A question answered, finally

... for years I wondered, and then I learned

by Dorothy O'Connor

When I moved into the Jonathan Cochrane House in May of 2010, I
asked many people, “Who was Jonathan Cochrane?” My query was met with blank
stares, or a shrug and an “I don’t know.”

Finally, with the considerable help of The History of Melrose by Elbridge Henry
Goss, published by the City of Melrose in 1902, I found answers to my question.
The library’s copy of the precious book does not circulate, but Richard Mockler,
long associated with the Melrose Historical Society, kindly let me use his copy
of the book for my research.  

The story centers around the Congregational Church in Melrose and starts in the
late 1840’s. Services were held in the home of Dr. Levi Gould, then living on
Main Street. On page 143 of the Goss book, in a chapter entitled “Ecclesiastical
History,” we read “After two, possibly three, of these Sunday services at Dr.
Gould’s, the parlors of Deacon Jonathan Cochran on Grove Street, being larger,
were opened for these meetings; and here, April 25, 1848, began the first
preaching services, by Reverend Stillman Pratt, who afterwards became the first
settled pastor.” (Writer’s comment: Jonathan Cochran’s surname is consistently
spelled without an “e” at the end. The “e” shows up in the 1890’s, appended to
the surname of Maurice G. Cochrane, Jonathan’s grandson.)

In May of 1848, Jonathan Cochran was on a committee “appointed to call a Council
of Churches to advise and if deemed expedient, to form a church in accordance
with the Congregational form.” The original twelve members of this new church
included Jonathan Cochran and his wife Mary, as well as  Levi Gould.

Throughout his long life, Jonathan Cochran was active in town and church
affairs. For instance, in a chapter called “First and Last Town Meetings,” we
read that “The first warrant for a Town Meeting dated May 6, 1850, was issued by
Elbridge Green, Esq., Justice of the Peace, and was directed to Jonathan
Cochran, Esq., another Justice of the Peace.”

Jonathan became a Selectman in 1851 and also served continuously as Assessor
from 1854 to 1860. In 1854, he was appointed by the Board of Aldermen to be Town
Clerk for a period of two years at a salary of $8.00 per annum. He was elected
Clerk pro tem several times. For most of the 1850’s, he served on the Town
Financial Committee.

In Goss’s book the next mention of Jonathan Cochran is in a chapter entitled
“Cemeteries”. He served on the Cemetery Committee as well as on a committee
called the Burying Ground Committee. A plan of the Village Burying Ground was
made by Deacon Jonathan Cochran in the late nineteenth century and shortly
before his decease he delivered it to John Larrabee, then Town Clerk, and it is
now in the possession of the city.

Jonathan Cochran died January 6, 1885, aged 93 years and 6 months, having been
deacon for thirty-six years.

September 7, 2012

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