Captain John W. Cochrane
Captain John W. Cochrane is a son of Capt. Robert and Ellen (Smith) Cochrane, and was born in Oswego, N.Y., on December 4, 1844. His parents were natives of Scotland, his father being born at Saltcoats in 1807, and his mother, who is living in Milwaukee, at Stevenston in 1812, her longevity being good evidence of the fine old stock from which the family derives its vitality. After sailing the ocean in all latitudes, the father, Robert Cochrane, came to the Unites States, first locating in New York, where he became a reliable pilot. His wife soon joined him, and in 1834 they went to Oswego, N.Y., where they located, and the Captain became a trusted master in the employ of Pardee & Carrington, and sailed many of their finest vessels, bringing out new the schooner Ireland and Scotland. He was considered one of the most fortunate and successful masters on the lakes in those early days, and in the spring of 1844 was appointed master of the propeller Vandalia, owned by Capt. John Doolittle, and notable as being the first screw-propelled steamer on the lakes, sailing her two seasons, afterward becoming master of some of the largest steamers. He was the first man to fit rigging on vessels in Chicago, that work having been done in Buffalo prior to this date. During the winter he sailed as pilot of New York harbor, as did also his two brothers, David and Alexander. He died in 1856.
Capt. John W. Cochrane, the subject of this sketch, was educated at the public schools of Oswego, and profited by every opportunity his school life afforded, and has since been a close reader on the broad range of subjects, thus becoming a well-informed man. He served a short apprenticeship to the blacksmith's trade, but that not being to his liking he left it when he was sixteen years of age and shipped before the mast on the schooner G.D. Morris, with Capt. James Carroll, followed by a season in the schooner Phalroppe, with Capt. William Porter, and the brig City of Erie. In the spring of 1865 he became second mate of the schooner Ben. Flint, commanded by his brother David, and the next season was promoted to the office of mate, holding that berth two seasons; and was also mate of the schooner Parker, as well as mate and master of the schooner A.J. Mowrey. In the spring of 1869 Captain Cochrane was appointed master of the brig Montezuma, and the next two years he sailed the scow Nellie Church, engaged in the Lake Michigan lumber trade.
It was in 1872 that Captain Cochrane turned his attention to steam, being appointed master of the steamer Hilton, obtaining command of the passenger steamer Jacob Bertschy, plying between Michigan and Manistee, Pentwater and Ludington. He sailed her until August 1875, when the steamer City of Cleveland came in the company, and the Captain was appointed master of her, sailing her until January, on the same route. In the spring of 1876 Captain Cochrane purchased a quarter- interest in the steamer Colin Campbell, and sailed her with good business success until 1889. During the winter of 1888-89 the steamer Marion was built to his order, the Captain superintending the construction. She was named in honor of his charming daughter, who christened her, but who takes more pride in her father's many good qualities than she does in the steamer Marion, which is 1,206 tons burden, and an excellent business boat, the Captain having sailed her up to the close of the season of 1898; during the winter months, however, he has taken command of one of the F. & P. M. passenger steamers.
Capt. John Cochrane has been an upright and honored citizen of Milwaukee, and is a large-hearted and noble-minded man. In business he adheres strictly to the golden rule, and having made his own way in the world and attained a good measure of success, has a kind word for others less fortunate. In social life he is affable, benign, and companionable. He is a member of the Ship Masters Association, and carries Pennant No. 482, and has been elected to the presidency of the Milwaukee lodge. He is also a Royal Arch Mason and a member of the Council.
Captain Cochrane was wedded to Miss Catherine Flaharty, of Milwaukee, on March 4, 1868. The children born to this union are Robert E., who is studying medicine at McKillop College, Chicago; Marion Eleanor, a graduate of St. Mary's College; Williard D., a graduate of the Milwaukee public schools, and now in the employ of the Allis Manufacturing Company; and Geneva Margaret, who is at home attending school. Although Mrs. Cochrane passed to her final reward April 26, 1897, the Captain's home life is a pleasant one, his daughter Marion taking the mother's place in all essentials. The homestead is pleasantly situated at No. 450 Greenbush street, Milwaukee, and the comforts and luxuries give token of the intelligence and refinement of the occupants.
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This version of Volume II is based, with permission, on the work of the great volunteers at the Marine Captains Biographies site. To them goes the credit for reorganizing the content into some coherent order. The biographies in the original volume are in essentially random order.
Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.