BICENNTENNIAL BIOGRAPHY – LOCAL HISTORY STUDY
Written by Amelia Stubbs in 1988 as a high school project
I chose to write this biography about my Great Grandmother, Augusta Phyllis Stubbs because I believe she led a very interesting and fulfilled life, which made an important contribution to the Australian Community in which she lived. She became a nurse and ran her own Maternity Hospital in Rosewood, a small Queensland country town, near Ipswich. She was christened Augusta Phyllis but was known as Phyllis throughout her life. I never met her as she died before I was born but I had heard so many stories about her that when this “Being Australian Competition” was announced I jumped at the chance to write her biography. I interviewed her grandchildren, her son, daughters, daughters-in-law and a remarkable woman, Annie Gough, Phyllis’s sister, who was 99 on August the 10th and will be 100 during the Australian Bicentenary. I enjoyed seeking and discovering information about my family’s past and think it is very important to know from whom you are descended. I hope you enjoy reading about my Great Grandmother Augusta Phyllis Stubbs.
Augusta Phyllis Fullekrug was born on October 16, 1882 in the Mount Mort/Merrivale area, close to Mount Walker (a short distance from the Great Dividing Range in South East Queensland). Her parents, Heinrich and Maria Fullekrug were both German immigrants. Before their marriage Heinrich was a cattle drover and one of the fascinating incidents occurred when Heinrich was bailed up by the notorious bushranger, Dan Morgan, who stole the trail boss’s saddle and left his own in place of it while they were droving cattle to Melbourne. Afterwards, Heinrich and the trail boss exchanged saddles,so Heinrich had Morgan’s old one. Later on the children learnt to ride on that saddle.
Phyllis spent all of her childhood on the family farm at Mount Mort. She began school at the Rosevale State Primary School in 1888. She had one brother John Henry, and three sisters, Ernstein, Katherine and Annie. The family had a small herd of cattle, chickens and a few cattle dogs. The neighbouring properties around the Fullekrugs would take turns in slaughtering a beast and sharing it around with one another. The meat had to be corned otherwise with the heat and the absence of refrigeration it would go off very quickly. One time Phyllis was eating her corn meat when she noticed that it had maggots in it and she complained. Her mother’ replied, “Don’t be so fussy! Just knock them off and it will be alright”.
When Phyllis was 15 she left home and went to Ipswich to begin training as a nurse. Her daughters Vera and Corine, remember her saying to them that her mother had once said “Phyllis, don’t you ever dare look at a naked man….for if I hear you have I’ll whip you”. Unfortunately Phyllis was assigned to the men’s ward immediately and she was deeply upset when told she had to bathe a man. Shortly after she arrived at the hospital there was an outbreak of typhoid fever’ which caused the nurses: to take extreme care.
Before the motorised ambulance of today there were ambulance bearers that had to bring the patient on stretcher’s to the hospital distances up to 25 km. When they got to the hospital they were usually very tired and Phyllis’s job was to get them big jugs of tea and plates of thick bread and butter.
After working at Ipswich, Phyllis then went to work at a psychiatric hospital at Goodna, near the Ipswich area. There a doctor was murdered by a patient. Shortly after this event Phyllis was attacked by a patient who wrenched her arm back and from that moment she could never brush her hair properly. After leaving the Goodna Hospital she studied Midwifery and then she moved on to another psychiatric hospital called Willowburn in Toowoomba. After working there she practised private nursing at Matron Morell’s private hospital. She admired the Matron greatly and this was the time she first thought of having a hospital of her own.
When on holidays she would go back to her parent’s farm and it was there that she met Arthur Stubbs whose parents managed a nearby property. By happy coincidence Arthur owned a bike shop in Toowoomba at the time Phyllis was working at Willowburn) so they began courting in Toowoomba. They married on March 18th, 1914 when Phyllis was 32. They moved to Mount Mort where Phyllis had a breech birth and lost her first child before having twins on April 16, 1916, Eric Arthur and Henry Charles. In January 6th, 1918 Arthur and Phyllis had a daughter Corina Doreen.
Phyllis never forgot her wish to own a hospital and in 1919 with Arthur’s blessing she went to the bank to apply for a loan and , and when asked what security she had, she answered, “I have a hardworking husband, I’m hardworking myself, I have three children, another expected and my father is a property owner”. The loan was approved and she bought land and an old house in Rosewood which she turned into a private maternity hospital which she named Saint Kilda. On
the 24th of May, of that year, she gave birth to her fourth child Vera May. Phyllis worked very hard and her hospital became firmly established and provided a long overdue service to the Rosewood district.
In 1922 just three years after the hospital was opened, she had a breakdown from overwork. Once again the family returned to the farm at Mount Mort while someone else temporarily took over until Phyllis had fully recovered, then she and her family returned to Saint Kilda.
The hospital was always busy as there weren’t many doctors or nurses available, and although Saint Kilda was a maternity hospital Phyllis was called on for medical help in a lot of minor accidents. Everyone was always welcome at Saint Kilda, with many staying for an unpaid meal. The hospital could care for twelve patients at any one time. Phyllis was so good to her patients always giving them the utmost care and she made everybody feel comfortable and always did that extra bit more for them. That’s what made her a good nurse.
Arthur, who was not involved in the daily affairs of the hospital, had a small farm behind the hospital and grew sorghum and vegetables and had a few cows and chickens. He also ran a milk and cream transport business which served the local dairy farmers of the Rosewood District.
Finally in 1947 Phyllis closed down Saint Kilda after serving the community so loyally for 29 years. Even now, when I go to Rosewood and I ask locals about my Great Grandmother they always remember her for her outstanding commitment to Rosewood. There was a time when the majority of the people in the Rosewood district, which was a farming and mining centre, had been born at St. Kilda.
On September 22, 1951, Arthur, Phyllis’s husband died. In the following years there was a steady stream of visitors to Saint Kilda, which was now her home. There were the women who had given birth to their babies at Saint Kilda and the babies who were now growing children or adults. Phyllis being a nurse was always immaculately clean and had a beautiful smooth skin and shiny clean hair, although all she used was sunlight soap. Sadly on March 6, 1963 at the age of 80 Phyllis died. She is buried at the Ipswich Cemetery. Saint Kilda had been closed for 25 years when she died but it remains an important part of Rosewood’s history thanks to Matron Phyllis Stubbs.