the founding of the State Police on July 1, 1870, Helm was appointed one of the four captains. On August 26, 1870, his detachment arrested Henry and Will Kelly of the Taylor faction on a trivial charge and shot them. Women of the Kelly family were witnesses, and their story caused such a public outcry that Governor Davis could not ignore the outrage. Helm was suspended in October and dismissed in December. He continued to be a menace for some time because he was serving as sheriff of DeWitt County during and after his incumbency as captain of State Police. When the police force was abolished in April 1873, Helm moved to Albuquerque, Texas, where he worked to perfect a cotton-worm destroyer that he had invented. In July 1873 he was shot and killed by Jim Taylor and John Wesley Hardin.

John Wesley Hardin, The Life of John Wesley Hardin As Written by Himself (Seguin, Texas: Smith and Moore, 1896; new ed., Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1961). W. C. Nunn, A Study of the State Police during the E. J. Davis Administration (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1931). Charles W. Ramsdell, Reconstruction in Texas (New York: Columbia University Press, 1910; rpt., Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1970). Victor Rose, The Texas Vendetta, or the Sutton-Taylor Feud (New York: Little, 1880; rpt., Houston: Frontier, 1956). C. L. Sonnichsen, I'll Die Before I'll Run-The Story of the Great Feuds of Texas (New York: Harper, 1951; 2d. ed, New York: Devin-Adair, 1962).

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Handbook of Texas Online, C. L. Sonnichsen, "Helm, Jack," accessed February 19, 2018, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fhe11.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.