Would I Lie to You?–52 Ancestors:#23 William Cochran and the War of 1812

William Cochran 1793-1878

Would I lie to you? Not on purpose.

How I went wrong in telling a War of 1812 story.  Read the revised biography of William Cochran (1793-1878).

[NOTE: With further research I have found that I did indeed mislead with this post.  “Write in haste, repent at leisure!  I have marked in brown the sections below that were sloppily done originally, or were written without enough research and have proven to be wrong. Where I have the correct information, I’ve added it in blue.]

William Cochran, father of Emeline Cochran Stout, was in the first generation of the Cochran clan to move to Ohio.  Born in Hickory, Pennsylvania, he got to Ohio in 1802 when his family moved to a settlement along the National Road in Southeast Ohio making them one of the earliest families to settle in that county in frontier Ohio Territory. As an old man, one account says he claimed there were only 25 families in the county in 1802. But the Cochrans had done a bit of migrating before.

My great-great grandmother Emeline Cochran Stout came from two very impressive pioneer families–both originally from Scotland–both migrated to Ireland before coming to North America. The men folk in both families were warriors. Her father was William Cochran. Her mother was a Fife. [Stupid mistake.  I was confusing her with my other great-great grandmother, Isabella Fife Anderson, who indeed also came from a distinguished family of Scottish warriors.]

I hope I’ll have time to go more deeply into Emeline’s family history at some point, but for now, I would like to focus on her father, known as Col. William Cochran. William was nine years old, (or five, according to which history you believe) when his father Alexander Cochran, a 2nd generation Scotch-Irish American [I was relying here on my mother’s word that Emeline’s grandfather migrated from Scotland. The Cochran family goes much further back. Alexander was at least a 3rd generation American.] pulled up stakes and headed for Ohio Territory.

By the age of twenty, young William was apparently ready for some more adventure. Military service was a family tradition. The ancient Scots had hired out to fight for Irish lords. William’s  grandfather had fought in the Revolutionary War and his father saw service fighting Indians.

[While the Information below about the War of 1812 is correct, the William Cochran I describe is not likely to be my ancestor.  All of that information came from one source.  There is a William Cochran from Guernsey County listed in the Roster of soldiers from Ohio. Furthermore, another source (see updated bio of William) specifies that he served in the 2nd Brigade of the 15th Division of the Ohio Militia under James M. Bell. However I have not found other references to his military service in sources such as his obituary and the History of Guernsey County.] 

The War of 1812 had reenergized the mostly ignored Ohio militia.  After the final battles with the Indians, when peace settled over the land, people had pretty much put down their weapons and drifted away from the required weekly militia drills. But in 1812, Britain attacked American forts and enlisted the aid of Indians which raised the spectre of returning to the bloody days of raids on farms and scalping. Besides, Americans had their eye on annexing Canada.

The support for the new war ignited throughout the state–vulnerable to attack across Lake Erie and from the Ohio River–and as one source quoted in an 1812 history says, they were ready to fight for the flag, “of thirteen stripes and seven stars–the last star being that of Ohio.” Well, poetic as it was, that is not quite accurate.

Star Spangled Banner

Star Spangled Banner at Smithsonian of 1812 era.

It was in fact the flag that inspire Francis Scott Key to write “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Where they got that “seven”, I don’t know, since Ohio was the seventeenth state, and during the War of 1812, the flag actually had 15 stripes and 15 stars. It did not catch up with the number of states until 1818, when it was changed to 13 stripes and 20 stars.

And the story you are about to read about William (Emmeline’s father) may be as off base as that claim of seven stripes. [Well, at least I cautioned you before I told the following story.  I leave it in just because the descendant of that other William Cochran may find it useful.]

At any rate, William volunteered in August of 1813 for five months and joined with a crowd 8000 near Upper Sandusky in northern Ohio, where he was under the command of General Tupper for five months.  Some of those soldiers joined Admiral Perry as crew on his ships on Lake Erie (apparently regardless of experience at sailing), but I don’t know what William was doing.

He apparently went in to the army about the time that a lot of others were leaving to care for their crops. Disorganization reigned and most of the men who had enlisted were sent home.  William went home (or elsewhere) in January and then resurfaced in April 1814 to volunteer with a Captain Sheppherd. He signed up in Adams County which is in Southern Ohio, along the river, not far from Guernsey County where the Cochran family lived.

1812 map of Ohio counties

1812 map of Ohio counties

This time he signed up for eight months and became a boat builder. (Wish I knew more about that!) In December of 1814 he was honorably discharged at the Maumee River , in the northern eastern corner of the state.

Maumee River map

Maumee River map

But he must have been enjoying his military duty more than most of his fellow Ohioans (according to historic accounts, the militia was disorganized to say the least) because he immediately went back down to Adams County and reenlisted for a year under Sgt. Samuel Stitts and Col. James Miller.  I’m guessing he may have gone back to building boats, because records say he was honorably discharged December 1815 “on the Niagara River.”

According to the United States Archives, William Cochran of Highland County claimed his bounty of land from the government when he was 53 years old. I am not sure whether he was awarded land, because the archives has mixed another William Cochran’s files together with the Highland County  William Cochran. But the same William Cochran, also from Highland County, puts in a claim when he is 81.

I have to admit that now I’m not even sure that the details of his service record as reported above are correct since there is confusion with other William Cochrans and since “my” William Cochran definitely came from Guernsey County, so why would he be filing a claim in Highland County? [Would that I had followed my instinct and not passed these interesting histories along as belonging to my ancestor!]

After the War, William Cochran (“My” W.C.) married Martha Henderson and had a bunch of children. (One history says eleven) among whom were my great-great-grandmother Emeline and her brother Alexander who went to California during the gold rush and came back to become a founder of the town of Quaker City, Ohio. When Martha died in 1851, William quickly married Ruth Hazlett.  In 1870, he probably [actually] married again to a Mary Moore. He passed away in October 1878.

There is no indication that the “Col.” was anything more than an honorific title, however he DID serve in the War of 1812, at least as a private.  There is a medallion with his tombstone in the Stout Cemetery in Guernsey County to honor his service. OF course, I suppose there is the possibility that a veteran’s group got as confused as I am by the various William Cochrans and put the medallion on the wrong one.

I can see that if I am to keep my credibility, I need to do a LOT more research on William Cochran. The misinformation floating around is overwhelming. [INDEED]

William Cochran

Wm. Cochran Grave Marker, with War of 1812 Marker Stout Cemetery

Willliam Cochran

William Cochran Tombstone in the Stout Cemetery, Guernsey County, Ohio

How I am related:

  • Vera Marie Badertscher, daughter of
  • Harriette Anderson Kaser, daughter of
  • Vera Stout Anderson, daughter of
  • William Cochran Stout, son of
  • Emeline Cochran Stout, daughter of
  • (Col.) William Cochran

This has been another post that is part of the #52 Ancestors initiative. To see more participants go to the website that started it all: No Story Too Small.

Research notes

  • Photos: The map pictures are linked to their sources. The 1812 flag is in the public domain and was acquired from Wikipedia. The two final pictures were taken by cousins Larry and Judy Anderson
  • I find information on birth, death, marriages, etc. at Ancestry.com
  • Information about Ohio in the Civil War from “Notes on the Ohio Militia during the War of 1812. ” by James T. Brenner Found on the web in a PDF at this Ohio government site.
  • A genealogy of Alexander Cochran and family by George C. Williston, found on the web at RootsWeb.
  • Information about Alexander Cochran, the son of William Cochran and brother of Emeline, is in History of Guernsey County, Ohio by Col. Cyrus P. B. Sarchet, Illinois, Vol. 1 & 2, pg. 615, (1911)
  • The Household Guide and Instructor with Biographies, History of Guernsey County, Ohio, by T. F. Williams (1882)  (Two copied pages that include the Stout/Cochran family are in my possession. (Whole available free through Google books)

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