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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 always smiling.

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 Idaho.

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 labor.

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 carelessness.

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 merchants.

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 schools!'

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 knew!'

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, too!'

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 VonBargen.

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 [1914] 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 Yakima, Washington.

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 a tooth.

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 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 water.

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 Canfield.

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 McCoy
October 23, 1885 November 17, 1923
Reprinted from Cochran Chronicles, Volume 10, Number 1, November 6, 1987

JECFA 1987

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