Biography of Joseph Coveney



Berrien County

Online Biographies


Also see [Railway Officials in America 1906]

Joseph Coveney, whose portrait with that of his wife is given upon this page, was born in Cork Co., Ireland, March 29, 1805. He attended the parish school until thirteen years of age, when he went to learn the trade of weaver. Wishing to see and know something of America, he, at the age of twenty years, without friend or companion, crossed the ocean in the ship “William,” and landed in New York May 26, 1826. Here he learned the carpenter’s trade, and worked at it four years in that city. He removed to Schuylkill Co., Pa., and worked at the same trade there for two years.

In 1833 he moved to Portage, and continued at his trade at Egberttown or Portage Point. He built a house there; but the project for forming a settlement failing, he removed to the edge of the prairie (Portage), remaining one year. in the fall of 1837 he married Louisa, eldest daughter of William and Polly Roe, and in the spring of the same year settled on forty acres of land on section 5, Buchanan township, having previously purchased it at the land-office at Bronson. Here he decided to stay and make for himself and family a home. This land was not improved. He commenced his work by erecting a log cabin, in which he and his estimable wife commenced life. He has since built a more commodious house and improved his farm, adding to the original forty acres from time to time until he now owns six hundred acres, located northwest of the village of Buchanan. Wheat is the principal product of his farm, three thousand bushels being raised in 1877.

In 1849, when the “gold fever” raged in this part of the country, Mr. Coveney, with two others in company, started for California, going the overland route with an ox-team. Arriving there, they went to work in the mines at Weaverville. Mr. Coveney remained only one year, returning home by the way of Panama and the Mississippi River. His stay in California, though short, was not an unprofitable one financially.

He has made two trips to Europe, and visited England and Ireland, the last trip taking with him his little daughter Leila. He has retired from active life, his sons attending to the farm. Mr. and Mrs. Coveney have had thirteen children, of whom ten are living.

In character Mr. Coveney is industrious, economical, and of a genial temperament. By hard work and prudent management he has become possessed of a fine farm. He is esteemed as a shrewd business man, a good, practical farmer, an intelligent citizen, and is respected by his neighbors. In his religious belief he is an ardent follower of Thomas Paine, and, like Ingersoll, never hesitates to express his views at any time or place. He erected a beautiful monument in Oak Ridge Cemetery at Buchanan, at a cost of nearly three thousand dollars, upon which were inscribed some of his peculiar sentiments. We quote his own words concerning the same and its defacement: “I was raised in a Catholic country, but it remained for a Protestant Christian to try to refuse me the right to maintain this monument in a public cemetery. I had inscribed thereon some of my sentiments on the religious fallacies of the day. These inscriptions, not coinciding with the views of the orthodox element, a minister’s son, urged on by Christian hate, marred and defaced the monument in a barbarous manner. His act received the commendation of some of the strictly orthodox, though it is but fair to say that all of the most prominent citizens of Buchanan condemned the act, and used every effort to prevent its repetition.”

The monument is a model of workmanship, and an ornament to the cemetery, although at a close view the stain of the tobacco juice mars its beauty.

Mrs. Coveney has labored side by side with her husband in all the vicissitudes of the new country, where they made their early home, and has ever been an industrious and faithful wife; a helpmate, indeed, to her husband, rearing a large family of children. The work of a mother in such a life is no easy task, but with ever willing heart and hand she ministered to all the wants of the family in sickness and health. Hers is a labor of love, receiving its reward in the love and respect of all her family and friends.

History of Berrien and Van Buren Counties, Michigan
With Illistrations and Biographical Sketches
of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers.
D. W. Ensign & Co., Philadelphia 1880
Press of J. B. Lippincoff & Co., Philadelphia.

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