REVELATIONS OF AN OLD CEMETERY To some people one of
the most interesting visits to a town, is its cemetery, especially if that
cemetery be an old one. One of the oldest cemeteries in the State is to be found
at Wollombi, and in a brief way it provides much history, and a veritable budget
of food for thought.
A perusal of the inscriptions on the older stones takes the reader back
to the earlier pioneering days when conditions were so vastly different
to what they are today. The oldest stone, or the stone giving evidence
of the oldest burial in the Wollombi cemetery is that of an infant
Thomas Bellamy, which gives the date of the internment as 24th December,
1846. Another infant, James Andrew Weir, was interred on November 13,
1847. Both of these stones are situated in the Church of England portion
of the cemetery.
An early inscription, and perhaps one the most interesting, that is in
the cemetery reads: — 'Erected over the remains of J. W. Du Moulin,
Surgeon, by the people of Wollombi, who are anxious to perpetuate the
memory of a man whose many sterling qualities have ever linked his name
with the kindest and most enduring recollections. He died June 5, 1864;
aged 43 years. The stone is in the Church of England portion. The
inscription speaks for itself. Surgeon Du Moulin must have been a very
popular man. Over 70 years after his death his sterling qualities are
left as a memento by the old pioneers of Wollombi. Evidently this Du
Moulin, was the "big" man of Wollombi in his day.
Another most interesting stone, although one not so old, reads as
follows: — 'Michael Byrne, died 14th February, 1868, aged 69 years.
Native of Dublin, and a resident of Wollombi for 36 years.' The
inscription indicates that Michael Byrne came to Wollombi in 1827,
nearly a century ago. Surely Michael Byrne was among the earliest
arrivals at Wollombi.
Amongst the earliest inscriptions are those recording the deaths of Mary
Ann Delander in 1850, aged 37; Catherine Campbell in 1851, aged 83;
William Campbell, in 1853, aged 42; David Brassie, in 1853, aged 53; and
Timothy Mannix in l854. In the '50's and right up to the '90's there is
evidence that the Wollombi cemetery was the Sandgate of those days.
There are many inscriptions that indicate that it was the Cessnock
burial ground. An inscription dated 24th September, 1851, is over the
remains of George McGrane, infant son of Bernard McGrane, of Cessnock.
On May 30, 1878 a son aged 1 year 10 months, of Mr. John and Ann Doyle,
of Cessnock, was interred. In 1863, Ellen, beloved wife of George
Carroll was buried, aged 66. In 1874 George Carroll (late of Cessnock,
according to the inscription) was laid besides the remains of his wife,
aged 76. The Carroll's were the parents of the late and highly respected
Mrs. John Doyle.
One inscription reads-: "Henrietta Sweetman, died 5th September, 1859;
aged 21 years. Also her infant daughter, Margaret Sophia Sweetman, who
died the same day, aged 3 months." Inquiry will reveal that the young
mother and her infant daughter met a tragic death. They were drowned in
an arm of the Wollombi Brook, known as Bally's Arm. At an inquest
inquiring into the circumstances a verdict of accidental death was
returned. The sorrow caused by the fatality is now forgotten. Probably
there are few who can recall the tragic occurrence. An inscription
records that David Dunlop died on March 24, 1864, aged 70 years. The
deceased, it appears, was the then police magistrate. He dropped dead on
the road from Laguna to Wollombi, and an inscribed stone to-day marks
the spot where he breathed his last.
There are several vaults in the cemetery and much of interest to the
fossicker of old history. The whole of the Wollombi district abounds in
interesting land marks of ye older days. It would appear from the stones
that the earliest burial was in 1846. Before the cemetery was made,
however, it must have been the custom to bury the dead in convenient
localities. There are several graves in the Wollombi district with
stones erected over them, and which indicate that there was no general
cemetery in those early days. About five miles from Wollombi, and near
Sweetman's Creek, is an old grave. The inscription records that the
remains of Sergeant Thomas Budd were laid to rest on September 12th,
1833—13 years before the earliest recorded burial in the Wollombi
cemetery. The Cessnock Eagle 31 July 1925
Notes & Links:
here to find out more about James Andrew du Moulin.