Cookstown United Church Cemetery

AKA: Lewis Cemetery / Lewis Burying Ground
OGS Number: 3493

Address: 5310 County Road 27, Essa Twp
Directions: 1.8 km north of Hwy 89, west side
Geographic Twp: Essa Con 11 Lot 3

Condition: Active
Size: Over 195 stones

Office: Cookstown United Church Cemetery Board
K & K Farm Equipment
RR#1, Cookstown, Ontario, L0L 1L0
(705) 458-4442

Publications: Cookstown United Cemetery:
Barrie, Ontario, Simcoe County Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society, 2007
1973 Transcription available on microfilm at Archives of Ontario, MS451, Reel 8

David Lewis, who had been a soldier, first visited the Cookstown area in 1825. He returned in 1826 and chose Lot 3 in the 11th Concession and built a house that year making him among the earliest settlers in the area. In March, 1829, he brought his family from Hogg’s Hollow. The east end of this lot was the site of the first Methodist church and the associated cemetery became known as the Lewis burial ground, or Lewis Cemetery.

The earliest settlers conducted services in their homes. They became part of the Albion Circuit as early as 1824 and built their first church in 1825 at the Lewis site. In 1858, the Methodist Church was moved into town. In 1877, this building was purchased and transformed into a school which was remodeled in 1913. It was replaced by the present school in 1959 and the property is now known as Cookstown towers. In 1878, a new brick structure was erected at the site of the present church. It was destroyed by fire in June 1914, but was rebuilt in less than a year. In 1925, the Methodist Church became part of the United Church of Canada.

Just before Christmas 2015, the Cookstown United Church trustees decided to close the church and join with the Thornton United Church. The two are being merged under the banner of Countryside United Church. Rev. Carol McKinley said the membership has been declining steadily over the years, bottoming out to about 25 people. She said with a small congregation and maintenance costs continuing to rise, there was no other choice than to move forward with the merger. While it’s possible the church will be put up for sale before the decommissioning in May 2016, she said it wouldn’t change ownership before then. Read the entire story of the closure of this historic building online at

Based on information from:
A Condensed History of Cookstown – 115 Years, Cookstown Women’s Institute, 1962, online 2007

A History of Simcoe County, by Andrew F. Hunter, 1909, reprinted 1948.

Historic Cookstown church closing, online January 7, 2016,

Photo - Cookstown United Church Cemetery

Photo by John F. Wright, 2006

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