Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Brisbane House History: more about the Stables family

Things have been a bit hectic at the Sow's Ear and it is the reason I've been absent here for the past fortnight. There's lots happening which I will be able to tell you about next week. It's huge and I can't wait to share my news with you...

Anyway, I had promised you some more information about the Stables family who had originally owned and built the Sow's Ear in the late 1920s. I am still slightly gob-smacked that I have finally been able to fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle I have been trying to unravel these past few years.

Apparently there are diaries and illustrations from Zoila Stables which span over 40 years. Many thanks must go to the relatives who have compiled the following information of the Stables family.

Mary Ann Florence Day
So, the Stables children began life in Argentina. Their mother Mary Ann Florence Day, also known as Florry, was born in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1870.  She was the first child of Robert and Emma Day. Florry was a tall lady of six feet and was mother to Zoila, Florence and Stanley (who are on the original house title deed of the Sow's Ear). The children also grew to be six foot or more.

The Stables family were part of the large Welsh colony which settled in Argentina during the period of 1865 to 1914 to farm. "Little Wales beyond Wales" was the aim of the settlement and today there is still an evident Welsh culture and language that has survived in the Patagonia.

When Florry was 15 years old she embarked with her five brothers and sisters by the ship Tainui, to follow her father Robert and stepmother Annie to Argentina (Robert was wanted by police for theft, fleeing NZ to South America...that's a whole other story!).

William C Stables

Florry married William Cordukes Stables.  William was from a well-to-do family in England and he spoke many languages. He was an analytical chemist and worked in England and Paris, before travelling to Argentina. He analysed the Buenos Aires water supply and wrote a letter in the newspaper describing how impure it was.  William made things hot for himself and the chemist he worked for accused him of using his drugs to analyse the water.  He left for Rosario, where he met and eventually married  Florry. William and Florry moved to Colony 16 de Octubre living there on the property with Robert and Annie in the wilds of Chubut.

The Stables welcomed the arrival of Zoila Ceferina Mabel (known as Dolly), born on 26 August 1898 to the family.  Florence Mary Ethel (known as Ethel) was born 24 December 1900 and the last, Stanley, was born 10 December 1902.

When Robert and Annie Day decided to move from Argentina, Florry and William also made the decision to go with them.  They lived in Scotland, with Annie and her family, where the children went to school. Robert Day was scouting out a new life for them all, where they could farm under the British flag. North Queensland was the place decided upon.

Florry and her children, sailed from England on 8 July 1911 aboard the S.S. Rimutaka arriving in Brisbane on the 26 August in the same year. They lived at Southernwood near Emerald with the contingent of other Argentine settlers.

Their next permanent home was at Yeppoon, on the coast, east of Rockhampton.  They grew almost every kind of tropical and non-tropical produce, they were even known to try their hand at growing cotton. This property was called Palm Grove.

The Stables children, now almost grown, had a large part of the work assigned to them, along with achieving skills of their own such as music and drawing.

They also gained academic qualifications, which saw both Zoila and Stanley gaining degrees from the University of Queensland.  Most of their study was done by correspondence until the family moved to Brisbane (the Sow's Ear) for them to complete their degrees.        
One of Zoila's illustrations

Zoila gained a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Literature and subsequently wrote many articles and some books. She also worked as a commercial artist and had a love of photography.

Ethel and Alan Lucy

Ethel studied and became a nurse, she moved with the family to Brisbane in 1927.  She met Alan Bertram Lucy, who was born 30 May 1904 in St. Paul’s Street, Randwick, Sydney - he had studied and worked with Stanley.  (Alan was orphaned at the age of 15, while playing in a game of cricket.  He hit his father in the head with a cricket ball, which killed his father. A fund was set up to help him continue his studies at Mechanical Engineering and he was awarded an apprenticeship with Evans Deacon & Co in Brisbane). He suffered all his life from epilepsy.  Alan and Ethel were married in Brisbane, on 8 November 1933, in the Albert Street Methodist Church.

Stanley graduated, with a degree in Engineering, which took him to New Guinea during WW2.  He was employed to build many roads and bridges and an aerodrome for the Americans.  He often talked to the Italian POWs, (there were many Italians in Argentina, so he spoke their language) which made the Americans suspicious of him.  They thought he was spying, so they sacked him. An investigation was held and proved the allegations unfounded.  For the rest of his working life, Stanley was employed by the Department of Main Roads, initially as a surveyor and then second in charge, where he preferred his wages to be paid in ten pound notes.

William died in 1935, Florry died in 1943, Alan died in 1954, Ethel died in 1971, Zoila died in 1987 and Stanley, the last of this line of the Stables family, died in 1989.


  1. That's an absolutely amazing story. I'm so delighted for you that you've been able to put together so much of the story of the family. That's no small accomplishment, and you must be thrilled. I can't wait to hear your big news next week.

    1. Oh thanks Dana! It's just been fabulous to find out all this information. Such an interesting family! xx

  2. Wow - who would have thought the story would encompass so much history. From Wales to Argentina to Australia! It is absolutely fascinating.
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

  3. Wow, this is fascinating!! How amazing that you are able to find out all of this history about the previous owners and occupants of your home, it really must make you feel a huge appreciation for the history of the house. Looking forward to hearing your exciting news! xx

  4. Wow! So interesting! Looking forward to hearing your news too. Hmmm.... x

  5. This is so interesting! Thank you for sharing. It must make your home feel extra special, to know the history of the people who lived in it before you.

  6. Wow, what an amazing journey to end up in Brisbane!
    Can't wait for the big reveal :)

  7. What an amazing story - poor Alan, how tragic.

  8. Excellent work! Love the history that you have uncovered - it must give you a wonderful sense of your house.

  9. How nice to finally complete your investigations into this home. Is this timely perhaps????? Could the big news be that it is now time to say goodbye to the sows ear? Tease, tease... ;-) x

  10. Oh wow!! I'm speechless! Not only did you get all that information, but you've put it together into such a fantastic tale too!! What an adventure! The pics are amazing too, I especially love the first one of Mary Ann. Can't wait to hear your big news:-)

  11. Amazing to get all the history together!! And so many photos too. What a score - did Magnus have a hand in this or was it a solo historical research effort?

    Looking forward to hearing your big news... Do I sense a future project and new blog adventure on the horizon (she says excitedly)? xx


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