Sal Anderson and Jacob Smith opened 'The Russ House' in December 1880 as a boarding house and hotel with one of the largest restaurants in Tombstone. The Russ House is closely related to Nellie Cashman who operated it until 1886. Ellen ‘Nellie’ Cashman, known as the “Angel of Tombstone” was born in County Cork, Ireland in September 1845. Nellie was born into a poor Irish Catholic family during the Irish Potato Famine and known in Ireland as the “great hunger.” The eldest of two sisters, Nellie, her mother and young sister immigrated to America after her father’s death around 1850.
Nellie Cashman and her associate Joseph Pascholy co-owned and ran a restaurant and hotel in Tombstone called The Russ House. The Russ House, on the corner of 5th and Toughnut Streets, was named after the original in San Francisco. The Russ House offered meals to Miners and vagrants at little or no cost. Nellie served 50-cent meals, advertising that "there are no cockroaches in my kitchen and the flour is clean." Nellie had rooms available for $8.00 per week. Nellie fed the hungry, needy and desperate of the silver camp, never turning anyone away.
Read a complete story about The Legendary Nellie Cashman, The Angel of Tombstone.
Painting of a young Nellie Cashman from a photograph taken in San Francisco in 1874.
Courtesy of the Alaska State Library
Known as the “frontier angel,” Irish-born Nellie Cashman made her reputation in the western U.S. and Canada as a successful prospector, businesswoman, and philanthropist. During the Cassiar gold rush in British Columbia in 1875, Cashman and six men loaded sleds with 1,500 pounds of supplies and completed a long journey in heavy snows to a remote mining camp, arriving in time to nurse almost 100 sick miners back to health. She later moved to Tombstone, Arizona, where she opened the town’s first woman-owned business (a restaurant) and became a prominent citizen, building a church and raising money for social welfare and the arts. When her sister died from tuberculosis, Cashman cared for her sister’s five children. When Cashman died, newspapers as far away as the New York Times wrote obituaries citing her good works.
Stamp Issued: 1994
Source: United State Postal Service - Women On Stamps
Nellie Cashman, was a remarkable woman, she is just one more of the Irish who helped to shape America. In 1994, her image graced a U.S. Postage Stamp and on March 15, 2006, Nellie Cashman was inducted into the Alaska Mining Hall of Fame.
The Nellie Cashman Monument was erected in 2014 to commentate the life of the Midleton born “Mining Queen” who mounted a daring rescue to the Cassiar mountain range in British Columbia after reports that twenty to thirty miners were trapped and had contracted scurvy. With no access to fresh food or medical supplies, they were fated to die from scurvy or starvation.
Some of the trapped miners came from previous mining camps and would have been known to Nellie. She was determined to rescue them and hired six men for the journey, carrying 1,500 lbs (680 kg) of supplies including limes on the almost 1,300 km (800 mi) journey.
Conditions in the Cassiar Mountains were so dangerous that the Canadian Army advised against attempting the rescue. Upon learning of Cashman’s expedition, troops were sent to locate her party and bring them back to safety. The Colonel eventually found Cashman camped on the frozen surface of the Stikine River, after a local First Nations tribe helped track them down with reports of a white woman (the only within hundreds of miles) travelling with six men. Over tea, she convinced the trooper and his men that it was her will to continue, and that she would not head back without rescuing the miners.
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In the summer of 1924, Nellie realized that her health was slipping rapidly. She stopped briefly at the St. Ann's Mission in the village of Nulato, on the Yukon, then went upriver to Fairbanks, where she was admitted to St. Joseph’s Hospital, from which she was sent to Providence Hospital in Seattle. Recognizing that her time was almost up, Nellie went to St. Ann's Hospital in Victoria, for which she had raised funds in the Cassiar district several decades before. She had conscientiously chosen St. Ann’s as her final stop in life, and Nellie died of ‘unresolved pneumonia’ on January 4, 1925 in the company of the Alaska Sisters of the Order.