Angel In Victoria
“She lies beside her Sisters, in Ross Bay Cem-et-ry, Not far from Billy Barker, her lovely grave you see. She was the Miners Angel, the Maid from Midleton.
From Tombstone to Alaska, she was loved by everyone.”
(The Miners Angel Song chorus – sung to tune of “Yellow Rose of Texas”)
Our story begins in the medieval town of Midleton, halfway between Cork and the ancient port of Youghal on the southern coast of Ireland, and it ends at a beautiful grave, beside the Sisters of St. Ann, in Ross Bay Cemetery, Victoria, British Columbia, the grave of Nellie Cashman, “The Miners Angel”.
The story of Nellie Cashman is full of heroism, bravery and an unquenchable concern for the sick and the poor. The words on the polished granite gravestone give an indication of her incredible journey through life.
Angel In Our Midst
There are many “angels” in Ross Bay Cemetery, in Victoria, British Columbia, but one of the most noted angels, is “The Blue Angel” which stands on the Pooley Family plot. This Angel looks across at the Sisters of St. Ann burial site, where some 80 nuns are buried. It is easy to miss the special grave, below the stately Elm tree, just to the left of this large site. This is the grave of Nellie Cashman, otherwise known as “The Miners Angel”. This grave was paid for by the Sisters of St. Ann and is a token of the esteem and gratitude that the Sisters had for this remarkable lady. The polished granite bears noble words “Friend of the sick and the hungry, and to all men. Heroic apostolate of service among the western and northern frontier miners”. The gravestone also states the fact that Nellie was involved in mining all over North America, including the Cassiar, the Yukon and Alaska. You may well ask the question “how could a single young lady, barely five feet tall and weighing about a hundred pounds, become a successful and respected gold miner, a level headed business woman, and gain the sobriquet “The Miners Angel” as well”!
Her story is truly remarkable and despite the fact that she lived most of her life in mining towns known for their bars and brothels, there has never been any scandal about Nellie. She was respected by all individuals.
Nellie is the subject of some five books in the United States and she was given the great honor of being placed on one of the US stamps called “The Legends of the West”. The Old Cemeteries Society has included this lady in some of their Sunday Ross Bay Cemetery tours and most participants are astounded at Nellie’s accomplishments.