Most permanent address
Many of our local historians are inclined to neglect the wealth of local history that exists in small town cemeteries.
These burial grounds contain, the permanent addresses, of those who have helped to make our community great. Our Coolah cemetery contains 1200 internments being the names of early pioneers, past citizens and others.
It is now the resting place of those 70 persons who served in the Sudanese war, the Boer War, both World Wars and conflicts since.
A few of our veterans have neither a headstone or marker.
The first burial in the Coolah cemetery was Thomas Leeson, who fell from a horse on the out shirts of Coolah on 40th June, 1857, when aged x years.
Thomas came to Australia with his wife Maria in 1840.
For a remarkable small cemetery it contains the burials of two who served the area as shire clerks and four, including two women, who have been awarded the Order of Australia Medal and one Englishman who gained the British Empire Medal.
Alice Maud Doolan, buried in the Coolah Cemetery in 1972 is the daughter of Henry Augustus Volckers, a nurseryman, who planted the first Grafton Jacaranda Avenue in 1870. The avenue is now the draw card for Grafton’s
Annual Jacaranda Festival. Geoffrey Grant Gulliver, interred in 1988, is the son of Alexander Richard Gulliver, who in surveyed, in 1896 , the line for the first railway tunnel under the Andes Mountain in Chile.
His surveyor’s link chains are held by a Coolah citizen. Another is Sergeant Edgar John Williams buried with his mother and brother.
Edgar was killed in a motor accident opposite the Wooddale property near Coolah in August, 1926.
He was the third officer of the Police Force to be killed in a motor accident while on duty.
On the unconsecrated section of the cemetery are buried two persons who took their own lives.
One was Rachele Ines De Marco, aged 21years, buried in the year 1899, wife of local doctor Emilio DeMarco.
The other is recorded, in the year 1910, as Mahala Bourne, 30 years old, daughter of the local school head master, James W F Bourne.
Two headstones in cemetery with broken columns signify that the person buried lived only a short life.
One stands in the Coolah cemetery to Rachele DeMarco mentioned above.
The other has three columns on the tombstone of three related persons, whose ages on interment were 73, 81 and 84, they certainly lived beyond a youthful life!
Very few murderers have been given the right to be buried in the grounds of a public cemetery.
A well-known example was Joe Governor, who with his brother Jimmy committed more than seven murders.
Joe was fatally shot by one of his pursuers, John Wilkinson, near Singleton on October 31, 1900.
He was buried outside the fence of the nearby Whittingham cemetery.
John Taylor, who murdered his wife Elizabeth near Cobborah in 1869 is also said to be buried outside the local cemetery.
Almost a sub-tribe of Aboriginees is buried nearby outside the Coolah cemetery.
The following information was supplied by James Tuckey, Coolah identity, which appeared in the book, “Around the Black Stump”.
Poor unfortunate Aboriginals living in the vicinity of Coolah in the late 1870s were starving and died by the dozens in the winter.
Their bodies were collected in a spring cart and thrown in a big hole on land which is now part of Walker Street, between the Coolah Cemetery and the Convent School grounds.
- by Roy Cameron OAM