In 1832 Major Mitchell built a road from Mount Victoria to Hartley to replace the dangerous grades of the Bathurst Road built by William Cox. It was this new road that in the late 1830’s took Sarah, her husband James Morris and their 15 children to Hartley a distance of 130km from Sydney.(population of Australasia in 1831 was 79,306)

Sarah Mitchell was born 19/5/1792 at Parramatta and married James Morris on 24/6/1807 at Parramatta. She died 9/8/1876 at Mt York aged 84 her parents were James Wilson and Elizabeth Mitchell. She had 15 children being Elizabeth, Phoebe, Sophia, James, Thomas, William, Anne, Jane, Joan, John, William Joseph, Clara, Grant, George, Edward. Anne is my Great, Great, Great Grandmother.

The Hartley Valley provided the grazing land that the colony so desperately sought, however in the early years settlers faced more than just the enormous task of clearing the virgin bush. They faced the difficulties of not only housing their own families, but also their assigned convicts and this involved a constant supervision of the latter.

The seasons were unpredictable and communication was extremely slow and arduous. Despite these problems, the small township of Hartley slowly grew and in 1852, according to a magistrate’s annual return, the principal agricultural products of Hartley were potatoes, wheat and hay. Apples of a particularly high quality were grown in the Hartley district and the Morris family was involved in the early orchard plantings.


 The Old Court House  Hartley

The Old Church Grounds Hartley


The picture you see above is of the last road to the last journey for Annie Morris who died in 1853 aged 31 and for her father James who died in May 1854 aged 91 and for Sarah, her mother, who died in August 1876 aged 84. You can just see the cemetery in the distance at the end of the road.

 Anne Morris died aged 31 on the 15/5/1853. Her journey to the West had ended but not for one of her children. Mary Jane Peacock who was born on the 1/12/1844 at Hartley would eventually make it all the way to Forbes   to become my Great, Great Grandmother on my father’s father’s side.

                    The Historic Hartley-Vale Cemetery 

The Headstones of Annie and her parents Sarah and James Morris.


For many of the early settler families Hartley was a stopping off place along the Western Highway. The gold rush period brought abundant life to the town as miners paused to refresh themselves on their weary trudge to the fields at Turon, Sofala, Wellington and Forbes. The view above to the West is that which they would have seen on any late afternoon.

One such early settler was John Hodges who arrived in Australia on board the ship ‘Aresti’ in 1839 with his brother Charles. They passed through Hartley during the late 1840’s on their way to Wattle Flat just outside of Bathurst.  (population of Australasia in 1841 was 211,095)

John had kept in touch with his family in England and when he received word that his mother had died, he wrote back to convince his younger brother William, who had married Harriet May and now had two little girls, to migrate to Australia. Eventually William and his younger sister, Louise, arrived on board the ‘Anglo Saxon’ on 21 October, 1854. (population of Australasia in 1851 was 430,596)

William Hodges was employed soon after arrival as a stonemason and worked on the construction of  Tooths Brewery on Parramatta Rd, Broadmeadow, Sydney, NSW, Australia. By 1858 he too had made the journey over the Blue Mountains, down the Victoria Pass, through Hartley and on to Bathurst where he and his family remained until 1877 before moving to Bedgerabong. William and Harriet Hodges were my Great Great Grandparents on my father’s mother’s side.

My next stop on the journey of discovery will be Bathurst.



  1. Hi Sean,
    My great great great grandmother is Clara Morris who married Timothy Lees. Clara is Anne’s sister.
    I have not long started the journey researching my mother’s family history.
    I have just discovered your blog and this is the first piece I have read. It is lovely to see the photos of the area of Hartley. Thank you for sharing.
    I did the Ancestry DNA test and have come across a match on Ancestry who comes from George Morris, Clara & Anne’s brother.
    I hope you receive this post.
    Would be lovely to hear from you.
    Kind Regards, Raelene Beazley (nee Buddee)

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