John and Emily Mayes and their two small children, Joshua and Ruth, arrived in Brisbane from England aboard the ship Indus on 21 July 1871. On 27 June 1873, John took up 321 acres of land in the area that was later to become Kingston. At that time it was simply known as Scrubby Creek.
After settling in Queensland, John and Emily had five more children, Rachel, Mary Matilda, Josiah, Leonard and Edith.
According to family stories, the Mayes made their income from selling timber as they cleared the land. They built a slab hut, planted fruit trees, pineapples and grapes, and kept bees. They sold their produce in Brisbane or Beenleigh. By 1887, the Mayes had prospered and built a new house of sawn timber. They called it Pleasant Place and it survives today as Mayes Cottage.
Slab hut, cow shed and dairy
The slab hut was the Mayes' original home. Most of the slabs were cut from the outer timbers of large logs. They split the logs by driving metal wedges into the wood along the grain to make the slabs for the side walls of the hut. The original roof was made of bark and was later replaced with wooden shingles.
When the house was completed in 1887, the family moved and the hut became a shelter for a buggy and much later for a car.
The slab hut was built with excellent craftsmanship. lan Rohl, Josiah Mayes' grandson, remembers that the hut was still secure against rain and the wind 60 years after it was built.
Mayes Cottage contains original family furniture dating from the 1880s to the 1930s. John and Emily Mayes' eldest surviving son, Josiah, lived in the cottage until the 1930s.
The interior rooms may seem small and hardly furnished to us. But the Mayes family thought this was a better-than-average home.
The cottage has two bedrooms, a sitting room, a formal dining room, a sleepout, and a kitchen. The bathroom is currently not accessible to the public.
When Josiah and Daisy Mayes lived in the cottage, the dining room was the place where the family would meet for Sunday dinners. Ian Rohl recalled many family sing-alongs. In the absence of radio or television, sing-alongs were the only source of home musical entertainment.
The kitchen was separate from the rest of the cottage. This limited the potential for a fire to destroy the entire building. The kitchen was the real centre of the family's daily life. It was the place where Daisy, like most women of her day, spent most of her time. In the kitchen, she would make her own butter, jams and bottled fruit. She preserved fruit and vegetables in season for the off-season. She cooked what was needed for a family, hungry after a full day's work. Daisy also made and mended clothes on the sewing machine.