A Guide to the Hans Helland Papers, 1851, 1879-1928
Hans Engel Hansen Helland (born August 10, 1854 in Bergen, Norway; died March 9, 1928, in San Antonio, Texas) was trained as an engineer and did railway work in Norway and Germany before coming to Texas to work as an engineer on construction for the Houston and Texas Central Railroad in 1881. In 1885 he married Marie Müller from Dresden, Germany, with whom he had six children. He left the Houston and Texas Central Railroad in 1889 and became the Vice President and General Manager of the Fort Worth and New Orleans/Central Texas and Northwestern Railroads. Helland kept this position until 1902 when his company merged with the Houston and Texas Central Railroad and Helland rejoined his previous company in the position of the Maintenance of Way. In 1906, Helland started a private engineering office in Dallas, Texas, with his associate Nils Werenskjold. Some of his major accounts were with the West Texas Construction Company and the Panhandle Short Line Railroad. Helland left the office in 1908 to take a position of Maintenance of Way for the San Antonio and Arkansas Pass Railroad until 1913 when he was named the City Engineer of San Antonio, Texas. Helland stayed with the city of San Antonio until a change of administration in 1921 forced him to seek other employment. In 1921 he became an engineer with the Grayburg Oil Company in San Antonio, Texas, and in 1926 he left the oil business to return to private consulting work in San Antonio until his death in 1928.
In addition to his professional work, Helland maintained several personal business interests, including land purchases and various business enterprises with his friends and fellow immigrants Eniar Grieg and Frantz Matzow. Helland was also a member of several professional organizations, including the American Society of Civil Engineers, the San Antonio Scientific Society, the American Municipal Engineers Association and the Chicago Norwegian Technical Society.
The Hans Helland Papers (1851, 1879-1928) consist of personal and business correspondence, financial documentation, legal documentation, ephemera, a scrapbook, and printed materials relating to the personal and professional dealings of Hans Engel Hansen Helland, primarily after his immigration to the United States. The collection consists of two main sections: personal papers and business papers.
The section of personal papers (1851, 1879-1928 and undated) contains letters to and from Helland and maintains Helland’s original organization by correspondent or family group. Most of Helland’s personal correspondence is with members of his family or the family of his wife, Marie Müller Helland. Major correspondents include his mother, Karen Marie Folkedal Helland, and his cousin Magda Sommerfeldt and her husband and children. Also included are the files of correspondence with Eniar Grieg and Frantz Matzow, close friends and fellow immigrants from Norway, and with Johan Steen, a childhood friend of Helland’s.
The section of business papers (1880-1927 and undated) maintains Helland’s original chronological organization within the different companies for which he worked. Documented companies, positions, and dates of service include: the Houston and Texas Central Railroad, Engineer (1881 - July 1889); Fort Worth and New Orleans Railway/Central Texas and Northwestern Railway, Vice President and General Manager (July 1889 – 1902); Houston and Texas Central Railroad, Maintenance of Way (1902 - 1905); Private Engineering Office, Dallas (1906 – May 1908); San Antonio and Arkansas Pass Railroad, Superintendent and Maintenance of Way (June 1908 – 1913); City Engineer of San Antonio (1913 – June 1921); Grayburg Oil Company, Engineer (July 1921-1926); Private Engineering Office, San Antonio (1926-1928). This section includes business correspondence, financial documentation, engineering notes, contracts, and printed materials. In addition to his primary positions, Helland’s business papers include documentation of his personal business interests. Finally, papers relating to his membership in professional organizations, most prominently the American Society of Civil Engineers, are included in this section. Helland’s business papers also include diaries and account books covering a wide span of time.
Beyond his personal and business-related papers, Helland amassed a collection of general printed items and clippings (1891, 1907-1917 and undated). The majority of these are undated, and they include both English and Norwegian materials. A subset of this grouping includes printed materials Helland collected during his travels to Europe, including ship brochures and tourism pamphlets.
The collection is open for research use.
Hans Helland Papers, 1851, 1879-1928, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
This collection was processed by Kristy Sorensen, August 2001. Subsequent revisions were made by Megan Mummey, May 2010.
Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s “History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light project,” 2009-2011.
Detailed Description of the Papers