Robert Dockery Covington

Robert Dockery Covington

Rockingham, Richmond County, North Carolina, USA
Death 2 Jun 1902 (aged 86)
Washington, Washington County, Utah, USA
Burial Washington, Washington County, Utah, USA
Memorial ID 52434 · View Source
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Son of Thomas B. Covington and Jane Thomas

Married Elizabeth Ann Thomas, 2 Feb 1839, Rockingham, Richmond, North Carolina

Children - Emily Jane Covington, Catherine Covington, Catharine Covington, Sarah Ann Covington, Sarah Elizabeth Covington, Robert Laborius Covington, John Thomas Covington

Married Melinda Allison, 26 Sep 1848, Washington, Washington, Utah

Children - Mary Ellen Covington, Alice Covington (adopted)

Married Nancy Roberts, 28 Dec 1856, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah

Children - Phoebe Ann Covington, Thomas Covington, Nancy Melinda Covington, James Isaac Covington

Elizabeth Ann Thomas and Robert Dockery Covington

Came west in the Edward Hunter - Jacob Foutz Company (1847) Name Birth date Death date Age at Arrival in Salt Lake Valley Covington, Robert Dockery 31 Covington, Elizabeth Thomas 27 Covington, John Thomas 7 Covington, Emily Jane 5 Covington, Robert Laborius infant Robert Dockery Covington, son of Thomas B. and Jane Thomas Covington, was born Aug. 20, 1815 in Rockingham, Richmond Co., North Carolina. His wife Elizabeth Thomas was born April 21, 1820 in Marlboro Co. South Carolina and died Dec. 7, 1847 in Big Cottonwood Utah. His grandfather was John Covington and his grandmother was Nancy Wall. Nancy's forefathers immigrated to America at an early date. His grandfather on his mother's side was William Thomas and his grandmother was Rachel Roe. Robert D. Covington and Elizabeth Ann Thomas married in about 1838 or 1839. Soon after their marriage they moved with Robert's father, Thomas B. Covington, to Summerville, Noxubee County, Mississippi. Robert was a college graduate, who helped on his father's plantation raising cotton and tobacco. With the help of slave labor, the Covingtons established a large successful plantation in Summerville. Here three children were born to Robert and Elizabeth Ann. John Thomas, August 7, 1840; Emily Jane, January 1, 1843; and Sarah Ann, February 2, 1845. Sarah Ann died the same year (1845).

The Gospel Preached to the Covington's

Robert Dockery Covington was overseer on two plantations. He was loved by the African-Americans, who respected his word at all times. During this time period many of the Thomas family, relatives of Elizabeth Ann Thomas, had also moved to Summerville, Noxubee County, Mississippi. Some of the Covington and Thomas families attended Gospel meetings which were presented by Mormon missionaries. Robert D. and Elizabeth Ann Covington were baptized February 3, 1843. After joining the Mormon religion they felt the need to join the Saints in Nauvoo. We have no record of this part of their life but some of their grandchildren said they remembered hearing that before they left, the African-Americans were against them leaving and loudly lamented their departure. He set his slaves free, which was protested by the slaves because of their deep love for him. Robert's father and siblings disapproved of this new religion and as a result he was eventually disinherited. Robert and Elizabeth's son John was a very small boy when his parents joined the church. Too small to be lead into the waters of baptism, but big enough to baptize the little Negros in the muddy pond, much to the consternation of their owners who didn't want the children to be Mormons. IN NAUVOO In 1845, Robert D. and Elizabeth Ann Covington left Mississippi and joined the Saints in Nauvoo, Illinois. They received their temple endowments in Nauvoo in the fall of 1845. They spent 1846 at Winter Quarters. After just two years in Nauvoo, the Covington family joined the great Mormon Westward migration. Traveling by wagon train they headed toward the great Salt Lake Valley. They traveled in Edward Hunter's Company under the leadership of Captain Daniel Thomas. Emily Jane was 4 years old and John Thomas was 6. The wagon train endured rain, hail storms, dust storms, lack of good water and wood to burn.

Indians on the Trail to Utah

Indians often followed the group and sometimes approached their camp to beg or trade for food. On one occasion the travelers had stopped to repair wagons near a growth of wild currant bushes. John and his younger sister Emily were given an empty lard bucket and sent to pick the ripe currants. When their container was about full, several Indians reared up from hiding with a loud war whoop. The frightened children dropped the bucket and ran for camp. When they looked back the Indians had retrieved the currants and were laughing at their big joke. The Indians, on several occasions, stampeded their cattle. However, the Mormon leaders tried to maintain a friendly relationship as no one wanted a hostile confrontation with the Indian followers. 1847

Arrive in the Valley

Somewhere near what is now known as Scotts Bluff, Nebraska, Elizabeth Ann gave birth to her last child, Robert Laborious on August 1, 1847. After traversing the last of the cold, slow and rough miles through the mountains, the Hunter Company arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on September 27, 1847.

Elizabeth Dies

Elizabeth was frail and weakened from the hardships of the journey. She fell ill of a severe respiratory infection and died September 7, 1847. Milk was so scarce that the baby was raised on clabber or anything else they could get for him. (Clabber is a yogurt-like substance with a strong, sour flavor. In rural areas of the Southern United States, it was commonly eaten for breakfast.) Meriam Adair was the Good Samaritan who cared for the baby. Robert moved his family to the Cottonwood settlement located just south of Salt Lake City. He became the school teacher and was called Professor Covington by the community. He accumulated land and livestock and married twice more. He went on a mission to the Southern States in the fall of 1849 and returned in the spring of 1856.

Marriage to Malinda Allison Kelley and Nancy Roberts

Robert married a widow Malinda Allison Kelley on Sept. 26, 1848. She had one child, Kate, from her previous marriage. To their union was born a daughter Mary Ellen. Later, Robert took as his plural wife a girl named Nancy Roberts, age 17, to whom he was sealed on Dec. 28, 1856. To them were born four children, Phoebe, Thomas, Malinda and James. He was sealed to his wife Elizabeth Thomas in 1856, Nancy Roberts taking her part. The family lived in Big Cottonwood when the locusts destroyed the crop in the Salt Lake Valley. The Covington's crop was unmolested but instead of living in the midst of plenty while their less fortunate neighbors were starving Bro. Covington gave everything up to accept the call to Dixie.

Move to Dixie

In April of 1857 Robert D. and a number of other men from the Southern States were called by President Brigham Young to travel to Southern Utah to establish a new settlement on the Virgin River. Ten families under the leadership of Samuel Adair and twenty-eight families led by Robert Covington arrived in Washington on May 5th 1857. At the age of 14, Emily Jane Covington was one of the 160 men, women and children who were called to move 330 miles to Southern Utah to establish a new Mormon settlement. A native of Rockingham, North Carolina, he had experience with directing slaves on cotton plantations, so he was well familiar with the raising of cotton. These two groups laid out the town and called it Washington after the first President of the United States, George Washington. Robert D. Covington was the first bishop of Washington ward established August 1, 1858, and was bishop from 1858 to 1869. Bishop Covington built a large two-story rock home just east of John D. Lee's home, completed in 1859 and is still standing. It is the oldest building in all of Washington County. The home was used as a recreation center for the community dances, parties and other functions were held. Church meetings were held there also. Brigham Young stayed here many times while visiting the area. To get to the upstairs, one had to go outside and climb wooden stairs to the second story. There was no other way to get to the upstairs from the main floor. This was done so that people coming for a get together would not disturb the main floor family living quarters. He took his position as Bishop seriously and endeavored in every way to be the father of his Ward. Whenever anyone needed help, this bishop helped him even if he had to use his own means for it. Before he died he owned only a small part of the property he started with. He was a friend to the Indians and was often called upon to settle disputes among them. One day Bishop Covington saw an Indian beating his wife. He found a good stout willow and after showing the Indian the error of his ways proceeded to give him a good switching. Nancy died on 4 March 1864 at the age of 25.

Living the United Order

Early in 1874, President Brigham Young introduced the United Order in St. George and sent John R. Young and others to Long Valley to organize branches of the order there, including Washington where the Covington's lived. Nearly all of the members joined. Those following the United Order erected a number of wooden homes and a large dining hall. In the spring of 1875 the order was abandoned. Robert Dockery Covington died in June 1902 at the age of 87 in Washington, Washington, Utah.

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  • Maintained by: SMSmith
  • Originally Created by: Utah State Historical Society
  • Added: 1 Feb 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 52434
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Robert Dockery Covington (20 Aug 1815–2 Jun 1902), Find A Grave Memorial no. 52434, citing Washington City Cemetery, Washington, Washington County, Utah, USA ; Maintained by SMSmith (contributor 46491005) .