Nellie Cashman

Nellie Cashman |Daisy May & Me|

If you needed a definition of a frontier woman, you could easily put a picture of Nellie Cashman in its place. Nellie was the quintessential frontier woman. 

Ellen "Nellie" Cashman born in Ireland to a poor Catholic family ended up with her mother and sister in Boston, MA during the potato famine of the 1850's. Their family migrated to various locations throughout the US and Nellie spent most of her time in the western states of CA, AZ, NV and eventually AK. 

It is clear from the life of Nellie that her parents taught her the very important life skill of self-sufficiency. In each of the towns she moved to she quickly established businesses from restaurants, boarding houses or grocery stores. All of her businesses were well established and well run and well known. 

As a successful business owner in booming mining towns she was often in the loop of the latest mining victories and on several occasion joined gold and silver mining expeditions to places like Arizona, Alaska and British Columbia. 

Mining life was not easy. It meant living completely off the land and required survival skills that event he toughest men at times couldn't handle. Nellie was knows for her Irish self-dependent spirit and tough mental focus. Miners were delighted to have her accompany their party because of her wide range of skills and resilient nature. It was because of her versatile ability to take care of herself that she was able to also take care of others. 

In every establishment of her life, not only did she serve others with her thriving businesses but she also helped in many charitable endeavors. Some of those ventures include: establishing the first bording house in NV, being nicknames 
"Angel of Cassier" for leading a rescue party to save starving miners, raising money to build a church for the sisters of St. Joseph, raising her 5 nieces and nephews after the passing of her widowed sister in AZ, advocating against public hangings and helping raise money and build a hospital in Alaska. 

There are countless stories of Nellie Cashman thriving at life and helping those around her. I believe that it was her self-sufficient, determined nature that allowed for her to be able to help so many. Just like the analogy on aircraft, that we first have to apply oxygen to ourselves before we're able to help others, Nellie was able to be so charitable because of her ability to first meet her own needs.

Being self sufficient is undoubtedly an important life skill and Nellie's life is a perfect illustration of that. Sharing her story with our children can give us the opportunity to show our children the importance of learning life skills. We can help them understand that we can do the most good for others by developing ourselves so that we are fully prepared to help when a need presents itself. 

Sharing the story of this powerful frontierswoman can be just what you need to convince your kids the value in learning to do things for themselves. 


Moral of the Story:

Being self-sufficient and self-reliant actually allows you to be more helpful and giving to others.


Set a goal with your child to learn a new skill. Using our New Skill Goal sheet, help them decide on a life skill that they can learn over the next few weeks. Set a goal deadline to keep yourselves on top of it. Also have them write down the things they think this new skill will help them further do and how they can also use it to help others. Come up with a small reward or symbol of accomplishment they can look forward to.


New skill goal sheet example


New Skill Worksheet |Daisy May & Me|
Chore suggestions by age:
Age appropriate chores |Daisy May & Me|
Suggested life skills:
Self-reliant skills |Daisy May & Me|

Questions for discussion:

Nellie Cashman was able to establish herself in every new town she went to because of her skill set, what are some skills you have that will help you when you are on your own?

What are some skills you need to develop?

How might it be hard to help other when you need help yourself?

 Nellie dress:


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published