Helen Roach

born: June 1865
Calumet, Michigan,
United States of America
died: 04 May 1916
Los Angeles, California,
United States of America
(age 50)

The first wife of film producer Hal Roach.
The popular histories of the Rolin Studios usually say that in addition to the inherited money of Dwight Whiting, Roach used a small "inheritance" to start the studio, but they never say who died and willed it to Roach. The answer is his first wife, Hellen Grant Duncan Woodbury.
Hellen (also Helen) was born in June of 1865 in Calumet, Michigan (the Upper Peninsula): a rich iron and copper mining region. There she married Frederick E. Woodbury (1862-1914), a civil engineer from New Hampshire. He prospered and became prominent in the mining industry. He rose to VP and General Manager of the Schlesinger Syndicate of Milwaukee, President of the Woodbury Refinery and the Milwaukee Coke and Gas Co.
By 1910 (Census), Fred & Helen were separated: he, (alone) in Milwaukee in a residential hotel: she, (alone) in Los Angeles in the house she owned (mortgaged) at 1624 Van Ness Ave. with 3 bedrooms and 1 bath. They had no children.
January 1914, Fred was killed in Ironwood, Michigan in a mining accident at one of the mines he was inspecting for his company. His body was returned to NH for burial.
July 1914 Rolin Film Co. incorporated by Roach, Linthicum, & Nance: $10,000 capital stock: $300 subscribed.
October 1914, in LA, Helen married Harry E. Roach, a "Motion Picture Film Mfg.". They both resided at 1624 Van Ness Ave. He was 22 and she was 47.
May 1915, "Harry Roach" was working as a "director for Essanay Film Mfg. Co.".
A newspaper blurb of Jan. 29, 1916 reported that Mrs. Helen G Roach had $2600 worth of jewelry stolen from her house. She discovered the loss last night "....after returning from an evening's entertainment with a friend". The next day the paper reported she had told the sheriff that she and an actor (not named) had dined at a beach cafe and he must have drugged her because while he was driving her home, she passed out and had to be taken to her bed by 2 house servants. Early this morning "on gaining consciousness, she discovered her loss. She accused her companion of the theft. When officers arrived at a hotel where he had lived, they found he was no longer in the house." (actor not named).
April 15, 1916, Jimmie Blyler & Dave Combs open & manage "The Lodge Cafe & Hotel" in Seal Beach. A very large night & day club and hotel. Blyler is an actor at Rolin Studio. Helen Roach invests $14,500 with Blyler & Combs in "The Lodge".
May 4, 1916 Helen died at home in LA under a doctor's care after fighting bronchial pneumonia for almost 3 weeks.
Jul. 13, 1916 Harry Roach, admin of Helen's estate brings "amicable suit" to determine ownership of "The Lodge". Against James B. Blyler and Dave Combs.
Sept. 29, 1916 Harry Roach marries actress Marguerite O. Nichols.
Nov. 24, 1916 Harry E Roach & Dave N Combs sued for $600 back rent or lose possession of "The Lodge". Roach is Adm for Helen's estate.
Jul. 16, 1917 Dave Combs arrested for embezzling $342 from Helen's estate & disturbing the peace. Roach is Adm for Helen's estate.
Nov. 10, 1917 Probate Judge appoints referee for Helen's $150,000 estate. It seems the heirs and certain creditors cannot agree.
Real name: Hellen Grant Duncan Woodbury
Films listed on this page: none.


https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-68JQ-8SD?i=83&cc=1452395 (1887 Marriage in Calumet, MI)
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/7941834/frederick-elwell-woodbury (1914 Woodbury grave NH)
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/21843488/helen-g.-roach (1916 Helen Roach grave: Forest Lawn, Glendale)
https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MV2B-1QK (1910 Census LA Helen Woodbury)
https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MPVJ-39K (1910 Census Milw WI: Fred Woodbury)
https://www.newspapers.com/image/174259855/?terms=%22FRED%20WOODBURY%22&match=1 (1914 Obit: NH: Fred E. Woodbury)
https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939Z-BJ9H-5T?i=573&cc=1804002 (1914 Oct: Marriage License: LA)
https://www.newspapers.com/image/678146080/?terms=%22HARRY%20ROACH%22&match=1 (1915 May 21: Roach works at Essanay)
https://www.newspapers.com/image/380628387/?terms=%22helen%20roach%22&match=1 (1916 Jan 30: Drugged & robbed by actor)
https://www.newspapers.com/image/608106308/?terms=%22lodge%20cafe%20and%20hotel%22&match=1 (1916 Apr: Blyler opens Lodge)
https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9SV-4CBS?i=1067&cc=2001287 (1916 May 4: LA Death Certificate Helen G. Roach)
https://www.newspapers.com/image/72282649/?terms=%22helen%20roach%22&match=1 (1916 Jul: $14,500 invested in Seal Bch Lodge)
https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K8ZB-PXV (1916 Sep 29 LA: Marguerite Olive Nichols marries Harry Eugene Roach)
https://www.newspapers.com/image/72279232/?terms=%22helen%20roach%22&match=1 (1916 Nov: $600 suit for Lodge rent)
https://www.newspapers.com/image/74395550/?terms=%22helen%20roach%22&match=1 (1917 Jul: $242 embezzle: Combs arrest)
https://www.newspapers.com/image/380363853/?terms=%22helen%20roach%22&match=1 (1917 Nov 10: referee for $150,000 estate)
Jim Jarvis (extensive research)

This page was last updated on: 13 March 2022