Tag Archives: Emeline Cochran Stout

Doctor’s Daughter and the Medicine Show, a Family Letter

Imagine This

Imagine that you are a 13-year-old girl living in a town of about 800 people in rural Ohio, Holmes County. It is February, 1895, so the dirt streets usually turn to mud in winter, but this winter has been mild, and a medicine show has come to town. You sit down to write a letter to your Grandma, Emeline Stout, who lives in Guernsey County.

The Letter

Vera and Emeline

(The photo of Emeline Stout below is undated, but since I have younger and older pictures, I believe this is roughly the right time period. I previously mis-identified it as being Hattie Stout because I misread a caption that said “Grandma Stout”.  Since it was my Grandmother Vera’s handwriting, it is Emeline, not my mother’s Grandma Stout–Hattie.  The photo of Vera is approximately the time she wrote the letter, but unfortunately I do not have one that is better quality.)

The Background

Your father is a doctor and, as usual, is out in the country helping a patient.  Not a lot happens in this small town except church on Sundays and other church meetings. A medicine show with a painless dentist has replaced the interest stirred by the Methodist Church revival, which has now ended. The revivals are almost as well attended as a traveling circus, and draw nearly everybody in town.  Some of those people, not already committed to your father’s chosen place of worship, the Church of Christ,will respond to the emotional sermon of the traveling minister and walk down the tent’s aisle to join the Methodist Church. After you report on the Methodist’s success, t occurs to you a that you had better also tell Grandma about the activities of the Church of Christ. (You are writing the letter on Monday, so your church yesterday occupies your mind ).

When you announced your intention to go to the medicine show, your mother, upholding the reputation of the good doctor, lets you know in no uncertain terms that you cannot go.  One can only guess how appalled she is to think that neighbors would see Doc Stout’s youngest daughter at this charlatan’s traveling show. Additionally, although you Vera might not have known, alcoholism ranks as the biggest social problem of the time. The traveling medicine man’s main income comes from selling “medicine” that is almost totally alcohol or morphine.  It would not occur to you that Grandma Stout might disapprove as much as your mother did  of the medicine show.  Emeline Cochran Stout took an active role in the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU).

You let it slip later in the letter that you already went to the medicine show, because you were tempted to let the painless dentist pull your teeth.  But since you report honestly on both the good and the bad, you admit that you chickened out of having the teeth extracted.

Perhaps your mother did not realize you had attended before, and when she learns about your plans to go again, you see your mother’s refusal as being contrary, and you pitch a fit.  You get so angry that you even refuse to write a thank you letter to your Grandmother Stout even though your obedient older sister, Maude, has written her letter.

But when you calm down, you write the letter to Grandma and in plain terms, confess to your contrariness.

Transcription and Notes

The 13-year-old was my Grandmother Vera Stout (Anderson). She wrote the letter on her father’s stationary and filled in the date February 25 1895. In three months she would celebrate her 14th birthday. The portion in italics is what Grandmother wrote. I have left her spelling, but for clarity I added periods at the end of sentences. My notes are in brackets. I will include additional notes at the end of the letter explaining things that might not be clear.    

Printed letterhead, with fancy frame around name (see picture above):

W. C. Stout, M.D.

Office days, TUESDAYS and SATURDAYS (from 9 A.M. to 3 P.M.)

Killbuck, Ohio, Feb. 25 189 5

Dear Grandma,

I will answer your letter this evening. I was to contrary to ans when Maud {Vera’s sister} did because I was mad. I received your mittens you sent me and thank you ever so much. think they are very nice.

There is a show in town & has been here for wk and is going to stay all this week. ma got a contrary spell & would not let me go & I have been crying about it for a long time. Pa is up to Stagers. Mr. Stager was down after him to go to see his wife. she has the grip. {grippe–flu}

The Methodist church broke up last night I do not know how many members they got. I think about 30 I am not sure. Are school will be out in about 2 months & Mr. Searles is going to teach a Normal school {school for teachers} this summer. I will not attend.(1) We had church last night & two came out and three were taken in.(2) Bertie Knavel and Mrs. Williams joined and the Fox girl was taken into the church. We got Uncle Tom’s little boy’s picture & he is awful sweet. they named him after Pa. William Clarence Stout. & it make it W. C. Stout like Pa name. He is awful sweet. I expect you have one of them. he is standing by the hobby horse.(3)

Well grandma I got two teeth filled the other day . Mr. Mackey from Millersburg {County Seat, and biggest town in the county}. I only have two more to have filled & 4 to have pulled & will have good teeth. will be glad of it. The show that is here is a medicine show and the Doctor pulls teeth without pain & I am to big a coward to get my pulled. I started to and set back down. backed out.

This was a lovely day. the sun shone all day & the roads are nice.(4)

When are you coming out{?}

This is all I have to say this time so good bye. From your grand daughter Vera

Tell the girls I will write to them to. {Vera’s cousins, who were close to her in age– the nieces of her father, Doc Stout. Mary (b. 1883) and Myrl ( b. 1885), daughters of “Lib” Elizabeth Stout Cunningham.}


(1) If May seems early for school to be out, remember that in an agricultural society, parents needed their children on the farm during planting season.

I don’t know why Vera felt it necessary to say she would not be going to the Normal School conducted by Mr. Searles, since Normal schools were for high school graduates, not pre-high school.

(2) “two came out and three were taken in”  In Evangelical churches like the Church of Christ people “come out” and confess their  belief generally at the end of a service.  After some time passes, the minister baptizes them and they are “taken in” to membership in the church.  “Taken in” could also mean people who moved from another congregation.

(3) Uncle Tom is Tom Stout who ranched near Sheridan Wyoming.  The little boy named after Doc Stout, born in 1891, grew up, married and had a child, but was killed in an automobile accident in 1919.  Unfortunately, I have not found a copy of the picture of the child with his hobby horse.

(4) “the sun shone all day and the roads are nice”  This is the most evocative line of this letter, taking us back to a town when the condition of the roads could not be counted on to be passable, particularly in winter.

What Did I Learn About Grandma’s Life?

Now if your imagination is still in tact, and you are transported back to small town Ohio in 1895, imagine what happened after Vera wrote this letter.

My first reaction focused on how wonderful it was to have such a revealing letter from my grandmother.  I can see the plain-spoken, no-nonsense woman I knew in her later years. It brought back to me that  small town life really did include things like medicine shows and painless dentists, and the westerns that I saw in the movie theater where Grandma worked in later years were not just making things up. Did you ever see Bob Hope as a painless dentist in The Paleface?  (Remember, also, that in 1891, Ohio was still considered the West.)  Excellent description of the American phenomenon of traveling medicine show in this article.

But my second reaction was to ask, “If this letter went to Emeline Stout, why was it among my great-grandmother’s papers?”  Was Vera’s Ma, Hattie Stout still being ‘contrary?; Was Vera drop the letter in the slot at the post office, or did her mother make her recopy it and leave out some offensive lines? Perhaps I am over thinking this, because when people wrote letters by hand  in an era that prized beautiful writing, it they frequently recopied a letter and mailed the “clean” copy.

Now that you know Vera as a 13-year-old, and her mother Hattie, what do you think happened? And what do you think of my grandmother?


Would I Lie to You?– 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. (This site no longer exists, and I could not find the paper referred to.
  • 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)

Hattie, Doc and the Holmes County Loan

Harriett (Hattie) Morgan Stout (1842-1928)

William Cochran Stout (1845-1910) Married 1871

The bright lemony yellow strips stand out in a sea of burgundy brocade, chocolate velvet, pale sheer lawn, moss-green taffeta and the other muted shades– geometric scraps arranged to save and show off a family history.

Showing the family heirloom to my husband, I pointed to this ribbon, one of two used by my great-great-grandmother Emeline Cochran Stout in her crazy quilt

Holmes County Ribbon

Ribbon for the Holmes County centennial Loan Committee.

Dr. Stout

Doctor William Cochran Stout, my great-grandfather

My mother, Harriette Anderson Kaser, had told me that the ribbons belonged to my great-grandfather “Doc” Stout (1845-1910).  I thought I was going to be writing about one person in this week’s 52 Ancestors entry, but instead there are two.

Since I knew that “Doc” Stout had helped raise money to build his church (the Church of Christ in Killbuck, Ohio) I jumped to the conclusion that he was on some kind of fund raising committee for Holmes County.  But the date didn’t seem right. The ribbon says 1888. Holmes County was founded in 1825, not 1788,  There was not even a state of Ohio until 1803. So what was this committee all about?

I went to one of my favorite places on Facebook, the page staffed by the Holmes County Library, called Our Town: A Holmes County, Ohio Local History Project.  They had recently announced that they were compiling a list of events that took place in Holmes County, using the local newspapers from as far back as the 1800’s.  I posted the ribbon and asked if they had information.

Within hours, they had supplied photos, articles and some surprises.

Holmes County Farmer article

Article from the Holmes County Farmer, 1888 about the Centennial Loan Committee.

My great-grandmother, Harriett Stout

Harriett E. Morgan Stout, my great-grandmother

Ah-ha! This was a woman‘s committee, and men were an afterthought.  So perhaps the reason there are TWO ribbons in the Emeline crazy quilt, is that my great-grandmother Hattie Morgan Stout (1842-1928) was on the original committee, and great-grandfather Doc Stout was a johnny-come-lately.

Furthermore, we learn from the newspaper article that the Holmes County exhibit was part of a State Exposition. But what was being exhibited?  Another newspaper article made that clearer.

The second article, again from the Holmes County Farmer, says that the Centennial Loan would open on July 25 and continue for a week. All articles had to be in Columbus by August 8. Then we learn that “by Monday evening” people had loaned more than 50 items, including a Bible over 200 years old. The committee wanted “modern, new , pretty and interesting”  things as well as antiques. The committee also needed potted ferns. Because heaven knows you could not do anything fancy in the 1880’s without a bunch of potted ferns!

The Holmes County Exhibit would include a demonstration of spinning, for which the committee needed certain items, and someone would demonstrate making silk. Entertainment and activities for children were all part of what you would get for your admission price of five cents. I was thrilled to think that my great-grandmother was right there helping make those decisions, and then visiting with friends to solicit “loans.”

1888 state centennial postcard

1888 state centennial postcard

But if it is not the centennial of Holmes County, and not the centennial of Ohio, whose birthday was it?  Another reference from the Holmes County library reveals that Holmes County was part of a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the first community in Ohio, Marietta, a town on the Ohio River.

This was fascinating, and since my family was involved on the committee, I assume that they contributed something. I wonder if it was an antique, or something modern and interesting? Fortunately, I found out at least part of that answer. Read on.

In August, 1888, The Holmes County Farmer ran a sort of review of the event held at the County Court House in Millersburg. “…one might well imagine that Cinderella’s godmother had been there with her fairy wand, so great had been the transformation wrought in the last week.”  Don’t you love the understated way newspaper reporters wrote in the late 1800’s?

  • On the north you could see items as old as 500 years old, “old, quaint, dainty, pretty, beautiful”.
  • A large room had been divided into a hall, bedroom and parlor, each furnished with all sorts of beautiful household items.
  • The next room featured a dinning (sic) room with complete table setting.
  • Across from that modern dining room  another was set up as it would have been 100 years previously, and a horticulture exhibit.
  • To the left of the dining room was an exhibit of old fashioned costumes.
  • Ahead in the newspaper’s tour, another room representing art and industry  was so overwhelming the reporter gives up “…there is so much and so great a variety, we cannot hope to describe it. It must be seen to be appreciated.”
  • Then there was a pioneer room with old-time things.
  • In Agriculture Hall, the large stage was “most tastefully draped with American flags and buckeye branches.” This stage held entertainment in the evening by musical groups and “the broom brigade”–synchronized marchers.
  • During the day ladies demonstrated “shutch, hackle, card and spin” flax and wool.


In fact, the layout and the items on display make me think of the Smithsonian Institution’s original building (built just thirty years earlier).

I have gone into some detail here to impress upon you what a BIG DEAL the Holmes County Loan was. The County’s population at that time was just shy of 21,000, so a huge percentage of families must have contributed hundreds of items to “the Loan.”

Holmes County contributed to the Ohio State Centennial

The Centennial parade  in Columbus. From book, “Columbus 1860 to 1910,” by Richard E. Barrett, as posted by the Holmes County Library on Facebook.

The enormous Ohio Centennial Exposition in Columbus included a Civil War encampment of 100,000 veterans and 150,000 of their wives, children and friends, all camped out in the state capitol, which at that time had a population of only 120,000.

The bright yellow ribbons, beside the green pieces of great-grandma Hattie’s wedding dress, must have brought a flood of memories to the Killbuck couple– former school teacher Hattie Morgan Stout and her husband Doctor William Cochran Stout.

The dates on the ribbons in the crazy quilt told me exactly what my great-grandmother and great-grandfather were doing in the summer of 1888. From the newspaper articles and history book, I can see what a large undertaking they were part of. And what a thrilling project it was.

Like all research, it brought new information and understanding, but also raised more questions. What items did my family loan? Did they get them back? [NOTE: I later learned about at least one set of items that Hattie Stout specified were “not to go to Columbus.  See the beautiful heirlooms here.]

Did Hattie and Doc, and maybe even Emeline and my 7-year old grandmother and her siblings travel to Columbus for the state exhibition?  And by the way,I learned that hackle is a kind of comb, but what is the meaning of “schutch” in spinning? Or is it a typo? If you know, please leave a comment below.


Information about the Holmes County Loan Committee and the Ohio Centennial Exposition celebrating the founding of Marietta Ohio, came from the Holmes County Library’s Facebook page, referenced and linked above.

The Holmes County Farmer newspaper articles and the postcard  both came from that same Facebook page. Other information came from “Columbus 1860 to 1910,” by Richard E. Barrett

The ribbon pictured at the top is part of a crazy quilt and the photographs of the Stouts are in the author’s possession.

This has been a weekly post in the 52 Ancestors/52 Weeks Project started by Amy Johnson Crow at “No Story too Small.” Check out her weekly recap showing the list of participants for some ripping good stories.