After the death of the elder Helms, William and his mother moved to Salem, Missouri. He attended Braughton's University and Southwest Missouri State Teachers College (now Missouri State University); his education was paid for by the St. Louis Iron Mountain & Southern Railway. He became a printer. On August 5, 1933 he married a woman named "Sally," (September 17, 1904, d. Racine, Wisconsin, September 1987). They had one son, William (died at age 14, according to some sources). They moved to Texas, where William died January 31, 1953, aged 51. When the corpse was carried by train back to Washington County, it was only the second time he had ridden a train. He was interred at Hopewell, Missouri Cemetery. The funeral got no publicity; Helms did not enjoy his peculiar fame.The Ballad of the Iron Mountain Baby (likely has changed from the original version, written by Rev. J.T. Barton in late 1902 or early 1903, which is said to have had 14 stanzas)
(the ballad mistakes certain key details—the number of the train, the names of the principals, etc).
I have a song I'd like to sing
It's awful but it's true
About a baby, thrown from a train By a woman, I know not who.
Th' train was running at full speed
T'was northbound number nine (actually it was Northbound Number Four, and the rhyme scheme suggests that Barton knew this)
An' as it crossed th' river's bridge
She cast it from the door.
A Mother unkind, a Father untrue
And yet, I'm bound to say
It must have grieved that Mother's heart
To cast her baby away.
The leaves (i.e., valise) in which this baby was found
Was fourteen inches long
Five inches wide, six inches deep An', O, so closely bound.
It was Bill Williams who found this babe (actually was Bill Helms; it was probably corrupted to Williams due to phonetic similarity)
He heard its helpless cry
He took it to his loving wife;
She would not let it die.
She bathed and washed its little head
An' soon, it hushed its cry
God bless them both while they live
God bless them when they die.
We'll name him William Roscoe (he was actually given the name William Moses)
Because he has no name
Then, if he grows to be a man He'll wear it just th' same.
This ends my song, my story I've told
I'll say, goodbye to all
Until we meet around the throne In that bright world above all.