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Mr. William Cochrane

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The Seattle Daily Times
Wednesday Evening, May 10, 1911
Page 3, Column 3

William Cochrane Now Near Death

King County Pioneer and Former Sheriff Slowly Sinking at Kent Hospital and Friends Have No Hope Unconscious Today And Reported To Be Weaker

William Cochrane, King County pioneer and former Sheriff, is slowly sinking in the Kent Hospital and his death is anticipated by attending physicians and friends. He is not strong enough to stand another operation and it is doubtful whether he could recover if he did undergo such heroic treatment. Mr. Cochrane was reported today to be unconscious and weaker.

Indirectly, an ingrowing nail on his foot is responsible for the condition of the 71-year-old pioneer. Directly, a faulty operation by a Tacoma chiropodist is blamed by Cochrane’s friends.

Cochrane went from O’Brien to Tacoma to have the faulty nail treated. Either the chiropodist or Cochrane neglected something and blood poisoning developed. To save him three operations have been performed, but it is evident that either advanced age or neglect made operations ineffective.

At the first operation his toe was removed to the big joint; on the second the entire toe and some of the others were taken off and the third time half his foot was removed.

According to Cochrane’s friends, the O’Brien pioneer gave up hope when he was taken to the hospital and has been willing for several weeks to die and end a turbulent career. His circulation is poor and following the initial operation the blood refused to circulate in other toes. Later gangrene set in and Cochrane watched the progress of his affliction with stoic indifference.

It is related of him that during the early progress of blood poisoning he decided that he would die and summoned all his enemies, asked their forgiveness and prepared for death. He had a private telephone installed and used it to send for friends. In his room he provided refreshments and held receptions for what he regarded as his last meeting with acquaintances.

Physicians held out strong hopes of recovery, but Cochrane did not believe them. Had he been strong enough it is likely another operation would have been ordered early and might have saved him, but the shock from his first experience was too serious to overlook.

Recently none save close personal friends have been admitted to see Cochrane and during the past few days these have found him unconscious when they called. Among Cochrane’s closest friends hope of recovery has been abandoned and his own abandonment of hope militates against him.

Though he has always been a man of decided opinion and frequently quarreled violently with those who opposed him, he was an intimate acquaintance of all the prominent King County pioneers and public officials. The progress of his trouble has been watched closer than that of any other White River settler.

The Seattle Daily Times
Thursday Evening, May 19, 1911
Page 9, Column 4

William Cochrane Claimed By Death

Former Sheriff of King County and Well-Known Pioneer Passes Away After Long Period of Suffering

Blood Poisoning Given As Cause

William Cochrane, former Sheriff of King County and well-known pioneer, died yesterday at the Kent Hospital, where he had lain suffering from blood poisoning for several weeks. A Tacoma chiropodist, operating on an ingrowing toenail, is blamed by Mr. Cochrane’s friends for his death, as blood poisoning resulted and despite three operations Mr. Cochrane’s life could not be saved. He suffered severely from the shock following each of these operations and appeared to lack vitality enough to recover.

Mr. Cochrane has lived in King County since March 1873, the first twelve years of his residence being spent in logging operations. Mr. Cochrane operated camps on Lake Washington, Lake Union and Squak Slough. In his early days several men who have since become prominent in Seattle were employed by him. He defeated the late John H. McGraw when the former Governor was a candidate for Sheriff, sixteen years ago.

Lived on Farm Recently

During recent years Mr. Cochrane has lived on his farm in the White River Valley, between Orillia and O’Brien. He purchased the property in 1885 and has developed it into one of the finest pieces of country property in this county. During the years when hop growing was popular among Northwestern farmers, Mr. Cochrane was one of the most extensive hop raisers in the Northwest and when he died he was regarded as a successful dairyman and farmer.

Several times during his career Mr. Cochrane faced bankruptcy, but always weathered the storm. He lost heavily on a contract to build a wagon road in Skagit County to the Ruby Creek mines, in 1879, but recuperated through cattle and logging operations in the Duwamish Valley. A few years later he had a disastrous experience in logging operations. Mr. Cochrane has laughingly stated that he weathered the financial panic of the nineties because he could find no one willing to take his farm from him.

Though one of the most charitable men in the Northwest few persons ever heard of his kindliness. He provided most of the vegetables served freely in the First Ward soup kitchens of the 1893-1896 panic and practically sustained a school near his farm.

Mr. Cochrane was born in County Cavan, Ireland, on December 15, 1846. He came to America when 18 years of age, spent two years in a New York architect’s office, then three years in a Michigan lumber camp and later about two years on New York and Kentucky farms. A widow and three children survive him. Three sisters are in Seattle.

The funeral of Mr. Cochrane will be held Saturday in the Church of the Immaculate Conception.

The Seattle Daily Times
Saturday Evening, May 20, 1911
Page 9, Column 1

William Cochrane Buried In Seattle

Funeral services for William Cochrane, former Sheriff of King County and well-known pioneer, were held at 11 o’clock this morning at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Eighteenth Avenue and Marion Street. A crowd that filled the auditorium almost to overflowing told of the number of his friends and acquaintances.

The body was brought early this morning from O’Brien, the family home, on a special car on the Interurban. A large delegation came from Kent, where Mr. Cochrane died on Wednesday from blood poisoning. Interment took place in Calvary Cemetery.

William Cochrane was a native of Ireland and was 66 years old. He had lived in King County since March 1873. A widow and three children survive him.

The Seattle Times
Thursday, April 16, 1959
Page 62, Column 4

Just Cogitating: William Cochrane Was Elected King County Sheriff in 1886

William Cochrane, a rough and reedy Irishman, was Sheriff of King County when I came here long years ago.

Cochrane was born in Ireland in 1845, one of 17 children. He had very limited opportunities for an education, helping on the farm at an early age. At the age of 21 he came to the United States. After two years in New York he went to Michigan, where he spent four years in the lumber camps.

Later Cochrane came to Washington Territory and went into the logging industry in the vicinity of Seattle. He prospered and at one time employed 100 men. In the 1870’s, for logging purposes, he cut a ditch between Lakes Union and Washington, the first connection between the two bodies of water.

The Cochranes lived on a homestead near Redmond until 1890, when they moved to the White River Valley, near O’Brien, where they bought 170 densely wooded acres. Cochrane cleared the land with the aid of Indians. He became one of the largest hop growers in the White River Valley.

Cochrane also engaged extensively in dairying and at one time had a herd of 125 cows. He also filed on a homestead of 160 acres near Redmond and logged it off. He later added to his holdings by the purchase of 120 acres, which he cleared and developed.

In 1890, Cochrane was married to Catherine Madigan, who was also born in Ireland. They had five sons, all of whom were given a college education. Bill was a staunch Democrat and was a leader in King County politics.

In 1886 Cochrane was elected Sheriff of King County. After on Presidential election, he sat on the corner of Yesler Way and First Avenue South, then Commercial Street and Seattle’s busiest corner, with a hat out stretched for contributions for some good cause in payment of a bet on the election.


Generously contributed by: Sheila Simpson