A 69th birthday celebration turns tragic.

It is January 1938. A group of Bevendale locals had gathered at the ‘Mayfield’ homestead, the home of Emma and James Noakes. The lady of the house, Emma Noakes (nee Brown), was turning 69 and while she was returning from her mail run, her local friends and family had gathered for a birthday surprize. Green streamers were hung from the walls and windows. The man of the house, James Noakes sat on the front porch watching out for his wife to arrive home. Emma appears on the long driveway, riding her horse and sulky. Today she has taken her two grandchildren on the mail run; Leslie and Ronald (aged 3). Ronald’s father, John ‘Charles’ Noakes, drives up towards the mail sulky in his vehicle, and in excitement, his son, Ronald calls out to him. Perhaps startled by the noice, the horse Emma and her grandchildren were riding, bolted. The sulky hit a stump in the paddock and all three riders came off. James, who had been watching from the house, ran to the scene as the horse rode in the front gate; no passengers were on board and the sulky, badly broken. When James found his wife alongside the road, she was suffering concussion. One grandchild, Leslie, was bleeding from the arm and nose. The other grandson, Ronald, was dead. One can only imagine the horror the family must have experienced during this awful event, not to mention the party of friends waiting inside the house for Emma’s return. Ronald Charles Noakes (aged 3) is buried at the Bevendale Church cemetery.

Comments, corrections, questions or elaborations? Please comment below.

Mentioned in this post:
Emma Noakes (nee Brown) b.1869 d.1955
James Noakes b.circa1862 d.1948
Ronald Noakes b.1934 d.1938
Leslie Eric Noakes b.1914
John Charles Gregory Noakes b.1905 d.1983
‘Mayfield’ : A rural property off Kiowarrah Rd, Bevendale, north of Dalton, east of Boorowa, New South Wales.

Links, sources and further reading:
Trove Article; Fatal Accident at Bevendale
Trove Article: Sad Accident at Bevendale
Isabell Alchin & family; oral history account
Holgate Family Genealogy and History booklet.


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