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O'Brien County Cemetery

Preservation Association

Covey Church Cemetery

Address: 6597 400th Street Hartley, IA

Grant Township

The History of the Covey Church and Cemetery 

in O’Brien County Iowa.

The First Congregational Church in O’Brien County was the Covey Church. This church was started by Rev. John H. Covey in the year 1871 on the North West section of Grant Township. Rev. Covey preached in a sod church that was built neighboring Center Township and in a nearby school house until a church was built in 1874 or 1875. On July 4, 1872 Rev. Covey and six men began making plans for a church. On June 28, 1873 the O’Brien Pioneer newspaper announced that a church would be built in Grant Twp. The Covey church, dedicated October 22, 1874, was the first wooden church to be built in O’Brien County in permanent form for worship services. It was lighted with oil lamps and heated

with coal. ​ 

The Covey church and cemetery are located seven miles north of Sutherland on county blacktop M12 (Vine Av.) Section 6 and 7. The church and cemetery sit directly across the road from each other. John Loder gave 1 acre of land that was deeded to the Congregational Church of Grant Township. The Covey family lived in a tumble-down log cabin in a grove diagonally across the road southeast of the church property. Rev. John Covey’s wife, Ann Eliza, died on their homestead November 30, 1873 of typhoid fever. A ten year old son died the next day and a daughter the following week.

This left Rev. Covey alone with three small children. He was remarried to Lillie I Weird of Boise, ID. They had three more children, Pearl, Roy, and Richard. No mention of where the Covey family is buried can be found. Perhaps they were buried on the Covey farm. In 1876 Rev. Covey moved to Kansas and hard times caused omission of church activities at Covey. After a few years Mrs. Lucy Slack reorganized the church, but Covey was unable to support its own pastorate and became part of Hartley Methodist church and later joined the Primghar parish. Circumstances and elements seemed to conspire against this child of the prairie. First was the scourge of grasshoppers which decimated and depleted the population until one member remained, Mother Slack, and she alone, and single handed, perpetuated the organization. The hoppers broke up the church members and a cyclone struck the building. Still she would not give up. At length the pests subsided and people returned. They thought it well to organize another church and another council was called together. Mother Slack objected and said, “There is a church here now. “Well,” they stated, “Where is the church?” “I am it.” She replied. "I’ll never disband" and so she stood up and took a dozen members into the old church and preserved its historic continuity. Lucy Slack fashioned the first flag in O’Brien County. It is on display in the O’Brien County court house. The last person buried in Covey Cemetery was Albert Crosser who died April 28, 1943. In 1959 the decision was made to disband. In 1967 a few interested citizens started a fund to pay off an early debt and restore the Covey Church as an historical landmark.

Information taken from: O’Brien & Osceola counties of Iowa 

Vol. 1, 1914 PP 322 & 323

History of O’Brien County Iowa 1979 pp 64, 186, & 189

1976 Sutherland history pp 28 (Find a grave memorial # 184603881)