Alexander Cochran Arrives in Guernsey County

Although I have not found the first Cochran to immigrate to North America, I do know which Cochran was the first to arrive in Guernsey County, Ohio.

Alexander Cochran (1765-1851)

My great-grandfather’s great-grandfather (in other words, my 4th great-grandfather), Alexander Cochran, was born when Revolutionary fervor was beginning to boil in Pennsylvania.

According to family history, related in The Identity of William Cochran, Sub-Lieutenant of Westmoreland and Washington Counties 1777-1783, Alexander was born to William Cochran (b. 1772) near Fort Pitt, the fort that preceded the settlement of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  In 1781 and 1782 he served in the Washington County, Pennsylvania militia.

Alex married Sarah (or Mary) Adams in 1787 with the Presbyterian minister Reverend John McMillan presiding. He and his wife first lived near Hickory, Pennsylvania.

Alex and his wife moved with their family of six children to Belmont County Ohio. Accounts vary as to when they relocated–from 1798 to 1802. The area the family moved in to was close to the western edge of Belmont County. On the east side, Belmont runs along the Ohio River. In 1810, Guernsey County was created, including the far western part of Belmont and the family became residents of the new county (without moving).  Thus, Guernsey County histories consider them to be early pioneers of Guernsey County.

The first map below shows the 1801 shape of Ohio Counties (WA=Washington and BE= Belmont, the two from which Guernsey was created.)

County Map of Ohio 1801

1801 State and County Map of Ohio . Click to go to source web site.

This is a current map of Ohio counties.

Guernsey County

Ohio County Map


Alexander Cochran map

Map of Alexander Cochran homes in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Alexander’s son William (my 3rd great-grandfather) was one of six children born in Pennsylvania, although the last of those might have died before they moved to Ohio.  Alexander had six or seven more children after leaving Pennsylvania.

The 1878 obituary of Alexander’s son William (known as Col. William Cochran) vividly describes the Ohio Territory that Alexander moved his family to around the beginning of the 19th century. Even allowing for the romanticization of pioneer days that was rampant in the late 1800’s, this reminds you of the challenge these early settlers undertook.

…came with his father’s family to the territory now embraced within the limits of Guernsey county, about the year 1802, and a little while before the organization of the State of Ohio, from the North-West Territory of land ceded by Virginia to the general government.  The first settlement of the family was made upon the land embraced in the Carlisle possessions near the Salt Works on the National road, between Washington and Middlebourne  His father located there when the region was an unbroken forest, no other “clearing” being then within several miles of him.  Afterward they moved a few miles eastward up the Salt Fork on Wills Creek upon land which remained in the family until a very few years ago…He [Alexander’s son]  grew up with and noted the coming of people into [the county] and watched its growth and development, and lived to see the territory it then embraced rise from a mere handful of persons to a population of thirty-thousand souls, and from a wilderness of woods and swamps to a region filled with farms and dotted with twenty towns.

Alex would have seen this amazing growth and change also. It appears that he left Pennsylvania very shortly before his father died, so in addition to the challenge of breaking into new territory, he was separated from his immediate family.  But not from Cochrans in general. They were thick on the ground in Ohio and neighboring states. Alex and his wife had many children–one of whom would be my 3rd great grandfather. I am lacking the most basic information about most of those children. The six born in Pennsylvania:

  • Alyzannah, born in 1790 married John Ables in 1813 and eventually moved to Iowa.
  • Katherine, unknown birth date, married John Messel.
  • William, born in 1793 married Martha Henderson. He was my 3rd great grandfather.
  • Jacob, [UPDATE 8/2017]1797-1863, married Elizabeth Shuman
  • Rebecca, unknown birth date, married Samuel Anderson
  • Jane Morrow, born in 1800, was the second wife of General R. E. Moore, and they lived in California. (More to come on this fascinating couple)

After the move to Ohio, these are the possible additional children (I will add information as I find it.)

  • John Clark, born in 1802
  • Alexander, born in 1805
  • James, died as a child
  • Brice
  • Mary Ann
  • Hanson

Alexander’s first wife died in 1820 and he remarried a woman named Jane Henderson [EDIT January 2018. Thanks to a reader/cousin, I now have the marriage certificate of this couple and learned her first name and that her last name is Henderson, not Henson).

Marriage certificate

Marriage certificate of Alexander Cochran I and Jane Henderson

They had one child:

  • Matilda, born 1825, married to Cornelius Dillahey and they lived in Cambridge, Guernsey County, Ohio.

In 1850, Alex is reported living with Cornelius and Matilda Dillahey and their children in Middletown (Middleborough on the map above), Guernsey County, Ohio. The 1850 census does not specify relationships to head of household, but Matilda must have been Alex’s daughter. The age reported for him is ninety, which would mean he was born in 1760 instead of 1765. More likely, everyone had lost track of how old he was.

There is no trace of a gravestone for Alexander Cochran.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Most of what I am writing about the Cochrans relies on 2nd hand reports and family history and on some assumptions (by guess and by golly). I cannot thank enough the distant cousin who contacted me with much of his own and George Williston’s past research. As I discover more concrete information, I will revise these entries.

How I Am Related

  • Vera Marie Kaser Badertscher is the daughter of
  • Harriette Anderson Kaser who is the daughter of
  • Vera Stout Anderson, who is the daughter of
  • William Cochran Stout, who is the son of
  • Emeline Cochran Stout, who is the daughter of
  • Col. William Cochran, who is the son of
  • Alexander Cochran

Notes on Research

The Identity of William Cochran, Sub-Lieutenant of Westmoreland and Washington Counties 1777-1783. by George Williston. Circa 1999.  Paper e-mailed to me by Tom Fowler.

Some relevant footnotes from that paper:

United States Federal Census, 1850, Cambridge, Guernsey, Ohio for Alexander and Matilda. From

U.S. General Land Office Records, 1796-1907, Entry Date:10 Oct 1832, Alexander Cochran


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10 thoughts on “Alexander Cochran Arrives in Guernsey County

  1. Cody Nelson

    Very well put together. Most of my family’s Ohio beginnings started near Guernsey (Hocking, Athens, Perry and Morgan). I will have to work more maps into my posts.

  2. Richard M. Cochran

    Hi Vera,

    Enjoyed reading your articles about the Cochrans. I have been involved in genealogy since 1966 and in the past few years have used DNA testing to extend my Scots-Irish lineage. I’ve pinpointed a townland – Ballywilliam – in Macosquin parish, County Londonderry as the locale my family originated. Records from 1725. 1740, 1765 and 1831 show Cochrans in that townland. I have arranged over twenty y-chromosome DNA tests through and now have a group of Cochrans descended from a common ancestor, proven through validated y-chromosome matches. Thought you might be interested that I’ve lined up a 111 marker y-chromosome test with a great great grandson of Colonel William Cochran (1793-1878) of Guernsey Co., Ohio and we will shortly discover whether we’re all connected. I have already discovered a couple of autosomal ( DNA test matches with descendants of Colonel William’s brother, Jacob (1797-1863). Drop me a note if you’d like to be kept in the loop.

    Richard M. Cochran, Ph.D.
    Big Rapids, Michigan

  3. jil Cochran

    thank you for all your work on our families..
    I’m Jill Cochran -daughter of
    Richard Cochran -son of
    Archibald Cochran -son of
    Albert Berry Cochran -son of
    Alexander Cochran – son of
    Alexander Cochran 1765-1851
    My grandmother and my mother started the cochran genealogy search in the 1960’s. They have handed the search now to me (not sure now if they loved me lol). I’m the last of this line of Cochran’s.
    anyway, I found the Will of Jacob Adams of Wills township in Gueansey naming daughters Mary Cochran and Hannah Achison and son-in-law Alexander Cochran etc. It is dated march 1821. Do you have any info on the death of Mary Cochran other than 1820? I also found a marriage of an Alexander Cochran from Wills township and a Jane Henderson of Oxford township of Gueansey Ohio dated 1823. Do you know if this is Alexander I or Alexander II ?
    Thank you I love your website

  4. Geoff Carlson

    Hi, just wondering if you’ve ever come across information on Alexander Cochran 1770-1838(had a son George W. Cochran 1786-1834) both are buried in Clark County Ohio. I have no info on Alexander’s wife or parents, just know that they are the oldest known in the Cochran line of my family. Thanks in advance for any reply,

  5. Jamie Porter

    Hi I am a descendent of Alex He would be a great grandfather many times over … His daughter Alyzannah would be my link to him… I actually live in Columbus, Ohio myself.. I just found this information on this part of my tree and im trying to put it all together …I have so many questions? Like is his father William Cochran that was killed by native Americans ? I would love any info you could share …Very nice to meet you my possible distant cousin (I think) and I’m waiting on my DNA results …


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