If you've lived in Las Vegas for any amount of time, it's probably fair to assume you've heard the name Cashman.
The Cashmans have been a prominent family in this city for many years, with facilities such as Cashman Field and James Cashman Middle School named in the family's honor.
Jim Cashman, according to UNLV history professor Eugene Moehring, started a tradition of service and enterprise in the early 1900s that his children and grandchildren have continued for years.
"He made an impact in this community. That's obvious," Moehring said.
Cashman arrived in Las Vegas in 1904, when it was little more than a tent town, a stopping point on the way to California.
As a 19-year-old farm boy from Missouri, Cashman was looking for work, and he found it as a waiter in a chow tent for a railroad grading camp.
According to "The First 100: Portraits of the Men and Women Who Shaped Las Vegas," a book by A.D. Hopkins and K.J. Evans, Cashman accepted whatever jobs he was offered in the years that followed, including one repairing a neglected telephone system that served the mines around Searchlight.
Cashman eventually started a sort of rural taxi service and began contract hauling for the local mines.
"To get ore to the railroad at Kingman, he set up his own ferries to cross the Colorado River," Hopkins wrote. "They were essentially barges attached to cables and drawn back and forth by gasoline engines mounted on the shore."
Cashman also tried his hand as a car dealer, setting up a garage next to the Overland Hotel in Las Vegas, according to Hopkins.
Cashman met his wife, Leah Barker, a home economics major graduate from the University of Nevada, when she purchased a car from him. The couple married in 1923, and they were together until she died 40 years later. Their daughter, Tona, was born in 1924, and James Jr. was born in 1926.
Cashman was elected as a county commissioner in 1920, when he made roads a paramount concern. During his tenure, he pushed for a new road that opened in 1927. Today, the roadway is referred to as Interstate 15.
He also served as a delegate to the League of the Southwest, a body responsible for persuading Congress to fund the Hoover Dam.
"Cashman had his hand in everything," Moehring said.
Cashman, who was also one of the founding members of the Las Vegas Helldorado Days festival, purchased the Caterpillar tractor franchise in 1929 and sent crews out to work at the dam.
Moehring said "Big Jim's" business endeavors sometimes suffered because of his involvement with community projects, but staying involved was important to Cashman.
"Volunteerism was important to the Cashmans," he said. "But his business endeavors were wide and varied."
James Cashman died in 1962.
The school, at 4622 W. Desert Inn Road, was dedicated in his honor in 1966.
The facility became a magnet school in 2007 when The Academy of Mathematics, Science and Engineering was introduced. The program focuses on the fields of engineering, math, science and technology. A few of the classes included in the school's curriculum are automation, robotics, the magic of electrons and aerospace engineering.
"If history shows us anything, it's that Cashman was one of the most influential personalities to form Las Vegas," Moehring said. "He's worth being remembered."
Contact Southwest and Spring Valley View reporter Amanda Llewellyn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 380-4535.