Joseph Benham Covert was born February 6, 1798 near the town of Lebanon, Ohio. Little history of his early youth has been obtained but it is known that part of his boyhood was spent driving teams that conveyed supplies to the troops on our Western and Northwestern Frontiers. When he was about twenty years of age, he relocated to Cincinnati, Ohio and made his home there until his death. On the morning of November 8, 1876, Masonic funeral services were held in the Scottish Rite Hall followed by Knights Templar Services and by Scottish Rite Services. His remains were then escorted to the depot of the C. & N. Railroad, from thence by train; the escort went to Spring Grove Cemetery for interment.
He was raised a Master Mason in N.C. Harmony Lodge #2 on December 5, 1828. And from that date, those who have recorded the history of Freemasonry in Cincinnati are obliged to record the history of Joseph Benham Covert, so closely is one identified with the other.
Brother Covert served as Tyler of N.C. Harmony Lodge for over twenty-five years. He was made a Royal Arch Mason in 1831, elected as High Priest in 1861 and served as Guard for the body for thirty-four years. He was elected Guard of Cincinnati Council #1 in 1846 and served at that station until his death. His was the first petition received by Cincinnati Commandery #3 in 1840. He was elected Sentinel in 1846 and held that position for thirty consecutive years.
The Grand Lodge of Ohio appointed him Tyler in 1848 and the Grand Chapter, Grand Council and Grand Commandery at once appointed him to corresponding positions in their respective bodies. He continued to fill those offices until the weight of years and infirmities of age compelled him to ask to be relieved of his onerous duties a few months before his death.
Probably no one in this country was as well qualified to fill such positions as Right Worshipful Brother J.B. Covert. His extraordinary and remarkable ability to remember names and faces rendered his service invaluable to all the Bodies which he served. It is doubtful if there was any Mason in Ohio who was as widely known and held in such high esteem as was “Uncle Joe Covert”.
In 1869, a lodge in Clermont County received dispensation to meet. A year later on October 18, 1870, at the convocation of the Grand Lodge of Ohio, a charter was granted to that Clermont County Lodge to be known as J.B. Covert Lodge #437 F. & A.M.
Prior to J. B. Covert Lodge # 437 in Clermont County was established Covert Lodge #11 was chartered in Omaha City, Nebraska Territory in 1866. Click Here to see excerpts from the Grand Lodge of Nebraska’s Ninth Annual Communication held at Omaha City in June of 1866.
While Covert Lodge #11 in Omaha City, Nebraska Territory was “Under Dispensation”, which means operating without a charter from the Grand Lodge of Nebraska between July 24th 1865 and June 21st, 1866, Right Worshipful Brother J. B. Covert had the ornate setting maul pictured here made for Covert Lodge #11.
But how did a lodge in Omaha City in the Nebraska Territory come to be named after a Cincinnati Mason? Click here to read the short answer in the 1885 Masonic Review
The testimony of his accomplishments is a standard for manhood and Freemasonry: his efficient services, his judicious council, his sterling honesty, his prompt attendance at all meetings, his constant labor to advance the interest of Masonry. His cheerful greeting, his words of exhortation, and his heartfelt sympathy for all will never be forgotten by those who served with him and by those who would honor the memory of his name… The members of J.B. Covert Lodge # 437 F. & A. M. are privileged to have such an exemplary namesake to follow in word and deed.
Excerpts from the History of Cincinnati Commandery #3 Knights Templar and the generous contribution of Brothers W.C. Middleton, C.R. Folger, J.H. Hewes and E. F. Howard are gratefully acknowledged.