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As It Was: Ranch Women Survive in Difficult Circumstances

The Brown girls, Jennie, Mary and Emogene, were born in Oregon in the 1860s.  They grew up shifting summer and winter between the family’s two properties, spending winters on a gold claim on Sterling Creek out of Jacksonville, and summers on a large cattle ranch east of Eagle Point.

Each of the girls married a local rancher and remained neighbors as adults.

Jennie had seven children, and kept house for her husband and ranch hands, carded and spun wool, kept a garden, fed orphaned livestock, educated her children, and did other things in-between.  By 1910 Mary and Emogene were widows with young children. They had the same responsibilities as their sister besides managing their ranches.

Emogene and her three boys developed a purebred Hereford cattle herd.  This required careful record keeping.  Money was always tight.  Unlike her father, Emogene didn’t have access to a jar of gold dust from his mine when expenses came up.

What all the Brown women had was determination, nearby family support, and a culture where neighbors looked after one another. They succeeded in difficult circumstances.

Source: Edwards, Patsy C. Heritage Ranch Family--2017: The Charley Brothers; Floyd, Claus and Leland Charley. The Jackson County Stockmen's Association & The Jackson County Cattlewomen, 1917,pp. 9-11 and 18-20.

Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.