In 1872, John Hannan and Ellen Kelleher had been married 20 years, having been married at Liverpool, NSW in 1852. John had been born in County Leitrim, Ireland about 1820 and Ellen had been born in County Clare in 1833. They had been living since 1855 at Mutbilly, a small settlement on the Breadalbane Plains, half way between Gunning and Goulburn. Their eldest child Patrick was now 17 and their youngest, Christina, was born in 1872. Nine children had been born between 1855 and 1872, a further child would be born in 1875.
The catholic church at Mutbilly (St Brigid's) had been built by Father McAlroy seven years before, on land owned by John Hannan. In 1872 Father Michael McAlroy was living at Olive St., Albury, according to Greville's directory. The churchyard had not been established in 1862 when John and Ellen's daughter Elizabeth (aged 20 months) had died, so Elizabeth was buried in Goulburn.
The railway was now operational between Sydney and Goulburn but had not been extended to Gunning. A mail coach, operated by Cobb and Co., ran six days a week between Goulburn and Yass and called at Mutbilly at 2.45 am (from Goulburn) and 8 am (from Yass). 96 families were registered in the Post Town of "Mutt Billy". Addresses included Breadalbane (later known as Parkesbourne), Reedy Creek (north west of Breadalbane Hotel), Diamond Creek (north of "Mount Pleasant", between Cullerin and Fish River), Little Razor Back, Dairy Flat, Chain of Ponds (probably on the Collector Road, based on the fact that three Goodwin families lived there) and Wollogorang.
A number of families had simply "Mutt Billy" as their address in Greville's directory, including John Hannon, whose occupation was given as storekeeper. From the Birth Certificates for his children, John Hannan was an innkeeper or publican from 1868 to 1875, whereas he had been a farmer from 1855 to 1866. In 1867 or 1868 John took over the hotel, known in 1860 and 1874 as the Breadalbane Hotel, from Thomas Lodge, who had been charged with being an accomplice of bushrangers in 1865. Publicans Licences show that Thomas James Lodge was the licensee of the "Coach and Horses" Inn on the Breadalbane Plains in 1856 and 1858 and licensee of the "Breadalbane Hotel" in 1860. The records show that Mrs. James Lodge was also the licensee of the "Coach and Horses" Inn in 1856 when the distance from the nearest licensed house was 15 miles. In the list of contributors to the catholic church in Gunning in 1859, John Hannan and Thomas Lodge are listed one after the other. Mrs Lodge was the Nurse or Witness at the births of Francis and Elizabeth Hannan in 1858 and 1860 - Mrs Lodge could have been either Thomas' mother Rebecca, who gave birth to John Benjamin Lodge at Breadalbane Hotel in 1851 or Thomas' wife Mary, whom he married in 1853. It is not clear where Thomas Lodge was living in 1872 - there is a Thomas Lodge living at Jacqua, 135 miles south of Sydney, near Bungonia. Thomas Lodge, son of Henry and Rebecca Lodge, died at Carcoar (near Blayney) in 1906, aged about 73. Thomas' mother Rebecca died in 1893, aged 87, and is buried in the Catholic section of Queanbeyan Riverside Cemetery. Thomas' younger brother, John Benjamin died in 1910 and is buried in the Anglican section of Queanbeyan Riverside Cemetery.
John would not take over the Post Office until 1875. The name of the Postmaster at Mutbilly in 1872 is not disclosed in Greville's directory. Most inhabitants of Mutbilly are farmers but the range of occupations is varied - farmer, mason, storekeeper, carrier, builder, overseer, blacksmith, bootmaker, stockman, JP, shepherd, labourer, teacher (there was only one teacher and he was at Parkesbourne), innkeeper and carpenter.
The school at Mutbilly, which had been opened in 1868, was closed in 1869, because of insufficient pupils attending, and would not be reopened until 1875. John Hannan was the first on the list of parents who, in 1885, requested the "Department of Instruction" to provide more adequate accommodation for the teacher and his family of nine. By 1885 there were 64 children attending the school.