Gold Rush Queen

The Extraordinary Life of Nellie Cashman

Book reviewed by Danielle Chartier

July 27, 2017

To say that Nellie Cashman led an extraordinary life is putting it mildly. Working in a time and in occupations dominated by men, Nellie was a successful businesswoman and prospector. From Canada’s Far North to the southern United States, she had an eye for opportunity and followed where it led her.

Gold Rush Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Nellie Cashman is an entertaining and informative read. Emigrating from Ireland to escape the famine, Cashman and her mother and sister initially settled in Boston. They eventually headed west to San Francisco, where Nellie was first bitten by the prospecting bug. From there, she was always moving on to where she thought the next boom would happen; she bought and sold businesses ranging from restaurants, to boarding houses, to mining ventures.

One winter in the Arctic, Cashman led a team of men on a dangerous journey to bring supplies to miners trapped by the weather and suffering from scurvy. The team arrived in time to save many of the men, and she became known as the “Angel of the Cassiar.” In her later travels, she became friends with some well-known personalities, including the Earp brothers and “Doc” Holliday.

Gold Rush Queen author Thora Kerr Illing is a former journalist and librarian who herself emigrated to Canada from the United Kingdom The book offers a well-researched glimpse into the life of a remarkable woman who wasn’t afraid of taking chances.

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