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Robert Dockery Covington (1815-1902)

Robert D. Covington was born August 20, 1815 in Rockingham, North Carolina. After moving to Noxubee County, Mississippi he and his wife Elizabeth owned slaves and managed a slave plantation. He was well experienced in growing cotton. Robert accepted Mormonism there, and after a two or three year delay, traveled to Nauvoo in 1845. Like other church members, he was forced to leave Nauvoo and travel to Winter Quarters. A son, Robert Laborius was born August 1, 1847 in Scotts Bluff, Nebraska and Elizabeth died on December 7, 1847 just a few weeks after they arrived in the Salt Lake Valley.

While in Salt Lake City, Robert married two women, Malinda Allison and Nancy Roberts. These two wives came with him to Washington in the second group of Southern families who came to Washington on May 6, 1857. It was this family who, soon after their arrival, started to call the area “Dixie” after their southern homeland. The name quickly spread to all of the surrounding areas. They met the Adair group at Adair Springs. Robert was selected to be a branch president of the branch attached to the Harmony Ward.

Immediately they started to build a dam on the Virgin River, dig ditches, prepare ground for planting, and make the area livable. On August 1, 1858 the church branch was changed into a ward. Robert became the first bishop of the Washington Ward and served until 1869. Robert was in the Territorial Legislature from 1858 to 1859. Three local men served in this capacity: John D. Lee, Robert D. Covington and Francis Boggs.

The community used the Covington home often for dances, parties, and church functions. Robert D. Covington’s two-story rock home was built in 1859 and is the oldest building still standing in all of Washington County [in 2008]. It is located on the northwest corner of the intersection of 200 east and 200 north.

Robert Dockery Covington was a dedicated man and fulfilled his duty to his community, his church, his family and to himself. He came to Washington as one of its leaders in the spring of 1857 and remained there until his death on June 2, 1902. He now rests in the Washington City Cemetery as one of the cemetery’s stalwart citizens.