Daughter of John and Elizabeth Burnside. John had immigrated to the United States before Elizabeth and the children immigrated in 1865. Elizabeth, William, John, Marion Elizabeth, and Jane emigrated from Scotland and traveled across the ocean by way of the ship United Kingdom. They were reunited with John in Pennsylvania where the two youngest children, including Helen, were born before the Burnside family began their journey to Utah in 1868.
Her married surname was recorded as "Bell.'