George W. Cassidy Papers

Identifier: 98-06

Scope and Contents

The George W. Cassidy Papers contain materials received or created by the Cassidy Family and research materials collected by Ruth McPheeters of Stockton, California. The original Cassidy items date from 1852-1908, the McPheeters research notes date from 1962-1968, and transcript materials date from 1851-1892.

Original correspondence in the collection dates from 1852-1883. Central to this portion of the collection is Christopher Columbus Cassidy. C. C. lived in Dutch Flat, California, from 1850 until about 1882 when he returned for the first time in thirty-two years to visit his family in Missouri. There he contracted typhoid fever in St. Louis and died on June 10, 1883. He was buried in the Cassidy family plot in the Lockridge Cemetery, Mexico, Missouri. It's possible to speculate that George traveled to Dutch Flat to arrange his brother's affairs and dispose of C. C.'s possessions, keeping for himself the correspondence from George, Cassidy family members, friends, and associates that C. C. had saved over the years.

Included among the letters are 133 letters from George to C. C., 1860-1883 which document George's early business career, his family, and early Nevada politics. George and his family were all highly literate people and their correspondence is very informative. George's letters often pass along news of family members which he'd received in letters, mostly from his sisters. He discussed his ventures into publishing and politics, including clippings of interesting topics and some of his own speeches.

Also included among the original Cassidy Family materials are 76 letters, 1852-1880, sent to C. C. from residents in western states, including Washington Territory, California, Oregon, and Nevada. C. C. was a farmer and a miner and these letters are from his friends and business acquaintances.

The collection contains 44 letters, 1852-1878, from eastern relatives to George and C. C. Written mostly from Missouri and Texas the letters describe life during the Civil War, the railroad boom following the war, and family successes and failures in farming and livestock.

George Cassidy's business ventures are further documented by 5 financial ledgers, dating from 1875-1908. They include records of newspaper subscriptions, cash received daily (presumably related to the printing business), and printing job work done for businesses and individuals.

In addition to careers in journalism and politics, George Cassidy served as a bank examiner for four western states: Nevada, Utah, California, and Colorado. His official appointment was from 1886-1890 but his records indicate he functioned in that position from 1885-1889. The collection contains reports of examinations conducted of banks throughout his territory. The reports are informative about the financial status of those banks and provide information about many 19th century banking practices. Ruth McPheeters compiled a list of those banks to serve as an index to the banking volumes.

Ruth McPheeters was a secretary with the Audio-Visual Services Department of the San Joaquin County (Calif.) School District when she and her husband, J. L., acquired a group of Cassidy letters. They hoped to use their research into the Cassidy Family for a biography about George Cassidy and began searching for other materials. Correspondence in the collection indicates that they purchased a group of 13 envelopes from a stamp and coin dealer in Berkeley in 1963. They located some letters in the Bancroft Library, as well as copies of the newspapers which Cassidy had either reported for, edited, or owned. In September, 1963, Ruth placed an ad in the Mexico, Missouri, newspaper The Mexico Ledger, asking for information on a number of specific Cassidy family members. Replies came from several descendants and lead to the discovery of additional letters and a few photographs, which Ruth was allowed to copy and transcribe.

Ruth transcribed all the letters in her possession and those which she was allowed to borrow. She searched several 19th century California newspapers and most Nevada newspapers for articles by and about George Cassidy and the Congressional Record for Cassidy's speeches and bills, which she then transcribed. She also obtained microfilm copies of newspapers published by Cassidy from originals at the Bancroft Library.

McPheeters made extensive notes about her research, including her sources, and kept carbon copies of her letters of inquiry. She also retained all the correspondence she received about her project, including letters from Cassidy family descendants. She compiled extensive genealogical information about primary Cassidy family members and several lines of descendants. All of this material is part of the Cassidy collection and is invaluable in fleshing out the information from the original Cassidy materials. Unfortunately, Mr. McPheeters' lengthy final illness prevented Ruth from publishing any of her material.

The Cassidy Papers are a important addition to the primary source materials about Nevada, forming a cohesive group of letters centered on Nevada. Cassidy was literate and knowledgeable and most importantly, communicated relatively frequently with his family. He was involved with his local community and active in Nevada politics. His papers join those of fellow contemporary journalists Alfred Doten and C. C. Goodwin and form a significant body of knowledge about 19th century Nevada. Although the Goodwin and Doten papers are important, neither provide such a large body of correspondence for this time period. The Cassidy letters provide primary information about the early settlement period of both California and Nevada, about the effects such migrations had on family and individual lives, about business practices in Nevada which were non mining in nature, and about early Nevada politics.

George W. Cassidy was an important figure in 19th century Nevada; his papers ensure that his importance continues into the following century.


  • 1851-1968
  • Majority of material found within 1851-1908


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials must be used on-site; advance notice suggested. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.

Biographical Note

George Williams Cassidy was born in Bourbon County, Kentucky on April 25, 1836 and moved with his parents to Missouri when he was five years old. His parents, John Connally Cassidy and Nancy L. Long Cassidy, had eleven children. Nancy Cassidy died in 1851 and John married Nancy Wisdom with whom he had three children.

George's oldest brother, Christopher Columbus (called C. C.) journeyed overland to California in 1850 with a troop of Missouri gold seekers. C. C. settled in Dutch Flat where he mined and farmed, sending letters back to his family in Missouri. George moved to California in 1857 and although he did some mining, he concentrated on a career in journalism, published a daily paper at Meadow Lake, California, and entered politics as a member of the California Democratic State Central Committee.

George moved to Hamilton, White Pine County, Nevada, in 1869 where he briefly owned and operated the Daily Inland Empire newspaper. By 1870 George had relocated to Eureka, Nevada, where he co-founded and co-owned the Eureka Sentinel with A. Skilman.

George married Mary Delaney of Carson City in 1872 and their only child, daughter Mamie, was born a year later. Unfortunately she died suddenly in 1878, leaving both parents devastated and her mother ill. Thereafter, Mary Cassidy spent many months of each year in San Francisco where her family lived.

Cassidy continued his interest in politics and successfully ran for the Nevada Senate, serving from 1872-1879 and as president during the 1879 session. He was elected to the United States Congress from 1881-1885, then was appointed to serve as a national bank examiner for Nevada, Utah, California, and Colorado from 1886-1890. He ran again for Congress but died in Reno on June 24, 1892 before the election. He was buried at Hillside Cemetery in Reno.* Mary lived in Oakland, California, until her death in 1934. She was buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, California.

* Gravestone still intact.


3.875 Linear Feet (8 boxes, 2 oversize folders)

Language of Materials



This collection contains personal papers and business records related to George W. Cassidy and the Cassidy family, along with research notes and correspondence by Ruth McPheeters with Cassidy family decendents, and additional materials gathered by McPheeters about the Cassidy family in preparation for an un published biography about George W. Cassidy by McPheters (1851-1968).


Arranged into the following series: 1) Cassidy Family Letters; 2) Financial Materials; 3) Bank Examiner's Records; 4) Typescripts of Letters; 5) Newspapers and Clippings; 6) Ruth McPheeters' Research Materials; 7) Photographs

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased by the Special Collections Department in 1998.

Separated Materials

Photographs transferred to the Special Collections Department photo archive as collection number UNRS-P1998-09.

Guide to the George W. Cassidy Papers
Susan Searcy
May 1998
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Nevada, Reno. Special Collections Department Repository

Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center
1664 N. Virginia St.
Reno Nevada 89557-0322 USA
775-682-5724 (Fax)