Aspinwall Family [RG3513.AM]


RG3513.AM:  Aspinwall Family

Papers:  1808-1964

Brookfield, Mass.; Liberty, Gage County, Neb.; California; etc.:  

Size:  5.0 cu.ft.


Oliver Carpenter Aspinwall was born in Brookfield, Massachusetts, in 1835. He was a descendant of colonial farmer, Peter Aspinwall. Oliver left Massachusetts at an unknown date and arrived in Liberty, Gage County, Nebraska in the mid 1880s, where he kept a store with his third wife Lena Kuetzing Aspinwall. They had two children together: Nan Jeanne [sometimes known as Jennie] and Frank. When Oliver Aspinwall died in April 1903, Lena carried on in the store until 1915, when she and son Frank moved to Seward, Nebraska. During the early 1920s they relocated again, this time to Idaho Falls, Idaho. Lena died October 17, 1937.

Nan Jeanne Aspinwall Gable Lambell was born in New York on February 2, 1880. She lived in Liberty, Nebraska for most of her early years. Later publicity during her career would state that she was raised on a cattle ranch in Montana, though it seems probable that this story was designed to enhance her stage persona [see the book, In genuine cowgirl fashion: Nan Aspinwall Gable Lambell and the image of the cowgirl in wild west entertainment, 1880-1930, by Mary C. Higgenbotham for a brief discussion of Nan’s early life and the Aspinwall family in Nebraska]. By 1899, Nan was performing as an oriental dancer, “Princess Omene.” Sometime in 1905 or 1906, she began appearing as the “Montana Girl,” an expert horsewoman, lariatist and sharpshooter. Though there are no records of how or when they met, by 1906 she was billed along with husband Frank Gable as a “Lariat Expert.” By at least 1908, the couple was performing with the combined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Pawnee Bill’s Far East Troupe. Nan apparently filled roles relating to her Montana Girl persona, in addition to performances as Princess Omene in the Far East part of the show. On a bet from Buffalo Bill, who later backed down, she rode on horseback from San Francisco to New York and back in 1911, supporting herself with exhibitions of roping and riding in small towns along the way. Later she and Frank had their own vaudeville show, Gable’s Novelty Show, until 1929 when Frank Gable died.

Little is known of Nan’s life after the death of her first husband. She married again, to Al Lambell, who also predeceased her. About 1960 “Death Valley Days” did a television show about her cross-country ride, for which she was a technical advisor. She died on October 24, 1964.

Frank Aspinwall was born on October 7, 1887. He grew up in Liberty, Nebraska. For a time following the death of his father in 1903, he lived in Falls City, Nebraska. He married Georgia Denhinger on November 9, 1914. In about 1915, he moved with his mother, Lena, and his wife to Seward, Nebraska, where he ran a garage. He moved to California in the 1920s, and received a Law degree from Southwestern University, Los Angeles, in 1928. Soon afterward he passed the California Bar Examination, and for the rest of his life he practiced law in California. Frank was also an amateur photographer. He continued to manage land holdings in Nebraska and Idaho for his mother until her death. After his first wife died, Frank married Alpha Farmer on October 21, 1947. He died in Fontana, California, on December 24, 1960.


This collection contains materials relating to the Aspinwall Family, primarily to the lives and careers of the children of Oliver Carpenter Aspinwall: Frank Aspinwall and Nan Jeanne Aspinwall Gable Lambell. Of special interest are the scrapbooks relating to Nan’s career as a Wild West show and Vaudeville performer. The collection is arranged in twelve Series: 1) Frank Aspinwall, ca. 1909-1960, n.d.; 2) Nan Aspinwall Gable Lambell, ca. 1899-1964, n.d.; 3) Scrapbooks and photo albums; 4) Oliver Carpenter Aspinwall; 5) Lena Kuetzing Aspinwall; 6) John Aspinwall, 1810-1876; 7) George Aspinwall, 1808, 1810, 1833; 8) Mary Hastings Sherman certificates, 1882-1918; 9) Family History Materials; 10) Miscellany; and 11) Printed materials.

Series 1 contains Frank Aspinwall materials, and relates mostly to his legal career, and financial and real estate interests. Many of the tax and real estate items relate to property of Frank’s mother, Lena. Correspondence of both Frank and his second wife Alpha (“Dit”) is included. Most of the letters are from Nan or Lena. Some of the scrapbooks and photo albums in Series 3 may relate to Frank.

Series 2 consists of materials relating to Nan Jeanne Aspinwall Gable Lambell. It includes correspondence, biographical information, a program for Gable’s Novelty Show, two radio interviews with Nan from 1938 and 1940, and Miscellany. For scrapbooks and photo albums containing clippings and photographs of Nan’s performing career, see Series 3.

Series 3 contains scrapbooks and photo albums. Six of the eleven volumes relate specifically to Nan and her career. The other items include two volumes of miscellaneous topical clippings not definitively identified as Frank or Nan’s; a large book of “Out Our Way” cartoons by J.R. Williams; an album of unidentified family photographs; and an album of unidentified twentieth century snapshots.

Series 4 through Series 8 relate to various Aspinwall family members. Most are direct ancestors of Frank and Nan through Oliver C. Aspinwall, with the exception of Mary Hastings Sherman, who was a cousin of Oliver. She became a physician in Massachusetts in 1891; her materials consist mainly of educational certificates and licenses. The George Aspinwall materials, Series 7, and the Mary Hastings Sherman materials, Series 8, contain only oversized items and are housed separately.

The family history materials of Series 9 include The Aspinwall Genealogy, 1630-1901, a published volume, which is an invaluable source for early family history. The series also contains records of family land holdings in Massachusetts, clippings, and miscellany.

Series 10 contains miscellaneous items. Material relating to Hungarian artist Alexander S. Keszthelyi, including the guest book from an opening, collected by Frank is included, along with a small etching by an unidentified artist.

Series 11 consists of printed materials, mostly volumes from the collection of Frank Aspinwall. Two family bibles with genealogical information are present; and some Christian Science literature belonging to Lena Aspinwall.


Series 1 – Frank Aspinwall, ca. 1909-1960, n.d.

Box 1


    1. Correspondence, Frank Aspinwall, 1914-1960, n.d.

    1. Correspondence, Alpha Aspinwall

    1. Lesson book

    1. Notebooks

    1. Biographical materials

    1. Licenses, appointments, certificates

    1. Financial journal, 1930

    1. Financial materials

    1. “Real property and Tax statements”

    1. Tax statements and deeds: Nebraska and Idaho [Frank Aspinwall and Lena Aspinwall]

    1. Abstracts of Title

    1. Mortgages

Box 2


    1. Toastmasters material

    1. Clippings

    1. Miscellaneous

    1. Certificates (see OB007)

    1. Law Degree (see OB007)

Series 2 – Nan Jeanne Aspinwall Gable Lambell

Box 2


    1. Correspondence

    1. Radio interviews, 1938; 1940

    1. Biographical

    1. Program, Gableís Novelty Show

    1. Miscellaneous

    1. Clippings

Series 3 – Scrapbooks

Oversize Volumes

    1. “The Montana Girl,” Nan J. Aspinwall, Champion Lariatist

    1. Scrapbook and photographs [Nan Aspinwall, shelved with photo collection = Group 2]

    1. Scrapbook and photographs [Nan Aspinwall, shelved with photo collection = Group 3]

    1. Scrapbook and photographs [Nan Aspinwall, shelved with photo collection = Group 4]

    1. Scrapbook and photographs [Nan Aspinwall, shelved with photo collection = Group 5]

    1. Photo album [Nan Aspinwall, shelved with photo collection = Group 6]

Box 2


    1. Clipping scrapbook [initials FA; clippings pasted in Rays’s New Primary Arithmetic]

    1. Clipping scrapbook [unidentified; pasted in Gleanings from the Poets]

Note: There is no volume 9.

Oversize volumes

    1. Photo album [portraits, mostly unidentified, ca. 1890s; shelved with photo collection = Group 10]

    1. Photo album [black and white snapshots, unidentified; shelved with photo collection = Group 11]

Series 4 – Oliver C. Aspinwall

Box 2


    1. Oliver C. Aspinwall

Series 5 – Lena Kuetzing Aspinwall

Box 2


    1. Lena Kuetzing Aspinwall

Series 6 – John Aspinwall

Box 3


    1. Correspondence, 1845, 1863

    1. “John Aspinwall’s Book, 1810” [Handwritten, lists of weights and measures; mathematical examples, theorems, etc.]

    1. Documents

Series 7 – George Aspinwall



    1. Manuscripts:

      “Temperance,” by George Aspinwall, 1808

      “Liberty and Slavery,” by George Aspinwall, 1810

      Publication: “On the Fabrication of Cannon,” with 7 diagrams, George Aspinwall, Lithographer, 1833

Series 8 – Mary Hastings Sherman



    1. Certificates, diplomas, 1882-1918

Series 9 – Family History Materials

Box 3


    1. The Aspinwall Genealogy, 1630-1901, by Algernon Aiken Aspinwall [includes pasted-in and loose items such as obituaries, death notices, notes, clippings, etc.]

    1. Land documents [Massachusetts], 1819-1966

    1. Survey of Aspinwall property, Brookfield, Mass., 1844

    1. Miscellaneous family history materials

Series 10 – Miscellaneous

Box 3


    1. Unidentified account book, 1868 [Oliver or Lena Aspinwall?]

    1. Unidentified travel account, typescript, 1946 [Ruddy Family connections?]

    1. Remembrance box with note and sayings [handwritten] in German, c1847-1851

    1. Clippings

    1. Alexander S. Keszthelyi information, clippings, etc.

    1. Guest book from a Keszthelyi exhibit opening

Box 4


    1. 2 etchings, 1 watercolor by Alexander S. Keszthelyi [patron use copies]

      1 small etching of a dog by an unidentified artist [patron use copy]

    1. a. 2 etchings, 1 watercolor by Alexander S. Keszthelyi [Restricted originals, shelved separately] 1 small etching of a dog by an unidentified artist [Restricted original, shelved separately]



    1. Misc. oversize items

Series 11 – Printed Materials

Box 4

    1. Lena Aspinwall’s books and pamphlets [Christian Science materials]

Other volumes [unfoldered]:

Dedication of the Brookline Town Hall, Feb. 22, 1873

A History of Browning Guns from 1831

Box 5

Aspinwall Family Bible [Family records follow Old Testament Apocrypha]

Harper’s Fifth Reader [with Frank and Jennieís signatures; and a “Lariat Experts” stamp]

Sou’wester, 1927-1928 [Southwestern University–Frank Aspinwall’s law school yearbooks.]

Pictorial Family Bible [To Frank and Nan from their father; family records and a picture and obituary of Frank Gable, follow page 608] (see oversize)



Aspinwall, Frank, 1887-1960

Aspinwall, George (lithographer)

Aspinwall, John

Aspinwall, Lena (Lena Kuetzing), -1937

Aspinwall, Nan (Nan Jeanne Aspinwall Gable Lambell), 1880-1964

Aspinwall, Oliver C. (Oliver Carpenter), 1835-1903

Brookfield (Mass.)


Fontana (Calif.)

Gage County (Neb.) — History

Massachusetts — Genealogies

Sherman, Mary Hastings



Wild west shows

Williams, J.R. (Cartoonist)


05-01-2007   Revised TMM/tmm

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