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by Lourie Meeks (grand-daughter)

John Thomas Covington was born Aug 7, 1840 in Summerville, Noxebee Co., Mississippi. His father, Robert Dockery Covington, a son of Thomas B. and Jane Thomas Covington, was born Aug 20, 1815 in Rockingham, Richmond Co., North Carolina. His mother, Elizabeth Thomas was born Apr 21, 1820 in Marlboro Co, South Carolina and died Sept 7, 1847 in Big Cottonwood, Utah.

John’s father, Robert Dockery Covington was overseer on two plantations. He was loved by the negroes who respected his word at all times. While taking care of the plantations he and his wife joined the Mormon Church and when they left for Utah, their departure was loudly lamented by the darkies. We have no record of this part of his life, but some of his grandchildren said they remembered hearing that before he left, the negroes, much against their will, were given their freedom.

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 negro playmates in the muddy pond much to the consternation of their owners who didn’t want the children to be Mormons.

In 1847 the Covington family consisting, of the father (Robert Dockery) and mother (Elizabeth Thomas) and two children, John and Emily, came to Utah. Robert Laborus was born Aug 1, 1847 at Scotts Bluff, Nebraska. When baby Robert was two weeks old the mother died before they reached the Valley, but was taken to the Valley to be buried. Milk was so scarce that the baby was raised on clabber or anything else they could get for him. Miriam Adair was the good Samaritan who cared for the baby. Later the father (Robert Dockery) married a widow, Malinda Kelley. She had one child, Kate. To their union was born a daughter Mary. Later Robert took as his plural wife a girl named Nancy Roberts. To them were born three children, Phoebe, Thomas and Malinda. The family were in Big Cottonwood when the locusts destroyed the crops in Salt Lake Valley. The Covington’s crops were unmolested but instead of living in the midst of plenty while their less fortunate neighbors were starving, Bro. Covington rationed his own family and divided with his neighbors. In company with others, the Covingtons accepted the call to Dixie. They settled in Washington and Robert was made Bishop of that Ward. He took his position seriously and endeavored in every way to be the father of his ward. When ever anyone needed help, his bishop helped him even in her he had to use in own means for it until before he died he owned only a small part of the property he stared with. He was a friend of 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.

Sometime during his years in Washington Bishop Covington fulfilled a mission. He was famous for his Southern hospitality. His home was always open to friends and strangers and his table was always full. He was extremely proud of his family and one day while playing with a little granddaughter remarked in his Southern brogue, “There thust never was an ugly Covington.” He lived to a ripe old age and died after a full and eventful life in Washington, Utah.

When John Thomas was twenty-two years old he made a trip north for supplies. As he neared Washington on the return trip he was met by his father who during the rest of the journey brought him up to date on the town news. “Any new girls in town?” asked John. His father answered that there were several new girls in town. “But the prettiest of all is a Swedish girl and if you don’t marry her I thust will.” It was not long after that until John after a brief courtship married the sixteen-year-old Swedish girl, Johanna Lundblad and they began a happy life together.

From Washington the young couple moved up to into Cache Co. They returned to Washington but again moved. This time they moved to Beaver to be near Johanna’s parents. From there they went to Adamsville.

John was a good musician especially with the violin. Often he composed his own music. One night the whistling of the bird kept ringing through his head until he could not sleep. He arose and wrote the music for his violin. This proved so popular with the ladies he called it, “The Ladies’s Favorite.” He and his brother-in-law, Winslow Farr wrote a song called, “The Big Cottonwood Waters” Wherever he lived he and his violin were called into service. It was an usual sight to see him playing his instrument and he danced the square dances with his partner clinging to his coat tail. Often he walked miles to play for a dance and after the dance was over he would walk home again. He was full of fun and took great pleasure in teaching his children to play and sing. He had a whole orchestra in his family and their friends as well as his children like to gather around the organ and sing.

While living in Adamsville, John took as his plural wife, Elizabeth Adams, daughter of David Barkley and Lydia Catherine Mann who was born Sept 19, 1854. To this union was born thirteen children. They were married in the Endowment House and at the same time his wife Johanna was sealed to him. The family was not satisfied in Adamsville, but were undecided where to go. It was finally settled that they should join the United Order in Orderville.

They left Beaver Apr 4, 1877 and immediately upon their arrival joined the United Order. John T and his wives were good workers. He worked in the gardens and fields part of the time, but most of his time was spent caring for the Order sheep. The Indians were bad at the time and exercised great influence over them. He with others were often called upon to make peace with the Indians. The United Order owned a great deal of the Buckskin Mountain. They had a big dairy there and also used it for range for their sheep. The Indians resented the occupancy of the whites and claimed the land for their own. They were very ugly and the white people were in constant danger from them.

Brother Covington was herding sheep on Buckskin when his dog Queen, a prized imported dog for which the Order had traded a cow, was shot while on duty with the sheep. Reports reached John T that George, an Indian with a mean temper was making threats against his life. One day while out with the sheep he crossed a deep wash. When he reached the opposite bank he came face to face with George. John was unarmed but putting on a bold front said, “I heard you were going to kill me. Now is your chance.” George, impressed by his bravery would not shoot and later became a very good friend.

About the time the Order was broken up, John T married his third wife, Lydia Mary Carling, daughter of Isaac Van Wagoner and Miriam Hobson Carling. She was the born Mar 1, 1866. They became the parents of seven children. When the United Order was broken up, Bro. Covington, Jonathan Heaton and George Adair rented the Order sheep. During the summer the sheep were herded in the mountains and in the winter were kept out on the sand.

When Brother Covington drew out from the partnership he bought a dairy ranch that had belonged to the Order. The ranch was located at the mouth of Dairy and Main Canyon. Two of John T families lived on the ranch in the summer milking cows and making cheese and butter. Late in the fall they would move to town for the winter. Brother Covington raised a wonderful garden on the ranch. His was a generous nature and he would give sacks of vegetables to any one who called. Often he would start for Orderville with a load vegetables for winter for his families but by the time he reached town he would have given away most of his load to people he met along the way. His home was always open. Everyone was welcome.

At the time of the raids on the polygamists he and his son-in-law Thomas Chamberlain were arrested and sent to the Penitentiary for having more than one wife. He served six months in the Pen in 1878-1879 with his violin for company. One morning he wasn’t feeling very good and didn’t get up at the regular time. He was still in bed when the doors were unlocked for breakfast. When he tried his door. He found it locked again. The other prisoners said, “You wont’ get out now.” John T took his violin and played, The Old Methodist Prayer. He fairly made the violin talk. When the guard came along he found the corridor crowded with prisoners listening to the music. He swore and said “Covington, if you will stop that violin, I’ll let you out.” So John T got breakfast with the rest. After his first wife’s family was able to care for themselves, John T with his two wives Lizzie and Lydia May moved to Rabbit Valley, Wayne Co, Utah where he spent the remainder of his life. On June 13, 1908 he died peacefully in his sleep at the age of sixty-eight.

He had spent the evening before playing the violin until bedtime.

At his funeral his friends filled the building to over-flowing. Bringing arms full of flowers to show their respect. Glowing tributes were paid to him for his fine qualities. he never accumulated worldly wealth but he was rich in friends.