The Russ House Tombstone property is on the Northwest corner of Toughnut & Fifth Streets. It's right there, the last building on the West side of the street! See that tree down the street. It's just outside, shading the walls of the Russ House.
It's one of the most historic "buildings" in town. It's on the National Register of Historic Places.
Nellie Cashman was a woman whose history is attached to this building. If only these walls could talk! We'll try to imagine some of what they'd tell us...
The Russ House opened December 18, 1880. Jacob Smith & Sol T. Anderson built it across from the mines. They knew they'd attract miners there. The rooms were comfortable and the food was good.
Added attractions were a bar-room, 2 street-side verandas and a reading room. The restaurant area was the biggest in town at the time.
Nellie Cashman was an Irish immigrant to America. She made her way through Western mining communities. After some time in Northern British Columbia, she came to Tucson AZ and opened a restaurant. When word of the silver claims were the talk of all her customers - she sold out her interest in the Delmonico there, and moved to Tombstone.
First she opened a dry goods store. She had lots of energy and often had a few business enterprises going at the same time! In September of 1881 Nellie entered a business arrangement with the Russ House's new owner, Joseph Pascholy.
About the same time, Nellie's sister Fanny came to the area. Fanny was a recent widow with five children. Nellie helped her out by putting her to work. But soon Fanny came down with her husband's illness - what they called consumption in those days - today's tuberculosis.
From The Tombstone Weekly Epitaph - Monday, March 6, 1882 - Page 2
Nellie now tended to her sister. Part of that responsibility was watching over her nieces and nephews. She couldn't fit in that substantial work with running Tombstone's Russ House. She offered her share for sale in December of 1881. Nellie's friend, John Clum, gave her a front page announcement in his Epitaph newspaper.
She sold her half interest in the Russ House. It's difficult to find information on who purchased Nellie's share of the Russ house. If anyone else has that Tombstone AZ documentation - we'd sure like to hear from you! We regularly do research on Nellie Cashman, trying to get further information and details on her life.
She still often cooperated with the current owners of the Russ House to benefit the town-folk of Tombstone. She was always ready to give help to anyone in need.
Tombstone citizens still thought of Nellie Cashman when they thought of the Russ House. That was true until she left town to move to Alaska in 1898.
Actually, it's true today! She only owned the Russ House for about 4 or 5 months. She was so influential, and popular in town, that when people think of the Russ House, they think: Nellie Cashman!
This photograph is likely from the 1920s, when tourists were beginning to come into Tombstone. The invention of the automobile began to attract people to travel the country. They were interested in discovering unique areas.
The Model T was the latest rage! It was an assembly line car, well built, but affordable for many. And it helped people get to town. Newer cross-country roads were recently built - such as The Broadway of America, which came right through Tombstone! And The Mother Road - Rt. 66 - (Also called Main Street of America.) which went through Northern Arizona.
There was interest in seeing what this Old West town had to offer. Especially when some of the local folks realized that, and began to develop the town. Began to restore the historic areas.
Mrs. Josephine Keagle owned the Russ House on an eventful day - January 20, 1959. Fire broke out and burned all interior areas. Only the outside adobe walls were left untouched.
Two months later Mrs. Keagle sold the property to a couple, Floyd & Minnie Laughrun. They rebuilt the interior as a Tombstone hotel. Over the next few decades it had a few more ownership changes and purpose reinventions.
We've been visitors to Tombstone Arizona, long before we were able to move here. Every time we would come into town, we'd go to Nellie Cashman's Restaurant for dinner.
We loved the ambiance. We loved the history and its attachment to Nellie Cashman (I really admired much about her). We also liked the food, the menu options. Yes, it was our favorite place to eat in Tombstone AZ at that time!!
It was run by a German woman. For a while, there was a piano in the corner. An older gentleman there played classical and old timey music. That was a delightful way to add atmosphere! And it just gave great reminiscence of Nellie's days at Tombstone's Russ House.
At the point when this 2010 photo was taken, the elderly gentleman playing piano was no longer there. The inside of the restaurant still reflected the history of the building, and Nellie Cashman herself. It was still charming. It still added to the historic feeling.
Remember - the outer walls are all that's left of the historic Russ House in Tombstone. Note the archway is still seen on the right. Other than the plaque on those outer historic walls, not much reminds us of the history on this corner. The wonderful touches we had loved are no longer there.
The arched patio entry still survives. Those little "Jail" and "Marshal" signs you can see in the photo - cute? But totally non-historic.
A local man who already owns other business properties purchased this historic building. Its entire aura is different. It is now called the Cafe Margarita. It's billed as "Mexican, Italian & a little American."
We have eaten there. Twice. The food was fine - not great or bad. The service was okay.
Except one last time while attempting to enter - service was exceptionally rude and we left. It was a very busy day - Helldorado Days. But we waited a long time, later than they'd said. And after that time-frame, they seated at least three other groups before us. Then I complained - that's when I got a very rude reply. So yes, we left. We went to the Crystal Palace - and were treated better, and seated pretty quickly.
When we want Mexican food - we go to The Depot (at the corner of Allen & 9th). Theirs is the best Mexican food in town.
All I can say is - we were disappointed in this change for Tombstone's historic Russ House. The word is the prior owner wouldn't include the rights to the "Nellie Cashman" name with the sale. Not sure why. That may be the prime source of the problem in sticking with its historical flavor.
We suggest you try it for yourselves, to form your own opinion. There's more details on their location, hours, days of the week, etc. - on our Tombstone Restaurants Page> One local I spoke to says he feels it's a relaxing venue.