Helen Clarinda Hough was born in New York on May 28, 1837, the daughter of William J. Hough (1795-1869), a member of Congress from 1845-1847, and Clarinda Hough (1799-1867). She had one brother, William Jerome (1821-1894), and one sister, Frances Jervis (b. 1838). In 1851, Helen Hough entered the Cazenovia Seminary, and she later studied at the Mount Holly Female Seminary in Mount Holly, New Jersey. On November 11, 1858, she married Charles E. Stevens ("Charlie") (1836-1905), a lawyer from Flint, Michigan. They lived in Oneida and Syracuse, New York, and had four children: William J. (1859-1913), Nathan G. (1865-1867), Sidney B. (1868-1875), and Augustus C. (1871-1948). Helen Hough Stevens died on December 1, 1903.