Blue Mountains Crossing Bicentenary 1813-2013
ACCORDING to William Lawson (written in his journal he wrote on the crossing of the mountains) it took two hours to descend from the mountain now known as Mt York into the valley (now the Hartley Valley).
Lawson described the land that lay in front of them as a fine meadow encamped along a fine stream (this would have been River Lett).
Fast forward to March 1821 (still six years after the road over the mountains was completed) and the first settler to the valley, John Grant, settled on 50 acres at the foot of Mt Victoria.
John Grant was born in 1792 in Moyne and in August 1810 was sentenced to life transportation to Australia at Clonmel for the attempted shooting of his landlord’s son.
On arrival John had the good fortune of being assigned to William Redfern, the emancipated assistant surgeon, where he held the position of overseer of Redfern’s farm by 1817.
In 1814 John married Jane O’Brien, an Irish Catholic who had been sentenced to 14 years transportation in 1811, and they had three children.
Not long after his marriage to Jane he petitioned Governor Macquarie for mitigation of his sentence and stressed that he was a family man and trusted servant of William Redfern.
He was granted a ticket of leave and within three years granted a conditional pardon (his condition being to stay in Australia).
It was now 1820 when John was pardoned and he was appointed constable of Campbelltown within three months of becoming a free man.
John only held the position for six months before he resigned.
John Grant had decided his future lay in the west of the Blue Mountains and when the opportunity arose to take up land at Hartley, he did.
The property where he built his home was named Moyne Farm after his birth place and by 1823 was found selling wheat to the government store.
For the next three years after 1823 John bought more land and increased production until in 1826 tragedy struck and his wife Jane died at the age of 34 leaving their three children, Jeremiah, Mary and Ellenor, without a mother.
The Redferns remained in John Grant’s life even after freedom was granted and Sarah Redfern took on the care of John’s three children.
So bereaved was John Grant over the loss of his wife he took to the bottle for comfort.
The Redferns persuaded him to remarry and introduced him to Elizabeth West. They married in 1833 and had nine children.
In 1853 his son John married Julia Finn of Hartley and as a wedding present signed over Moyne Farm plus a further 160 acres.
By now John Grant owned a considerable amount of land and lived on his estates at Merriganowry on the Lachlan River.
Moyne Farm, although on less land, has remained intact and close to original over the years, except for the kitchen that has finally given way