Odebolt Attorneys

Odebolt History Pages

Odebolt Attorneys

The Odebolt Chronicle, Odebolt, Iowa, Vol. 65, Number 44,
Thursday, October 19, 1953

W.A. Helsell Was Prominent In Early Law History

Odebolt's first lawyers were Edward Hatch and John M. Zane.  Hatch is recalled as a man of unstable character.  After he left Odebolt he was killed in Sioux City, about 1886, in a gamblers' brawl.

In the summer of 1880 there was formed a short lived law partnership between Dell Coy and C. E. George.  Mr. Coy soon moved to Pierre, S.D., while Mr. George, who quickly developed an unsavory reputation, found it advisable to seek a location elsewhere.

Another lawyer was W. W. Stanfield, who came about 1879.  After a few years he moved to the West.  In the eighties, Frank J. Long was a practicing lawyer in the town, while William Sampson advertised that he was ready and qualified to perform legal work as a sideline to his merchandising activity.  In 1899 there was a lawyer in the town named William Sheller.

William A. Helsell

(Photo from odebolt.net)

The early history of the legal profession in Odebolt centers largely about W.A. (William A.) Helsell, who for over a half century, practiced in the town, achieving a reputation which was far more than local.  Graduating from Iowa State college in 1877, he spent the next two years in the law department of Simpson's Centenary college.  He was admitted to the bar on June 9, 1879, by the Iowa supreme court.

During the next month he came to Odebolt where his father, the Rev. Jesse Helsell was located, and formed a partnership with John M. Zane, who had located in the town in 1877.  The latter made a specialty of insurance, loans and abstracts while Mr. Helsell attended to the law and trial business.  The office of Attorneys Zane and Helsell was in the rear part of Taggart's "Farmer's Bank" building.  In 1883, about the time Mr. Zane moved to Sac City, Mr. Helsell built his own office across First street.  About 1908 he replaced this frame structure with the substantial brick building which now occupies the site.

[Editor's note:  More information from 1882 History of Western Iowa:  W.A. HELSELL, of the firm of Zane & Helsell, attorneys at law, was born in Millersburg, O., in 1855; moved with parents to Iowa in 1861. He graduated in the scientific course at the Ames Agricultural College in 1877 and in 1879 graduated from the law department of Simpson's Centenary College. He was admitted to the bar before the supreme court at Des Moines, June 9th, 1879, and in the July following formed a partnership as above. He attends to the law and trial business and Mr. Zane to the loan, insurance and abstract business of the firm. They have a complete set of abstract books.]

Present attorneys (1953) are Don G. Mullan, who has achieved prominence in Iowa legal circles and has practiced his profession longest in Odebolt; George Dresselhuis, Ted Metier.


Don G. Mullan attorney-at-law, a graduate of the State University of Iowa, practiced law in Sioux City a number of years before coming to Odebolt in 1932.  Mr. Mullan was formerly a member of the county attorney's office of Woodbury county, and also served five years as U.S. district attorney of the northern district of Iowa.


Ted Metier, attorney-at-law came to Odebolt in August 1951, shortly after graduating from University of Iowa law school.  He was graduated from Spencer high school.

In March 1943 he joined the U.S. Navy, took boot training at Farragut, Idaho, became an aviation radioman in Memphis, Tenn., and then served with a radar unit in Pensacola, Fla.  He was selected for V-12 training, and sent to the University of South Carolina where he completed officers' training and received his B.A. degree.  After discharge from service he returned to Spencer and served on the editorial staff of the local newspaper.

White there he was instrumental in organizing the Spencer chapter of the Society for Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America.  He married Joyce Rimal in 1950, the year she graduated from Iowa university.


George W. Dresslehuis, attorney-at-law, a graduate of Drake university, was admitted to the bar in 1934.  He came to Odebolt in February, 1936.  Mr. Dresselhuis practiced law in Des Moines before coming to Odebolt.  [See more on George Dresselhuis.]


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