The Family Tree of Katherine Helmond

Katherine Helmond (Featureflash/Shutterstock)

Katherine Helmond’s paternal great-grandfather, James Helmond, was a sailor in the Confederate Army. However, her maternal great-grandfather—born to Union supporters—was named Ulysses Simpson Grant Walker. 

By James Pylant
Copyright © 2012—All rights reserved
Do not post or reprint without written permission

Photo: Featureflash/Shuttersock

Before her vivacious roles in two television series—as Jessica Tate in Soap and Mona Robinson in Who’s the Boss—actress Katherine Helmond gave a memorable performance as subdued spinster Emma Borden in The Legend of Lizzie Borden (1975). Helmond, who later enjoyed a recurring role in Everybody Loves Raymond, has a long list of acting credits. Her fascination with acting began when she caught Claude Rains’s stage performance in Darkness At Noon, in her native Galveston, Texas.1

Several sources, including Marquis’ Who’s Who, incorrectly state that the actress was born on 5 July 1928 and that her mother’s maiden name was Malone;2 however, her birth record states Catherine Marie Helmond was born in Galveston on 5 July 1929 to Patrick Joseph Helmond and Thelma Louise (Walker) Helmond.3 Malone, in fact, was the last name of Ms. Helmond’s stepfather.4 Katherine Helmond was an infant when recorded on the rolls of the 1930 U.S. census in Galveston, Texas. Her age was recorded as four months, though she was actually nine months old on the date of the enumeration. Her father, Joseph P. Helmond, age twenty-six, a Texas native, was a laborer. Her mother, nineteen-year-old Thelma, was a Kentuckian. The couple married when he was twenty-four and his bride was seventeen.5 The Helmonds had another child who died in infancy.6

Patrick Joseph Helmond was born on 11 March 1904 in Galveston.7 “To Mr. and Mrs. John Helmond, a boy,” reported a newspaper birth announcement seven days later.8 Patrick Helmond died in that city seventy-nine-years later on 31 January 1983. He had retired from the Galveston Fire Department after thirty years of service.9 Thelma Louise Walker, Katherine Helmond’s mother, was born on 13 May 1910 in Paducah, Kentucky, and died at age seventy-one on 10 October 1981 in Galveston. She was survived by her mother, Mrs. Maude Walker. After her divorce from Patrick Helmond, she remarried and had two more daughters.10

Paternal Grandparents
Katherine Helmond’s paternal grandparents were John Helmond and Katherine Lennox, who were married in Galveston on 15 June 1897.11 The 1900 census records John Helmond, age twenty-nine, born October 1870 in Texas, with wife Katie, age twenty-four, born in August 1875 in Louisiana, and two sons: three-year-old John, born in October 1896, and two-year-old Jim, born in January 1898. Also living with the Helmonds were John Sr.’s three brothers: Jim, age twenty-seven (born in May 1873); Joe, age twenty-four (born in August 1875), and George, age sixteen (born in December 1883). The Helmond brothers, all day laborers, were Texas natives. The birthplace for the father of the Helmond brothers is given as England, while that of their mother is given as Tennessee. Katie’s father was a Louisianan and her mother was an Ohioan.12

The family name is misspelled Hellman on the rolls of the 1910 census in Galveston, with John H., age 39, a screwman on the docks, as head of the household. His wife, Katherine, age 34, was the mother of six children, all of whom were living. The children listed in this family were John, age 14; James, age 12; Elizabeth, age nine; Katharine, age seven; Patrick, age six; and George, age three. John Sr.’s three brothers—James, age 37, Joseph, age 38, and George, age 35—still lived with the family.13 A decade later, John H. Helmond, a 48-year-old widower, born in Texas, worked as a screwman on the cotton wharf, was enumerated on the 1920 census. Four of his children were listed: John S., age 24, James B., 20; Katie, 17; and George H., age nine. The enumerator, however, missed 16-year-old Patrick Helmond. John H.’s three brothers—James B., William J. (Joe), and George—still lived in his household. The census also indicated that the father of Helmond brothers was born in Ireland.14

John Helmond, Katherine Helmond’s grandfather, was born in League City, Texas, on 27 August 1870. A longshoreman, he died at age 70 on 1 October 1940 in Rusk, Cherokee County, Texas. He was buried in Galveston.15 Son Patrick Helmond is named in his obituary as one of his children. Of his three brothers, only Joseph survived him.16

Maternal Grandparents
The maternal grandparents of Katherine Helmond were Henry Ellsworth Walker and Maude Stella Brewer, who were married in McCracken County, Kentucky, on 21 February 1909.17 The following year the newlyweds were shown on the federal census as residents of Paducah, in McCracken County, where they boarded. Tennessee-born Henry Walker, age 21, worked as a carpenter. His wife, Maude, was then 23.18 After they relocated to Texas, Henry Walker found employment as a ship caulker. Katherine Helmond described her grandmother as “a great big red-headed woman, a strapping Texas lady with freckles and a wonderful, flat-footed, straight-forward manner.” 19

Henry Walker was born on 3 January 1888 in Paducah to Ulysses Simpson Grant Walker and Liza Ann “Annie” Boyd. Henry Ellsworth Walker died in Galveston on 10 April 1943 after a 10-year illness.20 His widow, Maude, survived him by 38 years. Maude Stella (Brewer) Walker was born on 6 January 1888 in Paris, Henry County, Tennessee. A Baptist, she lived in Galveston for 58 years. She died there on 29 December 1981,21 having lived to see granddaughter Katherine Helmond’s starring role in Soap.

Paternal Great-grandparents
Hospital records identified John Helmond’s parents as J. B. Helmond and the former Paulina Ferguson.22 However, a marriage record in Galveston County for 27 January 1870 gave their names as James Helmond and Pauliner Ormes.23 The death certificates of their other children, son William Joseph Helmond24 and a daughter, Mary J. Reardon, both record their mother’s maiden name as Pauline Ormes.25

Although the 1920 census listed Ireland as the birthplace of John Helmond’s father, the 1870 census indicated that James Helmond was born in England about 1842.26 He gave his age as 20 as of 17 September 1861, the day James P. Helmond enlisted as a private in Captain E. Riordan’s Company, Debray’s Mounted Battalion, Texas Volunteers, in the Confederate States Army. The following year an application was made for his discharge on grounds of minority; however, Private Helmond, who said that he was about 22 or 23, denied authorizing anyone to give that application. “He has been an orphan for several years, and says he had never any guardian over him, ” military records state. On 14 February 1863, Private James Helmond requested that he, as a sailor, receive a transfer to the Navy. In June of that year, he was treated at a Houston hospital for vulnus schlopeticum (a gunshot wound) to his leg. He deserted his service on August 2.27

The 1870 census reported James Helmond, age 28, a seaman, boarded with Rosina Limke.28 His bride, Paulina Helmond, age 22, was a Tennessee native.29 In October 1872 James Helmond made his declaration to become a U.S. citizen.30

Perlina Helmond, a 31-old widow, appeared in the 1880 census in Galveston with four children: John H., age nine; James B., age seven; William J., age four; and Mary J., age one. The widow supported her family by opening her home to boarders, including a 62-year-old widow named Eliza Ferguson.31 Six years later a Galveston city directory listed Perlena J. Helmond, “widow of James,” as a resident of Thirteenth Street.32 By 1895 Mrs. Helmond’s four children were boarding with Eliza Ferguson.33

Maternal Great-grandparents
At age thirteen, Henry Walker was listed on the 1900 U.S. census in McCracken County, Kentucky, in the household of his parents, 37-year-old Grant Walker (born in July of 1862) and 29-year-old Liza (born in September 1870). Henry Walker’s siblings were Girtie, age eight; Lucy, age five; and Mary, age three.34 A decade later parents Grant S. and Eliza A. Walker were still in McCracken County.35 The Walkers, however, moved to Texas within the next few years. They settled in Beaumont by 1917.36 The 1900 census gave September 1870 as her birth date, but according to her husband she was born on 7 March 1871 in Kentucky and died at age 48 in Beaumont, Jefferson County, Texas, on 14 February 1920. He also identified her father as one Bevly Boyd.37 Waler was born on November 28, 1862, in Kentucky and died on December 1, 1926, in Beaumont, Texas.38

Stella Maude Brewer was the daughter of Richard Brewer and Ristie Snyder.39 As Stella M. Brewer, age 12, she was listed in the household of her father, a 36-year-old railroad station foreman living in Fayette County, Tennessee. The Brewers were parents of five other children by the time of the 1900 census enumeration.40 Richard Brewer and Ristie Snyder had married in Henry County, Tennessee, on 14 January 1884.41 A decade later—one year after Maude Brewer wedded Henry Walker—Ristie Brewer, then a widow, lived in Madison County, Tennessee.42 She would eventually settle in Little Rock, Arkansas, to make her home with a son, Lester H. Brewer.43 Ristie Snyder Brewer died in Saint Francis, Arkansas, on 14 October 1935.44

The writer would like to gratefully acknowledge Nancy Carr Royce for her research assistance.

  1. Amy Wilson, “She’s the Boss, ” Texas Weekly Magazine (18 May 1986), p. 6.
  2. Katherine Helmond biography, online,, accessed 3 June 2008.
  3. Catherine Marie Helmond birth (1929), Texas Birth Index (Austin: Texas Department of Health [TDH]), p. 811.
  4. Thelma Malone obituary, Galveston Daily News, 15 October 1981.
  5. Joseph Helmond household, 1930 U.S. census, Galveston County, Texas, population schedule, Galveston, Third Ward, enumeration district [ED] 84-8, supervisor’s district [SD] 27, p. 4B, dwelling 68, family 99, National Archives [NA] (Washington, DC) microfilm T626-2334.
  6. Joann Helmond death certificate, no. 38322 (1932); TDH.
  7. Patrick Helmond obituary, The Galveston Daily News, 2 January 1984.
  8. “Vital Statistics,” The Galveston Daily News, 18 March 1904.
  9. Patrick Helmond obituary, The Galveston Daily News, 2 January 1984.
  10. Galveston Daily News, 15 October 1981.
  11. John Helmond to Katie Lennox, Marriage Records, Vol. N, p. 203; Galveston County, Texas.
  12. John Helmond household, 1900 U.S. census, Galveston County, Texas, population schedule, Galveston, Ward 2, ED 115, SD 11, p. 4B, dwelling 67, family 78; NA T623-1637.
  13. John H. Hellman [sic] household, 1910 U.S. census, Galveston, Galveston County, Texas, Ward 1, population schedule, ED 27, SD 7, p. 9, dwelling 169, family 176; NA T624-554.
  14. John H. Helmond household, 1920 U.S. census, Galveston County, Texas, population schedule, Galveston, Ward 1, ED 31, SD 7, dwelling 83, family 92; NA T625-1805.
  15. John Helmond death certificate, no. 44759 (1940); TDH.
  16. “John Helmond, Galveston Native, Taken by Death, ” The Galveston Daily News, 2 October 1940.
  17. Henry Walker and Maude Brewer marriage (1910), “Kentucky Marriages, 1785-1979,” online,, accessed 5 March 2012.
  18. H. L. Travis household, 1910 U.S. Census, McCracken County, Kentucky, Paducah, Ward 5; ED 117, SD 1, p. 42, dwelling 560, family 590; NA T624-493.
  19. Texas Weekly Magazine (18 May 1986), p. 6.
  20. Henry Ellsworth Walker death certificate, no. 17250 (1947). H. E. Walker death notice, The Galveston Daily News, 11 April 1943, mentions the length of his illness.
  21. Maude Walker obituary, The Galveston Daily News, 30 December 1981.
  22. John Helmond death certificate, no. 44759 (1940).
  23. James Helmond and Pauliner Ormes [sic] marriage, Marriage Records, Vol. D, p. 315; Galveston County, Texas.
  24. William Joseph Helmond death certificate, no. 17247 (1943) [TDH], states Pauline Ormes was a native of Memphis, Tennessee.
  25. Mary J. Reardon, death certificate no. 58596 (1966); TDH.
  26. Rosina Limke household, 1870 U.S. census, Galveston County, Texas, population schedule, Galveston, 1st Ward, p. 154, dwelling 477, family 487; NA M593-1586.
  27. James P. Helmond, compiled military record (private, Capt. E. Riordan’s Co., Debray’s Mounted Battalion, Texas Vols.), Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served with Organizations from the State of Texas; NA M323-0133.
  28. James P. Helmond, compiled military record (private, Capt. E. Riordan’s Co., Debray’s Mounted Battalion, Texas Vols.), Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served with Organizations from the State of Texas; NA M323-0133.
  29. Rachel Smith household, 1870 U.S. census, Galveston County, Texas, population schedule, Galveston, 1st Ward, p. 154B. Note: It appears that Paulina Helmond was missed when her husband, James, was listed in Rosina Limke’s residence, which was probably a boardinghouse. In an attempt to correct the error, the enumerator entered James’s wife, Paulina Hilmond, on the same page. A heavy bold line above her name indicates the enumerator’s attempt to separate her from the Rachel Smith household.
  30. “United States Circuit and District Courts,” The Galveston Daily News, 16 October 1872.
  31. Perlina Helmond household, 1880 U.S. census, Galveston County, Texas, population schedule, Galveston, ED 75, SD 5, p. 242B, dwelling [blank], family 39; NA T9-1305.
  32. Morrison & Fourmy’s General Directory of the City of Galveston, 1886-87 (Galveston: Morrison & Fourmy, 1886), p. 202.
  33. Morrison & Fourmy’s General Directory of the City of Galveston, 1895 (Galveston: Morrison & Fourmy, 1895), p. 166.
  34. Grant Walker household, 1900 U.S. census, McCracken County, Kentucky, population schedule, Paducah, ED 72, SD 1, p. 196A, dwelling 126, family 127; NA T623-540.
  35. Grant S. Walker, 1910 U.S. census, McCracken County, Kentucky, population schedule, Paducah, ED 116, SD 1, p. 3A, dwelling 31, family 34; NA T624-493.
  36. Grant Ulyses Walker [sic] death certificate, no. 42417 (1926); TDH.
  37. Annie E. Walker death certificate, no. 6742 (1920); TDH.
  38. Grant Ulyses Walker [sic] death certificate, no. 42417 (1926); TDH.
  39. Maude Stella Walker, no. 452-34-7946, Application for Social Security Account, U.S. Social Security Administration, Baltimore
  40. Richard Bruer [sic] household, 1900 U.S. census, Henry County, Tennessee, Second Civil District, ED 3, SD 10, p. 31A, dwelling 116, family 118; NA T623-1568.
  41. Richard Brewer and Ristie Snyder marriage (1884), Tennessee State Marriage Index, 1780-2002, online,, accessed 5 March 2012.
  42. Ristie Brewer household, 1910 U.S. census, Madison County, Tennessee, population schedule, Jackson, ED 72, SD 8, p. 63, dwelling 20, family 20; NA T624-1511.
  43. Lester H. Brewer household, 1930 U.S. census, Pulaski County, Arkansas, population schedule, Pulaski, ED 60-11, SD 6, p. 104B, dwelling 217, family 252; NA T626-91.
  44. Ristie Brewer death (1935), Arkansas Death Index, 1914-1950,, accessed 5 March 2012.