Cooyal Methodist Church
According to records held by the Uniting Church Records and Historical Society, the Cooyal Cemetery was established by the Primitive Methodist Church in 1881 and administered by a board of Trustees. In 1901, the Primitive Methodist and the Wesleyan Methodist Churches united. Somewhere around that time, the Cooyal property was sold to the Anglican Church, Diocese of Bathurst, in whose hands it has since remained. It is understood that the original slab church building was replaced by the present weatherboard structure in the 1920s.
When we first visited this cemetery in 2002, it presented a dismal sight indeed, its desecration being almost total. The burial area behind St James' Anglican Church was totally neglected. The shattered remains of headstones lay amid long weeds and sheep manure. Only three of the headstones remained relatively intact and we were presented with quite a challenge to decipher what inscriptions remained.
However, in 2007, at the instigation of local resident Joyce Purtle and with the help of a group of hard-working volunteers and a grant from the Keep Australia Beautiful Foundation, work began on its restoration. The Mudgee Weekly reported the cemetery restoration in its issue of 10 June 2009. It says that after seven truckloads of rubbish was removed from the site, headstones were reassembled and remounted and the whole area enclosed with decorative heritage fence. The transformation is truly remarkable and a great credit to Joyce and everyone else involved in this worthwhile project.
The list of inscriptions for this cemetery comprises all visible inscriptions augmented by several other known burials in unmarked graves. We acknowledge with thanks additional data supplied by David and Sandra Bales and Eric Cupitt whose grandparents are buried at Cooyal. The opportunity has also been taken to include in the cemetery list two sons of George & Jane Emma Cupitt who died in 1869. Although their deaths occurred before this cemetery was established, their death entries state that they were buried at Cooyal, probably on a local property.
In compiling the list, we referred to the NSW indexes of births, deaths and marriages for additional information. Digital images of inscriptions may be downloaded from the list of inscriptions.
Cooyal is a locality about 23km north-east of Mudgee. From Mudgee, take the Ulan Road north out of town for 10km to Putta Bucca and turn right onto Wollar Road. At Cooyal turn left into O'Brien's Lane from where it is 0.5km to St Andrew's Anglican Church and the cemetery adjoining.
For further information, phone Joyce Purtle at 02 6373 5211. The property is owned by the Bathurst Diocese of the Anglican Church of Australia. The Diocesan Office is located at 3 Church Street, Bathurst NSW 2795 Australia.
17 Dec 2009
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