Ellen "Nellie" Cashman (1845 – January 4, 1925), better known as Nellie Cashman, became noted across the American West and in western Canada as a nurse, restaurateur, businesswoman, Roman Catholic philanthropist in Arizona, and gold prospector in Alaska. A native of County Cork, Ireland, she and her sister were brought as young children to the United States by their mother about 1850 to escape the poverty of the Great Famine. The family lived first in Boston, Massachusetts, where the girls also worked until old enough, before migrating to San Francisco, California, in 1865.
Cashman established her first boarding house for miners in Pioche, Nevada. She then set up a boarding house serving miners of the Cassiar gold mine in British Columbia. When she returned to Victoria, British Columbia, upon hearing of miners starving back in the Cassiar Mountains, she led a rescue party back to the gold mine, earning her the nickname "Angel of the Cassiar".
After moving to Tombstone, Arizona, c. 1880, Cashman raised money to build the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, and did charitable work with the Sisters of St. Joseph. She successfully reared the five children of her sister Fanny after they were orphaned in 1883. In the late 1880s, Cashman set up several restaurants and boardinghouses in Arizona.
In 1898 she went to the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush for gold prospecting, working there until 1905. She became nationally known as a frontierswoman, with the Associated Press covering a later trip. In 2006 Cashman was inducted into the Alaska Mining Hall of Fame.
The 1959–1960 season of the ABC western television series, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, with Hugh O'Brian starring as Wyatt Earp, featured a fictional character based on Nellie Cashman played by actress Randy Stuart.
On October 18, 1994, Cashman was featured on a United States postage stamp as part of the Legends of the West series.
In 2007, she was inducted into the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas.
Learn more about Miss Nellie Cashman:
Nellie Cashman, the angel of Tombstone (website)
High-Sprited Women of the West (book - Amazon)
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Image courtesy of Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6865099