Finding Your Folks: William Pressley and James E. Cochran

Judy Fowler Kilgore's picture

I'm going to continue with the Cochran family this week, giving you more detailed information on two of the children of William Allen and Alpha Johnson Cochran. These Cochrans were only one of several Cochran families in the Campbell County area and may be related to some of them. They were in a corner where three counties come together - Campbell, Coweta and Fayette - and they lived in the McCollum community.

I don't know if it's just a coincidence or not, but several members of my other Cochran family, the family of Henry Newton Cochran and Matilda Chatfield Owens, are buried at Antioch Church near Fairburn along with many of these Cochrans. I did a very lengthy series on Henry Newton Cochran's diary several years ago but it can only be reached through this link:

That will take you to The Citizen's old Web pages and columns for 2005. Scroll down to the bottom of that page and you will see links to past years. The Cochran series ran beginning July 11, 2003. When you copy that long Web address above, check carefully to make sure there are no breaks or dashes in it when you paste it into your browser window. If you have problems, email me and I'll send it to you personally. You might want to bookmark the 2005 page, as you cannot reach it through a normal Internet search.

I neglected to mention last week that Loretta Cochran, from whom most of this information comes, gave Alpha Johnson's parents as John Johnson and Mary Bates. I do not know the source of that information. Loretta told me the Cochran file she shared with me was actually a group project so it may have come from another researcher.

William and Alpha had 10 children but I'd like to focus on only two this week, since Loretta had a lot of interesting information on them. As always, anyone who can add more information is welcome to jump in.

The first child, William Pressley Cochran, was born 26 Feb. 1832 in Newton County, Ga., and died 17 April 1890 in Campbell County. He married Savannah Hartley, daughter of Willis Hartley and Susan Hydes, and they had 10 children: (1) John Milledge LaFayette Cochran (1862-1945) m. Melvina Clementine Hearn, daughter of Joshua Hearn and Leah Smart, nine children; (2) Susan Alpha Cochran (1863-1920) m. Joseph Hardy Hartley in Fayette County, son of James Hartley and Rebecca Thornton. John and Melvina are both buried in Cass County, Texas. They had nine children; (3) Sarah C. Cochran (abt 1866-?) was in the 1880 Fayette County census and later married a Burdett; (4) Mary Maggie Cochran (abt 1868-?) married Stephen A. Hearn, son of Joshua Hearn and Leah Smart. This family moved to Louisiana about 1903, had five children; (5) William R. Cochran (1871-?) married Mollie Unknown and lived in Campbell County, two children; (6) Charles Lee Cochran (1873-1952) married (1) Della Frances Cook in Campbell County and (2) Annie Unknown. Charles and both his wives are buried at Antioch, two children with Della Cook; (7) James Presley Cochran (1875-?) married Exafria Edith Ellis in Fulton County, five children; (8) George L. Cochran (1879-?); (9) Robert Royston Cochran (1882-1964) married (1) Alice Shelnutt (6 children) and (2) Tanella Estelle Brooks (five children), daughter of Charles Brooks and Ellen Harrison. Robert and Alice are buried at Antioch. Tanella is buried in Houston, Harris County, Texas; (10) Henry Herman Cochran (1885-1965) married Vassie Mae Smith, three children.

William Pressley Cochran, as mentioned last week, was a teacher at the First Boys Academy in Fayette County. He also was a postmaster in Campbell County, as was his wife. William and Savannah are both buried at Antioch.

The other son, James Elisha Cochran, born 9 Jan. 1835, died 8 June 1918, was somewhat of a character in Campbell County. He wore his hair braided down to his shoulders and applied for Eastern Cherokee status in 1908. His application was rejected. His granddaughter described him as a "real" Indian. He never rode in an automobile, stating that people who did would die before their time. He was decorated several times for his service in the Civil War but sustained wounds which crippled him later in life.

James married Susan Elizabeth Shelnutt, daughter of John Shelnutt and Elizabeth White. They had 10 children: (1) William Allen Cochran (1857-1930) married Archie Ann McElwaney, applied for Eastern Cherokee status but was rejected, had 10 children. William and Archie are both buried at Hopewell Cemetery in Tyrone; (2) John Stephen Cochran (1860-1944) married Mollie Lee Riley, both buried at Antioch, two children; (3) Dorcus Ellen Cochran (1862-?) married Bud Phillips; (4) Ida Belle Cochran (1864-?); (5) James Alphis Cochran (1866-1914) married (1) Bernice Breedlove (one child) and (2) Geneva Louvenia Smith (nine children). James was a contractor who built the Eastside Baptist Tabernacle on Memorial Drive in Atlanta; (6) Solomon N. Cochran (1868-1892) married Ida T. Smith; (7) Jacob Shelvey Cochran (1876-?); (8) Claudius Eugene Cochran (1878-?) married May Summers; (9) Burnett C. Cochran (1881-?) married Ethel Golden; (10) Major Edward Cochran (1883-1962) married Ora Belle Wallace, eight children.

James Elisha Cochran died 8 June 1918 and his obit appeared in the Atlanta Constitution the next day. It described him as one of the oldest and most widely known citizens of Campbell County and said he was survived by about 90 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He and his wife are both buried at Antioch near Fairburn.

Next week, I'll wrap up this family with a few more details on the other children. Again, many thanks to Loretta Cochran for sharing her information.

Family histories about your ancestors who lived on Atlanta's south side are always welcome. Send them to or Mail to The Citizen, P.O. Drawer 1719, Fayetteville, GA 30214. All letters and e-mails I receive are subject to being used in the column.

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