Lena Hayles was born in Pontypool, Wales on 12 September 1863. She was the eldest child of William Sampson and Annie Hayles. Along with her parents and two younger siblings the family arrived in Australia in 1870 on board the ‘Young Australia’.
On arriving in Australia the family moved to Yatala where they remained until 1877. It was while living in Yatala that Lena attended Beenleigh State School and at the age of 13 entered the Department of Education as a pupil teacher at the same school.
When the family moved to Nerang she transferred to Nerang State School and became the first pupil teacher at this school.
In 1881 Lena married Edward Cooper. They were married in St Margaret’s Church of England, Nerang by Rev. James Gilbertson. Lena and Edward went on to have five sons and five daughters.
Lena was a keen reader and writer and kept diaries with details of personal experiences and local events. Together with her husband they farmed land at Carrara. The site became the Carrara Sports Stadium.
Lena still taught after she married and was the teacher in charge of the Carrara State School from 1902.
Her husband died in 1916 and Lena remained a widow until her death in 1965 aged 101 years and 9 months. She remained active in farm life until a few months before her death.
Sources of information and further reading
- Personal recollections of a family member provided to the City of Gold Coast Local Studies Library.
- “Queensland Patriotic Fund.” The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933) 12 Oct 1914: 8. Web. 6 Jan 2016. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article19988981