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You are on Vest/Cochran Page 2. Go to Vest/Cochran Page 1 (Jackson Vest & Nancy Lilly)Vest/Cochran Page 3 (Columbus Vest & Malinda Jane Cochran)Vest/Cochran Page 4 (Charles and Ruth Cochran)

The Cochran family of Virginia and West Virginia
Updated Dec. 12, 2023

Some of this research is my own. But much of this information came from Cochran histories produced in connection with family reunions (First Cochran Gathering Held At Bluestone Park - 1965) and from Nettie S. Clifton, Ed Talbott, Don Cochran and Ed Wojtowicz who generously shared their research with me in the late 1990s. Details about Sources A-D are at the bottom of the page. If you have corrections or additions, please e-mail me.  

Cochran, Cochrane, Cockran. (Ireland, Scotland) Root word: O’Cogarain (Gaelic). Young confidant; young counselor; root word Coch-rhan (Celtic). Red-soil land allotment. (“What’s in a Name? Surnames of America,” La Reina Rule & William K. Hammond, 1973, Pyramid Book, New York., Page 110.) Cochran, Cochrane. Scottish – place name; from the lands in Renfrewshire, the name of obscure origin, the first element possibly from Old Welsh meaning “red.” (“The Wordsworth Dictionary of Surnames,” Terry Freedman & Iseabail Macleod, 1997, Wordsworth Editions, Hertfordshire, Page 48-49.) Cockerham, Cockram, Cockrem, Cockran, Cockren. (“A Dictionary of English Surnames: The Standard Guide to English Surnames,” R. H. Reaney and R.M. Wilson, 1996, Oxford University Press. Page 103.)

Edward Cockram Sr. and wife Mary

"Edward Cockram Sr. lived on the lower waters of Shooting Creek near where the creek enters Smith's River. The old home was on the east slope of Renfro Ridge. He made his will May 26, 1816, which was recorded in Franklin County."  The History of Floyd County, Virginia, Page 37. 

Franklin County (Virginia) Willbook, Edward Cockram's 1816 will:
In the name of God Amen, I, Edward Cockram, senior of the county of Franklin and state of Virginia being weak of body but of perfect memory and calling to mind the mortality of my body and that it is appoint onest for all men to die, have made this my last will and testament. First of all I resign my Soul into the hands of Almighty God who gave it to me, and my body to be buried in Christian like manner at the discretion of Executors, doubting not that I shall receive the same again by the mighty power of God at the General Ressurection at the last Day. And as touching my worldly Estate that God has been pleased to Bless me with, I give and Bequeath it in the following manner; that is to say, I give and Bequeath my wife Mary so long as she lives and after her death the whole that is left land and other property of every kind to be sold at public auction on a credit of twelve months by giving bond and approved security and the money arising from such sale to be equally divided between my ten children Namely: Leah Pedigo, Nathan, Isham, Rachel Wood (wife of Richard Wood), Lydia, Preston, Mary, Edward, Jr., Charlotte and Sarah Proffitt. Also I appoint my wife Executrix, Nathan, my son Executer of this my last Will and Testament, Signed, Sealed and Acknowledged this twenty sixth day of May in the year of Our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and sixteen. (Signed Edward Cockram.) 
Teste: Thomas Hale, Brice Edwards
John Wood. Proved July 1, 1816
Source: 1970s Cochran history produced in connection with the family reunion

Children of Edward Sr. and Mary
  • Leah married Henry Pedigo. Pedigay (Peregoy), Henry and Leah Cochrum, dau. Edward, Nov. 23, 1790. Sur. Thos. Cochran. 52. Franklin County, Va., Marriage Bonds, 1786-1858.
  • Nathan married Bathsheba Pedigo. Nathan Cockram, son of Edward and Mary and husband of Bathsheba, died 19 May 1860 in Patrick County, Va., according to US GenWeb, Patrick County Death Records 1853-1870, Compiled by Eunice B. Kirkman. Nathan and Bathsheba were married 12 Jan 1798 in Patrick County, Va. (Virginia Marriages to 1800) 
  • Isham married Sarah Rakes.
  • Rachel married Richard Wood.
  • Lydia
  • Preston
  • Mary
  • Charlotte married James Parker.
  • Sarah married Proffitt.
  • Edward Jr. married Mary Rakes.

Note: Truman Adkins, in a 1999 biography, Edward and Nathan Cockram, makes a case that Edward Sr. is a son of Nathan Cochran. Biographies, Patrick Co., Va., US GenWeb.

Edward Cochran Jr. and Mary Rakes
Edward Jr. lived near the mouth of Shooting Creek and near Renfro Ridge in Franklin County, Va. He married Mary Rakes on 01 Nov 1806 in Patrick County, Va., (Virginia Marriages, 1740-1850). Mary is believed to be Mary "Bashie" Rakes, daughter of Charles and Jane Rakes. 

Mary's father Charles Rakes was born between 1740-50 and died between 1835-38 in Patrick County, Va. Charles and wife Jane were members of the Charity Primitive Baptist Church in the early 1800s. According to The History of Floyd County, Charles Rakes was among those who petitioned the Virginia General Assembly in 1797 for establishment of the town of South Boston. Charles and Jane's children were Samuel, Dorcas, Anna, Rhoda, Elizabeth, Charles Jr., Sarah, Janeand Mary "Bashie" Rakes.
* The genealogy of Jane Rakes and Brice Edwards is on the Edwards Genealogy site.

In the federal census taken in October 1850, Edward Cockram, 64, born about 1786, is living with Hardin, 30; Edward, 20; Nathan, 21; Charles, 26, and wife Ruth Radford, 24; Mary A. Whitlock, 8; and Henry Foley, 12, mulatto. (In the 1860 census Maryann Whitlock, 18, is still living in the Cochran home with Edward, 75.) Mary Rakes Cochran does not appear in the 1850 federal census. (Source Citation: Year: 1850; Census Place: Northern District, Patrick, Virginia; Roll: M432_967; Page: 424B; Image: 418.) The U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules, 1850-1885 lists Mary Cockram, 62, born about 1788, who died in May 1850. (Source Citation: National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Archive Collection: T1132; Archive Roll Number: 1; Census Year: 1850; Census Location: S District, Patrick, Virginia; Page: 116; Line: 10)

Children of Edward Jr. and Mary
  • Rhoda Cochran (02 Jun 1816/14 Feb 1903) married Anderson Vest (12 Jun 1815/06 Jun 1872)18 May 1839. Anderson Vest was a son of Charles Vest and Elizabeth Via and a brother to Jackson Vest. (See Vest/Cochran Page 1.) Death notice for Rhoda. Rhoda and Anderson are buried in the Anderson Vest Cemetery, Summers County, W.Va. Find a Grave.
  • Nathan CochranAccording to a descendant, Nathan married Rachel Viers (Via). 
  • Anna CochranAnn Cockram married Joroyal Whitlock  7 May 1833 Patrick County, Va. (Virginia Marriages, 1740-1850). The 1870 census for Elamsville Post Office, Smith River, Patrick Co., Va., lists Joroyal Whitlock, 50, born about 1820 in Virginia. Other household members are: Turan A Whitlock, 49, Emegetta Whitlock, 12, Caeahiel Whitlock, 10, and Ira B. M. Whitlock, 5. Alternative spelling: Jo Rial Whitlock.
  • Patsy CochranPatsey Cockram married Isaac Via 5 Apr 1829. (Virginia Marriages, 1740-1850). Another version of her name: Martha Patsy.
  • Harden CochranSpelling variations: Harding or Hardin. He married Mary A. Canady. An article about the Canaday Cemetery, Glen White, Raleigh County --  Different Spellings Odd on Tombstones -- (map to cemetery on Find a Grave) has these dates: Harden Cockran, 14 Feb 1821/02 Jan 1898, and Mary Ann Cochran, 07 Nov 1834/18 Feb. 1925.  The death certificate for Mary Ann Cochran has her death date as 19 Feb 1925. Children: 1. Rhoda E. Cochran, born about 1859 (U.S. Census 1880) and died on 17 Jul 1897, in Raleigh County, W.Va. Death record. Her death certificate does not list place of burial. Find a Grave Memorial. Rhoda married Martin Daniel Bower. 2. Rachel Emmadora Cochran, born on 08 Dec 1867 and died on 02 Feb 1974 in Raleigh County. She married Sephus Luke Bower and, after Luke’s death, married Gordon Jackson Gravley. Birthday articleObituaryFind a Grave Memorial3. Fleming Cochran, 10 Jan 1870, Wyoming County, W.Va./01 Sept 1939, Raleigh County. Obituary. Find a Grave Memorial  (with photo of Fleming). Death certificate, Married Emily Canady. 4. Green Pleasant Cochran, retired miner, 25 Feb 1861, Bland County, Va./01 Dec 1949, Raleigh County, W.Va. Death certificate.  5. Susannah Cochran, Franklin County, Va., two birth records, 1856 birth record and 1857 birth record; 6. Andrew Jackson Cochram, born 15 Dec 1875 in Raleigh County to Hardin Cockram, a farmer, and Mary A. Cockram. Birth record. Andrew married Annie Gravely. He died in 1958. Andrew Jackson Cockram (or Cochran) was listed as keeper of the county infirmary in the 1910 census (Pemberton, Raleigh, West Virginia; Roll: T624_1695; Page: 47A; Enumeration District: 0177; Image: 928; FHL Number: 1375708) and in 1918 on his World War I draft card. He lived there with his wife, mother and children. His obits say he was a farmer. Andrew Jackson Cochran obituaries.
  • Arta M. "Artie" Cochran. Born 14 Sep 1818 and died 1893. (Source: Descendants of James Tazewell (Snr.) Radford.) She married William Riley Radford, born about 1825. He was a son of William M. Robert Radford and Elindor Underwood and a brother to Ruth Radford (See Vest Page 4 (Charles and Ruth Cochran).. According to the 1880 census, Long Branch, Franklin Co., Va., Mr. Radford was a preacher. Children:  1. Edward Americus Radford, born 21 Oct 1846 in Floyd County, Va., (1900 census and 1902 US Confederate Pension application) died 24 Feb 1917 (widow's pension application). He married Adawa H. "Addie" Underwood, born about 1861, 09 Apr 1876 in Franklin County, Va.   2. Robert Wingfield Radford, born 29 Mar 1849 in Franklin County, Va., died 1908.(Source: Descendants of James Tazewell (Snr.) Radford.)   3. Elias Radford, born 21 May 1854, died 05 May 1936. (Source: tombstone.). He married Mary E. Thomas, born about 1859. (Source: Ed Wojtowicz.) Elias was buried in Radford Cemetery, Floyd County, Va.  Find a Grave. 4. Mary Araminta Ellendor Radford, born 1852; 5. Rhoda Rosanna Radford, born 04 Oct 1856. According to information on the West Family Tree,, she married Jacob Robert "Jake" West, born 02 July 1856 in Monroe County, W.Va., a son of Jacob West and wife Rosannah Radford. Mr. West died 19 Nov 1939 6. Lemuel Casell Radford, born 24 Jul 1860, died Ridgeway, Henry Co. Va. (Source: Descendants of James Tazewell (Snr.) Radford.) Lemuel married Lucinda Lemmons (Lemon). Lucinda was born 17 Mar 1856, Rockingham County, N.C., and died 27 Mar 1938. (Source: North Carolina, Death Certificates, 1909-1975.)  Note about Lucinda's parents: Parents of Lucinda: NC Death Certificates transcript: Isaac Lemmonds and Jane Shart. Cowan Family Tree, William Lemon & Mary Jane Short.   7. Arminca Radford, born about 1864. 8. Infant Radford, son of Wm. R. and Arta C. Radford, who died April 1858 in Patrick County Patrick County Death Records, 1850-73, USGenWeb Archives.  NOTES on the children of Artie and William: Original source of first seven children of Artie and William: Ed Wojtowicz, from Floyd and Franklin Co., Va., courthouse records. Another source of information, Descendants of James Tazewell (Snr.) Radford by Bernard Radford, lists Arta Minta Cochran, William Riley Radford and five children: Edward Americus, Robert Wingfield, Mary Araminta Ellendor, Elias and Rhoda Rosanna. (As of Feb. 23, 2018, that link seems to be gone.)
  • Edward III.
  • Charles Cochran (07 Oct 1824/02 Nov 1919). He married Ruth Radford. Their children were Andrew Jackson (A.J.) Cochran, Michael Cochran, Martha Cochran Bennett (second husband Isaac Siers or Sears), Malinda Jane Cochran Vest, Robert Edward (R.E.) cochran, Rachel Cochran Bennett, Mary Eleandor Cochran Parker and Isaiah Cochran. For more information on Charles and Ruth's family, go to Vest Page 4 (Charles and Ruth Cochran).
  • Bryce Cochran.

Do the Cochrans have Native American ancestors?
Many people ask that question and I wish that I had an answer. According to family tradition, there was a “Granny Radford” on the Cochran side who was a Native American. I read once ("The White Man's Indian" by Robert F. Berkhofer) that many people have a fanciful notion that they descended from an "Indian princess." I lay no claim to Pocahontas, but it stands to reason families with pioneer roots probably do have Indian blood. Document in Dropbox/updated:  
Native American Mothers: Granny Radford, Misniah Canaday Underwood & Jane Hubbard Rakes

The Legend of Granny Radford
By Eva Smith-Carroll
Updated January 27, 2013

Sanford Walter Vest of West Virginia told stories about Granny Radford, an Indian ancestor on his mother’s side. Sanford, my great uncle, was a son of Malinda Jane Cochran and husband Columbus Washington Vest of White Oak Mountain, W.Va. (Sanford’s nickname was “Samp” for reasons lost in the mists of time.) Sanford had a sister and three brothers: Callie Matilda Vest Richmond, Leonard Haliburton Vest, Luther Flemon Vest and Ethiel Barah Vest

His mother Malinda was a daughter of Charles Cochran and Ruth Radford, both born in Virginia. The Granny Radford stories told by Uncle Samp, as I recall them:

When she was a girl, Granny Radford lived with her tribe. She could stand up on a galloping bareback horse. She was known for her physical courage. Her job was to guard the family flock. A mountain lion attacked the herd and her little dog was barking at the lion. She ran over and scooped up her dog and saved it. When she was married, soldiers (Yankees?) invaded her home and made her cook. She prepared the food then held a knife to the leader’s throat and made him eat his meal in that perilous position. 

Nina Vest Bennett Worley was a granddaughter of Malinda and Columbus Vest and daughter of Leonard. Aunt Nina wrote me a letter in 1992 with her version of the legend:

“Grandmother (it seems she was Ruth) Radford was a full blooded Cherokee Indian. She was not afraid of anything. One evening she went to get the cows (she was a young girl about 10-13 years old). Driving the cows along the road she saw a big pile of leaves and a tree. She stopped and raked deep into the leaves to see why they were piled up and found a deer ½ eaten. She went home [and] told her parents and they went to see – and a big lion was lying on the limb of the tree above the deer & leaves. They knew before they went to see, that some kind of animal had killed and covered the deer. They warned her never to do that again. She could have been killed. Guess the lion was full and probably asleep or I would have a different story ending.

Another time she was tending the sheep. They had to be watched in case a wild beast would get among them and kill them. She was to run to the house and get her dad, [and he would come] with his gun to kill the beast. But she had a little feist dog and a [lion] came among the sheep and she was afraid the lion would kill it. So she ran after her little feist dog, got him and ran home for her dad. You can imagine the little dog barking at the lion, and see her grab the little dog. My Grandmother Melinda [Malinda] Cochran Vest told me these stories and did I drink it all in. I am and was always a fraidy cat.”

Ruth Radford Cochran, Malinda’s mother, was born about 1828 in Franklin County, Va., a daughter of William Robert Radford (1792/1861) and wife Elindor Underwood (1792/1879). Ruth died around 1900. Uncle Samp always referred to the heroine of these tales as Granny Radford. Nina thought this must be Ruth although Radford was her birth name and Cochran her married name.  

There are several indications that the Cochran and Radford lines in Virginia had Indian ancestors. But my only “evidence” in support of a claim to Native American heritage are these family stories and Grandpa Leonard Vest’s cheekbones.

There is a mention of the Cochran name in an Indian genealogy book, but I don't know if this family has any connection to my Cochrans:

COCHRAN, COCHRUM -- a Cherokee name. Listed on the 1835 Cherokee Census was the household of Jesse Cochran, consisting of two fullbloods and two halfbloods. Also, living on Chetowgata Creek in Georgia, was the farm household of Jim Cochrum, including one halfbreed and two quarterboods. See Tyner, p. 51, 91. (TYNER, James W., Those Who Cried: The 16,000. Records of the individual Cherokees in the U.S. official census of the Cherokee Nation conducted in 1835, Thomason Co., Muskogee, Oklahoma, 1974, Library of Congress # A-827601) Indian Blood II: Further Adventures in Finding Your Native American Ancestor by Richard Pangburn, Butler Books, Louisville, Ky., 1996, Page 144.  


Articles about The killing of Lelia Cockram (under Random stuff) and Who killed Alfred Cochran? 1928 mystery  -- go to the Shoebox page.