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RG 30/8 - William C. Cochran Family (1848-1936)
Scope and Content

The papers of the Cochran Family primarily consist of correspondence, family records, photographs, research files, and writings.  The corpus of the collection is formed around William C. Cochran (1848-1936), who organized files relating to the Cochran family and who personally collected historical research files used to support his writing.  The bulk of the series material is related to William C. Cochran and his immediate family.  Included is documentation on the life and time of his natural father William Cochran (1814-1847), stepfather Jacob Dolson Cox (1828-1900), wife Rosa Dale Allen (1851-1926), and his children, as well as other Cochran descendants.  The six accessions of family papers, received between 1993 and 1996, have greatly altered the scope and content of this collection.  The record adds to our understanding not only of Oberlin College, but of four families intimately connected to this institution: the Finneys, Allens, Cochrans, and Coxes.  In particular, there is new information on the military career of Jacob Dolson Cox and the private life of William C. Cochran.  While the papers provide an excellent view of Cochran's personal life, his career as the family historian, and a more complete picture of Jacob Dolson Cox, it does not  cover his legal career or his service as a trustee at  Miami Medical College, Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church, both in Cincinnati, and Oberlin College (which is contained in the records of the Oberlin College Board of Trustees, Record Group 1).

The William C. Cochran family papers--a group significantly reorganized in 1997--is a complex body of documentation.  In 1997, the material was organized around three subgroups: SG1, Files relating to William Cochran (father) and Jacob Dolson Cox (stepfather); SG2, Files relating to the William C. and Rosa Dale Cochran family; SG3, Research files and writings of William C. Cochran.  The collection was restructured in order to reflect on the several generations of family as well as William C. Cochran's own role as a collector and writer of family history. 

In the first subgroup, which mainly consists of correspondence of Cochran's natural father William Cochran and stepfather Jacob Dolson Cox, the previously unseen letters (incoming and outgoing) of Jacob Dolson Cox are of significance.  For reasons not fully comprehended, these documents were not part of the 1936 placement of the Cox papers.  Focusing on the Civil War in which Cox served, these letters are enormously significant to the understanding of this man and his relationship to Oberlin and Cincinnati, Ohio.  Found here are ten letters, plus transcriptions of thirteen more, from William Tecumseh Sherman to Cox.  Dated between 1875 and 1891, Sherman comments on several topics related to the Civil War, including his 1864 march through Georgia, and offered analysis of battles and individuals, especially Ulysses S. Grant.  At the time, Cox was writing two books on Civil War events that involved Sherman, Atlanta  (1882) and March to the Sea; Franklin and Nashville  (1882).  Of special note are 213 letters, written by J. D. Cox from 1861 to 1865 to his wife, Helen Finney Cochran Cox.  These letters were transcribed into a notebook by Mrs. Cox from her husband's original war correspondence, of which only a handful survived.  Cox's field correspondence "not only reports on the relationship existing between politics and military outcomes but it also reflects his own perspicacity and high moral tone."  An electronic version by Ellen MacDaniels Speers is available.  Other notable personalities who wrote to Cox include Rutherford B. Hayes (dated 1892), William Seward (dated 1869), General Emerson Opdyke (dated 1876-1882), and Captain Thomas Speed (dated 1881-1897), only to mention a few.  Other documents of this subgroup include three letters received by Charles Grandison Finney, dated 1829 and 1848, and six letters received by Finney's daughter, Helen Finney Cochran Cox, dated between 1846 to 1864

In Subgroup 2 are files relating to the William C. Cochran family.  Mainly consisting of incoming correspondence of William C. Cochran, this body of documentation also contains historical material relating to Cochran and the Cochran family, publications, family records, and photographs.  A large number of letters are included from family members, many of which represent new additions to the collection.  Correspondence from the immediate family provide a vivid picture into the lives of the Cochran family from 1860 to 1925.  Letters (dated 1860-1873) from stepfather Jacob Dolson Cox, from (dated 1860-1911) mother Helen Finney Cochran Cox, and from (dated 1878-1923) spouse Rosa Dale Allen are included.  A large amount of correspondence dated between 1904 and 1925, mainly addressed to Rosa Dale Allen Cochran, exist from four of the five Cochran children (dated 1904-1925): Allen Deane, Frances Ermina, Helen Finney, and Mary Rudd.  Of the 275 letters from the children, 181 letters are from Helen Finney Cochran, but none survived from William S. Cochran, the oldest son.  The bulk of correspondence between eldest daughter Mary Rudd Cochran and her father and mother are located in the Mary Rudd Cochran papers (30/282).  These letters from the children document their day-to-day lives as they studied at Oberlin College and in Woodstock, New York, and their careers upon graduating from school.  Other incoming letters include lively correspondence from several of his Warren, Ohio, friends, including William Brett (dated 1865-1878), who later would head the Cleveland Public Library.  Future president Warren Harding (dated 1911), Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman (dated 1870), and James H. Fairchild (dated 1871-1872, 1880), professor and one time president of Oberlin College, were also correspondents of Cochran.  Outgoing letters includes 125 letters written by a young William C. Cochran, some which were originally held back by the family, to his mother Helen Finney Cochran Cox dated between 1862 and 1876.  They are a "delightful recounting of what it was like to be a boy of high school age" growing up during the Civil War, later going on to attend Oberlin College, and still later working at the U. S. Department of the Interior in Washington, D. C. and traveling Europe with Oberlin College president James H. Fairchild.  Other outgoing correspondence includes 16 letters sent to his wife Rosa Dale Allen Cochran during their 48 years of marriage.

Subgroup 2 also consists of historical material relating to William C. Cochran and his family, as well as a collection of publications belonging to Cochran and family photographs.  These files, which include several new additions, reflect on the personal lives of the Cochran family.  Cochran's membership cards dated from 1874 to 1891 reveal his active role in the community while publications from the Ohio Chess Association (dated 1887?, 1889-1893) and the Literary Club (dated 1908) provides a glimpse into Cochran's personal interests.  Other files, such as a record of books read between 1869 and 1873, a journal written during his trip to Colorado in 1880 to 1881, and a list of cases, 1872-1902 Cochran argued before the court, which is the only record recounting his legal career in the Cochran family papers, are present.  A scrapbook covering the years, 1868-1890, and a collection of programs and fliers provides documentary evidence of the musical and literary activities that the Cochrans participated in Cleveland and Cincinnati.  Three notebooks kept by various family members describe activities and events from 1841-1847 (Samuel D. Cochran, uncle), 1849-1852 (Helen Finney Cochran Cox, mother), and a third notebook, 1870, describing trips to Oberlin and Niagara Falls (possibly authored by Cochran himself). 

Documents collected and written by Cochran constitute a large part of the collection, including an extensive body of genealogical information on the Allens, Cox, and Cochran families.  Begun by William Cochran in 1882, some of the later dates in the volume were added by his descendants, most notably Mary Rudd Cochran, Carolyn MacDaniels Miller, and Ellen MacDaniels Speers.  A Cox family genealogy (photocopy) is also included.  Other notable documents contained in this subgroup include nine signed prints (1907, 1909) from Kenyon Cox, as well as photographs of several members of the Cochran, Cox, and Allen families.

The bulk of the Cochran's collected papers are found in Subgroup 3.  Consisting of typescript notes and extracts taken from Ohio based newspapers, as well as leading cities across the country (1859-1870), this represents a useful body of selcted documentation on events surrounding the Civil War and Reconstruction.  Cochran extracted pieces from Northern dailies such as the Cincinnati Commercial, Cleveland Plain Dealer, and Oberlin Evangelist  and from Southern newspapers, Daily Constitutionalist  (Augusta, Georgia) and Richmond Sentinel.  The extracts primarily deal with Jacob Dolson Cox and military and political events from 1858 to 1871.  Cochran also extracted notes from published histories and government documents, including Bancroft's History of the United States  and Jay Cooke, Financier of the Civil War, that pertained to his other research, most notably Cochran's 1920 publication The Western Reserve and the Fugitive Slave Law....

Cochran's writings about Cox include two brief articles ("Early Life and Military Services of General Jacob Dolson Cox," and "Why General Cox Left Grant's Cabinet"), as well as Cochran's two major works, "The Political Correspondence of Major General Jacob D. Cox," (1922) and "Political Experiences of Major General Jacob D. Cox" (c.1936).  Although the latter two works are unpublished, scholars have extensively drawn upon this material.  Cochran not only wrote about his stepfather Jacob Dolson Cox, he penned articles for the Oberlin Alumni Magazine, various historical journals, and an unpublished autobiography, which are also included.

After the Cochran family papers were reorganized in April 1997, an additional lot of records (acc # 1997/106) were received from Ellen MacDaniels Speers.  Donated to the Archives in August 1997, the files (located in Subgroup 2, Series 1, Subseries 9; Subgroup 2, Series 6, Subseries 4; and, Subgroup 2, Series 7) relate to William C. Cochran’s youngest son, Allen Deane Cochran (1888-1971).  Initially, some of the material may have been part of the family papers, but were probably given to Allen Deane by sister Mary Rudd Cochran (see also her personal papers 30/282) after the 1936 death of their father.  The Allen Deane Cochran material, which include some files originally in his custody, were left in the basement of his home in Woodstock, New York.  Found by Allen Deane Cochran’s stepgrandson, Allen Potter, Ellen Speers received two lots of material from the Potter family in 1996 and 1997.

The records are arranged as follows:

Subgroup 1.  Files Relating to William Cochran (father), Jacob Dolson Cox (stepfather) and Extended Cochran Family
            Series 1.  Letters Received and Sent by William Cochran, 1839-1846
            Series 2.  Letters Received and Sent by Jacob Dolson Cox, 1859-1898
            Series 3.  Letters Received from William Tecumseh Sherman to Jacob Dolson Cox (transcriptions), 1875-1891
            Series 4.  Letters Received from Jacob Dolson Cox to Helen Finney Cochran Cox (transcriptions), 1861-1895
            Series 5.  Miscellaneous Correspondence Held by the Cochran Family, 1829-1864

Subgroup 2.  Files relating to the William C. Cochran Family
            Series 1.  Correspondence relating to William C. Cochran and Family (most incoming to William C. Cochran), 1860-1936
            Series 2.  Outgoing Correspondence of Mr. and Mrs. William C. Cochran,1860-1928
            Series 3.  Letters Received by Rosa Dale Allen Cochran, 1889-1925
            Series 4.  Miscellaneous Historical Materials Relating to William C. Cochran, 1863-1901
            Series 5.  Miscellaneous Publications Belonging to William C. Cochran, \1819-1935
            Series 6.  Miscellaneous Materials Relating to the Cochran Family, 1841-1972
            Series 7.  Photographs, 1862-1923
            Series 8.  Scrapbooks, c. 1870s-1979

Subgroup 3.  Research Files and Writings of William C. Cochran
            Series 1  Research Files, 1900-1936
            Series 2  Writings, 1900-1936

Series Descriptions

Subgroup 1.  Files Relating to William Cochran (father), Jacob Dolson Cox (stepfather), and Extended Cochran Family

Series 1.  Letters Received and Sent by William Cochran, 1839-1846 (0.2 linear feet)

Consists of correspondence received and sent by William Cochran, arranged  alphabetically and thereunder chronologically, as well as two files containing miscellaneous material.  Correspondence includes six letters sent to Charles Grandison Finney in 1846 and two letters from James H. Fairchild dated 1839-1840.  A review, dated 1846, written by Finney in which he endorses Oberlin's faculty governance or the "Finney Compact" is also included, as well as a Cochran document reporting on his resignation from teaching at Oberlin (1846), and his diploma from the Oberlin Collegiate Institute dated 1839.

Series 2.  Letters Received and Sent by Jacob Dolson Cox, 1859-1898(0.6 linear feet)

Consists of 155 letters received and sent by Jacob Dolson Cox.  Of significance in this series are the ten original letters from William Tecumseh Sherman, dated between 1875 and 1882, in which he details his 1864 march through Georgia and provides his analysis of battles and individuals from the Civil War.  Other individuals that wrote to Cox include a letter, dated 1869, from William Seward, several letters (1876-1882) from General Emerson Opdyke, and correspondence, dated 1881 to 1897, from Captain Thomas Speed, among others.  Files are organized alphabetically and thereunder chronologically.  An index of these letters was prepared by the archives staff, and is found in the front of the box.

Series 3.  Letters Received from William Tecumseh Sherman to Jacob Dolson Cox, 1875-1891 (transcriptions) (1 folder)

Comprises of transcriptions prepared by Ellen MacDaniels Speers, in 1994, granddaughter of William C. Cochran, of 23 General William Tecumseh Sherman letters sent to Jacob Dolson Cox that detail events from the Civil War.  Included are ten original letters which are located in Series two.  The remainder of the A.L.S. originals were divided among the Miller and Speers families.  The transcriptions are in chronological order.

Series 4.  Letters Received from Jacob Dolson Cox to Helen Finney Cochran Cox, 1861-1865 (transcriptions) (1 folder)

Consists of a notebook containing the transcriptions prepared by Helen Finney Cochran Cox of 213 previously unseen letters sent to her by husband Jacob Dolson Cox during his Civil War service.  Only 26 original letters survived, of which six are included in Series two and twenty in the Jacob Dolson Cox papers (30/3).  In 1994, Ellen MacDaniels Speers, granddaughter of William C. Cochran, transcribed the letters contained in the notebook, creating a wordproccessing document of them.  A printed copy is located within the series.

Series 5.  Miscellaneous Correspondence Held by the Cochran Family, 1829-1864 (0.1 linear feet)

Comprises of miscellaneous letters predating young Cochran's 1869 graduation from Oberlin College, which were in the family's possession.  Included are letters received by Charles Grandison Finney and his daughter, Helen Finney Cochran Cox.  Especially noteworthy is the letter written by Helen Finney Cochran Cox's mother, Lydia Root Andrews Finney, days after Helen's marriage to William Cochran.

Subgroup 2.  Files relating to the William C. Cochran Family

Series 1.  Correspondence relating to William C. Cochran and Family (mostly incoming to William C. Cochran), 1860-1936 (1.6 linear feet)

These documents, as bundled and received, are separated into six subseries (according to family relationship): 1. Letters Received from Jacob Dolson Cox (stepfather), 1860-1875, 14 items;  2. Letters Received from Helen Finney Cochran Cox (mother), 1860-1911 (bulk 1860-1878), 178 items;  3. Letters Received from Rosa Dale Allen Cochran (wife), 1878-1923 (bulk 1881-1888), 47 items;  4. Letters Received From Children (primarily addressed to Rosa Dale Allen Cochran), 1907-1925, 275 items;  5. Letters Received from other Family Members, 1864-1931, 297 items;  6.  Letters Received and Sent by the Cochran Children, 1902-1936, 1977, 10 items;  7. Letters Received and Sent by Extended Cochran Family Members, 1866, 1905-1933, 6 items;  8. Letters Received from Persons not related to the Cochran Family, 1862-1931, 101 items; and, 9. Correspondence relating to Allen Deane Cochran, 132 items.  In this series, individuals who wrote to Cochran include letters (1864-1900) from his uncle Samuel D. Cochran, correspondence (1870-1923) from half brother Jacob Dolson Cox, Jr., letters (1907-1935) from half sister Hope Cox Pope, a small amount of correspondence (1871-1872, 1880) from James H. Fairchild, and a letter (1870) from William Tecumseh Sherman.  One letter written by Allen Deane Cochran to brother William S. Cochran in 1919 is the only document in the collection related to Cochran's oldest son.  The files are in alphabetical order and thereunder chronologically.

Series 2.  Outgoing Correspondence of Mr. and Mrs. William C. Cochran, 1860-1928 (0.2 linear feet)

Comprises of a small number of letters sent by William and Rosa Dale Allen Cochran and is divided into two subseries: 1. Letters sent by William C. Cochran, 142 items, most which Cochran sent to his mother between 1862 to 1876, including his 1870-1871 trip to Europe, and letters (1878-1925) to his wife Rosa Dale Allen Cochran;  2. Letters sent by Rosa Dale Allen Cochran, dated 1860, 1872, 1895, and 1907, six items.  Letters Cochran wrote to his wife Rosa Dale are located in Series 3.  The files are organized alphabetically and thereunder chronologically.

Series 3.  Letters Received by Rosa Dale Allen Cochran, 1889-1925 (0.2 linear feet)

Consists of 54 letters written to Rosa Dale Allen Cochran from members of the Allen and Cochran families, including 16 letters, dated, 1883 to 1925 from her spouse William C. Cochran (other letters addressed to Rosa Dale Allen Cochran are included in Series 1), and divided into two subseries: 1. Letters Received by Rosa Dale Allen Cochran from the Cochran Family, 1883-1925, 17 items;  2. Letters Received by Rosa Dale Allen Cochran From Extended Family, 1889-1925, 37 items.  The correspondence is organized alphabetically and thereunder chronologically.

Series 4.  Miscellaneous Historical Materials Relating to William C. Cochran, 1863-1901 (0.6 linear feet)

Important miscellaneous documents included here are calling cards (n.d.), a journal written while in Colorado between 1880-1881, membership cards dated 1874-1891, photographic cards (n.d.), and an index of books read between 1869-1873, as well as his last will and testament, dated 1931.  A scrapbook (1 vol.) created by Cochran consists of clippings and programs mainly relating to musical and political events in Cleveland and Cincinnati between 1868-1890.  A few Oberlin items are included in the volume.

Series 5.  Publications Belonging to William C. Cochran, 1819-1935 (1.2 linear feet)

Comprised of a wide range of cultural, religious, and organizational publications collected by Cochran, they are divided into two subseries:  1. Cultural publications, 1883-1919, consisting of printed works such as the Cushing Manual (n.d.),Protoplasm and Life (1890), and a publication regarding the death of his friend, William Brett, (d. 1918), as well as organizational publications from the Literary Club of Cincinnati (1908), Ohio Chess Association (1887?, 1889-1893), and the Cincinnati Bar Association (1892);  2. Religious publications mainly comprises of publications from the Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church, including important information regarding the Woman's Missionary Society (1894-1921) and lists of members, officers, and organizations (1872, 1892-1893, 1924).  Oberlin College publications, 1848, 1900s-1930s, consisting of the Oberlin Alumni Magazine, as well as other Oberlin College related materials.

Series 6.  Miscellaneous Materials Relating to the Cochran Family, 1841-1976 (0.8 linear feet)

Organized into four subseries (1. Family records, 1880-1972, n.d.; 2. Family notebooks, 1841-1906; Miscellaneous material file, 1850s-1919; and, Miscellaneous material relating to Allen Deane Cochran, 1909-1976), this series contains files relating to the Cochran family.  The first subseries consists of a bound volume containing the genealogy of the Cochran-Allen families begun by William Cochran in 1882, biographical essays, and obituaries.  A photocopy on acid-free paper is housed with the original.  The second subseries includes three diary-style notebooks, belonging to Samuel D. Cochran (uncle), 1841-47, Helen Finney Cochran Cox (mother), 1849-52, and one of unknown authorship (possibly William C. Cochran), 1870.  The notebook of Helen Finney Cochran Cox records events in William C. Cox's formative years.  The notebooks were originally filed with the George Nelson Allen Papers (30/67).  The third subseries comprises of miscellaneous materials relating to the extended family, including son Allen Deane Cochran, dated 1917 to 1919, and uncle Samuel D. Cochran between 1869 and 1905.  Files relating to Allen Deane Cochran, which include financial documents, a passport, and certificates, are contained in subseries four.

Series 7.  Non-Textual Materials and Photographs, 1862-1923 (0.6 linear feet)

Comprises of non-textual materials and photographs of the Cochran-Cox-Allen families.  Divided into five parts: prints; individual portraits; group portraits; residences, landscapes, and buildings; photo albums; and prints.  Several photographs, dated 1898 and 1912, of William C. Cochran, Jacob Dolson Cox, dated 1862 and 1865, and the Cochran children are present, as well as group photographs of the Cochran, Cox, and Allen families, dated between 1884 and 1923.  This series contain snapshots of homes of J.D. Cox in Cincinnati (1890) and Charles Grandison Finney in Oberlin (1890), and a photo album, dated 1886, of William C. Cochran.  Photos of Finney Chapel, Peters Hall, and Carniege Library (Oberlin, Ohio, n.d.), taken by William. C. Cochran, are also included.  Nine signed prints from Kenyon Cox given to William C. Cochran are included, as well as photographs of paintings by Allen Deane Cochran.

Series 8.  Scrapbooks, c. 1870s-1979  (0.2 l.f.)

Scrapbook compiled by Ellen Spears.  Photographs, newspapers clippings, letters, and miscellaneous items regarding the Cochran-Cox-Allen-Rudd families.

Subgroup 3.  Research Files and Writings of William C. Cochran

Series 1.  Research Files of William C. Cochran, c.1900-36 (5.8 linear. ft.)

Mainly typescript notes taken by Cochran from various newspapers and histories.  The excerpts primarily focus on newspaper accounts of Jacob Dolson Cox's military and political service.  The notes and extracts were mainly used to compile his writings on Cox and to support his other writings and research interests.  Arranged in two subseries: 1. Newspaper Extracts and  2. Miscellaneous Extracts and Notes.

Series 2.  Writings, 1900-36 (2.6 linear. ft.)

The writings of William C. Cochran deal mainly with the life and career of his stepfather, Jacob Dolson Cox.  Two large unpublished manuscripts ("Political Correspondence of Major General Jacob D. Cox," 1922 and "Political Experiences of Major General Jacob D. Cox, c.1936) comprise the bulk of the series.  The series also contains a bound copy of the latter work which includes appendices not found in the manuscript.  Arranged in two subseries: 1. Writings About Jacob Dolson Cox  and  2. Other Writings by William C. Cochran.

Provenance

The initial lot of William Cochran papers was received from the Oberlin College Library in 1967.  Subsequent lots were received from his daughters Mary Rudd Cochran (1881-1982, A.B. 1903), Frances Ermina Cochran (Mrs. Laurence H. MacDaniels, 1891-1986, A.B. 1912), and granddaughters Carolyn MacDaniels Miller (1926-1994, A.B. 1947), and Ellen MacDaniels Speers (1921-, A.B. 1942).  In 1992, during the retrospective conversion of the Jacob Dolson Cox Papers (30/3), material associated with William C. Cochran was appropriately separated from the Cox papers and placed in this existing collection.  Three notebooks were likewise separated from the George Nelson Allen Family Papers (30/67). Cochran's files were received with the Jacob Dolson Cox Papers when the latter were deeded in 1936 to the Oberlin College Library.  Recent acquisitions from Ellen MacDaniels Speers and Carolyn MacDaniels Miller were separated from the larger papers donation and added to the George Nelson Allen Family Papers (30/67), as well as used to create separate collections for Mary Rudd Cochran (30/282) and Mr. and Mrs. Laurence MacDaniels (30/276).  The bound copy of "Political Experiences of Major General Jacob D. Cox" and several publications and legal briefs by William C. Cochran were received from the Oberlin College Library, Special Collections, in 2001-02.

Related Materials

Additional material regarding William C. Cochran may be found in the following institutional collections: Oberlin College Board of Trustees and Prudential Committee (1), Papers of Presidents James Harris Fairchild (2/3), Henry Churchill King (2/4), and Ernest Hatch Wilkins (2/7), Presidential Assistant William F. Bohn (3/1), Office of the Secretary (5), Office of the Treasurer (7) and Alumni Records (28).  Personal paper groups containing material relating to Cochran include: Jacob Dolson Cox Papers (30/3), George Frederick Wright Papers (30/21), George Nelson Allen Family Papers (30/67), Mary Rudd Cochran (30/282), and Mr. and Mrs. Laurence MacDaniels (30/276). 

 
 
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