Cochranton History 1885



Cochranton Borough was created by order of the Court of Quarter Sessions April 5, 1855, in response to a petition presented by C. Cochran and twenty-nine other residents of the village. The first election was held April 14, 1855, when James Greer was elected Burgess and Charles Cochran, D.M. Devore, Samuel Markle, William T. Dunn and Hugh Smith, Council. The Burgesses subsequently elected have been: 1856, Hugh Smith; 1857, John Crouch; 1858, William E. Byers; 1859, D.M. Devore; 1860, Henry Sweetwood; 1861, W.E. Byers; 1862, James Martin; 1863, Joseph Evans; 1864, Henry Sweetwood; 1865, James Greer; 1866-67, Henry Sweetwood; 1868, Andrew G. Apple; 1869, D.M. Devore; 1870, James Greer; 1871-72, James B. Fleming, who died while in office in 1872; the vacancy was filled in July, 1872, by the election of Truman Beeman; 1873, Truman Beeman; 1874, Thomas Shafer; 1875-76, Henry Sweetwood; 1877, James Coley; 1878, Gilbert Doubet, who resigned in September, 1878, to accept the office of Postmaster; the vacancy was filled by the election of David Adams; in 1879 a tie occurred in the election, and the office was filled by appointments of the council; 1880, D.H. McFate; 1881-82, James G. Fleming; 1883-84, Samuel H. Nelson.

This is the most important village in the southern portion of the county, and received its name from the first owners and settlers of its soil. Joseph Cochran, son of Thomas Cochran, who had settled in Wayne Township, about a mile east of the village, received from his father the south part of Tract 1291, in which the heart of the village lies, and settled upon it at an early date. His frame house stood on the north side of Adams Street, on the site of Alexander Patton’s brick residence. Charles Cochran, who was only distantly, if at all, related to the above, was probably the first settler within the limits of the borough, though not in the village proper. Probably as early as 1800 he emigrated from the Susquehanna River, and settled on that part of Tract 1289, which is northeast of French Creek, now known as the McFate Farm, a half mile south of the village. He there engaged in farming until his death. His sons were John, James, Alexander, Lacy and Robert. James was an early Justice of the Peace, and a prominent man. He was more generally known as Col. Cochran, and kept a tavern and store on the old home farm for many years. During the war of 1812 a rough log-fort was erected on this farm, as a protection against a threatened Indian invasion, and in it the people, mostly women of the neighborhood, once assembled; most of the able bodied men at this time serving at Erie.

John Adams, formerly from Mifflintown, after tarrying for a year or two in Butler County, settled on Tract 1292 in the eastern part of the borough in 1802, and remained here until his death in 1855. His descendants are yet numerous in this vicinity. In 1802 Mr. Adams erected a saw-mill. In 1808 or 1809 he added a grist-mill where the Cochranton Mills now stand, and as early as 1825 operated a carding-mill at the same place. John Adams disposed of the mill to his son James. Mr. Mourer was the next owner, and under his proprietorship, about 1845, the property was destroyed by fire. The mills were rebuilt in 1846 by John Whitman, who soon after sold them to George Merriman, from whom the present proprietors, Smith Brothers, purchased them.

John Bell, a cabinet-maker, moved in about 1828 from Allegheny County. George Henry, a few years later, opened a store. The population in 1840 comprised about a dozen families. The postoffice was at first kept on the pike east of the village, and about 1852 Hugh Smith became the first Postmaster at Cochranton. The growth of the village has been gradual but constant. The Franklin Branch of the N.Y., P. & O. Railroad passes through it and affords facilities which have greatly improved the place.

As now constituted, the borough consists of Tract 1292 and portions of Tracts 1291, 1289 and 1288 of the Sixth Donation District. The territory, except the fraction of Tract 1288, which was detached from Wayne, lies in the southeast corner of East Fairfield Township. The village is situated on French Creek, at the mouth of Little Sugar Creek. It had in 1860 a population of 250; in 1870, of 459, and in 1880 of 645.

It now contains five dry goods stores, two groceries, two hardware stores, one furniture store, two undertaking establishments, three drug stores, two clothing stores, one boot and shoe store, three meat markets and a bakery. Among its industrial establishments may be reckoned a flouring mill, owned by Smith Bros.; a saw-mill, owned by John Nelson; a planing-mill, operated by A. Gaston; a broom factory, operated by the Burchard Bros.; E.W. Shippen & Co.’s dowel factory, two wagon and carriage shops, two harness shops, a stave-mill and cooper shop, two shoe shops and two blacksmith shops. The village also possesses three hotels, two banks, a newspaper, four physicians, a dentist, a good school, five secret societies, four churches and three livery stables.

The schoolhouse is an old frame structure, built in 1855, and located at the southeast corner of Smith and Pine Streets. It contains three apartments, and is insufficient to accommodate the increasing school population of the village. Two frame, one-story district schoolhouses preceded the present edifice. Both stood on the north side of Adams Street, the first at the site of the Cochranton Savings Bank.

The Cochranton Times was launched into the world in November, 1878, by R.H. Odell, who continued its publisher and editor until the spring of 1880, when C.A. Bell, the present proprietor, purchased the property. It is an independent newspaper and is issued every Friday. The Trigon was the first newspaper venture, but after a brief and disastrous career it came to an end shortly before the Times was established.

The first church organization in the village was what is now the United Presbyterian. It was organized about 1827 as an Associate Reformed Church, and for many years was connected with the old Conneaut Church in the northeast part of Fairfield Township. Among the earliest members were: Joseph and James Cochran, William McKnight, David Blair, John Adams and John Fulton. Early meetings were held in the barn of Joseph Cochran, but about 1834, the present frame meeting-house was erected at the northeast corner of Pine and Smith Streets. Rev. Samuel F. Smith, the first pastor, commenced service in 1828, and maintained the pastoral relation until his death in 1846. Rev. H.H. Thompson, the second pastor, served from 1848 to the spring of 1865. He was succeeded in December, 1865, by Rev. David Donnan, the present pastor. The membership is 191.

The Presbyterian Church of Cochranton had the following origin: about 1848, a division occurred in the Cochranton Associate Reformed or United Presbyterian Church, the seceding members organizing a Covenanter or Reformed Presbyterian Congregation. In 1852 a church building, still in use, and situated on Franklin Street, was erected at an original cost of $800. It was changed from the Pittsburgh Reformed Presbytery to the Erie Presbytery, September 26, 1867, during the pastorate of Rev. David Patton, who was installed June 27, 1866. The Elders at this time were: Robert Gourley, William Smith, Joseph Nelson and William Gourley, Sr. Rev. Patton continued pastor until 1869. The pulpit was then supplied by Presbytery until 1877, when Rev. A.Z. McGogney became pastor, and was in charge four years. Rev. W.C. Wakefield, the present pastor, succeeded in December, 1881. The present membership is 116, and the session consists of Joseph Nelson, William Gourley, W.L. Gourley and C.W. Heydrick.

The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized by Rev. William Patterson in January, 1839, with twelve members, of whom E.P. Slocum is the sole survivor. The church building located on Pine Street was built in 1843 at a cost of $900, and remodeled in 1870. Cochranton Circuit was formed in 1855, and has had the following pastors: 1855, S.S. Stuntz; 1856-57, R. Gray; 1858, J. Marsh; 1859, J. Abbott; 1860, N.C. Brown; 1861-62, J.C. Sullivan; 1862, W.A. Clark; 1863, J.W. Hill; 1864, P.B. Sherwood; 1865-66, P. Burroughs; 1867-68, B.F. Delo; 1869-70, L.D. Williams; 1871, G.H. Brown; 1872, not filled; 1873, J. Abbott; 1874-75-76, R.C. Smith; 1877, J.W. Wright; 1878-79, J.F. Perry; 1880-81, M.V. Stone; 1882, George W. Clark; 1883, W. Hollister. The circuit has been frequently changed, and now consists of three appointments: Cochranton, Kingsly Chapel of East Fairfield Township, and Mumford appointment of Fairfield. The membership of the Cochranton Church is about ninety.

St. Stephen’s Catholic Church of Cochranton was erected in 1874, on the south side of East Pine Street, at a cost of $1,600, under the ministry of Father E. Cogneville, of Frenchtown, who is still the priest in charge. Services had been held for some time previous at the schoolhouse and residences. John Harding, John O’Neil, George Galmiche and Gilbert Doubet were early members. The congregation now numbers about thirty-five.

Cochranton Lodge, No. 902, I.O.O.F., was organized January 29, 1875. Its charter officers were: Michael Brown, N.G.; Alexander Patton, V.G.; S.H. Nelson, Secretary; M.T. Bell, Assistant Secretary; James C. Patton, Treasurer. The remaining charter members were: L. Whittling, Josiah May, John Burns, George E. Dilley, D.W. Graham, H.A. Johnson, Joseph A. McDonald, Hiram Oaks, Robert Suttly, J.A. Williams, C.N. McDonald and A.M. Jackson. The membership is now sixty-five, and meetings are held on Friday evenings.

Saunders Grange, No. 371, P. of H., was organized October 30, 1874, with twenty-seven members. W.W. Dean was first Master; J.T. Reed, first Overseer, and D. Nodine, first Secretary. A grange store was started in March, 1880, and a co-operative bank in June, 1882, with W.S. Hosmer, President, and J.T. Reed, cashier. Meetings are held on the afternoons of the first and third Saturdays of each month. The membership is seventy-five.

Cochranton Lodge, No. 805, K. of H., was instituted November 20, 1877, with ten members: Alexander Patton, Frank Baker, Jesse Moore, T.D. Sensor, J.H. Homan, J.G. Fleming, E. Ewing, F.S. Whitling, G.W. Slocum and J.P. Hassler. The lodge now numbers forty members and meets every Monday evening.

Evening Shade Council, No. 23, R.T. of T., was instituted January 13, 1879, and meets each alternate Tuesday evening. The membership is twenty-six. The first officers were R.H. Odell, S.C.; J.A. Slocum, V.C.; N.N. Shepard, P.C. and Treasurer; Mrs. N.N. Shepard, Chaplain; Mrs. E.D. Hassler, Secretary; C.A. Miller, Herald; Carrie Odell, Guard; A. Manges, Sentinel; J.P. Hassler, Medical Examiner.

Cochranton Lodge, No. 168, A.O.U.W., was chartered with nineteen members January 12, 1880. Its first officers were: John W. Kaster, P.M.W.; William First, M.W.; John H.W. Glazier, G.F.; C. Baughman, O.; Andrew Regan, Recorder; John D. Dunbar, Financier; Hugh Patton, Receiver; W. Pegan, G.; John Pressler, I.W.; Edward Best, O.W. The membership is thirty-two, and meetings are held Thursday evenings.

The French Creek Valley Agricultural Society was organized in 1877, and has since held annual fairs at Cochranton. They have been widely attended and eminently successful.

The Cochranton Cemetery Association was chartered in 1860. Its grounds comprise eight acres, lying just east of the borough, handsomely laid out in walks and drives.

History of Crawford County, 1885

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