by Kathleen Morris   Published by Dunraven Press, April 2023

285 pages, plus author’s notes following


eBook: 979-1-7379866-9-0 paperback: 979-1-7379866-8-3 hardcover: 979-8-9874563-0-9

Kathleen Morris’s first four books feature real women of the American Old West; all of them filled with amazing drive and character who build their lives in what is now the southwestern region of the United States.  GOLDDIGGER goes even further with the story of Nellie Cashman, who makes her presence well known in such places, but also enthusiastically experiences adventures well into the northwestern states, Alaska and Canada.

The reader first meets Nellie as a young girl in Ireland.  From there, its off to Boston and points west.  She sails with her mother and sister to San Francisco.  Eventually, gold fever grabs the always-restless Nellie.  She takes off in search of gold, heading up her own mining endeavors.   She also seizes the opportunity to open general stores and restaurants in the towns she inhabits.  Her businesses are usually profitable – when they are not, she sells them to another and she moves on. And those sites?  There’s Tombstone and Bisbee, Cassiar, the Yukon, and a rather disastrous trek into Mexico.  There are more places that vary in success but such experiences enhance the make up the strong-willed woman that is Nellie Cashman.

She spends plenty of time at these various sites, but in a deep sense of family, she regularly returns to her mother and sister, assisting them in ways above and beyond the scope of so many.  When her widowed sister dies, Nellie takes in all five children, raising them as if they were her own.  Her faith in God via her connections with the Catholic church leads the reader to discover Nellie’s selfless, lifelong donations to the churches in her towns, and in raising money for new churches and hospitals.

Nellie is just as home on horseback and working her mining claims as she is sitting in her office spaces.  When confronted with adversaries who challenge her position, she is not shy in standing up for every inch she has earned.  Uncouth cowboys and the occasional mountain man become Nellie’s foes, as well as a certain gentlemanly sort who unsuccessfully tries to manipulate Nellie into a marriage that would serve only him.  That’s just not Nellie’s way.

Ms. Morris’ writing also gives the reader a good sense of the scenes in Nellie Cashman’s life. There is the civilized worlds of Boston and San Francisco and the lawless towns of the west.  There are the tough winter conditions, including getting caught out on the breaking ice of a frozen river in the far north range of her travels, and enduring tough desert conditions as she rides expertly across the land.

GOLDDIGGER offers the reader a look into the life of an extraordinarily strong and motivated Nellie Cashman, complete with adventures, challenged values, and a productive life that serves in more dimensions than are standard for many of us.  Take a read – and while you are at it, read Ms. Morris’ other books as well.