EDNA JANE COCHRAN McCOY
Edna Jane Cochran was born on a farm on Clear Creek about five
miles east of Colfax, Washington on Friday, October 23, 1885. She
was the first child of John and Emma Cochran. Her father wrote in
his diary that she was a happy, healthy little creature who was
When Edna was seven years old she started at the Glenwood
School near Elberton, Washington. She had been held back a year so
her younger sister, Ethel, could start with her. The girls went to
school three months in the spring and three months in the fall.
During her grade school years Edna attended school at Glenwood and
Clear Creek in Washington and Cottonwood, Whitebird and Doumecq in
The farm where Edna was born was Lieu land that was part of the
sections given to the Northern Pacific Railroad by the government.
About 1891 the family moved to land near Elberton owned by James
A. Pickard, Emma Cochran's father. In 1893 John Cochran made a
down payment with a friend on 160 acres of land on the Palouse
River, but the other man did not pay, and both families lost their
investment. In 1897 the family moved to the Hill Place, and Emma
Cochran cooked for "Uncle Dick" Hill, a friend, and John
Cochran worked on farms around the area. "Uncle Dick"
married a divorcee, and the family was again on the move.
In October 1898 John Keith, a traveler on horseback en route to
his home on Doumecq Plains in Idaho, stopped at the John Cochran
home and asked to stay the night. After listening to Mr. Keith
extol the virtues of the beauty of Doumecq Plains, John Cochran
decided to accept Mr. Keith's invitation to visit the country.
After returning from his visit, he told his family it was a nice
looking place with good grass for cattle, much land to be
cultivated, and places available to homestead. Since the family
owned no land in the Palouse, the decision was made to move.
As plans for the trip progressed an Elberton man, Dave Boggs,
asked if his family could travel along with them. Charley Pickard
was to drive their wagon since Mrs. Boggs could not drive a team
that far. Boggs brought his cattle and horses to the Cochran home
in anticipation of the trip. On April 22, 1899 the John Cochran
family started for Idaho. John Cochran drove the freight wagon
with the family belongings; Emma Cochran drove the hack with the
light goods and the little children including Robert who was a
baby. There were 10 or 12 Cochran cattle and as many horses and
about an equal amount of livestock owned by Dave Boggs. The Boggs
family wagon did not get there on time, and the caravan started
without them. Edna was 13, Ethel was 11, and Mary was about 9.
They were big enough to ride ponies and drive livestock ahead of
the wagons. In the evening the wagons were pulled along the side
of the road, and the family camped and cooked outside. The Boggs
family did not catch up for two or three days. Emma was quite
annoyed and felt Boggs was taking advantage of her girls as free
There was no place to camp at Colton. The cattle were moved
into a field, and the family stayed in a hotel. There was not
enough room for all the family to stay in one room. The older
girls were put in a separate room, and as their mother left she
said, "Be sure to lock the door. Here is the key, just turn
it over. See if you can!' Edna tried, and it locked easily; but
some of the sisters were so frightened at having to lock the door
that they hung onto Edna, who was the oldest and the bravest. It
was the first time they had ever had a door locked, and they felt
separated from the rest of the family.
The route was down a ridge to the Snake River at Lewiston.
After a difficult crossing on the ferry, they continued up the
Fountain Grade to Forest, Idaho and on to their temporary home at
Cottonwood. The family lived in a rented 12x14 foot house with a
lean-to kitchen. One day the older girls were left to watch
Robert, who was only a couple of years old. They took him up to
the attic and didn't watch him carefully. He fell through the hole
in the ceiling and dropped to the floor below, a distance of about
eight feet. Edna and her sisters were scolded severely for their
School was very important to the family, and that was one of
the major reasons the family spent a year in Cottonwood. Like most
of the schools in Idaho at that time, students from all eight
grades were in a single classroom. It was at this school that Edna
and Ethel were put in separate classes. Edna was put in the fifth
grade, but Ethel was held back in the fourth. Edna was the older
and the leader. She was doing the school work for both of them.
For much of the time the family lived in Cottonwood John Cochran
used his freight wagon for hire to transport goods for the local
In the beginning the intention was to homestead a piece of land
on the extreme north end of Doumecq Plains. Ed Fick had the same
idea and arrived at the site first. Fick had marked his claim with
cross logs and gone to the land office in Lewiston, so that piece
of land was lost. John Cochran selected a piece of land adjoining
the homestead of John Keith, the man who had told him of the
country. The homestead had been filed on by a man named Grant. He
was not living on the land, and it was apparently abandoned. It
could not be proved that Mr. Grant had not gone to the Spanish
American War. Since Grant could not be found, John Cochran
"jumped" Grant's claim.
After it was decided to live and eventually file on the Grant
land there was a need to move closer to the homestead and still be
in a community with a school. In November the family moved to a
house John Cochran built on land owned by Dr. Foskett. The family
moved to Doumecq the next year. There was a five-year delay before
John Cochran could actually start his time to prove up on the land
even though the family made it the home.
The family lived in Whitebird during school terms, and John
Cochran went back and forth to the ranch a dozen miles away. For
12 months during 1901-1902 he held a contact from Whitebird to the
post office at Canfield once a week, and the per annum pay was
$150. During the summer the family lived on the homestead on
Doumecq but returned to Whitebird during the school session.
There were several families with children on the Doumecq
including the Cochrans and Alex Shinn. According to John Cochran's
diary, those two started the petition for a school. Oscar
Canfield, an older man with grown children, was asked to help.
Oscar was a survivor from the Whitman Massacre in 1847 and had
been on the Plains for some time. He had an old horse power sash
mill that had been used to cut lumber for his house and barn. The
vertical saw was powered by four or six horses driven around and
around a rotating gear box. A tumbling rod turned the mill, and
the horses stepped over that turning shaft on every revolution.
Oscar ran the mill, and John Cochran furnished the horsepower.
Other volunteers skidded logs and cut shakes. In a little over a
month the community had built a schoolhouse 18x20 feet. The
building did not have any studs or framework. The roof was
supported by the rough boards with battons standing vertically.
According to John Cochran's diary, "They had most of the men
from Joseph Plains and all of the Doumecq Plains men on the job!'
The men took up a collection to buy hinges and other hardware. The
county commissioners granted the community a school district to
cover the population in the forks of the Salmon and Snake River.
It covered an area 50 miles long and 17 miles wide, and it was
designated as District 63. Miss Hattie Kirkpatrick taught a
three-month school term.
Edna finished grade school at the age of 17. John Cochran noted
in his book that she attended the first session at the Doumecq
School under Miss Kirkpatrick in the summer of 1902. Perhaps the
family went back to Whitebird for the winter session. There is no
record of that move. When Edna completed the eighth grade she went
to Grangeville and took an examination at the office of the County
Superintendent of Public Instruction. Her Teacher's Third Grade
Certificate, dated February 28, 1903, was signed by Lewis
Elsensohn, County Superintendent, and P.M. Glanville, Associate
Examiner. This certificate authorized her to teach in elementary
schools in Idaho for one year. She was hired to teach in the
newly-built Doumecq school for a four-month term from May to
September 1903 for $40.00 per month. She taught four, possibly
five, of her sisters, including Ethel, who was only two years
younger and her classmate in the primary grades. In 1987 Inez
wrote of her memories of going to this school to her sister:
"I don't remember much about that experience. We got along
all right or our parents would have had words with us. We took
lunch for all of us in a big blue enamel pail. Nobody liked soggy
jelly sandwiches, so Mother put up jelly in little containers, and
we spread our own jelly!'
In the fall of 1903 Edna and Ethel went to Lewiston to the
Normal School (a term which is roughly "teacher's
college" in today's usage). Edna was working for her second
grade certificate so she could again return to teaching. Ethel was
taking the academy course which was the first step toward a
certificate. For a time the girls stayed in Morris Hall, the
dormitory on campus. The building was made of rough board and
batton with no inside plumbing. There was a long outdoor
passageway to the wash basins and the pit toilets. When money was
not available for board and room in the dorm, the girls worked for
families in the community including the Barnetts and the
Pierstorffs. Mr. Barnett was the son of one of the Sager girls who
was a survivor of the Whitman Massacre. Edna and Ethel were often
mistaken for each other, sometime; considered twins by friends.
On November 6, 1906, only two weeks after her 21st birthday,
Edna filed for a homestead north of the family home. The land had
been filed on before by Edd Shinn, and he had put a little shack
on the flat down by the major spring. Edd was always in need of
money, and John Cochran gave him four horses to relinquish his
claim on the land so Edna could file on it. There were some
specific rules for proving up on a homestead. A cabin was
required, and the cabin had to be used overnight at specified
intervals. Sister Ruth wrote in 1987, "Papa and Ray (Shinn)
helped her get the lumber for her little three-roomed house and
put up the framework, and she did a lot of the work herself. She
had taken manual training at the Normal. She called her place
'Seven Springs! "
In the spring of 1910 Edna graduated from Lewiston State Normal
School. There were 25 members of the graduating class of 1910, and
the June Commencement copy of the Lewistonian (school paper)
mentioned Edna several times. In the article on the history of the
Class of 1910 was the following quotation:
"The twenty-five members of the Class of 1910 have
gathered from various parts of the United States, and one has come
from far-away Germany. Two, Edna Riley of Clarkston, Washington
and May Willard of Lewiston entered as freshmen in 1905; two
others, EDNA COCHRAN of Canfield and Margaret Mayer of Uniontown
had entered two years before. The rest have entered from various
The Lewistonian included features with items of fact and fancy
about the graduates. Even though they were probably a bit of a
spoof, all the references gave some indication of habits and
attitudes. The section headed "Class of 1910" said of
her: "Edna Cochran entered in '03. Treasurer YWCA '03. Yes,
that is the year 1903; but then Edna has taught school several
years in the meantime!" Other references to Edna in the
Lewistonian included one in the section for "Last Wills and
Testaments of the Class of 1910' which said: "I, Edna
Cochran, do hereby bequeath my virtue of studiness to Ethel Tyer
for further use!' In a little space listed "Senior Ads"
was the quip, "For sale: knowledge — Edna Cochran!' Another
entry listed her as "Most Pious!' In a section titled
"Applied Quotation" it said of Edna Cochran: "And
still our wonder grew, that one small head could carry all she
After receiving her Second Class and higher certificates, Edna
taught in a number of the one-room schools. Whitebird was one of
her teaching positions. Sister Omie wrote in 1941, "The
schools on Doumecq were short summer terms, so when Edna got the
Whitebird School for a winter she took Mary, Inez, Zenna and me
with her, and we batched and went to school. Mary contracted
Typhoid fever and had to go home until spring. I went to work for
a family after school hours, so our batching family was small!'
Edna taught one term at Elberton, Washington and stayed with her
grandfather, James A. Pickard. During that year she assembled a
great deal of information about the Pickard family. These writings
helped many of her descendants in the pursuit of genealogical
information in following decades. She taught and made many friends
in the little community of Lucile about 1912 and the following
year went to Stites on the Clearwater River. A letter from Edna
has been preserved that told a little about that time and events.
The letter included details about many Lucile and Whitebird
friends on a first-name basis.
"I want to make this long letter short, but I do not want
to leave out any of the particulars. I don't see how I can get all
of the particulars in if I don't start at the beginning, and the
beginning seems so far back — almost at the beginning of school,
when the children began to tease for a vacation to go to the fair.
I did not want one, so I didn't say much about it, but Tuesday it
reached a climax when two trustees thought I had better give
Friday, although I would have to make it up. I gave it grudgingly
and went to town Friday morning, and then the fun began!' The fair
was an event of significance in the county. People from all over
the county were there, and the young people gathered in groups.
Apparently Edna was staying with Mrs. Elizabeth Shinn (Ray's
mother) and his sister True and was concerned that her activities
would be relayed back to Doumecq." After supper Mrs. Shinn,
True and I started to town and met Mr. McCoy. You remember him,
don't you? The threshing machine man who was at the class party?
He asked us to a show, so we went to the animal show, and some way
I lost Mrs. Shinn and True while we were looking at the animals. I
assure you it was unintentional, but I did not worry any over it.
. I found Emma (an acquaintance from Riggins) though, and the
three of us went to the picture show. After that we took Emma to
Mrs. Elfero, and we went to the theater, then home where I found
Mrs. Shinn and True in bed. I had a fine time, and he said he had,
Apparently they communicated about a lot of things, because
much later in the letter Edna wrote, "I found out that Mr.
McCoy is a steward in the M.E. Church, and they have no minister
for their church in Grangeville as yet!'
At this time Edna was almost 27 years old, and Clark McCoy was
37 years old. Zenna, Omie and Inez were away at school, and Ruth,
Robert and Sid were home on Doumecq. Mary was teaching at
Ferdinand, which is not far from Grangeville. The romance between
Clark and Edna blossomed, and after several months they were
married on April 19, 1913.
On April 22 Mary wrote her sisters at school with details of
the wedding. The first paragraph scolded: "My dear neglectful
sisters" for not writing. Some of the letter follows:
"Of course you want to hear about the wedding, but why
haven't you written and asked me? I shall tell you anyway. Friday
I went to Stuenburg (probably a railroad siding) and met Edna. The
dear child was suffering with a violent headache but was very
talkative nevertheless. She showed me Zenna's letter and lamented
the fact that it was impossible for her to write such beautiful
epistles!' The letter gave a description of the delicious wedding
dinner and told of Janette (Clark's niece) and her skills. The
letter continues about the wedding. "Clark and Jess [Barker]
met us at' the depot. Then we took everything to Barkers and went
to a restaurant for supper, then up to Janette's and talked the
important matter over. It was agreed that we should all go to the
parsonage to be married and come back to Janette's for dinner,.The
wedding to take place at five o'clock and dinner at six. At nine
Edna and I went back to Barkers, who were in bed, and by the way
she and I soon got there. It rained all night, so Edna thought it
would be better to be married at Janette's instead of trailing her
white dress through the mud. Clark found out that getting married
takes a good deal of energy, but he worked like a little man, and
by five o'clock we were ready. Charley and Myra [Pratt] and their
two children, Florence and Albert, had come, and the preacher was
there and Jeanette and I and Edna and Clark, of course. Then a
lady by the name of Richards, a good old friend of the family, was
invited. We all assembled in the front room, and the important
ones did look so pretty. Edna's dress fit perfectly, and Clark
looked very tall and stately as he slipped the ring on Edna's
third finger of her left hand. ...The next morning everyone but
Janette and I decided to leave. Clark and Edna left as soon as
they could get off, which was perhaps 8:30. Clark bought Edna a
nice side saddle. He also bought a nice little buggy without a top
but with red wheels. He was out with Topsy and Nig, but they
looked very comfortable in their outfit!'
When Edna went to prove up on the homestead in Seven Springs
there was a letter on file stating that she had not fulfilled her
requirements. In 1987 brother Robert said that everyone felt that
the letter was sent by Herman Bicksell, but that was never
verified. She had not slept on the land at the accepted intervals
as demanded by the Homestead Act. Edna relinquished her claim, and
Clark filed on the land. They went to live on the land, and Clark
finally proved up on it and received the deed on May 5, 1919.
Clark later purchased some adjacent land from Hanna Bicksel on May
8, 1920. About this time he also made land trades with Ed Fick
with both the Bicksel land the homestead. The house was in the
land traded to Fick, but the barn remained on the property that is
still in the family and owned by Maurice Shinn and Mike and Teena
Bob McCoy has parts of Edna's diary, and the brief entries give
a feel for life on the homestead during those early years. The
homestead house was very small, and Clark and Edna added a bedroom
and made other improvements. On January 16, 1914 the diary stated,
"Clark worked at home today. We have the little bedroom all
fixed up ready to use!' Later that week, on January 19, it was
noted that the telephone was hooked up. There was too much
telephone traffic on the party line for all of Doumecq. The people
on the north end of Doumecq (including the Shinn's and McCoy's)
built a cooperative line by insulating the barbed wire on the top
of the rail fences. The John Cochran house had a separate
telephone for each of the lines. Frequently there was a need to
transfer information from one telephone group to the other. The
John Cochran house provided that service.
The next diary entry stated: "On Tuesday, January 20th
 at 8:30 p.m. our baby John Clark was born, and he is a
fine, healthy boy. The last of January was as pleasant here as the
first, but out on the hills there was lots of wind..!' In April it
was noted that they had planted cherries, apples, plums, 21 in
all, at a cost of $3.60 from Yakima and Columbia Nursery Co. at
On July 19, 1914 Edna reported that "we came home for
dinner today and drew up the plans for Papa's house!' The next day
Clark began cutting timbers for the new house. It is the same
house that stands c Doumecq today and still is occupied by the
descendents of John Cochran.
The Thresher crew came for dinner on July 21st. There were 18
in the crew. They had baked brown beans, potatoes, carrots,
onions, turnips, beet pickles, mutton, gravy, applesauce, prune
preserves, rice pudding, apple pie, doughnuts, cake, bread and
butter. Ruth and Omie helped get the dinner. The next day John cut
On May 15, 1915 the diary entry stated: "It has snowed
most of the day!' She was Superintendent of the Sunday School and
the Teacher training class and took their examination in Book II
of the New Testament. She was also elected a director on the
school board. Work on the farm continued.
On July 14, 1915 Louise Emmaline was born at 3:00 p.m., 7 ½
pounds and 18 inches long. The next child, Robert Clark, was born
February 16, 1917 and was the last child born on the homestead.
Margaret Carrie was born on June 2, 1920, but that was after the
family had moved to the big house.
Clark and Edna took over the Cochran homestead in late 1917.
The post office had been at the Cochran house for several years.
Edna was appointed Postmaster to replace her mother. The last
entry in this part of Edna's diary was August 20, 1917. It states:
"Papa and Robert were here for dinner. They are hauling hay.
Clark is moving!' The last statement may have referred to their
move to the big house. No diary was found to cover from this date
until January 1, 1922.
During the summer of 1923 a near-tragedy occurred. John, age 9,
went to the spring in the corner of the yard to get a bucket of
water for his mother. The spring had a lid that had to be opened
and a bucket was let down to water level with a rope. Margaret,
age 3, thought she could lift the lid, but it was too heavy for
her. She went down into the water. John saw it happen and rushed
back to the spring and pulled^ her out. He appeared at the door
with a very wet, frightened little sister instead of a bucket of
On September 20, 1923 Edna noted in her diary: "Children
went to school, Maud (Callison) finished ironing. I was so sick
for a few hours this p.m. I sent for Ethel but got better at
once!" On October 6 she was in bed all day but believed
"I am better tonight!' On October 13 both Louise and Edith
[Shinn] were sick. Dr. Foskett came from Whitebird. Edith had the
chicken pox, but Louise had rheumatism in her knee and ankle.
Maurice came down with the chicken pox a few days later. Edna
reported in her diary that she had spent three whole nights with
Louise and that she suffers terribly. Inez had come to care for
the Shinn children and their chicken pox and could not get down to
help Edna until the quarantine was lifted about October 22. On
November 8 Dr. Foskett came and recommended Edna go to Whitebird
where she could be under his immediate supervision. He came in his
car on November 12 and took her to Whitebird with Inez and
Margaret. She was taken to the home of Dr. Foskett's
mother-in-law, Mrs. Taylor. Inez returned to Doumecq to take care
of the other children. She rode back from Whitebird on Harry
Twogood's extra horse. He was the mail carrier from Whitebird to
The last entry Edna made in her diary was on November 14, 1923.
"Mrs. Wood and Veta Rape have been in to see me. Robert came
in tonight on his way to Doumecq in a Ford. Awfully cloudy!' On
November 17 there is an entry: "This diary is ended, as Edna
passed away today, and there is no one to finish it. Clark!' Edna
was buried in the Grangeville cemetery with her newborn baby in
her arms. The services were held in the Methodist Church that
Clark attended at time they met.
Following Edna's death, Clark was distraught. He had four small
children to take care of: John was 9, Louise 8, Robert 6, and
Margaret 3. John and Emma Cochran, now living at Hover,
Washington, offered to take the four little grandchildren. Clark
sold most of his property to Ray Shinn and moved with his family
to Hover. John Cochran was 66 at the time, and Emma, who was not
strong, was 61. With the help of Mary and Inez, they provided a
Christian and loving home for the four children and Clark.
Edna Jane Cochran McCoyOctober 23, 1885 – November 17, 1923
Reprinted from Cochran Chronicles, Volume 10, Number 1, November
© JECFA 1987
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