After the war: a Boren-Cochran mystery

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North Carolina
Year range
1792 - 1949

Just how did the sister and daughter of Confederate soldiers end up marrying a Union Army veteran?

Joseph Lee Cochran (1820-1863) was born in Cabarrus County, North Carolina, to Robert McClellan Cochran (1792-1873) and Agnes McGinnis (1802-1837). He grew up to become a farmer, teacher, and doctor. And somehow, in those days before railroads, he got to know people in western Pennsylvania. On 11 October 1842 he married Elizabeth Balentine in Washington County, in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Joseph and Elizabeth had two children born in North Carolina, Jane E. “Jennie” Cochran (1843-1889) and Robert John Cochran (1846-?). In the late 1840s Elizabeth died and Joseph returned to Washington County, Pennsylvania. There he found employment and a second wife, Ann Margaret Melone (1829-1920). They had several children together, and sometime during the 1850s they moved back to Mecklenburg County.

In the fall of 1861, Joseph mustered in as sergeant in the “Mecklenburg Farmers,” also known as Company H of the 35th Regiment of North Carolina Troops. He was discharged the following February for “defective vision.” That may have been a symptom of something worse, for on 11 September 1863 he made his will – bequeathing to son Robert “my shot gun” — and died later that fall.

Seventeen-year-old Robert promptly enlisted in the Confederate Army. If his father saw little combat, Robert made up for it. Wounded in May 1864, he was captured by Union forces 17 June 1864 near Petersburg, Virginia, and imprisoned at Elmira, New York, until 15 May 1865.

After the war, somewhere, somehow, his sister Jane met young Union veteran Thomas Wesley Boren (1849-1897), who’d been born and raised around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They married 6 June 1867 — we don’t know where — and lived in Pittsburgh. The second of their five children, Addison Boren (1869-1949), is Sandy’s great-grandfather. (No known connection to the North Carolina Boren family.)

At the age of 14, Addison quit school to help support his grandmother — possibly his mother’s stepmother, Ann Margaret Cochran, who was living in Pittsburgh with her children Margaret, Luther Alden, and Lula in 1880.

Robert Cochran also married after the war. In 1872 he too was living in Pittsburgh, where he bought property from his sister’s father-in-law (Samuel W. Boren) in the 19th ward of that city. By 1880 he and wife Angelina and their children Ira and Jessie had moved to Washington, Indiana County, Pennsylvania.

Unless we discover some letters or diaries from this family, we may never know the whole story of the North Carolina Cochrans’ connection to western Pennsylvania, and how it survived the war of 1861-1865.


born 21 July 1820 North Carolina

married (1) 11 October 1842 Canonsburg, Washington County, Pennsylvania,Elizabeth Balantine, daughter of ??, born ??, died 25 Jul 1849 -- 2 children

married (2) 27 Nov 1849 Ann Margaret Melone, daughter of ??, born 29 Apr 1829 Pennsylvania, died 10 May 1920 -- 6 children

died 22 November 1863 North Carolina

ANCESTORS: We know his parents Robert McClellan Cochran and Agnes McGinnis, and have speculative theories about Robert’s parents, paternal grandparents, and great-grandparents.

COUSINS: Countless multitudes. Joseph had eight siblings and four half-siblings, seven with descendants.