During his lifetime, Carl Helland was county commissioner for South Whidbey, owner of the Clinton Union Store, a sawmill, and an important farm in the Clinton area. Yet, the first time he settled on South Whidbey, he rejected it and moved away. He was later to return, become a leading citizen, and remain in Clinton for the rest of his life. He is buried in the Clinton cemetery.

Carl was born in Minnesota on April 16, 1881. He grew up there and remained for two years after his marriage in 1903. His sister Rachel, and her husband, Olaf Joyce, who had established a home and a business in Clinton Area, kept writing about the wonderful climate and opportunities on South Whidbey Island. At their urging, he decided to come west.
Carl and his wife and young son arrived in Clinton in 1905, but he didn’t remain long. He was a farmer, and the idea of cutting down trees, digging up stumps, and fighting underbrush before a decent farm could be started didn’t appeal to him. So, he moved to Moscow, Idaho. There he raised grain, peas, and potatoes. He also went into partnership with a neighbor on a threshing outfit consisting of a steam tractor, threshing machine, a cook shack, and a water wagon. His farming and treshing operations came to grief during World War One when his machinery was burned by the IWW union—Industrial Workers of the World —who, at about the same time, were involved in the Everett Massacre.

After shipping his potato crop to Louisiana and getting 11c per sack (which scarcely covered the cost of the sack alone) Carl quit farming and tried working in a garage in Moscow, Idaho. His recollections of his stay on South Whidbey Island became more and more appealing. In 1920, he packed up his wife, their four boys and three girls, his saw mill, and set up a business on the beach on the original Phinney site south of Clinton. He added two rooms to the abandoned Phinney school building. The family lived there until 1925 when they moved up to the Plat of Columbia Beach which consisted of thirty heavily wooded acres and most of the waterfront below it. They also bought the Phinney property consisting of forty acres with waterfront. In 1927, the property sold for $7,000.

At heart, Carl was still a farmer but this time he was willing to go through the necessary process of logging his land and clearing off the stumps before he started to farm. He found the resulting crops excellent—especially his strawberries, apples, pears, plums, and filbert nuts. He supplemented his farm income by doing occasional carpenter work. In 1932 he went into business as a storekeeper, purchasing the Clinton Union Store from Sid Nourse. He operated the store for four years before selling to Floyd Galbreath. He climaxed his career by being elected county commissioner from South Whidbey Island and was instrumental in getting the new court house at Coupeville built.

Carl and his wife Guerine became the parents of a sizeable family, Joe, Ted, Oscar, Clifford, Miller (Bill), Ruth, Clara, Alice, Esther, Margaret, Edna, and Thelma. Many of them have remained on South Whidbey Island. Clara married Fred Kohlwes, the son of a pioneer family in the Bayview area. Ruth married George Heggness of the family for whom Heggness Road was named. Alice married John O’Guinn of Langley and Esther became the wife of Bud Rosemeyer of Freeland. Thelma married into the Holland family of Humphrey Road, Clinton. Ted Helland married a sister of Walter Hunziker of Langley and they moved to Bremerton. Margaret married into the Smith family of Lake Stevens. Oscar and Clifford died several years ago. Bill and his wife, Gladys, live in Clinton and were the source of the information on the Helland family. Joe Helland was killed in an auto accident on Glendale road in 1930.

It is interesting to note that the relationship between the Helland and Joyce families started in Norway in 1887 when Carl’s father, Tobias Helland, married Ane Adnesdatter Underberge who was a sister of the Anna who married Ole Joyce who was the father-in-law of Rachael Helland Joyce.