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JAMES C. COCHRAN

John Cochran, the father of the subject of this sketch, was
born in Glasgow, Scotland, and died in Iowa City, Iowa, in
1869. His wife was Jane Gould, born in Glasgow, Scotland,
in 1804, and died at Iowa City in 1884. Seven children, sturdy
Scots every one, were born to John Cochran and Jane Gould.
The family is pure Scotch, back to the earliest genealogical
record, the first known ancestors being John and James Coch-
ran. Our subject was born May 20, 1834, at Glasgow, Scot-
land. He left his native heath October 1, 1853, with his pa-
rents, bound for the new world. He has a perfect recollection
of some of his boyhood experiences, one of the most vivid of
which was a trip with his father and a man named .John Rob-
inson into western Ireland in 1845. That was the year of (he
great famine, and John Cochran and John Robinson were com-
missioners from Scotland to distribute rations among the
starving people. The twelve-year-old lad witnessed scenes
which he can never forget. The potato crop that year and for
ten years thereafter in Ireland was a failure, and that being
the chief article of food of the poor masses, great distress was
inevitable. Thousands died of absolute starvation, and still
other thousands of combined disease and destitution. (Jen-
erous America shipped loads of provisions, principally oat
flour and corn meal. Mr. Cochran recalls a one-story house,
100 feet long, in the famine district, where mush was made and
distributed in rations to the people. They carried it away in
noggons, and many of them were later found dead in their
tracks, having gorged themselves with the mush. Some were
found dying in the mountains. Mr. Cochran also recalls that
the herring catch, a staple article of diet, was a failure these
years, and to make matters worse poor laws were established
and the constabulary confiscated everything they came in con-
tact with. The unfortunate Irish were driven from their
homes and compelled to seek refuge in other countries. In

County Galway the people planted their potatoes in the bogs
and raised good crops, which in a measure relieved the situa-
tion there; but altogether the conditions were most deplorable.
Mr. Cochran was vividly impressed by his trip.

On October 1, 1853, as heretofore stated, Mr. Cochran, in the
company of his parents, left Scotland for America. The com-
pany took a sailing vessel, the Glennmana, by way of Galway
for Dublin ; thence via the West Indies, the Caribbean sea and
the Gulf of Mexico to New Orleans. The voyage occupied nine
weeks, and was tempestuous and fraught with thrilling experi-
ences. The yellow fever broke out on board and sixty-nine
died therefrom, among the number being a refugee Swedish
nobleman and his wife. A daughter survived. John Cochran
o was named by the captain as one of the appraisers of the noble-
man 's estate. The vessel at this time was in the neighborhood
of San Domingo, where it had been driven by the fierce winds
of the southern route. Crippled by its combat with the ele-
ments, the ship began to drift, and John Cochran, being a
skilled mechanic, was called by the skipper to fix the compass.
The tempest-tossed and afflicted company at last reached New
Orleans on January 1, 1854, after weathering a fierce gale four
days out from port. From the Crescent City passage was
taken on the Great Republic to St. Louis. January 4, 1854, was
spent on a sandbar in the Mississippi river, the steamer being-
entangled for two days. At Natchez the first ice was seen
floating down the Mississippi. Arriving at Cairo, our subject
was sent on shore to procure some swine meat. The carcasses
of two bears were hanging up at the dealer's, and young Coch-
ran on returning to his father declared he had ' ' seen two New-
foundland dogs hanging up. ' ' This, of course, put the laugh
on him, much to his chagrin. At Cairo the captain refused to
risk his vessel any further in the ice, and said he would charge
pro rata for the passage to that point. This being agreed to,
flour and corn meal. Mr. Cochran recalls a one-story house,
100 feet long, in the famine district, where mush was made and
distributed in rations to the people. They carried it away in
noggons, and many of them were later found dead in their
tracks, having gorged themselves with the mush. Some were
found dying in the mountains. Mr. Cochran also recalls that
the herring catch, a staple article of diet, was a failure these
years, and to make matters worse poor laws were established
and the constabulary confiscated everything they came in con-
tact with. The unfortunate Irish were driven from their
homes and compelled to seek refuge in other countries. In

County Galway the people planted their potatoes in the bogs
and raised good crops, which in a measure relieved the situa-
tion there; but altogether the conditions were most deplorable.
Mr. Cochran was vividly impressed by his trip.

On October 1, 1853, as heretofore stated, Mr. Cochran, in the
company of his parents, left Scotland for America. The com-
pany took a sailing vessel, the Glennmana, by way of Galway
for Dublin ; thence via the West Indies, the Caribbean sea and
the Gulf of Mexico to New Orleans. The voyage occupied nine
weeks, and was tempestuous and fraught with thrilling experi-
ences. The yellow fever broke out on board and sixty-nine
died therefrom, among the number being a refugee Swedish
nobleman and his wife. A daughter survived. John Cochran
o was named by the captain as one of the appraisers of the noble-
man 's estate. The vessel at this time was in the neighborhood
of San Domingo, where it had been driven by the fierce winds
of the southern route. Crippled by its combat with the ele-
ments, the ship began to drift, and John Cochran, being a
skilled mechanic, was called by the skipper to fix the compass.
The tempest-tossed and afflicted company at last reached New
Orleans on January 1, 1854, after weathering a fierce gale four
days out from port. From the Crescent City passage was
taken on the Great Republic to St. Louis. January 4, 1854, was
spent on a sandbar in the Mississippi river, the steamer being-
entangled for two days. At Natchez the first ice was seen
floating down the Mississippi. Arriving at Cairo, our subject
was sent on shore to procure some swine meat. The carcasses
of two bears were hanging up at the dealer's, and young Coch-
ran on returning to his father declared he had ' ' seen two New-
foundland dogs hanging up. ' ' This, of course, put the laugh
on him, much to his chagrin. At Cairo the captain refused to
risk his vessel any further in the ice, and said he would charge
pro rata for the passage to that point. This being agreed to,
the family continued their voyage to St. Louis on another boat,
which they reached in due season. The trip Avas continued to
Muscatine, which was then a port of entry, where they arrived
June 10, 1854. Luckily, on arrival, they found a man who was
just returning to Iowa City by wagon, and he was induced to
take the Cochrans, eight in all, to their destination, seven miles
beyond the then Capital City, to the home of Uncle Matthew

Cochran and Margaret (Russell) Cochran, in Graham town-
ship, then living on the present Chas. Dingleberry farm, in
their log house (see sketch of Adaline Cochran).

After a few months John Cochran and his son, James, se-
cured employment in Iowa City, the former at his trade of tin-
ning and the latter running a sawmill. Said mill was a prim-
itive affair, consisting of a saw and sawbuck, with himself as
the motive power. With this plant he sawed, split, and piled
up cordwood at $1.00 per cord. The elder Cochran was em-
ployed by Hart & Love, and our subject was soon made an ap-
prentice with the same firm. Hart & Love soon afterwards
sold out to J. S. Stafford, and our apprentice received $6.00 per
week for one year, during which time he acquired a good in-
sight into the trade. The business then passed into the hands
of Mr. Choate, and our subject's wages were raised to $10.00
per week. In 1860, having saved up $400.00 in cash, with this
amount and notes running for 1, 2, and 3 years at 10 per cent,
he bought out Mr. Choate. After three years he had every-
thing paid up.

The natural Scotch thrift of young Cochran began to be
manifest, and he commenced buying dry hides at 5 cents a
pound and storing them in a warehouse 25x100 feet which he
had erected on the present site of Byron Stillwell's paint shop,
on Washington street. In 1862 he had a capital of $2,000.00
invested in hides at 5 cents per pound. Mr. Blackburn offered
him 20 cents per pound, and he finally accepted 30 cents per
pound. That year he bought the Cochran property on South
Clinton street, where his son, Frederick J. Cochran, now has
his office, paying therefor the sum of $3,000.00. The building
has been entirely remodeled and the property is worth today
at least $20,000.00.

James Cochran was in active business in Iowa City thirty-
seven years. He has invariably been a money-maker. At
times he has cleaned up an average of $50.00 per day in his
chosen business. At one time it is said of him that he bought
dressed hogs for $2.00 and $2.05 and sold them at a large profit.
During his long business career in Iowa City, Mr. Cochran has
been associated with some of the leading enterprises of the
city. He was vice president of the Johnson County Savings
bank between thirty and forty years; was a director and the
treasurer of the Iowa City Publishing company, and a director
in the Iowa Packing and Provision company.

In 1862 he was married to Maria E. Doty of Penn township,
daughter of Theodore and Susan (Bowen) Doty, pioneers of
Iowa. Seven children were born of this union, of whom only
two survive, namely : Mrs. Charles H. Dayton, residing at 415
South Summit street, Iowa City, and Frederick J., married to
Gail Huntsman and residing in Iowa City (see his personal
sketch). One child, Nellie, died in her twentieth year. She
was well educated, an active member of the church and beauti-
ful in both appearance and character. Her last words were,

' ' Take my life and let it be, conse . ' ' She died before the

sentence was finished.

Mr. and Mrs. Cochran's first experience at household work
was in rented housekeeping rooms on Clinton street, east of
the University campus, where they resided eleven months.
Their next home was north of the postoffice, for which Mr.
Cochran paid $1,125 and later sold for $3,500 in government
bonds. There Mrs. Dayton was born. Selling the property
near the postoffice, the family removed to another home across
College Hill, for which he paid the sum of $1,600. This he sold
for $3,000 cash and two lots, on one of Avhich he realized $1,000
and on the other $1,500. Thereafter (in March, 1869), he be-
gan the construction of his present brick residence, 314 South
Clinton street, into which the family moved in 1870. The in-
terior finish of this house, including doors and casings, is black
walnut. Therein all the children were born except Mrs. Day-
ton. There our subject and his estimable wife live in the con-
sciousness of well-spent lives, he having reached the advanced
age of seventy-seven years. Though of limited education and
brought up in the school of experience, he became a man of af-
fairs and of influence and wealth. Both he and his wife are
lifelong members of the Methodist Episcopal church, he being
a member of the official board, First Church, Iowa City. He is
a member of Eureka lodge, No. 44, I. O. O. F. of Iowa City.

Source: Leading Events in Johnson County, Iowa, History (1912); Volume: 2;
Aurner, Clarence Ray; Cedar Rapids, IA: Western Historical Press