Emily Todd Helm

Posted Feb 3 2015, 9:43 pm



Say hello to Emily Todd, the half-sister of Mary Todd Lincoln. In 1856, she married the love of her life [& also the son of Kentucky Governor John L. Helm], Benjamin Helm, in Lexington, Ky. Emily Ben 

In 1861, President Lincoln offered Ben the job of army paymaster since he had attended the Kentucky Military Institute and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point [graduating ninth in a class of 42 cadets in 1851]. emily ben 2He declined & instead joined the Confederacy, attaining the rank of General at age 32. Ben was killed in September of 1863 at the battle of Chickamauga.


Emily house


Deeply grieving after Helm’s death, Emily passed through the Union Lines accompanied by her daughter Katherine to visit her sister in the White House. emily childThis caused huge consternation in the Northern newspapers, along with protests being lodged against a “Rebel in the White House”, to which the President calmly replied, “Mrs. Lincoln and I will allow anyone we choose to visit us in the White House.” Nonetheless, Emily was forced to take an oath of loyalty to the Union, whereby she was granted amnesty.


emily mary


Mary Todd Lincoln recalled in her diary: “Mr. Lincoln and my sister met me with the warmest affection, we were all too grief-stricken at first for speech. I have lost my husband, they have lost their fine little son Willie and Mary and I have lost three brothers in the Confederate service. Emily in blackWe could only embrace each other in silence and tears. Sister and I dined intimately, alone. Our tears gathered silently and feel unheeded as with choking voices we tried to talk of immaterial things.”

Emily old 1


After the war, Mrs. Helm attended many of the Confederate Veteran reunions & was given the title “Mother of the Brigade” by the former soldiers of the First Kentucky Brigade. emily home Grief stricken over the death of ‘her Benjamin’, she never remarried & wore mourning in memory of her husband for the remainder of her life.

emily grave


She died at 93 at “Helm House” & is buried in the Todd plot at the Lexington City Cemetery.




1 Comment


One response to “Emily Todd Helm”

  1. michael l johnson says:

    I have some of Emily Helms Personal items from her estate

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