Controversial monument immortalizes atheist

The Joseph Coveney monument in Buchanan, erected 23 years before his death in 1897, was very controversial. Among the passages etched in the stone are "All Christian denominations preach damnation." Debra Haight / H-P Correspondent

BUCHANAN - The Joseph Coveney monument in Oak Ridge Cemetery might be old and weathered, but at one time it was a major source of controversy in the Buchanan area.

Coveney, an Irish immigrant, caused a great stir when he erected a monument in the city cemetery in 1874 that was engraved with phrases that a local newspaper called "slanderous … against Christianity."