On 25 October 1907 John Guy bought a property of 26 acres 3 perches on the east corner of Great North Road and Cemetery Road, Swanson (now Swanson Road and O’Neill’s Road). The previous owner, James Smith, had been a gardener at Mansion House, Kawau Island. When John Guy took over the property, established shelter belts of pinus maritina and macrocarpa gave protection to a variety of unusual ornamental trees and shrubs. John Guy moved to Swanson with his eldest daughter Lottie.
Located on the valley floor, the land was potentially very fertile, but covered with scrub, full of holes left by the gumdiggers, and much of it swampy. The house was approached from both road frontages by long tree-lined avenues.
By 1913 the land was half cleared. It carried four dairy cows, two horses, Feral pigs, a small poultry flock, several beehives, a vegetable garden and a developing orchard. In 1913 John Guy sold “Lealands” to his son John Beecher Guy.
When they moved to Swanson, John Beecher Guy and his wife Lily had eight children, so he added extra rooms and erected a joinery workshop and later the boys’ sleepout. He travelled to Auckland each day by train to work at the Premier Joinery Co, a long day from 6am to 7am, and a half-day on Saturday. He often worked by lamplight on the farm in the evenings and spent most of his weekends clearing, ploughing, fencing and laying an extensive drainage system. Drainage of the ancient kauri swamps was backbreaking work, complicated by the presence of submerged fallen trees. For the older children there was the profitable fun of digging and scraping kauri gum for pocket money.
After World War I John worked for several years a part-time woodwork instructor for the Auckland Education Board at the Helensville Manual Training Centre, commuting to Helensville by train, and receiving 20 shillings per day.
By the 1930s “Lealands’ park-like setting had been enhanced by of native and exotic trees, extensive lawns, a tennis court with rose pergola and strelitzia (bird of paradise) plants. Lily took great pleasure from her prize-winning poultry and ducks.
John Beecher Guy took an active part in many local organisations. A Justice of the Peace, he was a member of the Swanson School Committee, much of the time as its Chairman. He was also a member of the Ratepayers’ Committee, a trustee of Swanson Cemetery and a member of the Swanson Hall Committee.
In character John Beecher was strict, patriarchal and honest. He held high ideals and, although he had a marked sense of humour, he took a serious view of life. He was a hard worker, operating the joinery factory by day, working on his plans and estimates in the evenings, as well as helping on the farm. A lifelong heavy smoker, John Beecher Guy died of cancer on 28 June 1938, aged 65 and was buried in Swanson Cemetery.
Despite her very busy family life, Lily found time in 1926 to join her sister-in-law Lottie as a founder member of the Swanson Country Women’s Institute. The “Lealands” property was sold in 1960. Lily died in 1980, aged 98, after having a family of 15 children in 26 years.
John Beecher Guy’s sister, Lottie (Charlotte Mary Guy 1875-1957) ran a small shop in the late 1920s.
Lottie was a founding member of the Women’s Institute. She often recited at the socials, including a reading on the life of John Ruskin, with whom her father had been closely associated in England. Lottie was a keen gardener, fond of walking, and in her youth, a good tennis player. She was accomplished in crocheting, knitting, tapestry and embroidery, and played the violin. She wrote letters to newspapers and politicians on various topics such as religious instruction in schools, which she opposed.