The roots of the Cognevich (possibly originally spelled Konjević) surname, while unknown, is believed to have originated in the Galicia region (today part of Poland and Ukraine). Later during the Turkish Rebellion, many fled to the Banat region (now part of Hungary, Serbia and Romania) where they apparently lived for a while, only to flee from the Turks again; this time making their way to those countries that once made up the former Yugoslavian republic.
Konjevic, means "son of the horseman". No one really knows how the spelling change came about but my hypothesis for the spelling change is that during immigration processing, Stephani was asked his name and speaking little or no English likely did not know how to spell his name. That left it to the immigration officer to spell the name phonetically.
The Cognevich family has the distinction of being one of the first and largest families of Dalmatian descent in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana. Though several Cognevich came into the Greater New Orleans area during the nineteenth century, Stephani "Etienne" Cognevich appears to be the progenitor of most of the Cognevich descendants that now live in Louisiana as well as other parts of the United States.
It is believed that Stephani was born in the mountainous Konavle region near Herceg Novi, Montenegro. He likely immigrated to Louisiana in the 1840's. Once in Louisiana, he and his partner John Vidacovich purchased land in Nairn, Louisiana just below an area known as Sixty-Mile Point along the Mississippi delta. This purchase as it appears in the Plaquemines Parish Court House conveyance book No. 10, Page 143, entry No. 1716 dated March 1844, is the first record of Stephani found in Plaquemines Parish.
Anthony Cognevich is recorded as arriving in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1864. It is likely that Anthony was also born in Montenegro, about 1833, but there are no indications as to the relationship, if any, to Stephani. Anthony married and had two sons, Stephen and Anthony, Jr. Stephen died at the age of 3 years 2 months. Anthony, Jr. was a Captain during the Civil War and led the 4th regiment, European and French Brigade Militia. Anthony, Jr. appears on the 1900 census with his wife Hannah Druen Cognevich and two children, Annette and Peter. Annette died at the age of 49 and had no known children. It is believed that he had another son named George, but neither George nor Peter appears again on any known records.
Other Louisiana immigrants on census records with the Cognevich last name are Ignoceo (1870 census) and Gius (1870 census) and P. Cognevich (1880 census). It is believed that they came to Louisiana as oyster fishermen, no further records indicate whether they stayed in America or possibly returned to their mother country. There is no evidence supporting relationship of Ignacious, Gius or P. Cognevich to Stephani.
Outside of Louisiana, the Cognevich surname appears in census records as well in immigration records, but again no known relationship can be determined between any of these people and Stephani.