It has been recognised recently, through campaigns such as the United Nation’s International Day of Rural Women, and initiatives like the Invisible Farmer Project, that rural women are often overlooked and left out of our rural histories. Many of the newspapers of our past often removed a woman identity, tying them to the name of their husband. While the social contributions of rural women were regularly reported, often the economic contribution were overlooked. By economic contributions, I am referring to those hardworking farming women who managed land and estates, ran local businesses and those who toiled in the home keeping the family together and productive. In this example from 1946, discovered during my family research, the newspaper, while it’s intent may have been primarily to comment on a social event, goes on to highlighted the economic achievements of two rural women.
Between them, this mother and daughter team, gave over 24 years of service to the local community, delivering the mail in the Rye Park, Bevendale, and Kiowarra areas. Daughter, Evelyn ‘May’ Whittington ran the local service before handing the reins (literally) to her mother in 1922, Emma Noakes (née Brown). As is recounted in the Goulburn Evening Post article, when Emma Noakes gave up the service at the age of 77, she passes the responsibility to her son, Charles. In a time before household telephone connection and mass communication, it is hard to imagine any other women in this community who were as eagerly awaited as these two, delivering their mail by horse and sulky ‘in all kinds of weather’.
Mentioned in this post:
Emma Noakes (nee Brown) b.1869 d.1955
Evelyn ‘May’ Whittington (nee Noakes) b.1889 d.1976
John ‘Charles’ Gregory Noakes b.1905 d.1983
Trove Article; Goulburn Evening Post (1946, December 20). Bevendale: A Fine Woman Honoured