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Patriarch of Devon House Hon. George Stiebel C.M.G.

Magdalene Stiebel

In 1851 George’s life took a turn for the better when he married long time sweetheart Magdalene Baker, daughter of a Moravian Missionary. Soon after their son Sigismund, named after George’s father, was born. Two years later a girl, Theresa, joined the Stiebel family. Five years after their marriage, his ships were caught in a terrible storm, which destroyed the vessels. Unfortunately Stiebel was aboard one of the ships which sank off the coast of Venezuela. He managed to survive the wreckage and luckily he had the foresight to secure all his money which was stored in a leather belt . Stiebel’s tenacity soon began to show results, because shortly after arriving in Venezuela he became a peddler, and with his savings he purchased a mule to assist in transporting his goods. His misfortune at sea quickly dulled when he began trading gold in Venezuela. He invested in a gold mine with his friends, and fifteen years later in 1873 the business was showing huge profits. George Stiebel had undoubtedly made an impressive stake in the goldmining business and the accolade awarded to him as Jamaica’s first black millionaire seemed very deserving and appropriate. His achievements were shattered however with the death of his son, and he returned home to Jamaica.

Stiebel’s love for his country and sense of civic duty kicked in almost immediately after his return to Jamaica. It is reported that he purchased 99 properties (it was illegal to own 100 properties during the period) including two sugar estates, a wharf at Church Street, Great Salt Pond and a Cattle Pen named Minard, in St. Ann.

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