250 Nellie Cashman

Nellie Cashman

Nellie Cashman was born County Cork in Ireland about 1845. Her father died when she was very young. Her mother brought Nellie and her sister Frances to the United States and they settled in Boston, Massachusetts. Shortly afterward they moved to Washington, D.C. Young Nellie was surrounded by Civil War time politics. While working as an elevator operator she overheard many fascinating political conversations. But Nellie and her mother didn’t stay long there either. Soon they were on their way to San Francisco. They sailed the Atlantic, crossed the Isthmus of Panama on donkeys, then sailed the rest of the way to San Francisco, where Nellie finished growing up. Her mother and sister stayed behind, while Nellie spent the next few years journeying from one gold camp to another, doing whatever work she could. She was a small woman, just barely over five feet tall. Her jet black hair and dark eyes contrasted with her pale skin. Her appearance and her brogue endeared her to all the miners. In 1874, she went north to Cassiar, British Columbia, with 200 miners from Nevada. It was the site of the latest gold rush. She set up a boarding house on Telegraph Creek in a very remote area. While she wasn’t operating her boardinghouse she mined her own claim. In the fall she journeyed to Victoria to wait out the winter and collect supplies. But while there she heard that many of the men she had journeyed with were sick with scurvy. She immediately set out to help them. She hired six men to go back with her. It took them 77 days to reach camp in the bitter cold. They saved the men since they had managed to drag 1,500 pounds of supplies with them. The following year she again returned to Victoria to stock up on supplies. While there she noted that the city was building a hospital. When she returned to Cassiar, she took up a collection among the miners for the hospital fund. She stayed in Cassiar until 1878. Then she returned to San Francisco to visit her mother, sister, nieces, and nephew. From there she returned to Virginia City and Pioche, Nevada to visit old friends. Those towns were mostly past their gold boom days, but she had spent many good times in those places. She loved the boom towns, and in 1879, when she heard about the latest strikes in Tucson, she headed there. Right away she opened up the Delmonico Restaurant. The citizens thought well of the restaurant and of Nellie. She did very well and made a name for herself. But her wanderlust conquered her again when she heard of the strikes in Tombstone, about 80 miles south. She sold her restaurant to a Mrs. M. J. Smith.

 

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September 2016. Dr. Perry Lydon and Mr. Wilf Bruch setting an identification marker at the graveside of Nellie Cashman in Rossbay Cemetery, Victoria, British Columbia. Nellie was born in Middleton County Cork, Ireland circa 1845.