St. Anne`s Church of Ireland.
In 1843 a portion of land was given to the Hon. Torrens of Derrynoid, by the landlord John Stevenson, for the purpose of building a church to serve the local patrons of the Church of Ireland in Sixtowns. A fine church was built a small rise in Cavanreagh and on August 9th 1843 the new Church of St. Anne was consecrated by the Right Rev. R. Ponsonby, Bishop of Derry.
It is said that there were 350 people at this service and absent that day because of a prior engagement was the newly appointed curate, Rev. Thomas de Vere Coneys. He eventually arrived to take up his duties in October 1843 to a huge reception. The local congregation were clearly delighted with their new church. It is said that there were 280 people present that day and that among them were 80 teachers of Irish. The sermon was preached in both Irish and English. The new curate of St. Anne`s was Professor of Irish in Trinity College , Dublin and he had a great interest in the Irish language. He seems to have been involved in teaching Irish and working with teachers of Irish in the Moyola valley area during his time in Sixtowns. This would explain why there were 80 teachers of Irish present for the consecration of St. Anne`s and his eventual inauguration on that day in October 1843.
Rev. Ponsonby was replaced by another famous scholar of Irish studies, the Rev. R.S. King. He took up his ministry on April 20th 1845. It seems that he was more cut out to be an academic than a preacher and was known to be unsettled while in Sixtowns, eventually leaving to go back to Dublin on June 29th 1847. While in Sixtowns, Rev. King kept a preachers book which not only gave account of happenings in St. Anne`s but small pieces of information about everyday life in Sixtowns during his time there. Some of these writings can be found in Rev. Thomas R McKnight`s booklet, The Little Church in the Valley, St. Anne`s. King died in Ballymena on January 4th 1900 and never became a priest. He remained a deacon all of his life. In 1851 Rev. James Twigg Wright replaced Rev. King and in 1853 he was replaced by Rev. Mathew Trant Moriarty, a Kerry man. Moriarty was to remain at St. Anne`s until 1874. It seems that he did not keep records and this may indicate a decline in interest in the Church. After that the clergy of St. Columba`s at Draperstown seem to have worked much closer with St. Anne`s as the number of patrons of that church began to fall. It is noted that the church had fallen into disrepair by the 1870`s after which it got a facelift. St. Anne`s celebrated its centenary in 1943 when services were conducted by Rev. H.A.E Egan who urged the then small congregation to keep their church in good repair regardless of their size.
Surnames of St. Anne`s.
Surnames associated with St. Anne`s church were , Sinclair Taylor, Deane, Elder, McKeown, Hassan, Dornan, Reid, Loughlin, McGonigle, Leacock, McCrea and Bradley. The last local member of the church to have been buried there was Martha Bradley (nee Sinclair) This pretty little church is rarely used nowadays except on special occasions when an ecumenical service would take place at Harvest or Christmas.
The lodge was built as the rector`s home but it never got the name of the Rectory. It was known better is more recent times as the Lodge. Apparently it was used as a hunting lodge by friends of a Mr. Kinley from Dungannon who had bought the hunting rights of the Sixtowns. The local gamekeeper in 1846 was Thomas Deane and his family were still in possession of the Lodge until it was bought by John P Bradley who still lives there. The last member of the family to live in the Lodge was Wash Deane who emigrated to Canada and never returned. The Deanes were believed to have been sent to Sixtowns by the Earl Bishop as gamekeepers. Two families of Deanes lived in Owenreagh as well, close to the Post Office.
The graveyard at St. Anne`s is now overgrown and but for the efforts of one or two locals who cut the grass for special occasions it would be in much worse condition. Nevertheless many of the graves can still be identified. There are some headstones but like other churches in the parish, many souls are buried without any and this makes the task of finding graves very difficult.
In loving memory of William Barnett who died 27th Dec 1945 aged 78 years and his wife Isabella who died January 22nd 1980 aged 102 years.
Erected by James Barnett USA in loving memory of his father and mother. William Barnett (Moneyconey) who died June 8th 1916 aged 89 years and Sarah Barnett who died sept 8th 1913 aged 76.
In loving memory of our father Henry Hasson who departed this life May 20th 1906 aged 84.
Erected to the memory of Annie Greer Hutchinson Wife of Joseph Reid who departed this life Feb 26th 1875 aged 36 years.
Sacred to the memory of Margaret Leacock who departed this life May 16th 1851 also to William Leacock her so who died March 5th 1851 aged 11 years.
Erected by Robert Laughlin, Cavanreagh in memory of his beloved daughter Margaret Ann who departed this life 16th Jan 1879 aged ten years. Also his wife Margaret Arthur Laughlin who died in the year 1882 and his wife Jane Laughlin who died in the year 1899 and the above named Robert Laughlin died 3rd May 1905 aged 72 years and his son Robert died 9th March 1916.
Erected to the memory of Anne McKeown the beloved wife of William McKeown who departed this life 23rd Jan. 1884 aged 67 years aged 67 years.
Also Mary Anne Leacock who departed this life 1st June 1872 aged 24 years. Also George Barnett who died 7th March 1931 aged 84 years. Also his wife Eliza Jane Barnett who died April 11th 1888. George Barnett died 10th April 1965.
Erected by Elisa Smith (Washington) in memory of her mother Jane Taylor who departed this life 4th March 1863 aged 80 years. Also her Grandson Robert Barnett Ballymoughan Magherafelt who departed this life 7th Nov. 1930.
Also his son William Barnett Magherafelt who departed this life 7th Sept. 1967.
In loving memory of James Taylor who died 6th Dec. 1928 aged 84 years. Elizabeth Taylor who died 22nd Jan. 1942 aged 84 and their son Robert Alexander Taylor who died 22nd Sept. 1945 aged 62 years and their son William James Taylor who died 24th Dec. 1951 aged 74 years.
Erected by Eliza Smith (Washington) in memory of her father John Taylor who departed this life 20th Aug 1868 aged 86 years.
It is clear from looking at this short list of gravestone inscriptions that not everyone could afford to put up a headstone to their loved ones. People were poor and simply could not afford the expense of erecting headstones. Many of the headstones in this graveyard were erected many years after the death of relatives as money became available to their descendants, perhaps as a result of receiving money or property in a will or as in many cases emigrants sending the money home as a mark of respect and love for their parents or relatives.
One thing about this list is that people researching their ancestors will find a lot of detail in the gravestone inscriptions. They reveal the date of death as well as the person`s age and their relationship to others. It is also a rich source of information for locals who wish to know about people from the Sixtowns who have no relatives left in the area and to make them aware of their place our history and heritage.