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Carroll County Biographies

THOMAS COCHRAN
"He Rode The Orphan Train"

Thomas COCHRAN was born on 14 February 1851 in New York, NY. Thomas died in Thomson, York Twp, Carroll Co, IL in 1936; he was 84. Buried in Lower York Cem, York Twp, Carroll Co, IL. Occupation: Owned A Dry Goods/grocery Store.

Tom was an orphan, and came from the New York Juvenile Asylum with a group of 15 children to Fulton, IL in 1864. Richard and Frederick William Groharing were also in that group of children who arrived in Fulton on the "orphan train". Originally, 32 children had left the asylum by train on 27 June 1864. The others had been dropped off on the way. During a newspaper interview in 1932 he talked about his experiences. At Fulton, Tom was indentured to a Prof. Coverk who was on the faculty of a college there. They apparently didn't get along and he was "given" first to a Mr. Aylesworth who ran a dry goods store, and then to a Mr. Greene who ran a grocery store; both in Fulton. Later Greene sold the store, and "the fellows that bought it opened a branch at Thomson and I came here to run it for them. Pretty soon they needed some money, and I bought the store, and have been here ever since, now being Thomson's oldest merchant". It was on 18 January 1871 that he moved to Thomson to manage the grocery store which he later bought. On the back of a picture of the group of 15 who arrived in Fulton, Tom's name is given as James C. Cochran. There is no explanation for this as he always went by the name Thomas. Perhaps he just liked the name Thomas.

Though he started with nothing, Tom did quite well for himself. In 1893, in addition to the grocery store, he owned 60 acres in Section 35 of Savanna Twp, 1 acre in Section 14, 2 acres just west of Thomson, a small tract with house in Section 20, and 70 acres in Section 5 - all in York Twp.

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Excerpt from Obituary:
Thomas Cochran, veteran Thomson merchant, passed away at his store at Thomson Tuesday noon. Funeral services will be held Thursday afternoon at 2 pm from the home of his son Ely Cochran with interment in Lower York Cemetery.

Death claimed the end of a long career for Thomas Cochran, 85, who passed away Tuesday noon, just as the whistle blew, ending a career that started when he came west from an orphanage in New York state to Fulton in 1864.

For the last 65 years Mr Cochran has been associated with the Fulton and Thomson communities. For the past 63 years he has lived in Thomson and operated a general store with the exception of a year or two some 40 years ago when he was obliged to give up because of ill health. His mind was always clear and bright , a remarkable faculty which he retained until the last. His health the past winter was poor, he being confined to his bed, and it was realized for some time that the end was not far away.

Yet even during sickness Mr Cochran retained an active interest in business and those who wished to seek his advice could recieve the best of worthwhile information from him.

Coming to Fulton in 1864, Mr Cochran was taken into the home of Mr Aylesworth who conducted a general store at that place. He served his apprenticeship in the Aylesworth store, and in 1871 the senior Mr Aylesworth started a general store in Thomson, placing his son and Mr Cochran in charge of same, and on a partnership basis. Mr. Cochran purchased the half interest of his partner in 1873 and has since remained in business here, with the exception of a year or so as previously mentioned, due to illness. His store for all these years has been in the same location.

The stories about Mr Cochran as a merchant are legend. It has been said many times by older residents that in his prime he could wait on more customers at once than any man ever seen behind a counter. Not only that but as soon as the last item was purchased, Mr Cochran would tell to the penny the total amount of the bill, figuring the sums in his head as he made up the customeršs order.

In filling his orders he used a heavy grade of wrapping paper, which he made into a funnel, and then securely wrapped and tied at both ends. He carried carload stocks of flour and feed, and his shelves were always piled high with thekind of merchandise useful and needed in a smaller community.

During his entire lifetime, Mr Cochran kept his own set of complete books, on his store, and tenants. He could tell to a penny just how all accounts stood without referring to his ledger and his mind has often been termed one of the fastest at calculating and figuring of any in Thomson.

He lived a long and useful life and he too realized that the end was near. We are glad that he honored Thomson for so many years with his business and his presence.

Thomas Cochran , son of Alexander and Margaret Cochran, was born in New York City on February 11, 1851. He came to Fulton, Whiteside County in 1864 as one of a group of orphan boys who were sent west to be placed in suitable homes. His mother died when he was a year and a half old. His father remarried. He had three half brothers, one still living, James Y. Cochran of E. Orange, N.J.

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Research: History of Carroll Co. Illinois, H. F. Kett & Co, Chicago 1878; Carroll County Review, Thomson, Illinois, 10 Mar 1932; Obituary, Thomson Review, 30 April 1936; 1893 Carroll Co, IL Platbook.

On 7 January 1874 when Thomas was 22, he married Susan GREEN, daughter of Noah GREEN (1823-1904) & Emaline COULTER (ca1825- 1886), in Thomson, IL. Born on 17 March 1847 in Licking Co, OH. Susan died in Thomson, York Twp Carroll Co, IL on 9 January 1927; she was 79. Buried in Lower York Cem, York Twp, Carroll Co, IL.

Susan came to York Twp, Carroll Co, IL with her parents in 1850.

They had the following children:
i. Mattie born on 28 June 1875 in Thomson, York Twp, Carroll Co, IL. Married Charles A. NASON.
ii. Thomas Ely (1877-1968)
iii. William James (1878-1946)
iv. Maude married Eric LUNDBERG.

Second Generation

Thomas Ely COCHRAN. Born on 12 October 1877 in Thomson, Carroll Co, IL. Thomas Ely died in Mercy Hosp, Clinton, IA in October 1968; he was 90. Buried in Lower York Cem, York Twp, Carroll Co, IL. Occupation: Grocery Store Owner.

On 2 March 1907 when Thomas Ely was 29, he married Margaret Jane McGINTY, daughter of Edward McGINTY & Margaret WILLIAMSON, in Morenci, AZ. Born on 29 July 1882 in Mt. Carroll, IL. Margaret Jane died in Morrison Hosp, Morrison, IL on 9 July 1947; she was 64. Buried in Lower York Cem, York Twp, Carroll Co, IL.

They had the following children:
i. Evelyn
ii. Edith. Lived in Clinton, IA Edith married Dean BOYCE.
iii. Bernice. Lived in Rock Island, IL. married Robert STAGE.
iv. Robert Ely

William James COCHRAN. Born on 23 December 1878 in Thomson, York Twp, Carroll Co, IL. William James died in Long Beach, CA on 16 December 1946; he was 67. Buried in Lower York Cem, York Twp, Carroll Co, IL. Occupation: Mining Engineer.

Immediately after their marriage William and Rose moved to Morenci, AZ where he worked for Phelps Dodge Mining Co. for several years and later the Detroit Copper Mining Co. He was tranferred to Douglas, AZ where he worked for 15 years. After retirement he lived in Chicago for a while and then moved to Long Beach, CA in September of 1946. His wife and both children preceeded him in death.

On 8 June 1905 when William James was 26, he married Rose McGINTY, in Savanna, Carroll Co, IL.

They had the following children:
i. Thomas.
ii. Maud. Maud died in 1915 in Ola, AR.(Maud died while her parents were vacationing in Arkansas. The funeral was held in the home of her uncle Ely Cochran). She is buried in Lower York Cem, York Twp, Carroll Co, IL.

Third Generation

Evelyn COCHRAN married Cecil GEORGE. They had a daughter named Barbara who married Richard Loy

Written and Contributed by Richard Groharing

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