Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mary Cochrane 1873-1964

Mary Cochrane

Daugher of
James Cochrane and Katharina Hieronymus

Sister of
Margaret Cochrane 1871-1952
John Cochrane 1876-1973
William Cochrane 1878-1954
Robert Cochrane 1880-1965
Jannett Cochrane 1882-1961
Jean Cochrane 1884-1967
Catherine Cochrane 1886-1973
Agnes Cochrane 1888-1979
Elizabeth Cochrane 1890-1981
Anne Cochrane 1892-1973

Wife of
James Cooper Forrest

Mother of
Catherine Anne Forrest
Agnes Cochrane Forrest
James Cochrane Forrest

Cochrane Family

Mary Cochrane was born on 23 October 1873 in Hillsgreen, Hay Twp, Huron Co., Ontario the second child of James Cochrane and Catharine Hieronymus. Mary had ten siblings, seven sisters and three brothers, all younger except an older sister. They grew up on an Ontario farm so gramma thought she knew what farm life would be like.

At the age of twenty Mary married James Cooper Forrest on the 16th March 1904 in Zurich, Huron Co, Ontario. James had previously been west and laid claim to a homestead as well as purchased another quarter section of land, now owning all S ½ 30-18-27-W2.  After their marriage the couple took the train west to Moose Jaw and then twenty miles to the farm, which took three hours by team. Gramma arrived to see her 16’ X 20’ 2 story frame house and 16’ X 26’ stable. Homemade furniture would make it her home. It was now spring so there was lots of work to get done. Gramma got started in chickens by hatching hen’s eggs under a duck.

 Winters were cold and the house had no insulation. In the morning the fire would be out and bedrooms icy cold. The spring after arriving on the farm she gave birth at home to a daughter Catharine Anne Forrest on 17 April 1905.

In the 1906 census it lists Mary and her husband, they had 6 horses, 2 milking cows, 6 other cattle and 4 pigs.  The post office is listed as Moose Jaw so letters from home were only received when a trip to Moose Jaw was necessary.

Twins, James and Agnes were born 17 April 1909. Agnes died on the 16th August 1910 at the age of one year and four months. The 1911 census lists James, Mary, a daughter Ann, son James and a farm labourer.

Grandpa raised horses as well as owning a threshing machine and did custom harvesting. Harvest was a busy time and Gramma prepared numerous meals for many hungry men on the threshing team. These meals were prepared over wood stoves and no refrigerators.

In 1911 the telephone arrived but no electricity, although a windmill generated all the electricity needed to run the farm. It was by telephone that she got the news of her husband’s death. On Thursday February 26th 1914 James had left Marguis, which was the closest railway station to the farm, for Expanse with a carload of horses.  While in Expanse he was suddenly taken ill with appendicitis and was operated on Thursday March 5th. He came through the operation but died 5 hours later. So less than 10 years on the prairies she found herself alone with 2 small children to raise and a farm to tend to.

Grandpa died intestate, nothing could be done with the land until the youngest child reached the age of 21 another 16 years. An auction was held and all her husband’s possessions were auctioned off, as well as all livestock.  After proceeds from the auction, money owed, from custom threshing and sale of grain was collected, the estate was finalized 24 June 1917 at a value of $10,410.25. Her husband’s brother, Alex Forrest, was declared executor of the estate and Gramma had to deal with him for every need. The land was rented out until the estate could be settled. It was not until 1929 that women gained official legal status.

Gramma had always been active in the Ladies Auxiliary of St Paul’s Church in Tuxford  and would walk to the neighbours when she figured her help would be required.

Gramma decided to take the children and return to Ontario for the winter so they rode the train back to Ontario every fall and spent the winters with her parents on the farm in Hay Twp.  The trip to Toronto by train would take 4 or 5 days from Moose Jaw. She made sure the children spent time with their father’s family while in Ontario as they lived near her parents. They returned to the farm every spring. In summer Gramma’s family would occasionally come west from Ontario, they all missed her and the children. A picnic at Buffalo Pound Lake some 15 miles away or just a game of tug-a-war on the farm with family would make for a pleasant day.  

Gamma bought a new 1921 Ford automobile for $640.00. After that her son James, age 13, did the driving. Gramma’s sister Catharine tells in her diary of how in 1924 they hired a driver to drive them through Minniapolis. The roads were dirt and sometimes muddy all the way from Saskatchewan to Ontario.

In 1930 when my father, James, the youngest child, turned 21 the estate was settled. Gramma now became the legal owner of the land and in control of her land and money. She rented the land to her son James. Gramma remained on the farm with her son, spending some winters in town with her daughter Anne who had become a teacher and had bought a home in Moose Jaw. Anne married Elwin Brown in 1934 and moved to Prendergas. Gramma’s sister Catharine was widowed in 1939 so Gramma spent some winters with her and her two daughters.  James married in 1945 to Ellen Piper, it was shortly after this that Gramma moved to Meadow Lake, SK to live with her daughter Anne Brown and family. She remained there until her death 18 Feb 1964.  She continued to own the farm land until her death at which time it was inherited by her children.

Gramma would come to the farm for visits and sit on the steps outside and listen to the prairie thunder storms. She’d tell us “it’s only Johnny going over the wooden bridge with his wagon”.  She also had a special way with animals and could get a horse to come to her when it had avoided others for some time.

Gramma is buried along side her husband James and baby daughter Agnes in the Moose Jaw City Cemetery

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