According to family stories, the Mayes initially made their income from selling timber as they cleared the land. Fruit trees, pineapples and grapes were planted and the produce sold in Brisbane or Beenleigh. Bees were also kept.
By 1887, the Mayes had prospered and were able to build a new house of sawn timber. They called it "Pleasant Place" and it survives today as "Mayes Cottage". The Mayes family continued to supply timber including pit props for Ipswich coal mines, fence posts and long poles for foundation piles or bridge bearers.
Mayes Cottage is now a colonial House Museum and is open for tours every Thursday and Friday from 10.30 am to 4 pm, at 20 Mawarra Street, Kingston. Entry is free. For enquiries or to book groups of over 15 people, please phone 07 3412 4147 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
John and Emily Mayes may well have been attracted to Australia by the stories they had heard from their relations, the Kingstons. Although the living conditions here then were rough, they represented an improvement to the prospects many working men faced back in England. It is thought that stories of these opportunities were major factors in attracting new settlers to the colony. John and Emily Mayes and their two children, Joshua (3) and Ruth (1), sailed from England in the sailing ship Indus in 1871. The family grew to seven children. The district was beginning to expand as well, with more and more settlers coming in to take up the available land.
The railway made a huge difference to the development prospects in the area. The late 1880s were a time of great prosperity. Not only did the coming of the railway mean that people could more easily transport their foods to markets in Brisbane, but building materials could also be accessed. The arrival of the railway was probably a factor in John Mayes' decision to build the house we now know as Mayes Cottage, which was completed in January 1887.
Despite the hardships endured in those early years, we can assume that this was a happy home by the name given to the home by John and Emily - "Pleasant Place", an ideal name for a cottage that commands such beautiful views. It symbolises the pride and the ideals of Logan residents.
Slab hut, cow shed and dairy
The slab hut was the original home of John and Emily Mayes, the founders of this property. Most of the slabs were cut from the outer timbers of large logs. Those logs would have been cut on the property, by axe and wedge, then trimmed with an adze. The original roof was made of bark and was later replaced with shingles.
When the house was completed in 1887, the family moved and the hut became a shelter for a buggy and much later a car. As an example of the craftsmanship involved, lan Rohl remembers that the hut was still secure against rain and the wind sixty years after it was built. You might think that this was a hard way for a family to live, especially when there was little here but scrub. Emily cooked on an open fire and used a hollowed-out anthill as an oven.
Consider then what John and Emily had left behind. John had been employed as a gardener on an estate in Bedfordshire England, while his wife worked as a house servant. There, they had little to look forward to but a life of uncertain servitude. Here, in Australia they owned 320 acres, an unheard of opportunity back in England.
Mayes Cottage is a genuine relic of Australia's and Queensland's pioneering age. Genuine because it is almost exactly as it was when it was built over a hundred years ago, in 1887. This house, and what remains of the original slab hut that stands outside, are originals, not reproductions.
The house was built sixteen years after John and Emily Mayes had first arrived here. It contains original family furniture dating from the 1880s until the 1930s, when John and Emily's eldest surviving son, Josiah, lived here. Comparing what you see here, with the many conveniences we enjoy these days, the lounge may seem small and sparsely furnished. But, to Josiah and Daisy, and to the whole Mayes family, this was a "better than average" home. It remains to this day, a touchstone for them all.
John and Emily Mayes brought their family up in this house, after surviving their first years in a simple slab hut. The dining room was the place where the family gathered on formal occasions.
When Josiah and Daisy lived here, the dining room was the place where the family would meet for Sunday dinner. That was, of course, if they weren't involved in choir practice after the morning church service. On those occasions, the family would take lunch with them, as the trip to and from Loganlea where the nearest church was located, would have made the more formal dinner at home far too late.
Ian Rohl, Josiah's grandson, remembers occasions when the family would gather around the piano for a good old sing along. In this era, few people had a wireless and no one had tv. This was the era when you made your own fun and you learned to appreciate your family's voices and each one's ability to entertain the rest of the gathering. This was the most precious time of family life.
Kitchen and laundry
Built separate from the rest of the house, partly as a means of limiting the potential for a fire to take hold and destroy the entire house, the kitchen was the real centre of the family's daily life. Beyond all of the other rooms in the house, this was the place where Daisy, like most pioneering women, spent the great bulk of her time.
Daisy was always busy making cream, butter and jams, and bottling fruit, preserving what she could for the off-season. Daisy would make or mend cloths on the sewing machine and then cook what was needed for a family hungry after a full day's work. There was no timer on the wood-burning stove and certainly no microwave to speed up the cooking. Baking bread was a daily necessity. It would take anything up to three hours to prepare a roast dinner for the table. When Daisy wasn't busy in the kitchen, she was boiling clothes in the copper so her family had clean sheets and underwear.