Albert Cashier

Albert Cashier

Local History, Pride Month

06/25/2025 | Selena Gonzalez, Education Program Specialist II at The Museum of the Grand Prairie

With Pride Month in full swing, we wanted to take a moment to recognize Albert D.J. Cashier whose life will forever impact LGBTQ+ history. As the Civil War began, many women disguised themselves as men and fought on the battlefield. Many of these women however, already identified as a man prior to enlisting, like Albert Cashier. 

Albert Cashier was born female on Christmas Day in 1843 in a small fishing village in Louth, Ireland. He immigrated to the United States as teenager, on a ship, hiding as a stowaway. Little is known about his childhood, but he may have lived as a boy from a young age. Many of the documented stories tell of a child who supported the family dressed as a boy to secure jobs that were unlikely to be given to a girl. 

Prior to enlisting in the Union Army, Albert Cashier had already identified as a man for years. He maintained this male identity when he joined the military in Belvidere, Illinois, in August 1862, not far from Champaign County. As a soldier, no one suspected Albert of being a woman and instead, he was seen as a man of bravery. There are many accounts of Albert fighting courageously for the Union; like the time he was captured by Confederate forces in Mississippi, but was able to get away when he wrestled a gun away from a Confederate soldier and ran courageously back to his unit on the Union lines. His tribute of bravery is forever remembered in American history with his name engraved proudly on the Vicksburg National Military Park Illinois Memorial Wall.  

After the war, Albert Cashier settled in Saunemin, IL about an hour away from Champaign County. There he would work random jobs, one of which would connect him to Joshua Chesebro and his family. The Chesebro family built a small house for Albert in exchange for work. There, he would work as a lamplighter, a farmhand, a church janitor, and many more miscellaneous jobs. The Museum of the Grand Prairie has a significant connection to the Chesebro family and their business. In 1992, the museum acquired the Chesebro collection, featuring nearly three thousand artifacts, including items from their blacksmith shop. These artifacts tell the story of the Chesebro family's hard work and include the various jobs that Albert was a part of. 

Albert D.J. Cashier's story is a poignant reminder of the diverse experiences and identities that have shaped our history. His courage and resilience not only exemplify the strength of the human spirit but also highlight the importance of recognizing and honoring the contributions of LGBTQ+ individuals throughout history.