Holton Cochran was born in Sandusky County, near Toledo, Ohio, January 16, 1828. The history of his forefathers is coequal with the history of America. He traces his ancestry back to John Cochran, who was born in Scotland of Scotch parents and who came to America as a British soldier in the army of General Braddock, at the time of the war with France. When Braddock was defeated he went with General Washington (then a colonel in the army) to Virginia. There he purchased a farm and became a wealthy man. In the meantime he went to Scotland for his wife and brought her to his new home in the Old Dominion. To them were born ten children. Their son Robert removed to one of the Eastern States and married Miss Rice, and settled in Vermont on a farm near Burlington. He became a General in the Revolutionary war. His son Seth was a seaman, a mate of a vessel, and came to this coast many years ago; was in the Bay of San Francisco, and purchased furs on the Columbia River. He subsequently returned to Vermont and married Polly Stotard, a native of Connecticut, of Scotch parents. He also had a war record worthy of note. In the war of 1812 he raised a company and was elected their captain. For meritorious service at Plattsburg and in other battles he was promoted to colonel. At the close of the war he returned to his home and remained there until 1816, when he sold his farm and made the journey with a wagon to Coldersburg, Ohio. In that place, then a wilderness, he located and continued his residence there until 1821. He then removed to Sandusky, and from there, in 1832, to Toledo. After remaining in the latter place some time he moved to Hillsdale, Michigan, and died there at the age of eighty-eight years. Mr. Cochran’s grandmother died in Huron County, Ohio, aged ninety-six years.
Holton Cochran is the seventh son and the only survivor of a family of eleven children. At the age of sixteen he began to learn the cooper’s trade, and worked at it four years. After that he learned the carpenter’s trade in New York city. He made three voyages at sea, first before the mast and afterward as second mate; was in the East India Islands and in Mexico. He then returned to Ohio, and, after spending some time in traveling, visiting nearly every state in the Union, he located at Toledo, where he engaged in contracting and building. He was very successful in his business undertakings there, doing large carpenter jobs and also conducting extensive cooper works. He erected several fine buildings in Toledo, including the Bethel Church.
In the spring of 1859 he sold out and came to California, via the Isthmus of Panama. His first venture here was mining in Butte County. He found one piece of gold that weighed $280, and in his best day’s work he took out $809. Mr. Cochran saw a piece of gold taken out by another man that weighed fifty-four pounds. In 1860 he went to Virginia City and mined, but not with so much success. He then went to Los Angeles, and from there traveled over the state in search of a desirable location, going to Butte and from there to Red Bluff in 1862. In the latter place he engaged in business until the fall of 1864. At that time he removed to Shingletown, Shasta County, and purchased a saw-mill, sawed pine lumber and rafted it down the river to Sacramento. The expense of drawing the lumber to the river was $10; rafting to Red Bluff, $2.50; shipping by stream to Sacramento, $10; in that city it brought $65 per thousand feet. This business Mr. Cochran continued for four years, taking the oar to steer the rafts down the river himself. He then purchased a farm and engaged in agricultural pursuits and stock raising till 1868. In that year he sold out and pre-empted 160 acres on Cow Creek and purchased 320 adjoining acres. He improved this ranch and resided on it five years, and at the end of that time, in 1873, he sold the property and came to Redding. He arrived here before the railroad was completed and he built one of the first houses in the town. He engaged in contracting and building, and also purchased a sawmill at the mouth of Spring Creek.
The logs were run down Pit River seventy miles, and the lumber was sold at Redding and Red Bluff. At this business Mr. Cochran was also successful. He sold his mill and engaged in quartz mining, which proved a failure. Then he bought $3,000 worth of cattle which he sent by John Bloodsel to Bey Valley to be wintered. The winter, however, was so severe that they lost all except fourteen head. After selling his mine he returned to Redding and engaged again in contracting and building and has followed that business up to the present time. He has invested in houses and city property in the best part of the town, which he rents. He is one of the stockholders of the I. O. O. F. Hall, a find block recently completed. Mr. Cochran was the first to invest money in the enterprise. Besides his large real-estate interests he also has money loaned.
In 1854 Mr. Cochran married Miss Mary Ann Read, a native of Ohio. Their union was blessed with four children; George, born in Ohio, and the others in California. Emma married Mr. Ballard and resided at Red Bluff. Addie is now the wife of William Worley, also of Red Bluff. After sixteen years of married life Mrs. Cochran died. In 1870 Mr. Cochran married Mrs. Stanley, a native of Kentucky, by whom he had two sons, Horace and Charles, born at Cow Creek. In 1886 Mrs. Cochran died, and in 1889 he wedded Mrs. Gifford, a native of New York. She is of English extraction, and for many years made her home at Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Mr. Cochran is an Odd Fellow and has passed all the chairs in the order. He is a stanch Republican, and a man who stands high in the estimation of his fellow-citizens.
Memorial and Biographical History of Northern California,
Lewis Publishing Co., 1891 Pages 732 – 734
Transcribed by Pat Houser August 2004