1800’s  NEW  ENGLAND  SECTS
Cochranites, Osgoodites, Dorrilites, and David Austin


The Cochranite Delusion   |   Cochran Bibliography   |   Cochran Chronology   |   Comments
see also:   The Halcyon Church   |   The Modern Pilgrims   |   The New Israelites


Part One
The Cochranite Delusion






Stinchfield 1819   |   Trial 1819   |   Unitarian 1834   |   Stone 1835   |   Graham 1851   |   Loring 1867
Lib. Mes. 1871   |   Bourne 1875   |   S. D. Greene 1877   |   Strange Gods 1892   |   J. M. Marshall 1893

Ridlon 1895   |   New York Times 1903   |   Remich 1911   |   Wiggin 1913   |   Moody 1914
Buxton 1926   |   Junkins 1938   |   Butler 1988   |   Prices 2000   |   Woodwell 2005   |   Miller 2005



- 1819 -



Stinchfield's first edition






[ 3 ]



COCHRANISM  DELINEATED.

While passing through the town of Scarborough, in the month of February, 1817, I called at a private house of my acquaintance, for refreshment; who soon informed me of a stranger, who had lately moved into the neighborhood, by the name of JACOB COCHRAN, who called himself a preacher; that he had lately moved his family into the place from Conway, in New Hampshire; that he belonged to no religious Society; that he was ordained by private bretheren; that he made uncommonly high pretentions of a miraculous power vested in him, equal, if not superior to the apostolic; that the religious people in that vicinity, and many others, esteemed him very highly, &c. Having had an oppertunity of travelling through several of the States, and perhaps through every county, and most of the towns in the District of Maine, and made many observations on quackery of various kinds, particularly religious deception -- the report I received from this family respecting Cochran, sounded like that of an impostor or religious juggler.

Expecting to make but a short stay with this apparenty pious family, I endeavoured to give them the most prominent features of an impostor, as laid down in the bible and from my own observation. I was then about to take my leave of them, when they informed me this same singular man was expected to preach at their house the following evening. They urged me hard to tarry and hear him; I at length consented. When the evening came, the people assembled. Cochran asked me to preach. I declined alleging I came to hear. I heard him through, [deleted, orig. MS: as well as those who sanctioned him]. The people applauded what he said, by Amens and shouts, though nothing indecorous appeared. I gave the people a short exhortation, which seemed much to his mortification; but he kept resentment to himself, till after I had left the place. [deleted, orig. MS: The meeting closed and] I still retained my suspicion that he was an impostor; [I] left my advice with the family not to take him into too




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near a connexion, until they were better acquainted with him, which advice they received kindly, and have never forgotten.

I heard no more from this stranger, until the summer following [1817], when a report was in circulation, that large numbers (some said more than one thousand) had been converted under his ministry. As I was passing through Kennebunk, in the winter of 1818, I was informed by an aquaintance that the reformation, under the said Cochran, was marvelous -- such as was never known in those parts before. He stated, that by only laying his hand on a person's head, he would imediately fall to the floor, cry out in great distress; and after continuing in that frame for a short time, he would then be delivered from that distress, and shout, Glory, &c. That a few evenings before, he had laid his hands on twelve persons [deleted, orig. MS: in one evening], who were all converted before the meeting closed. After giving me this information, he asked me if I ever saw him, and what I thought of him? I answered his questions very freely and plainly. He said he hoped I was mistaken, or [he] would be a false prophet.

Hearing of this new sect in Portland, where their riotous proceedings in their assemblies made such disturbance, that two of their preachers were arrested by the civil magistrates, and committed to the common gaol, or house of correction; and having been an eye-witness to some of their iregularities [deleted, orig. MS: and disorder in their publick meetings] in their meetings -- the high prententions and haughtiness of their public exhorters, &c., I was confirmed in my mind, they were not the ministers anf followers of Christ notwithstanding their good words and fair speeches. The persons committed to the house of correction, before mentioned, as disturbers of the peace, after they had been kept about there about fourteen days, appeared sensible, in some good degree, of the impropriety of their past conduct, and were dismissed from their confinement. One of them appeared measurably cured of this evil disease [deleted, orig. MS: Religious Hydrophobia], and like an honest man, is endeavoring to persuade others to apply to the great Physician to obtain a cure for the malady. The other returned, or went to his own company where he still continues; so it is evident the prison is not a certain cure.




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The latter part of February last, I was credibly informed, that Jacob Cochran had been examined before a Justice's court, in the town of Saco, on the allegation of certain high crimes and misdemeanors, and on sundry complaints prefered agaist him; that the testimonies of the witnesses were such that the court had laid him under bonds, on one complaint, in the sum of $800; and on another, in the sum of $1000, for his appearance at the Supreme Court; to be holden in the county of York, in May next.

Subsequently to the foregoing, as I was passing through Kennebunk, and hearing of a meeting of this society, I thought I would once more go and hear for myself. On entering the house where the meeting was held, I found the people principally standing, [deleted, orig. MS: on their feet], the room not being provided with seats. I however found a seat, and sat down to watch their motions. They soon struck or commenced a lively tune, accompanied with words, while some fell to dancing and jumping. Others shouted Amen, or Glory to God, and Glory to Jesus! The jumping, dancing, singing, and shouting, however they might seem to those engaged in such exercises, was an awful jargon to me. After this exercise had thus continued, till they were nearly out of breath, they would rest a few minutes, and then renew the same exercise with more vehemence than at first; and at the close of every singing and dancing exercise, they would set up a general shout, which I doubt not might be heard miles.

After their meeting was over, I retired and spent the rest of the evening with six of this society, one of whom called himself an ordained minister [deleted, orig. MS: in their society. I had now for the first time, an opportunity of inquiring into their distinguishing peculiar tenets. They, like all other enthusiasts, pretended to light superior to that of any other religious society, since the Apostles; and the power of healing the sick, raising the dead, and casting out devils [deleted, orig. MS: among them] -- all of which, they said, had been literally performed among them. Extraordinary dreams and visions, they asserted, had been experienced, and wonders wrought. They had private, sometimes dark, meetings; in which none, but such as




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were bound by oath, to the most inviolable secrecy, not to divulge what was transacted in the meeting, upon penalty of eternal damnation, or of having their names blotted out of the book of life, were admitted. That each brother and sister in this fraternity, has a spiritual husband, wife, mate, or yoke fellow, such as they choose, or their leaders choose for them. These spiritual mates, dissolve, or disannul, all former marriage conneections; and many of them bed and board together, to the exclusion of all former vows [[deleted, orig. MS: and promises in their marriage]. Such conduct as this, had not become general, and many of them would deny that such things existed among them, though proved [deleted, orig. MS: to them] by the most solemn declarating of persons of undoubted veracity. I had, before I left this place, such a discovery of the mystery of iniquity, working to the subverson of all social ties, between husband and wife, parents and children, rulers and ruled, ministers and people; the rising generation corrupted by the introduction of such vicious practices, under a cloak of religion, that it seemed as if I should be constrained to run from house to house, and cry day and night, against the abomination that maketh desolate.

When I arrived at the upper towns in the county of York, I found the dreadful hydrophobia spreading, with all its dire effects -- children denouncing [deleted, orig. MS: their horrid] imprecations against parents; members of churches against their pastors; neighbors against one another, &c. Those who join, and become members of this brotherhood, must renounce every natural connexion, and be exclusively under the control of these enthusastic leaders; who, while they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption; for, of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought into bondage. And thus while they make so great a cry and show of liberty, any discerning person who is acquainted with their extravagant demeanor may perceive, that they have only substituted the word liberty, for that of licentiousness, which they indulge in the most indecorous and sensual gratifications. I inquired in my mind, where are the watchmen of the various denominations in this region, that they are not using every




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effort to detect , oppose, and publish to the world, this gross deception? I felt my own weakness; I knew my abilities and acquirements were small, and my talents inadequate to the task; but I said, I will do what I can, to expose the deception if I die in the cause. I am nearly three score years old, and my life of but little consequence. If I lose it, in attempting to expose and extirpate from the District of Maine, and from the world, one of the most scandalous frauds ever imposed on any people, under the name of religion, I said, I will venture my life and my all. To this end, I ventured alone, into that part of the town of Saco, which I understood was the seat of the beast, or near where Cochran kept his brothel. I inquired of his near neighbors, for his character, as a citizen. They informed me he was a man who could not be depended on, in the common affairs of life, and one who paid no regard to his promises; -- that he was often seen, if not in liquor, with a great quantity of liquor in him. In short, a more more ridiculous character I never heard delineated in the course of my life.

I inquired concerning the report gone abroad as to his being an instrument of the reformation said to be among them. They all agreed there had been a good work, in this and the neighboring towns, on both sides Saco River; but that Jacob Cochran, was so far from being an instrument of any good, he was the greatest hindrance it had met with. They considered him as creeping into the work, like those mentioned by Peter and Jude; or like those false apostles, deceitful workers, mentioned by Paul, transforming themselves into the ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their work. His proceedings in the course of this work, as described to me by persons of undoubted veracity, who attended the meetings all the way through, bear ample testimony to the truth of these statements, and corroborate the impression on the mind thus excited.

He has a variety of singular movements in his public meetings, to arrest the attention and gain proselytes. Sometimes by laying his hand on a person's head, and extending his other hand and arm in an opposite




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direction; making a most horrid screaming in the ear; uttering the most dreadful imprecations, and predicting the awful day of judgment at hand. Sometimes shaking his fists near a person's face, and trembling himself, as if under some violent agitation or convulsion, and threatening immediate death and damnation. In this manner, persons would be frightened, or by some other means, persons thus operated upon, would fall to the floor or ground, and often be constrained to lick up the dust at his feet; and would not be delivered from the violent commotions and contorations they were in, until they were in a disposition to yield themselves entirely to his control. When they have passed through these powerful and apparently distressing operations, they are said to have passed through the strait gate, or to be baptized with the Holy Ghost and fire; and are fit tools to be sent abroad to propagate his doctrine, and make proselytes to his erroneous principles.

Nearly all his new operations and exercises are carefully predicted or foretold, by this arch deceiver, by which his stupid followers are made acquainted with them, before they come to pass. At one time, a cry is uttered by him, or some other in his assemblies, in the language of the angel in the Revelation, Thurst in thy sickle, and reap, for harvest of the earth is ripe. A number, in the assembly, will then be thrown into the greatest agitations; a violent exertion of the arms and body, for a long time together, takes place. These are called reapers, and the operation reaping. To other violent motions of the arms and body, they give the appellation of winnowing, and separating the chaff from the wheat: another they call, gathering and burning the chaff.

Cochran pretends to have the power of life and death in his hands, and frightens his pupils into a compliance with any of his injunctions, by threatening to stop their breath in a moment; by which means he takes females from their parents, and carries them to his brothel. He declares that he has the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and pretends to open it for, or shut it against, whom he sees fit, by stretching out, and making a violent twist with his arm, one way or the other.




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He has introduced among his followers, a feast, which he calls the passover; at which they all partake, at one table, provided for the purpose, at which, large quantities of mutton, lamb, bread and wine, &c. are expended. At this feast, he has a method of marching in a double file, consisting of a male and female, as far as the number of the males will admit, or hold out. But they pretend to have seven women to one man, in the society, alluding, as they told me, to a prophecy, in Isaiah -- On that day, shall seven women take hold of one man, &c. -- In these marches, they are instructed to step by the music, as they expect soon to carry a steel sword, and walk over dead bodies.

It seems their favourite amusement in this marching exercise, in [sic - is?] a military movement, called whipping the snake. Cochran, with a favourite Miss, I understand, generally takes the lead in this marching business; and one of his foremost or most favored ministers, with another Miss, brings up the rear.

Much of his marching has been carried on at, and each way from, his dwelling-house, in Saco, which is on the road leading from Saco Falls to Buxton corner This house I have never seen; but it has been described to me by those who have seen it, as a gloomy, dreary mansion, provided wholly with wooden shutters on the outside, the better to conceal, no doubt, the works of darkness practised within its walls.

The general family consists of twelve females, besides those who visit the house occasionally. Some of these are widows, who, with the rest of the females, have surrendered their persons, character and property into the common stock; and remain in this place, as those declare who have left them, destitute, to all appearance, of any profitable business; and are, most of them, forbidden to labor with their hands for a living; and intend, as I was informed in the neighborhood, that the wicked shall maintain them. Though I believe it generally thought they will be hungry soon; as the property which has been obtained by this religious fraud is nearly spent; and not much prospect in his realizing his original purpose of having all things common, for ant considerable time to come.




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Cochran, and his deluded followers, have predicted the approach of bloody scenes, and the day of judgment to be near at hand. He has described the length of a steel sword (which each of his followers will have to carry in their hands) by the length of his own arm. It is not doubted, by those who have heard his boasting, that he expects to have the United States, the present season, under his control! Tells of more than two thousand people, now under him, ready to stand between him and the mouths of cannon. Boasts of what immense sums of money he can raise at the shortest notice. And it really appears, as though he looks forward to universal dominion.

Those, who are in close communion with him, are bound to obey him, without gainsaying; and this will account for his ruining the character of so many innocent females.

Having obtained this intelligence, and much more; I collected as many of the people in the vicinity, as were disposed to meet, on the first day of April 1819 it being the day of our annual state fast. As a watchman, I endeavored to declare what I saw. Without any farther acquaintance with them, I went home to N. Gloucester. But the case of these deluded people lay with such weight on my mind, as to render me unfit for any employment. I then procured the company of a pious young man, belonging to Gray, and returned to Saco within a week from the time I left it. We went to one of their meetings on Saturday evening. It was in unison with the one I described in Kennebunk, excepting the dancing. I said nothing until their meeting was over. I then told them, it was commonly reported, there was fornication among them; that their glorying was not good; that their leader was counted an abominable whoremonger; and unless they renounced his society, I was bound to consider them as one lump, nothwithstanding all their glorying; according to the saying of Paul, in a like case, a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.

The next day, being the Lord's day, I went to their meeting. It was conducted much like the one at Kennebunk; only they had one of Jacob's foremost




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preachers who undertook to preach. His discourse was a mass of incoherent, indigested stuff, which I could not receive; though it was received by his society with shouts of applause, more like the howling of dogs and wolves, than the worship of a christian society. About the middle of the day, when there was a little cessation of their noise, I rose: I told them I did not mean ever to interrupt any religious society, nor speak in any man's house without liberty. If their meeting was over, I wished to make a few observations. They were silent. I said I professed to be a watchman, as every christian ought to be. Christ had said to his apostles, what I say unto you I say unto all, watch. This made all his followers watchmen. As a watchman, I wished to have the privilege to declare what I saw, in that house, if there was liberty, or in any other place in the neighbourhood, where there was liberty. The pretended minister asked me if I was called of God? I think so. Have you a particular message to this people? I have. He replied, go on. I stated to them, it is likely it will take up an hour or more to declare what I see. Can I have so much time without interruption? This could not be granted by the minister, nor owner of the house. A brother in the meeting said his house was free. I then appointed a meeting at two o'clock, and withdrew. Cochran's minister appointed one at three o'clock, and drew off the greatest part of his society with him. The rest heard with candor and, I thought, believed the report.

After attending five more meetings among them in different places, and hearing of another considerable society in the town of Arundel, on the west side of Saco River, we went to visit them, and called at a private house in the neigbourhood of the society; inquired after the leading or most inteligent men among them; hoping, if we convinced any of that description, they might be [deleted, orig. MS: such men as would be] useful in convincing or undeceiving their neighbors. Having obtained the necessary information as to this particular, we were directed to the house of one of the society who was reputed to answer the above description. The Landlady,




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his wife, met me as soon as I entered the room, and wished to know whether I had the courage to kiss her. I declined [deleted, orig. MS: accepting her rude compliment], and took a seat, for which she called me a coward. I Soon began to introduce my business and laid open to him, and his neighbors of the same order, who soon gathered in, what I had discovered among them, which was passing for religion. But before I got more than half through with what I had to say, the man interupted me, and wished to hear no more. And as I did not wish to be rude in his house, I waived the conversation for that evening, and I tarried with him all night. Being invited to breakfast, by one of his neighbors the evening before; in the morning the man went with me to the house. As soon as we were seated, I told him that I considered myself now on equal ground with him, being in another man's house, and wished him to hear me. He consented. I proceeded -- you doated much on your honesty last evening; but I tell you I believe you to be a deceitful, dishonest man. I understand you have been a traveller and propagator of Cochran's sentiments: if so, you know what I told you to be true. You charged me in your house, before your family and neighbours, with retailing lies. I again made a fair statement of Cochran's conduct. He denied it again and again; left me, and went to his own house. I took breakfast where I was, and soon followed him home, and asked leave to clear my mind in his family, which was large, and appeared to be deeply affected with the dreadful contagion of this religious hydrophobia; some of the effects of which I expected to have [deleted, orig. MS: to feel some of the effects of the hellish effluvia], if I cleared my mind. He consented I should do my duty. I then began the subject, where I left it the other evening; and opened, as plain as I could, the whole mystery of iniquity. The effect was powerful on him and his family; he looked more like a demon than a disciple of Christ. His two arms trembling, were stretched towards my face; his two large fists clenched. Loud vociferations of lie, and liar came from different parts of the room, from the mouths of his unmannerly children. And when he cried to his God for a sword, with his fists so near my face, his wife




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shouted a loud Amen. After the family had vented their spleen, in as full a manner as they dared, I asked them to look over their conduct with candor, and examine treatment they had given me; whether it looked like christian treatment. I promised him better usage, if they would make me a visit; told them I came from pure motives to visit and warn them of the the danger that awaited them; they would one day find out the truth of what I told them; and that they would be sorry for the abuse they had given me. I invited the man to ride abroad with me and visit some of his brethren, which he consented to do, and ordered his horse. He rode with me and my companion, and spent that day in visiting from house to house; and spent the evening with us, in a public meeting, which appeared to have a good effect on the minds of many.

The treatment which I received from this man and his family, several of whom gave me the lie direct, after I left the house; but who would, I doubt not, on most other occasions, have used me kindly; caused me after I was gine in the language of the prophet [deleted, orig. MS: Jeremiah], to cry with tears, woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife.

The different conduct of this family, as above stated, may look mysterious to some. I account for it in this way: when they acted themselves, or as rational men and women, free from the influence of prejudice and jealousies, they were kind and hospitable. But when under the operation of their religious phrenzy [deleted, orig. MS: effluvia], they conducted unreasonably [deleted, orig. MS: in a different light] to say the least. The man before I parted with him, seemed willing to take advice, and promised to dig a little deeper than he had done.

I returned again to Buxton and Saco; but wherever I turned, I thought I could discern greater and greater abominations. I learnt that Cochran, among other things, pretends to understand masonry; and to some peculiar favorites, it is said, he reveals the secret; but what it is, I was not informed. One of the pretended signs of this kind, was the male and female putting their thumbs and fore-fingers together in form of a triangle,




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and kissing through them. Two young men informed [me], they saw Cochran take a young woman, into a dark, private room, and stay a considerable time; and then come out [deleted, orig. MS: of the room] with her. He asked if she did not see things different from what she did before? Asked her if the fire did not look different? She asked him why he wished her to say so? He said, to increase the faith of the others. She at length, after much urging, said the fire looked different. He then took another female into the same room, after the same manner, and then another. He then told the remainder of the society they must not be tried with him; for those who were not tried with him, he should love the better; and those who were tried, must never tell of it.

Another young man in presence of Judge Woodman, of Buxton, and myself and several others declared, that when he was admitted a member of Cochran's fraternity, he had to hold a Bible in his hand, while Cochran administered a solemn oath, or what was called so. The amount of which was, that if ever he divulged what took place in their private meetings, his name was to be blotted out of the book of life, and he suffer eternal damnation. He then pointed to, and named this young man's spiritual wife, and said he was willing they should lodge together, which they did a number of nights, though he declared himself inocent of any sinful conduct. He testified, that Jacob Cochran lodged two nights, to his certain knowledge, while he was there, with a woman not his wife. Five couple[s] more lodged in the same house, who were not husband and wife; one of which, had a wife at home at her father's house at the same time. He tarried at this house of ill fame four nights, and came away innocent; took another young man with him and went back to Cochran. They both asked for their dismission, which was granted. Cochran told one of the young, [deleted, orig. MS: the man who went with him], that he would keep his secret; but for the other, God Almighty would never let him rest, until he had brought him out. This proved true: for the same young man never found any peace in his mind, until he had violated his pretended oath, and publicly and




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heartily confessed his wrong, and brought out the bad conduct he knew.

I have had the privilege of reading the depositions taken at his examinations in Saco. I candidly acknowledge to the public they are [deleted, orig. MS: too bad for me to lay before the public] so obscene, disgusting, and scandalous, I cannot, I will not, prostitute my pen, to write them; nor offend the eyes and ears of the public, to read and hear them. But having in some measure discharged my duty, in a religious point of view, I leave him in the hands of the magistrates, and let them publish their own documents.

Having gone through with my description of this fell disorder, I must proceed to point out in a few words, a remedy [deleted, orig. MS: for the disease]. God has, in mercy to us in this disordered world, provided a specific for every disorder of body and mind. When our bodies are disordered we apply to the most skilful physician. Eternal wisdom has provided a remedy for all the diseases of the mind. The great specific for these disorders is called, the Plant of Renown, Ezek. xxxiv. 29. Root of Jesse, Isaiah xi. 10. Tree of Life, Rev. ii. 7. &c. The Word of God points out these various disorders, and plainly points out a sufficient remedy for them. The great Physician says, look unto me and be ye saved, &c. Prayer appears to be grossly neglected among this Society. In all their meetings, which I have attended, I have not heard one petition to God, either from their ministers or people. I would advise those who have been bitten by this religious maniac, to consider that the religion of Jesus is rational, and addresed to our reasoning faculties. The doctrine which Christ and his Appostles inculcated, is consistent [deleted, orig. MS: reasonable]; it [deleted, orig. MS: points us to repent of our sins] inculcates repentance, and holds up Christ as the only leader to his people, and commands and exhorts us to hear him in all things. Your base leader has told you, that himself is that prophet, that Moses and the Apostles said was to be heard in all things. This makes him a false Apostle. Strive to come to a serious consideration. Thus saith Lord, consider your ways. See the abominations depicted in this pamphlet, which you may be soon led into, in their full extent, if you have not already, if you do not stop




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and think. I know the awful crimes above described, are hidden from many of you: but they are among you. Let me therefore say to you in the language of inspiration, "come ye out from among them, and be ye seperate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will recieve you. &c. You may find the charater of your leaders plainly described by Peter, 2d Epistle, 2d chapter, and by the Apostle Jude which chapters I advise you to read and weigh the contents in your mind candidly. Admit nothing for religion which will not compare with God's holy word and spirit. Let the example of Elder John Boothby, and others who have been preachers in your society, excite your imitation. -- When they saw where this impostor was about to lead them, they publicly renounced any further communication or correspondence with him, and are now preaching against such wicked conduct and inviting others to repent and turn to the Lord.

I close with a short Address to the Author of this Hersey.

DELUDED MAN:

While I was in the town of Saco, I found a scurrilous production bearing your signature, and adressed to me, in the form of an open letter, lodged in the house of an acquaintance; in which the terms "impudent scoundrel," "servant of the Devil and Pluto," "fornicator," "liar," and "excomunicated person" are ascribed or appropriated to me. I did not expect any thing better than such epithets, from you and your adherents, while exposing your wickedess. And should have passed it by in silent contempt, had it not been that you have nearly two hundred persons, in different towns, in this district now under your control; who believe every thing you do and say is right, and pay homage to you. There are the scattered remains of the "more than two thousand" you so latly boasted of, and I think the greater pity you have any. But I will inform them that I was incorporated in a religious society in June, 1790: the records of our General Court will prove this fact. I was admitted a member of the Church of under the same incorporation, and to which I now belong, in Nov. 1792, as the Church records in the town of New Gloucester will testify. My certificate of ordination, signed by ministers of respectabillity, will prove that I was ordained to the work of the gospel ministry, in the month of November, 1798. Since which, I have sufficient documents to prove, that I have baptised one thousand and sixty-eight persons, the last of them the winter past. I also hold up the certificates of the Clerks of the Church and Society to which I belong, to prove that I have been, and still am, in regular standing in said church and society from the time first mentioned to the present date, your base insinuations [deleted, orig. MS: in your letter] to the contrary notwithstanding.
                                          EPHRAIM STINCHFIELD. New Gloucester, April 1819.




- 1819 -



Stinchfield's second edition








Cochranism  Delineated:


OR,  A


DESCRIPTION OF, AND SPECIFIC

FOR  A


RELIGIOUS HYDROPHOBIA,

Which has spread, and is still spreading, in a

number of Towns in the Counties of

YORK AND CUMBERLAND:

DISTRICT  OF  MAINE.




BY  A  WATCHMAN.




For this hath the Lord said unto me, Go set a watchman
let him declare what he seeth. -- Isaiah.






BOSTON:
PRINTED FOR N. COVERLY.
Milk-Street.
1819.





[ 3 ]





COCHRANISM  DELINEATED.



While passing through the town of Scarborough, in the month of February, 1817, I called at a private house of my acquaintance, for refreshment; who soon informed me of a stranger, who had lately moved into the neighborhood, by the name of JACOB COCHRAN, who called himself a preacher; that he had lately moved his family into the place, from Conway, in the State of New-Hampshire; that he belonged to no religious society; that he was ordained by private bretheren; that he made uncommonly high pretentions of a miraculous power vested in him, equal, if not superior to the apostolic; that the religious people in that vicinity, and many others, esteemed him very highly, &c. Having had an oppertunity of travelling through several of the States, and perhaps through every county, and most of the towns in the District of Maine, and made many observations on quackery of various kinds, particularly





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religious deception -- the report I received from this family respecting Cochran, sounded like that of an impostor or religious juggler.

Expecting to make but a short stay with this apparenty pious family, I endeavoured to give them the most prominent features of an impostor, as laid down in the Bible, and from my own observation. I was then about to take my leave of them, when they informed me this same singular man was expected to preach at their house the following evening. They urged me hard to tarry and hear him; I at length consented. When the evening came, the people assembled. Cochran asked me to preach. I declined alleging I came to hear. I heard him through. The people applauded what he said, by Amens and shouts, though nothing indecorous appeared. I gave the people a short exhortation, which seemed much to his mortification; but he kept resentment to himself, till after I had left the place. I still retained my suspicion that he was an impostor; left my advice with the family not to take him into too near a connexion, till they were better acquainted with him, which advice they received kindly, and have never forgotten.

I heard no more from this stranger, until the summer following [1817] when a report was in circulation, that large numbers (some said more than one thousand) had been converted under his ministry. As I was passing through Kennebunk, in the winter of 1818, I was informed by an aquaintance, that the reformation, under the said Cochran, was marvelous -- such as was never known in those





5


parts before. He stated, that by only laying his hand on a person's head, he would imediately fall to the floor, cry out in great distress; and after continuing in that frame for a short time, he would then be delivered from that distress, and shout, Glory, &c. That a few evenings before, he had laid his hands on twelve persons, who were all converted before the meeting closed. After giving me this information, he asked me if I ever saw him, and what I thought of him? I answered his questions very freely and plainly. He said he hoped I was mistaken, or would be a false prophet.

Hearing of this new sect in Portland, where their riotous proceedings in their assemblies made such disturbances, that two of their preachers were arrested by the civil magistrates, and committed to the common gaol, or house of correction; and having been an eye witness to some of their iregularities in their meetings -- the high prententions and haughtiness of their public exhorters, &c. I was confirmed in my mind, that they were not the ministers and followers of Christ, notwithstanding the good words and fair speeches. The persons committed to the house of correction, before mentioned, as disturbers of the peace, after they had been kept about there about fourteen days, appeared sensible, in some good degree, of the impropriety of their past conduct, and were dismissed from their confinement. One of them appeared measurably cured of this evil disease, and like an honest man, is endeavoring to persuade others to apply to the great Physician, to obtain a cure for the malady. The other returned, or went to his own company,





6


where he still continues; so it is evident the prison is not a certain cure.

The latter part of February last, I was credibly informed, that Jacob Cochran had been examined before a Justice's court, in the town of Saco, on the allegation of certain high crimes and misdemeanors, and on sundry complaints prefered agaist him; that the testimonies of the witnesses were such that the court had laid him under bonds, on one complaint, in the sum of 800 dollars; and on another, in the sum of 1000 dollars, for his appearance at the Supreme Court; to be holden in the county of York, in May next.

Subsequently to the foregoing, as I was passing through Kennebunk, and hearing of a meeting of this society, I thought I would once more go and hear for myself. On entering the house where the meeting was held, I found the people principally standing, the room not being provided with seats. I however found a seat, and sat down to watch their motions. They soon struck or commenced a lively tune, accompanied with words, while some fell to dancing and jumping. Others shouted Amen, or Glory to God, and Glory to Jesus! The jumping, dancing, singing, and shouting, however it might seem to those engaged in such exercises, was an awful jargon to me. After this exercise had thus continued, till they were nearly out of breath, they would rest a few minutes, and then renew the same exercise with more vehemence than at first and at the close of every singing and dancing exercise, they would set up a general shout, which I doubt not might be heard miles.





7


After their meeting was over, I retired and spent the rest of the evening with six of this society, one of whom called himself an ordained minister. I had now, for the first time, an opportunity of inquiring into their distinguishing peculiar tenets. They, like all other enthusiasts, pretended to a light superior to that of any other religious society, since the Apostles; and the power of healing the sick, raising the dead, and casting out devil -- all of which, they said, had been literally performed among them. Extraordinary dreams and visions, they asserted, had been experienced, and wonders wrought. They had private, sometimes dark, meetings; in which none, but such as were bound by oath, to the most inviolable secrecy, not to divulge what was transacted in the meeting, upon penalty of eternal damnation, or of having their names blotted out of the book of life, were admitted. That each brother and sister in this fraternity has a spiritual husband, wife, mate, or yoke fellow, such as they choose, or their leaders choose for them. These spiritual mates, dissolve, or disannul, all former marriage connexions; and many of them bed and board together, to the exclusion of all former vows. Such conduct as this, had not become general, and many would deny that such things existed among them, though proved by the most solemn declarations of persons of undoubted veracity. I had, before I left this place, such a discovery of the mystery of iniquity, working to the subverson of all social ties, between husband and wife, parents and children, rulers and ruled, ministers and people; the rising generation corrupted by the introduction of such vicious practices, under a cloak of religion, that





8


it seemed as if I should be constrained to run from house to house, and cry day and night, against the abomination that maketh desolate.

When I arrived at the upper towns in the county of York, I found the dreadful hydrophobia spreading, with all its dire effects -- children denouncing imprecations against parents; members of churches against their pastors; neighbors against one another, &c. Those who join, and become members of this brotherhood, must renounce every natural connexion, and be exclusively under the control of their enthusastic leaders; who, while they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption; for, of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought into bondage. And thus while they make so great a cry and show of liberty, any discerning person who is acquainted with their extravagant demeanor may perceive, that they have only substituted the word liberty, for that of licentiousness, which they indulge in the most indecorous and sensual gratifications. I inquired in my mind, where are the watchmen of the various denominations in this region, that they are not using every effort to detect, oppose, and publish to the world, this gross deception? I felt my own weakness; I knew my abilities and acquirements were small, and my talents inadequate to the task; but I said, I will do what I can, to expose the deception, if I die in the cause. I am nearly three-score years old, and my life of but little consequence. If I lose it in attempting to expose and extirpate from the District of Maine, and from the world, one of the most scandalous frauds ever imposed on any people,





9


under the name of religion, I said, I will venture my life and my all. To this end, I ventured alone, into that part of t he town of Saco, which I understood was the seat of the beast, or near where Cochran kept his brothel. I inquired of his near neighbors, for his character, as a citizen. They informed me he was a man who could not be depended on, in the common affairs of life, and one who paid no regard to his promises; -- that he was often seen, if not in liquor, with a great quantity of liquor in him. In short, a more more ridiculous character I never heard delineated in the course of my life.

I enquired concerning the report gone abroad as to his being an instrument of the reformation said to be among them. They all agreed there had been a good work, in this and the neighboring towns, on both sides Saco River; but that Jacob Cochran, was so far from being an instrument of any good, he was the greatest hindrance it had met with. They considered him as creeping into the work, like those mentioned by Peter and Jude; or like those false apostles, deceitful workers, mentioned by Paul, transforming themselves into the ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their work. His proceedings in the course of this work, as described to me by persons of undoubted veracity, who attended the meetings all the way through, bear ample testimony to the truth of these statements, and corroborate the impressions on the mind thus excited.

He has a variety of singular movements in his public meetings, to arrest the attention and gain





10


proselytes. Sometimes by laying his hand on a person's head, and extending his other hand and arm in an opposite direction; making a most horrid screaming in the ear; uttering the most dreadful imprecations, and predicting the awful day of judgment at hand. Sometimes shaking his fists near a person's face, and trembling himself, as if under some violent agitation or convulsion, and threatening immediate death and damnation. In this manner, persons would be frightened, or by some other means, persons thus operated upon, would fall to the floor or ground, and often be constrained to lick up the dust at his feet; and would not be delivered from the violent commotions and contorations they were in, until they were in a disposition to yield themselves entirely to his control. When they have passed through these powerful and apparently distressing operations, they are said to have passed through the strait gate, or to be baptized with the Holy Ghost and fire; and are fit tools to be sent abroad, to propagate his doctrine, and make proselytes to his erroneous principles.

Nearly all his new operations and exercises are carefully predicted or foretold, by this arch deceiver, by which his stupid followers are made acquainted with them, before they come to pass. At one time, a cry is uttered by him, or some other in his assemblies, in the language of the angel in the Revelation, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap, for harvest of the earth is ripe. A number, in the assembly, will then be thrown into the greatest agitations; a violent exertion of the arms and body, for a long time together, takes place.





11


These are called reapers, and the operation, reaping. To other violent motions of the arms and body, they give the appellation of winnowing, and separating the chaff from the wheat: another they call, gathering and burning the chaff.

Cochran pretends to have the power of life and death in his hands, and frightens his pupils into a compliance with any of his injunctions, by threatening to stop their breath in a moment; by which means he takes females from their parents, and carries them to his brothel. He declares that he has the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and pretends to open it for, or shut it against, whom he sees fit, by stretching out, and making a violent twist with his arm, one way or the other.

He has introduced among his followers a feast, which he calls the passover, at which they all partake, at one table, provided for the purpose, at which, large quantities of mutton, lamb, bread and wine, &c. are expended. At this feast, he has a method of marching in a double file, consisting of a male and female, as far as the number of the males will admit, or hold out. But they pretend to have seven women to one man, in the society, alluding, as they told me, to a prophecy, in Isaiah -- On that day, shall seven women take hold of one man, &c. -- In these marches, they are instructed to step by the music, as they expect soon to carry a steel sword, and walk over dead bodies.

It seems their favorite amusement in this marching exercise, is a military movement, called whipping the snake. Cochran, with a favourite Miss, I understand, generally takes the lead in this marching





12


business; and one of his foremost or most favored ministers, with another Miss, brings up the rear.

Much of his marching has been carried on at, and each way from, his dwelling-house, in Saco, which is on the road leading from Saco falls to Buxton corner. This house I have never seen; but it has been described to me by those who have seen it, as a gloomy, dreary mansion, provided wholly with wooden shutters on the outside, the better to conceal, no doubt, the works of darkness practised within its walls.

The general family consists of twelve females, besides those who visit the house occasionally. Some of these are widows, who, with the rest of the females, have surrendered their persons, character and property into the common stock; and remain in this place, as those declare who have left them, destitute, to all appearance, of any profitable business; and are, most of them, forbidden to labor with their hands for a living; and intend, as I was informed in the neighborhood, that the wicked shall maintain them. Though I believe it generally thought they will be hungry soon; as the property which has been obtained by this religious fraud is nearly spent; and not much prospect in his realizing his original purpose of having all things common, for any considerable time to come.

Cochran, and his deluded followers, have predicted the approach of bloody scenes, and the day





13


of judgment to be near at hand. He has described the length of a steel sword (which each of his followers will have to carry in their hands) by the length of his own arm. It is not doubted, by those who have heard his boasting, that he expects to have the United States, the present season, under his control! Tells of more than two thousand people, now under him, ready to stand between him and the mouths of cannon. Boasts of what immense sums of money he can raise at the shortest notice. And it really appears, as though he looks forward to universal dominion.

Those, who are in close communion with him, are bound to obey him, without gainsaying; and this will account for his ruining the character of so many innocent females.

Having obtained this intelligence, and much more, I collected as many of the people in the vicinity, as were disposed to meet, on the first day of April, 1819 it being the day of our annual state fast. As a watchman, I endeavored to declare what I saw. Without any farther acquaintance with them, I went home to N. Gloucester. But the case of these deluded people lay with such weight on my mind, as to render me unfit for any employment. I then procured the company of a pious young man, belonging to Gray, and returned to Saco within a week from the time I left it. We went to one of their meetings on Saturday evening. It was in unison with the one I described in Kennebunk, excepting the dancing. I said nothing until their meeting was over. I then





14


told them, it was commonly reported, there was fornication among them; that there [sic - their?] glorying was not good; that their leader was counted an abominable whoremonger; and unless they renounced his society, I was bound to consider them as one lump, nothwithstanding all their glorying; according to the saying of Paul, in a like case, a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.

The next day, being the Lord's day, I went to their meeting. It was conducted much like the one at Kennebunk; only they had one of Jacob's foremost preachers who undertook to preach. His discourse was a mass of incoherent, indigested stuff, which I could not receive; though it was received by his society with shouts of applause, more like the howling of dogs and wolves, than the worship of a Christian society. About the middle of the day, when there was a little cessation of their noise, I rose: I told them I did not mean ever to interrupt any religious society, nor speak in any man's house without liberty. If their meeting was over, I wished to make a few observations. They were silent. I said I professed to be a watchman, as every Christian ought to be. Christ has said to his apostles, what I say unto you I say unto all, watch. This made all his followers watchmen. As a watchman, I wished to have the privilege to declare what I saw, in that house, if there was liberty, or in any other place in the neighbourhood, where there was liberty. The pretended minister asked me if I was called of God? I think so. Have you a particular message to this people? I have. He replied,





15


go on. I stated to them, it is likely it will take up an hour, or more, to declare what I see. Can I have so much time, without interruption? This could not be granted by the minister, nor owner of the house. A brother in the meeting said his house was free. I then appointed a meeting at two o'clock, and withdrew. Cochran's minister appointed one at three o'clock, and drew off the greatest part of his society with him. The rest heard with candor and, I thought, believed the report.

After attending five more meetings among them in different places, and hearing of another considerable society of the same class, in the town of Arundel, on the west side of Saco river, we went to visit them, and called at a private house in the neigbourhood of the society; inquired after the leading, or most inteligent men among them; hoping, if we convinced any of that description, they might be useful in convincing or undeceiving their neighbors. Having obtained the necessary information as to this particular, we were directed to the house of one of the society who was reputed to answer the above description. The landlady, his wife, met me as soon as I entered the room, and wished to know whether I had the courage to kiss her. I declined, and took a seat, for which she called me a coward. I Soon began to introduce my business, and laid open to him, and his neighbors of the same order, who soon gathered in, what I had discovered among them, which was passing for religion. But before I got more than half through with what I had to say, the man interrupted me, and wished to hear no





16


more. And as I did not wish to be rude in his house, I waved the conversation for that evening, and tarried with him all night. Being invited to breakfast, by one of his neighbors the evening before; in the morning the man went with me to the house. As soon as we were seated, I told him I considered myself now on equal ground with him, being in another man's house, and wished him to hear me. He consented. I proceeded -- you doated much on your honesty last evening; but I tell you I believe you to be a deceitful, dishonest man. I understand you have been a traveller and propagator of Cochran's sentiments: if so, you know what I told you to be true. You charged me in your house, before your family and neighbors, with retailing lies. I again made a fair statement of Cochran's conduct. He denied it again and again; left me, and went to his own house. I took breakfast where I was, and soon followed him home, and asked leave to clear my mind in his family, which was large, and appeared to be deeply affected with the dreadful contagion of this religious hydrophobia; some of the effects of which I expected to have to experience, if I cleared my mind. He consented I should do my duty. I then began the subject, where I left it the other evening; and opened, as plain as I could, the whole mystery of iniquity. The effect was powerful on him and his family; he looked more like a demon, than a disciple of Christ. His two arms, trembling, were stretched towards my face; his two large fists clenched. Loud vociferations of lie, and liar, came from different parts of the room, from the mouths of his unmannerly children. And when he cried to his God for a sword,





17


with his fists so near my face, his wife shouted a loud Amen. After the family had vented their spleen, in as full a manner as they dared, I asked them to look over their conduct with candor, and examine treatment they had given me; whether it looked like Christian treatment. I promised him better usage, if they would make me a visit; told them I came from pure motives, to visit and warn them of the the danger that awaited them; they would one day find out the truth of what I told them; and that they would be sorry for the abuse they had given me. I invited the man to ride abroad with me, and visit some of his brethren, which he consented to do, and ordered his horse. He rode with me and my companion, and spent that day in visiting from house to house; and spent the evening with us, in a public meeting, which appeared to have a good effect on the minds of many.

The treatment which I received from this man and his family, several of whom gave me the lie direct, after I left the house; but who would, I doubt not, on most other occasions, have used me kindly; caused me after I was gine in the language of the prophet, to cry with tears, woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife.

The different conduct of this family, as above stated, may look mysterious to some. I account for it in this way: when they acted themselves, or as rational men and women, free from the influence of prejudice and jealousies, they were kind and hospitable. But when under the operation of





18


their religious phrenzy, they conducted unreasonably to say the least. The man before I parted with him, seemed willing to take advice, and promised to dig a little deeper than he had done.

I returned again to Buxton and Saco; but wherever I turned, I thought I could discern greater and greater abominations. I learnt that Cochran, among other things, pretends to understand masonry; and to some peculiar favorites, it is said, he reveals the secret; but what it is, I was not informed. One of the pretended signs of this kind, was the male and female putting their thumbs and fore-fingers together in form of a triangle, and kissing through them. Two young men informed, they saw Cochran take a young woman, into a dark private room, stay a considerable time; and then come out with her. He asked her if she did not see things different from what she did before? Asked her if the fire did not look different? She asked him why he wished her to say so? He said, to increase the faith of the others. She at length, after much urging, said the fire looked different. He then took another female into the same room, after the same manner, and then another. He then told the remainder of the society they must not be tried with him; for those who were not tried with him, he should love the better; and those who were tried, must never tell of it.

Another young man, in presence of Judge Woodman, of Buxton, and myself, and several others, declared, that when he was admitted a





19


member of Cochran's fraternity, he had to hold a Bible in his hand, while Cochran administered a solemn oath, or what was called so. The amount of which was, that if ever he divulged what took place in their private meetings, his name was to be blotted out of the book of life, and he suffer eternal damnation. He then pointed to, and named this young man's spiritual wife, and said he was willing they should lodge together, which they did, a number of nights, though he declared himself inocent of any sinful conduct. He testified, that Jacob Cochran lodged two nights, to his certain knowledge, while he was there, with a woman not his wife. Five couple[s] more lodged in the same house, who were not husband and wife; one of which, had a wife at home at her father's house at the same time. He tarried at this house of ill-fame four nights, and came away innocent; took another young man with him and went back to Cochran. They both asked for their dismission, which was granted. Cochran told one of the young men, he would keep his secret; but for the other, God Almighty would never let him rest, until he had brought him out. This proved true; for the same young man never found any peace in his mind, until he had violated his pretended oath, and publicly and heartily confessed his wrong, and brought out the bad conduct he knew.

I have had the privilege of reading the depositions taken at his examinations in Saco. I candidly acknowledge to the public they are so obscene, disgusting, and scandalous, I cannot, I will not, prostitute my pen, to write them; nor offend the





20


eyes and ears of the public, to read and hear them. But having in some measure discharged my duty, in a religious point of view, I leave him in the hands of the magistrates, and let them publish their own documents.

Having gone through with my description of this fell disorder, I must proceed to point out in a few words, a remedy. God has, in mercy to us in this disordered world, provided a specific for every disorder of body and mind. When our bodies are disordered, we apply to the most skilful physician. Eternal wisdom has provided a remedy for all the diseases of the mind. The great specific for these disorders is called the Plant of Renown, Ezek. xxxiv. 29. Root of Jesse, Isaiah xi. 10. Tree of Life, Rev. ii. 7. &c. The Word of God points out these various disorders, and plainly points out a sufficient remedy for them. The great Physician says, look unto me, and be ye saved, &c. Prayer appears to be grossly neglected among this Society. In all their meetings, which I have attended, I have not heard one petition to God, either from their ministers or people. I would advise those who have been bitten by this religious maniac, to consider that the religion of Jesus is rational, and addresed to our reasoning faculties. The doctrine which Christ and his Apostles inculcated, is consistent; it inculcates repentance, and holds up Christ as the only leader to his people, and commands and exhorts us to hear him in all things. Your base leader has told you, that himself is that prophet, that Moses and the Apostles said was to be heard in all things. This makes him a false Apostle. Strive to come





21


to a serious consideration. Thus saith Lord, consider your ways. See the abominations depicted in this pamphlet, which you may be soon led into, in their full extent, if you have not already, if you do not stop and think. I know the awful crimes above described, are hidden from many of you; but they are among you. Let me therefore say to you in the language of inspiration, "come ye out from among them, and be ye seperate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, & I will recieve you, &c. You may find the character of your leaders plainly described by Peter, 2d Epistle, 2d chapter, and by the Apostle Jude which chapters I advise you to read and weigh the contents in your mind candidly. Admit nothing for religion which will not compare with God's holy word and spirit. Let the example of Elder John Boothby, and others who have been preachers in your society, excite your imitation. -- When they saw where this impostor was about to lead them, they publicly renounced any further communication or correspondence with him, and are now preaching against such wicked conduct, and inviting others to repent and turn to the Lord.


I close with a short Address to the Author of this Heresy.

DELUDED MAN!

While I was in the town of Saco, I found a scurrilous production, bearing your signature, and adressed to me, in the form of an open letter, lodged in the house of an acquaintance; in which the terms "impudent scoundrel," "servant of the Devil and Pluto," "fornicator," "liar," and "excomunicated person" are ascribed





22


or appropriated to me. I did not expect any thing better than such epithets, from you and your adherents, while exposing your wickedess. And should have passed it by in silent contempt, had it not been that you have nearly two hundred persons, in different towns, in this district now under your control; who believe every thing you do and say, is right, and pay homage to you. There are the scattered remains of the "more than two thousand" you so lately boasted of, and I think the greater pity you have any. But I will inform them that I was incorporated in a religious society, in June, 1790; the records of our General Court will prove this fact. I was admitted a member of the Church under the same incorporation, and to which I now belong, in Nov. 1792, as the Church records in the town of New Gloucester will testify. My certificate of ordination, signed by ministers of respectability, will prove that I was ordained to the work of the gospel ministry, in the month of November, 1798. Since which, I have sufficient documents to prove, that I have baptized one thousand and sixty-eight persons, the last of them the winter past. I also hold up the certificates of the clerks of the Church and Society to which I belong, to prove, that I have been, and still am, in regular standing in said Church and Society from the time first mentioned to the present date, your base insinuations to the contrary notwithstanding.
EPHRAIM STINCHFIELD.    
New Gloucester, April 1819.









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A Word of Advice

To those who do not take the trouble to examine things for themselves, but suffer their minds to be deluded by "Wolves in Sheeps clothing," and thus become the dupes of villany. These few lines are occasioned reading the foregoing pages; and it is hoped that they will be considered as a humble, but sincere warning against false teachers. The case of COCHRAN, ought to put the unwary on their guard, how they receive such abandoned hypocrites to their confidence. -- The LOrd has seldom, if ever, shine upon a more mischievous character than him who practices villany under the cloak of piety.


LINES.

Ye who would seek Religion's power,
  To soothe the woes of life,
Beware, lest in an evil hour,
  You find a deadly strife.

A man may smile and look serene,
  And still his heart be foul,
The word of Heaven be on his lips,
  But malice in his soul.

He may proclaim a Saviour's love,
  And tell of joys to come,
Point to the realms of bliss above,
  When hell may be his home.

If Heaven has a curse in store,
  For those who mock its grace,
Sure the False Teacher can't but feel
  That justice will take place.





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If Conscience in her awful task,
  Is to his errors true,
The hypocrite she'll surely scourge,
  And give him all his due.

Then do not trust your faith and hope,
  To every specious show,
Man is but best a being weak,
  The child of sin and woe.

[--col] to the life of him whose care
  You seek to guide your ways,
So shall you 'scape full many a snare,
  And render God the praise.

Read but the pages of this book,
  What deeds one man has done!
But thanks to Heaven, we humbly trust
  His wicked course is run.

Numbers have op'd their sleeping eyes,
  Justice has rais'd her sword --
The miscreant trembles, and he flees,
  Nor has one fav'ring word.

For teachers wise, trust in the Lord,
  And at the proper day,
He'll send his ministers to you,
  To show the righteous way.






- 1819 -




Gamaliel E. Smith's Report...


 




R E P O R T

OF  THE


T R I A L

OF

JACOB  COCHRANE,

ON

SUNDRY  CHARGES  OF  ADULTERY,

AND

LEWD  AND  LASCIVIOUS  CONDUCT,

BEFORE

THE  SUPREME  JUDICIAL  COURT.



BEGUN AND HOLDEN AT YORK, WITHIN AND FOR THE COUNTY
OF YORK, IN THE COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS,
ON THE THIRD TUESDAY OF MAY, 1819.



BY GAMALIEL E. SMITH, Esq.






KENNEBUNK.
PRINTED BY JAMES K. REMICH.
1819.






[ 3 ]



DISTRICT OF MAINE, SS.

Be it remembered, that on this thirteenth day of July, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and nineteen, and the forty-fourth year of the Independence of the United States of America, James K. Remich, of the District of Maine, has deposited in this Office, the title of a book, the right whereof he claims as proprietor in the words following: viz.

"REPORT of the TRIAL of JACOB COCHRANE, on sundry charges of ADULTERY, AND LEWD AND LASCIVIOUS CONDUCT. Before The Supreme Judicial Court, begun and holden at York, within and for the County of York, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, on the third Tuesday of May, 1819 -- By GAMALIEL E. SMITH, Esq. -- Kennebunk, printed by James K. Remich, 1819."

In conformity to the Act of the Congress of the United States, entitled maps, charts, and books to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned." And also to an Act entitled An Act supplementary to an Act entitled an Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned; and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving and etching historical and other prints."
JOHN MUSSEY, Jun. Clerk of the      
District Court, Maine.
   
A true copy of record,
  Attst -- JOHN MUSSEY, Jun.
                  Clerk D. C. Maine.









[ 4 ]



ADVERTISEMENT.



The following trials, we are persuaded, cannot be otherwise than interesting to any person who feels an interest in the prosperity, success, and exertions of those, whose labours are directed to the establishment of habits of order and sobriety.

The defendant who has excited so much curiosity, first made his appearance in the County of York, some time in the autumn of the year 1816. His pretentions were superior -- His ministration peculiar, which was titally different from any hitherto maintained. He was uncommonly enthusiastic. Whether he was an impostor or a man of true piety the reporter does not undertake to decide; but leaves the public to form their own opinion, from the circumstances unfolded in his trail.

In the month of February last, Mr. Cochrane, was brought before Mr. Justice Granger, at Saco on a complaint for open and gross lewdness, lascivious behaviour, and adultery, filed against him, by Mr. Ichabod Jordan; and satisfactory evidence of his guilt being adduced, he was recognized in the sum of eighteen hundred dollars, to appear before the Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court at York, on the third Tuesday of May following.

The reporter being present at the commencement of the trial, was solicited by a gentleman to take a sketch of it, which is here offered to the public. The embarrassments however, to which he was subjected, rendered it impossible to give a full detail. The testimony of the witnesses is a full as could be obtained; but the leading traits of the arguments only are inserted.

Designing enthusiasts may represent an exposition of their vices, to be persecution. But it is far from the intention of the reporter, to attempt to violate the rights of any religious denomination, in offering this to the public.
THE REPORTER.    





[ 5 ]



PROCEEDINGS.

ON

THE TRIAL

OF


JACOB COCHRANE.




At the Supreme Judicial Court, begun and holden at York, within and for the country of York, on the third Tuesday of May, 1819, Jacob Cochrane was arraigned on five several indictments for adultery and open and gross lewdness. To each of which he pleaded not guilty. On Thursday the third day of the sitting of the court, he was put upon his trial on one of the indictments, in which he was charged with open and gross lewdness and lascivious behaviour with one Eliza Hill, on the twenty-fifth day of December, 1818.

Counsel on the part of the Commonwealth -- Hon. Daniel Davis, Solicitor General.

For the Defendant, Messrs. John Holmes, and Geo. W. Wallingford.

The Jury having been impannelled, the Solicitor General stated the nature of the crime with which the defendant was accused as being of an atrocious nature. That it was in violation of the positive laws of this state, as well as subversive of the wholesome rules of modesty and of good manners, and that a due regard for the good of society could not fail to render it detestable.

The prisoner, said the Solicitor General, was a stranger who had recently made his appearance in the





6


county of York, as the founder of a new sect of Christians. What his character was prior to coming into this county, he knew not; nor was it, perhaps, material or proper to enquire, in the investigation now before the court. But from the facts in the case, it would appear that he had presumed to perform the duties of a religious teacher, and has not been unsuccessful in seducing numbers of innocent people who have had the credulity to believe him capable of working miracles. Many under this impression have flocked to his standard and become victims to the contagion. That the proof, so far from confirming his claims to the character of a religious teacher, will show that he has been a disgrace to the character of a teacher of morality or piety -- That he has been the founder of a society for the establishment of prostitution and debauchery, and that his conduct resulted from the principles of the society.

One rule, said the Solicitor General, of the society, of which Cochrane is the father, is the prohibition of marriage, an institution of divine origin. But he being the founder of the institution, has been regarded by his followers as a divine character, and they by having their minds beclouded by fanatacism, or governed by an inclination correspondent to his own, have arrayed themselves against every principle of morality, and thereby levelled the ax at the very root of the tree.

Whether the defendant claims the character of a christian, continued the Solicitor, I know not -- if he does, it is a gross violation of their principles, and his conduct diametrically opposite to the rules laid down by the founder of Christianity, who smiled upon the institution of marriage, and sanctioned it with his presence.

Witnesses on behalf of the Commonwealth.

ABIGAIL BOND, testified.

That on the sixth of December last, she went to Mr. Cochrane's house in Saco, at about nine o'clock in the morning -- Cochrane came out of a back room, and said Eliza Hill was sick, and wished for all





7


(about twenty) to pray for her -- He went to Eliza's bed and got into bed with her, and the others began praying.

Q. Did you see Cochrane undress himself except his linen and go into the bed, and afterwards conduct in an indecent manner.
A. I saw him undress except his linen and go into the bed, and he put his arm round Eliza Hill, and then told the others to pray. They laid in bed about an hour, then Eliza began to praize the Lord, and both got up and walked about almost naked. He took hold of her hand and led her into another room, and came out and said Eliza Hill had taken cold by sleeping alone, and some of the brethren must go in and lodge with her. Benjamin Andrews went in and laid with her, afterwards coming out, said the dead had been raised.

Questions by defendants Counsel.

What tine in the morning was you at this house?
A. About nine o'clock.

Q. How came you there?
A. I thought there was to be a meeting when I went there, and after going into the house, the doors were closed (or locked.)

Q. Was Eliza Hill sick?
A. No not to my knowledge, she seemed to look as well as ever.

Q. Who was at the house when you was there?
A. Dorcas Underwood, Benjamin Andrews and others.

Q. How long was Mr. Cochrane in bed with Eliza Hill?
A. About two hours.

Q. Was any one with them?
A. Yes, Sally Dennett was with them.

By Solicitor General.

Q. Have you ever been threatened if you related what you saw and heard at the house?
A. No. Mr. Cochrane said if I told what I saw, my name would be blotted out of the Lamb's Book of Life.

Q. Did you belong to the society, and did you leave it in consequence of what you saw?
A. I did belong to the society, and left it because I thought their conduct was not right.

Here the Solicitor General left the cause.

MR. WALLINGFORD, opened the defence on the part of the Prisoner.

He remarked, that he was unexpectedly called on to appear as counsel in the cause, that it was extremely unfortunate for the defendant, that neither of his counsel had had the necessary time to investigate the cause. That the charges against the prisoner were of an aggravated





8


nature, and deeply affected the morals of society, and that to him the issue was all important, as upon it depended his future hopes and prospects in life. He stated to the jury, that they would recollect that the defendant was to be tried upon the evidence in the case, and not by the many stories and vague reports which had been put in circulation, and upon which the public mind had already pronounced the guilt of his client.

He said that from the little time which had been afforded his counsel to examine and ascertain the evidence for the defendant, he could not state it with precision; but he expected to prove to the satisfaction of the court and jury, by the testimony of a number of witnesses, whose characters were fair and unimpeachable, that the story of the witness, called by the Solicitor General, was not entitled to credit, as other persons, by-standers at the time mentioned by Abigail Bond, saw nothing of a lewd or unchaste conduct on the part of the defendant. And that at the time refered to by Abigail Bond, Eliza Hill was in a feble state of health and had, by her parents been placed under the care of Cochrane, as a physician, and that the night previous to this, she had lain in a truckle bed at the foot of the one in which the defendant and his wife had slept, for the purpose of being attended to, should she be taken unwell during the night -- That one of the family went into the room early in the morning and looked at the bed in which Eliza Hill had slept, saw blood on her face and on the bed, and that the person alarmed the defendant, who jumped out of bed, and with the aid of the other person, took her from the bed in which she was, and put her in his own, and requested his wife to lay close, to warm her -- That he treated her with all the care, attention and tenderness of a physician, and which becomes people of humanity and those duly impressed with religious sentiments. That whatever might be the peculiarity of the defendants tenets in religion, he had the right to teach and inculcate them, provided he nor his disciples did not





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disturb others in the exercise and enjoyment of their devotions, and provided they were not subversive of the morals of society.

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SECOND TRIAL

OF

JACOB  COCHRANE.

_________

The second Jury being called, and none of them being challenged, the charges in the second bill of indictment against JACOB COCHRANE, were read, viz. For lying in bed with Abigail Clark, a married woman, and committing adultery, lewdness, &c. with said Abigail Clark, on the sixth and tenth days of July last.

The Solicitor General opened the Cause to the Court and Jury, saying the offences were atrocious crimes, and the Jury would be authorized to convict on all, or either of them

The witnesses on the part of the government were then called, sworn and examined.

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The testimony being closed, Mr. Holmes rose in defence of the prisoner.

I must confess, when I see such solicitude that a man should be found guilty, the task to argue a cause, becomes very disagreeable.

I know not why prejudices should exist, but that they do predominate over the facts which have been adduced is evident; for while the trial has been progressing in this house, the prisoner has been tried, found guilty and sentenced to the severest punishment, without.

The crime for which the prisoner at the bar stands charged, is for a violation of the principles of chastity, and decency; a violation also of the laws of God and man. The crime of adultry is, where either party being married, shall unlawfully cohabit with a person to whom he, or she is not married. Open and gross lewdness, is a breach of the same law and punished in a similar manner.

This violation was formerly punished with sitting on the gallows, with a rope about the neck, whipping, imprisonment, and bonds for good behaviour, but is now so far mitigated, that the crime is punished by solitary confinement and hard labor in the State prison.

But atrocious as the crime is, and the disapprobation which we feel at the least shadow of encouragement of such a crime; yet we believe that something more must be done on the part of the government, before you can decide that the man is guilty of the crimes for which he is arraigned.

The evidence which has been produced to convict the prisoner, is, what can be gathered from Eunice Bond and Mary King; Eunice Bond has related to you a high toned story, with little embarrassment; but I would ask whether it would appear credible or even reasonable.

She says that she was at Mr. Clark's, and Mr. Cochrane came there, and as soon as he arrived Mrs. Clark hurried her husband away, and after he had gone she went into another room with Mr. Cochrane, and was there





34


two hours, and within this time, she, of necessity, went into the room and saw them in bed together, in a very immodest posture. If this relation be true, it is shocking to humanity; But much must be done; and many stubborn facts obviated, before you can reasonably believe Euice Bond's narrative of this affair.

Next comes Polly King, and testifies with great flippancy.

Now, gentlemen, the condition in which a person is placed should always be considered; before we give too much credit to the relation. If a person is so far intoxicated with jealousy as to be incapable of dostinguishing whether a man is committing adultery with a woman, or administering comfort to the soul, any testimony from such a person would admit of many doubts.

This Polly King, having been a member of the society; and leaving it rather than submit to the order and discipline of the church, she cannot be considered a competent witness.

The Solicitor General asks triumphantly whether out witnesses belong to Cochrane's society. We say as triumphantly that the witnesses of the government were once members of his society but have become apostates.

They say, that they left the society because they were convinced of their corruption; other witnesses suggest that they left them because they could not endure reproof. Why not the latter? Mary King knew of this adultery in July, but did not leave the society till winter. -- If she had felt so conscious of their corruption she would not have tarried with them from July till winter.

You, gentlemen, have also seen Abigail Clark, the ine implicated in this charge, the wife of a sober farmer in the county. Does her countenance or deportment bespeak guilt? Notwithstanding the hue of innocence which was attached to the woman's countenance, malicious eyes were gazing on her to see something vile. Amid this scrutiny, she let fall a tear; but prudence taught her to suppress her feelings; and her deportment on the stand is sufficient to convince the basest slanderer, that this woman told the truth. She tells you of her labor, by being delivered of two still born children, and her bodily disorder at this time. I should have gone further, but the jury gave me to understand that her meaning was understood. If she is to be believed I should not consider her in a suitable situation to commit adultery.

She tells you, she never was in bed with Mr. Cochrane, and knows nothing of the man, indecent or contrary to the rules of modesty and decorum.

Mrs. Lang and Dorcas Underwood were about the house, but saw nothing imitating adultery. -- But I am willing that the testimony should be weighed, and if by that, the prisoner is found guilty, I am willing he should suffer the rigor of the law. But I believe that if any other than a Cochranite had been brought to the bar, and the charges as faintly supported as in this case, he would have been acquitted.

Dorcas Underwood has been supported by government, although an attempt was made to impeach her character. She tells that Polly King, one of the government witnesses is not a person of veracity. Notwithstanding this, she has to stand alone against the testimony of Clark and his wife. Clark is a simple honest man. But not so simple as to see a man committing adultery with his wife and not know it; and only say he felt some tried, but supposed it was the devil that troubled him, and so he must give it up: Is it possible in such a state of things, that a man should charge his own feelings with the error and let it pass. Impossible! If such had been the fact the municipal authority, is chargeable with a neglect of duty, in not placing the man under the case of a guardian





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- 1834 -



(view full text of article)

 





THE  UNITARIAN.


Vol. I.                                 Boston,  February 1, 1834.                                 No. 2.


[pg. 40]

N O T I C E S   O F   B O O K S.

__________


THE  BOOK  OF  MORMON.

An Account written by the Hand of Mormon upon Plates, taken from the Plates of Nephi. By JOSEPH SMITH, JR., Author and Proprietor.
This is the title of the volume which contains the collection of writings held sacred by the Mormonites; in other words, it is the title of the Mormon Bible. The Mormonites, as they are commonly called, or, as they call themselves, the members of the true church of Christ, -- as our readers are probably aware, are a new denomination of religionists. It is but a few years since they made their appearance in the western part of the state of New York. They have already met with some success in the spread of their opinions; and preachers of this denomination are now scattering themselves abroad over the land, labouring with much zeal to gain proselytes to their faith...



[pg. 48]

... there are, in the book itself, artful adaptations to the known prejudices of the community. And, besides, there are circumstances, in the condition and views of those among whom this faith spreads, which are calculated to secure it success. In a large portion of the community, there is a great degree of ignorance in regard to the geography of the sacred Scriptures, the manners and customs of the Jews, and the natural history of the Bible. There are many, who read their Bibles daily, and with devotional feelings it may be, who have no idea that the places mentioned in sacred history, like those mentioned in any other history, can be traced on the map, can be found and visited at the present day, although disguised under modern names. It makes no part of their study of the Bible, to ascertain where the places mentioned are to be found, and what they are now called. They have no idea that the allusions to manners and customs, found in the Bible, can be understood, through an acquaintance with the practices and habits of the people described; and, consequently, the study of Jewish manners and customs makes no part of their preparation for understanding the Scriptures. They have no idea that the allusions in Scripture to facts in natural history can be verified by an acquaintance with that science; and, consequently, they make no exertions to understand the natural history of the Bible. They do not take up the Bible and read it with the expectation of being able to understand it, even in regard to these particulars, as they would understand any other book. All such are prepared, by their very ignorance on these subjects, to become the dupes of the Mormon delusion; or, rather, they are not prepared to detect and withstand this delusion. They open the Book of Mormon. The paragraphs begin with the phrase, "And behold it came to pass." They read of the cities of Zarahemla, Gid, Mulek, Corianton, and a multitude of others. They read of prophets and preachers, of faith, repentance, and obedience; and having been accustomed, in reading the Scriptures, to take all such things just as they are presented, without careful examination, they can see no reason why all this is not as much entitled to belief, as are the records of the Old and New Testaments. But if, on the contrary, they were acquainted with the geography and the natural history of the Bible, and with the manners and customs of the nations there mentioned, and especially, if, in



[pg. 49]

their reading of the Scriptures, they were accustomed to examine carefully into these points, they would at once perceive the utter impossibility of identifying the cities mentioned in the Book of Mormon, with any geographical traces which they can now make. They would thus perceive the great chance there is for deception, and would be put on their guard. And then, too, upon further examination, they would discover that the manners and customs of the people, the sentiments and disputes, are not such as belong to the period of the world in which the people are represented to have lived, that they take their colouring from modern customs, from modern opinions and controversies; and so they would, from this knowledge, and from these habits of examination, be led to reject the whole as a delusion.

Again, there prevail, in the minds of a large portion of the community, pernicious errors in regard to the influences of the Spirit. There are those, who believe that they can certainly tell, from their own feelings at the time, when the Spirit is specially operating upon their hearts; that they can distinguish the operations of the Spirit from the workings of their own minds. There are those who believe that they can tell, from the appearance of an assembly, when the Spirit of God is specially and powerfully present in "their midst." If the speaker is more than usually earnest and fluent, they believe that the Spirit of God is present to his mind affording special assistance. If the assembly is more than usually interested, and, especially, if many are affected unto tears, they believe the Spirit of God to be powerfully operating upon the hearts of the people. The language, used by preachers and in religious periodical publications, encourages this belief. Go to the camp-meeting ground, or into a protracted meeting, and you will hear the preachers declaring that the Spirit of God is specially and powerfully present. And what is the proof? The speakers felt great freedom in laying open the truths of the gospel, and great earnestness in exhorting sinners. The people were much affected, and many were in tears. Turn to the religious periodical publications of the day, and read the accounts given of revivals. You will read, that on such an occasion, at such a meeting, the Spirit of God was visibly present. The proofs are the same as those mentioned by the preachers. Nay, more; these revivals, these special manifestations of the Spirit, are represented as proofs that the doctrines advanced at such times are the truths of the gospel, and that the measures adopted are "owned of God." The great mass of the more ignorant part of the community understand these expressions to mean what they literally purport to mean And this, as it seems to us, has given success to many of the delusions that have prevailed. It is well known to most of our readers, we presume, that, some years since, the Cochran delusion, as it is called, prevailed in and



[pg. 50]

around Saco, a village in the State of Maine. What gave that delusion success? Why, Cochran spoke with great fluency, warned sinners with great earnestness, and poured forth his prayers with great fervour. The people were much affected. Many were in tears, many were sobbing aloud, many cried out for mercy, and some were even prostrated upon the floor. "Surely, then," those under the influence of the delusion we speak of would say, "the Spirit of God was powerfully and visibly present." "Surely," they would say, "the doctrines advanced by Cochran must be true, the measures adopted by him are 'owned of God.'" So with the Mormon delusion. The preachers are fluent, they warn sinners with earnestness, they pray with fervour; the people are affected, the Spirit of God is especially powerfully, and visibly present, and, consequently, the opinions advanced must be correct, the measures adopted are "owned of God." In this way, men, of sound judgment in other respects, are carried away, through the influence of their erroneous views of the operations of the Spirit, and become the dupes of the delusion.

We here close our remarks upon the Book of Mormon and the causes of the success which has attended the Mormon delusion...




 

- 1835 -



full text at "Google Books" site

 




M A T T H I A S

AND

H I S   I M P O S T U R E S:

OR,  THE

PROGRESS  OF  FANATICISM

ILLUSTRATED  IN  THE EXTRAORDINARY CASE

OF


ROBERT  MATTHEWS,

AND  SOME  OF  HIS  FORERUNNERS  AND  DISCIPLES.



"It ill comports with the majesty of truth, or the character of God,
to believe he has built the noblest superstructure on the weakest foundation
or reduced mankind to the miserable alternative either of remaining destitute
of the knowledge of himself, or of deriving it from the polluted source of
impious imposture" -- ROBERT HALL.

BY  WILLIAM  L.  STONE.



PUBLISHED  BY  HARPER  &  BROTHERS,
NO. 82 CLIFF-STREET,
AND SOLD BY THE PRINCIPAL BOOKSELLERS THROUGHOUT THE
UNITED  STATES.


[ 1835 ]




[ 296 ]



... In our own country, the most surprising instance of imposture and delusion, perhaps, that has occurred, was that of the Cochranites, whose enormities in licentiousness made so much stir in Maine and New-Hampshire a few years since. Cochrane was an officer in the army, thrown out of commission by the reduction of the military estblishment of United States, after the conclusion of the last war with England. Having become poor and penniless, he left one of the New-England cities, Portland, if we mistake not -- and struck off into the country, seeking his fortune, and caring not whither he went. One day, as night drew on, he found himself near a farm house, weary and hungry, and without a penny to purchase a mouthful of food, or the use of a pillow for the night. The thought struck him suddenly of throwing himself upon the hospitality of the farmer for the occasion, in the character of a minister. Introducing himself as such to the family, he was gladly received; and as the country




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was new, and destitute of clergymen, the good people forthwith despatched messengers to the neighbours, that a minister had come among them, and invited them in to attend a meeting. The impostor had not anticipated so speedy a trial of his clerical character; but having assumed it, there was no escape -- he must act the part for the time being in the best way he could. Being neither ignornat nor destitute of talents, he succeeded in acquitting himslef much better than he had anticipated, and gave so much satisfaction to his audience -- not very discriminating as may well be supposed -- as to induce him to persevere in the imposture he had commenced. As he acquired skill and confidence by practice in his new vocation his popularity increased, and he soon found it a profitable occupation. He was followed by multitudes; and it was not long before he announced himself as some great one, and founded a new sect of religionists. HIs command over the audiences which he addressed is said to have been wonderful, and his influence over his followers unbounded. It seemed as though possessed some potent spell, by means of which he was enabled to hold the victims of his impostures in a state of enchantment. A clerical friend (a professor in an eastern college) has informed the writer, that having heard of the wonderful sway, which Cochrane held over his disciples, and indeed of the impressions he made upon casual hearers, he determined one evening to go and witness his performances. While present, although a very cool and grave personage, he said he felt some strange, undefinable, mysterous influence creeping over him to such a degree, that he was obliged actually to tear himself away in apprehension of the of the consequences. This gentleman, however, is a believer in animal magnetism, and is inclined to attribute the power of Cochrane to that cause. It was said that if the impostor did but touch the hand or neck of a female, his power over her person and reason was complete. The consequence, therefore, was the most open and loathsome sensuality. So atrocious was his conduct, that he seduced great numbers of females, married and unmarried, under the pretext of raising up a race of holy men. The peace of many families was broken up, and the villain kept an establishment like a seraglio. His career...

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- 1851 -









THE  LIFE


OF


CLEMENT  PHINNEY.



BY


D. M.  GRAHAM.

PASTOR  OF  THE  FIRST  F. W.  BAPTIST  CHURCH,  NEW YORK.










DOVER, N. H.
WILLIAM BURR, PRINTER.
1851.



 


78                                           THE  LIFE  OF                                             




CHAPTER  VII.

COCHRAN  AND  COCHRANISM.


To place upon the page of history the errors and defeats of the church is scarcely less serviceable, in securing her true developments and permanent advancement, than to proclaim her virtues and her victories. In this view, it may not be considered entirely without service to the cause of truth, to place even upon our ephemeral pages some account of that manifestation of religious delusion and fanaticism, known as "Cochranism." Besides, in tracing the life of Mr. Phinney, when it becomes necessary, at least, to touch upon this subject, it was not deemed unwise to devote to it labor sufficient to collect the principal facts concerning it.

Care has been taken not to put down anything as fact, which is not supported by the concurrent testimony of witnesses who are familiar with what they relate. Among those upon whom we rely, besides Mr. Phinney, may be mentioned Elder Zachariah Jordan, and Elder Ephraim Stinchfield. The testimony of the latter we find in a pamphlet which he wrote at the time this delusion was at the height of its and which was printed in 1819. This pamphlet, as well as other efforts of its author, did not a little in checking the evil to which it relates. For what is probably the only remaining copy of it, we are indebted to the kindness of a lady who not


 


                                      CLEMENT  PHINNEY.                                     79


only is, but who is worthy to be, a grand daughter of Elder Stinchfield, a name of holy memory.

About the close of the year 1816 or the beginning of 1817, Jacob Cochran, from whom this ism derived its name, moved from Conway, N. H., to Scarborough, Me. He began immediately to preach in Scarborough, though we have been unable to ascertain anything as to his character or calling before.

Though a preacher, he belonged to no denomination of Christians; he was however friendly to all; on the one hand, he did not wish to tear down any existing religious organization, nor, on the other, did he wish to add another to their number. He desired rather to work through any or all to restore to the church apostolic religion and the lost miraculous powers. Such mere his professions.

Though uneducated, he was by no means deficient in what is called native talent; indeed he seemed to possess a large share of it; but it partook of shrewdness, rather than of sound discretion. If he was not able at once to carry his point, he had that self-possession which can successfillly conceal disappointed feelings, till it at length reaps from defeat the fruits of victory. If he possessed not genuine piety, he well knew how to assume the look and gesture of extraordinary sanctity; and, if he had not the powers adequate to true eloquence, he could successfully sway the multitude by vehement zeal and a kind of mesmeric inspiration.

When this new preacher had won not a little upon the attention of the good people of Scarborough, Mr.


 


80                                           THE  LIFE  OF                                           


Phinney went there, as he was accustomed to from time to time, to hold meetings. Mr. Cochran was among the first and most attentive of his auditors. When the sermon was closed, upon liberty being given to others to speak, as was then the custom after almost every sermon delivered by preachers of our Connexion, Mr. Cochran arose, apparently overwhelmed with holy emotions, and said, "To-day I have heard the gospel in its purity. God has sent this servant of his here for a great work of salvation." After many similar remarks, he concluded by proposing publicly to give up his appointments to Mr. Phinney, reserving to himself simply the privilege of exhorting occasionally, as the spirit might give him utterance. By way of securing for his proposal the more favor, he concluded by giving utterance to a kind of prophetical conviction, that should his plan be acceded to, a most remarkable revival would immediately follow. Whatever were Mr. Phinney's feelings of repugnance to acceding to this plan, and whatever were his apprehensions of evil, he could not well decline a proposal, thus publicly made, without bringing against himself serious charges of unchafitableness and sectarianism. The event proved, however, that Mr. Phinney did not sufficiently rely upon his own convictions.

Mr. Phinney, entering upon the duties of the proposed series of meeting, Mr. Cochran accompanied him, faithfully availing himself of his reserved privilege: he exhorted sinners to flee to Christ; he often


 


                                      CLEMENT  PHINNEY.                                     81


wept excessively, as he listened and as he spoke. The consequence was that his prophecy was fulfilled, and he won the entire confidence of the people.

Though thus successful with the people, there was still one Mordecai sitting in the king's gate. He was conscious that Mr. Phinney withheld from him his confidence. Other efforts were to be put forth, either to win him, or deprive him of his power among the people. For this purpose he chose an opportunity when he and Mr. Phinney were in the company of several of the brethren of leading influence. "Brother Phinney," said he, "you are very hard-hearted; you do not love me; it is as cruel as the grave; for I never before saw the man I love half as much as I do you." Mr. Phinney, raising his cane to a horizontal position, replied, "Jacob, I love you at the end of that, but I cannot receive you to my heart." This kind of jugglery, however, succeeded too well.

About the same time Mr. Cochran went to Hollis to preach. Here again he resorted to a similar trick to secure influence. "Go to Scarbomugh," said he to his hearers, many of whom had been converted under the labors of Mr. Phinney, "go to scarborough, and listen to Mr. Phinney, if you want to hear the precious gospel in its purity. I have travelled in ten States, but never before has it been my privilege to listen to such a man of God."

Though Mr. Phinney was all the time conscious of danger, both to himself and the church, he struggled in vain to break from the toils which were laid before


 


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his own eyes, and in which, notwithstanding that, he was but too successfully taken. The following incident was the source of the most hope for a successful escape: Mr. Phinney having returned to Scarborough, ascertained that Mr. Cochran had grieved even his warmest friend, by an actempt to perform a miracle; for, on this point, he had as yet said but little, and that very cautiously. At this time, however, he undertook to cast the devil out of a man who was under deep conviction. Placing his hand on the head of the subject, he prayed, and bid the devil depart. He then tried to convince the man that he had really undergone a great change, but all in vain; he insisted that he was no better; despite every thing, the exorcist made a complete failure in his experiment; and, as before stated, grieved his best friends, who pevailed upon Mr. Phinney, when he returned, to rebuke the evil spirit in their friend. He accordingly called Mr. Cochran to account in the presence of a part of those who were witnesses of his transgression. At first he insisted that the poker of working miracles still remained in the church, and, that all the faithful could exercise it; but, when he found he was losing ground, he made his retreat with such dexterity that his retreat was his greatest victory. Turning his eyes to Mr. Phinney, with great apparent penitence, he said, "I bless God for such a faithful man; O how faithful! I have sinned; I have wronged the cause of Christ; forgive me! What shall I do!" While he thus spoke, tears flowed in streams over his cheeks.


 


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Such penitence, or rather, signs of it, fully restored him to the confidence of his friends. They wondered that Mr. Phinney could not fully forgive such a meek man of God, as they called him. On the other hand, Mr. Cochran ceased not to praise the faithful preacher who rebuked him. Thus at length he succeeded in destroying in a great measure the infiuence of Mr. Phinney over the people, and then very soon run his miserable career, as we shall soon see.

Here we get a glimpse of Mr. Phinney's weakest side. He never was a man of strife. He was not born for war, however heroic his ancestors might have been. He is so little disposed to war, that his charity is in more or less danger of degenerating into latitudinarianism. Too much charity is a fault, of which, however, we do not often have reason to complain. Every virtue has a corresponding error, into which the virtue, so to say, without much watchfulness easily passes. On this ground, had it been our object to make the subject of our pages a hero, our hero would have been, at least, out-generaled if not conquered.

But to return to Mr. Cochran. By the sort of dexterity described -- by his great enthusiasm, and by assuming an extraordinary degree of sanctity, by praising at first those ministers dear to the hearts of young converts, and by insinuations afterwards -- he at length succeeded in destroying, with many persons of a peculiar cast of mind, the influence of those who had shown their character by their faithful lives, and attaching the same to himself in a sort of fanatical friendship, by which he prepared them to go any


 


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length in absurdity, folly and even crime, that his interest or caprice might dictate. "Those who join and become members of this brotherhood," said Elder Stinchfield in his pamphlet, "must renounce every natural connection, and be exclusively under the control of their leaders, who, while they promise them liberty, are themselves the servants of corruption; for, of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought into bondage." Again: "I had, before I left the place," says he, in speaking of what he witnessed in Kennebunk, "such a discovery of the mystery of iniquity, working to the subversion of all social ties, between husband and wife, parents and children, rulers and ruled, ministers and people -- the rising generation corrupted by the introduction of such vicious practices under the cloak of religion -- that it seemed as if I should be constrained to cry day and night against the abomination that maketh desolate." Again: "When I arrived in the upper towns in the County of York, I found this dreadful hydrophobia with all its dire effects -- children denouncing their parents; members of churches, their pastors; neighbors, one another."

When Mr. Cochran had organized a party for himself, and had thus become free from his dependence upon the ministers, by whose influence he at firt contrived to secure to himself power, he retived his doctrine and practice of miracle-working. "They, like all other enthusiasts," says Elder Stinchfield, "pretend to a light superior to that of any other religious society since the apostles; and the power of healing


 


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the sick, raising the dead, and casting out devils -- all of which they said had been literally performed among them. Extraordinary dreams and visions, they asserted, had been experienced, and wonders wrought." Among the "wonders wrought," was a pretended baptism of the Holy Ghost. The preacher, while all around him was intense excitement, placing his hand on the head of the candidate, exhorted him to "Press to the light." An adherent to this party told Elder Stinchfield, that Mr. Cochran, "by only laying his hand upon a person's head, could so effect him that he would immediately fall to the floor and cry out in great distress; and after continuing in that frame a short time, he would then be delivered from that distress and shout, Glory."

From this extraordinary degree of "holiness,"so dependent upon mere states of the body, as induced by fear, the glow of emotions, and various other mental states or exercises, it was no long step to holy physical exercises. Then came logically enough holy dancing, marching, and "reaping;" then a luxurious feast called "the Passover;" then, verging from the sensual to the spiritual, came the spirituality of matrimony -- ordinary marriage being proclaimed as of the Pharisees, not of Christ; spiritual ties alone have validity for Christians; then, of course an outer temple for the uninitiated, and an inner for the initiated; then a sanctum sanctorum for the high priest; and last of all, this holy place, like the Romishh confessional, became a shrine of Venus.


 


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Let us hear Elder Stinchfield again: "At one time a cry is uttered by him or some other in his assemblies in the language of the angel in the Revelation, Thrust in thy sickle and reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe. A number in the assembly will then be thrown into the greatest agitations; a violent exertion of the arms and body, for a long time together, takes place. These are called reapers, and the operation reaping. To other violent motions of the arms and body, they give the appellation of winnowing, and separating the chaff from the wheat; another they call, gathering and burning the chaff.

"Cochran pretends to have the power of life and death in his hands, and frightens his pupils into a compliance with any of his injunctions, by threatening to stop their breath in a moment; by which means he takes females from their parents and carries them to his brothel. He declares he has the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and pretends to open it for, or shut it against, whom he sees fit, by stretching out, and making a violent twist with his arm, one way or the other."

To such excesses of crime, especially in violation of the seventh commandment, did this pretended reformer recklessly proceed, that he was soon arrested in his career, and, after due examination and conviction, sent to the State's Prison to suffer its well deserved penalties. Though his arrest took place in Feb. 1819, only about three years from the commencement of his preaching in Scarborough, yet, it


 


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is said, that at one time his adherents numbered more than two thousand; but before this, even, his numbers had begun rapidly to diminish.

Among those who successfully opposed this destructive delusion was Elder George Parcher, of Saco, where Mr. Cochran at length established his head-quarters. At no great distance from Elder Parcher's residence was Mr. Cochran's gloomy and "dreary mansion, provided wholly with wooden shutters on the outside, the better to conceal, no doubt, the works of darkness practiced within its walls. The general family consists of twelve females, besides those who visit the house occasionally. Some of these are widows, who, with the rest of the females, have surrendered their persons, character and property into the common stock; and remain in this place, as those declare who have left them, destitute, to all appearance, of any profitable business; and are, most of them, forbidden to labor with their hands for a living; and intend, as I was informed in the neighborhood, that the wicked shall maintain them; though I believe it is generally thought they will be hungry soon, as the property which has been brought together by this religious fraud is nearly spent; and not much prospect of his realizing his original purpose, of having all things common, for my considerable time to come." * Aside from this new movement, religious excitement, had, in that vicinity and in various denominations,
___________
* Cochranism Delineated.


 


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run to a very high degree in what were called revivals; so that the way was so well prepared for Mr. Cochran, that very many otherwise discreet and even pious persons yielded to this new fanaticism. Indeed it seemed to be carrying all before it. Things in this state, Mr. pa;cher, as we were about to relate, was so deeply impressed with a sense of duty to warn his neighbors against their impending danger, that one Saturday morning leaving his field, his horses in the furrow, he went from house to house among the doubtful, and those already gone over, pleading with them, in the name of his Master, to flee from the destroyer. The next day he went to their assembly, and, at length, obtaining permission to address them, he charged them in the name of God to cease from their abominations. His warnings and exhortations were not in vain; for, though many hissed and brawled, gnashed their teeth, and threatened to take his life, so much was God's power in the word of this bold and faithful preacher, that he not only came off unharmed, but he was enabled by these and similar efforts to put an effectual check to the further spread of this fanaticism in that vicinity, to save the doubtful, and indeed to leave the apostate with only a few adherents. These soon ran to the excesses named, which aided not a little in bringing their own abominations to a close.

Under the influence of this delusion, many made shipwreck of their piety, who, under happier auspices, might have been ornaments to the church; some were led into great domestic afflictions, -- husbands and wives being parted for life, and the unmarried so corrupted,


 


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that some were compelled to drag out life, conscious of guilt, and others in public disgrace. After the imprisonment of Mr. Cochran, Mr. Phinney, in company with Elder John Boothby, of the Christian denomination, went over the fields thus laid desolate. "Never, never," said one of the unfortunate victims, "can I be happy again; I have lost all self-respect." This is only a specimen of what every where made their hearts sad and even sick. Some who had been in afluent circumstances, were compelled in old age to suffer for the necessaries of life.

It might well be supposed that a delusion so speedily followed by such sufferings -- sufferings that had to be endured without the consolations of conscious innocence -- mould ere this have lost all adherents. But a delusion once fastened upon the religious feelings, is not so soon cured. Though thirty years have passed since Mr. Cochran went to prison, near the site of his "gloomy, dreary mansion," there is this day the abode of some five or six of "the faithful," who still, perhaps, wait for either their old prophet or a new one to arise and lead them to the substance of the bright visions that fired their youthful imaginations. Besides these, here and there, in Saco and vicinity, may be found one who still lives in hope. These, it is said, occasionally meet to cheer their spirits by a religious dance, so as to enable themselves the better to endure the ills of their sad pilgrimage.

It is said that, notwithstanding this delusion is so ludicrous where it is not too sad, some of its adherents, by a long life of integrity and general good


 


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character, enjoy the high esteem of all their acquaintances. Who that by his own experience knows anything of the frailty of our nature, would deal harshly with such? Who having such self-knowledge does not find it congenial with his heart, to throw around the foibles of such the ample folds of the mantle of charity, as he commends them to him whose judgment alone is without mixture of error. But this exercise of charity must not prevent us from learning the lessons of wisdom which human frailties and sufferings are designed to teach.

As to Mr.Cochran himself, his term in prison so crushed his spirits, or, at least, moderated his hopes, that he completely failed of the honors of martyrdom. By a natural death not long after his release, he was called to his last account.

Thus inglorious, Protestantism suffers most of her enthusiasts and fanatics to die. Had he fallen under the care of "the holy mother," how different would have been his fate! Then might the sacredness of the confessional, or the gloomy walls of a nunnery, have screened his crimes from the knowledge and penalties of justice; the generalship of a new order of chaste monks rewarded his zeal on earth; aftertimes given to him fame and saintship; and to his saintship might hove been muttered the prayers of the devout of coming centuries. To many of no more virtue and not half the talent of Mr. Cochran, are offered up every day in papal churches thousands of prayers.

Only now and then among Protestants can a great


 


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enthusiast attract to himself power and honor. When the church is just arousing herself from a long sleep of formalism and dead works; when she begins anew to breathe the breath of that life offered to his people by the Savior; when this new life just begins to make itself felt; then an enthusiast may lead off great numbers of those who are of peculiarly ardent temperaments, especially if they have not enjoyed the advantages of education.

Just such a state of affairs existed when Mr. Cochran began his movement. He had the warmth of emotion, apparent sanctity and shrewdness to attract, combine and control the elements, made ready to his hand. Already "swoonings," and various other mesmeric phenomena, had begun to be considered indicative of peculiar holiness. Nothing but sheer greediness for sensual indulgence prevented his party from rapidly spreading through the country. But for this, temples of more splendor than those of Kirtland and Nauvoo might long ago have been built to his honor. But the honors, if such we may call them, which he might easily have won, are now associated with the name of the Mormon martyr.

Antinomianism, that keeps the children of the church from the consciousness of the redemption wrought out by Christ, is the parent of that enthusiasm which places all religion and religious blessings in the emotions. This enthusiasm, when the feelings have spent their life, as they soon must, produces in its turn antinomianism and infidelity. Formalism


 


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cannot save the church from over-excitement; over-excitement cannot save her from formality. The consciousness of redemption in the human heart -- the gospel itself, in short -- can and must save her, if she is ever saved, from both.






 

- 1867 -







From: "Cochran Fanaticism in York County"
Maine Historical Quarterly 20:1 (Summer 1980) pp. 23-39
(attributed to Amasa Loring, Aug. 3, 1867)

(excerpted from Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy, pp. 14ff -- web-reprint permission pending -- © 2000 Price Pub. Co.)


The history of fanaticism in this State can never be fully written, without a record of the rise, spread, character, and influence of Cochranism. It dates from 1817 or l818 and onward. Its range was in York County, with a few converts in other places. Its centre and fullest development was in the upper part of the town of Saco, Buxton, Hollis, North Kennebunkport and Scarborough. It's chief instigator, teacher, "head centre" and actor was Jacob Cochran -- hence it's name.

From the manuscript letter of P. Huntoon, Esq., an intelligent and reliable citizen of Enfield, N.H., written in July, 1866, I learned the following particulars of the origin and early life of this imposter: --

He was born of highly respectable parents in Enfield, July 9th, 1785. They had immigrated to that place about eight years before, bringing four voung children. His father and some of his brothers were evidently men of ability and integrity, esteemed by their fellow citizens, and honored as leading men in town affairs, and were elected as representatives to the legislature, and some of their posterity ultimately became authors and poets.

Jacob first comes to notice as a sutler of the army, in the War of 1812, where he could study human nature in its vilest forms, and where some thought he practiced the "Black Art."

In early manhood he professed to be converted through the labors of Miss Harriet Livermore, a daughter of judge Livermore of Holderness, N. H., who was an able jurist, first occupying a seat on the bench of the Court of Common Pleas, and afterwards upon that of the Supreme Court of New Hampshire. Religiously he was a staunch Episcopalian. but his daughter, not sympathizing with

24

him, went forth as a Free-will Baptist preacher, and this is the only historical notoriety that she is known to have gained.

Mr. Cochran commenced his religious course with a great display of zeal, was fluent in exhortation, gifted in prayer, and gave promise of future distinction. But he soon left his native place, and traces of him cannot be found until he came to the surface in Maine, introducing himself as a regular preacher. But it is not known that he was then a member of any church, or that he had ever been ordained, for he had not preached in his native place. He did not profess to be connected with any religious sect, but expressed a controlling desire to unite all the denominations in a higher Christian life and in more earnest efforts to save souls.

He then held certain views not recognized as correct by any of the sects, but emphasized the essentials of Christianity, leaning strongly towards those of the Free-will Baptists and Christians.

His advent to Maine was near the close of the year 1816. He prepared his first sermon in this State in the town of Porter. He then had a wife and two children, was in the prime of manhood, (32 years of age,) with eyes sharp and piercing, and his voice was strong, flexible and musical. He introduced himself, first, to Free-will Baptists preachers and gained the confidence and good will of them generally; and these men sometimes in those days erred in excess of charity. He avoided Congregationalists and Calvinist Baptist ministers until his popularity was well established.

The inquiry naturally arises, what were the people who were entangled and misled by his sophistries? What were their antecedents, education, privileges and standing in society? They were an industrious, sober minded, and virtuous people, generally thrifty farmers, educated

25

as the public schools of'that day afforded opportunity, and using more intoxicating drink than is now used, and less hostile to professed Christianity than the openly irreligious of the present day. The place where he won his greatest popularity and perpetrated his most infamous impostures lay between the Orthodox meeting houses of Saco, Buxton and Scarborough. Few of the peolile had associated much with those worshipping assemblies. It had been neglected as a dark border. A few years previous to Cochran's advent, Elder John Buzzell and other Free-will Baptist ministers had a protracted meeting in a grove, which resulted in a great excitement and produced a marked imorovement among them. A Free-will Baptist Church was organized, a house of worship built, known as the Heath Meeting House, and a pious and worthy minister resided among them. A minister of the Christian order also dwelt there, and some of the converts clave unto him.

The Congregational Churches encircling this new church then had pastors. Dr. Jonathan Cogswell was at Saco, highly reputed for good talents and devoted piety; Dr. Paul Coffin at Buxton, going there with the first settlers, a man of superior education, of great industry, a lover of good order as well as a lover of good things, but then advanced in years and embarrassed with their infirmities; and Rev. Nathan Tilton was in the upper part of Scarborough. On the border of Hollis there was a small Calvin Baptist Church and its pastor Rev. Mr. [Timothy] Ho[d]gdon distrusted Cochran from the beginning and faithfully warned his people to beware of him, and they wisely and prudently heeded it.

Under such circumstances Cochran commenced his public labors; and with a great show of sympathy, earnestness and deep religious feeling he took well with that people. He did not claim to belong to any existing sect; nor avow any design of forming a new one; but with a great show of sanctity strove to raise all believers to a

26

greater degree of devotion; -- to the state of primitive piety, and if that was accomplished he said they would secure the privileges of the primitive Christians, the working of miracles and apostolic gifts. He said but little of these points of difference and dwelt largely on those already believed by his hearers. Considering his attractions as a public speaker, and remembering his unparalleled artful, cunning and deep penetration into human nature, it is not strange that the masses were drawn afterhim. He appointed meetings and they were thronged with hearers. He secured the confidence of the common people as a sincere Christian and approved minister of the gospel. Near the beginning of his rising popularity, Elder Clement Phinney of Gorham visited that place to preach to the people and to get acquainted with this new co-labourer. He was a man of great common sense, abounding with kindness and Christian charity, "a good man above many," and highly esteemed by all as a faithful minister of the Gospel.

Mr. Cochran did not array himself against Eld. Phinney, nor presume to stand in his way as a rival; but artfully dropped into his shadow, yielding the ground to his appointments, attending all his meetings, joined with him in the services, commended his preaching and exhorted the people to receive it. But the kind hearted Elder cherished a silent distrust of his genuiness, and Cochran's keen penetration perceived it. In a private interview Cochran complained that Eld. Phiniiey withheld his cordial fellowship and boldly asked him, why? That was Eld. Phinney's golden opportunity. If like the intrepid Elijah, or the sainted Payson, the hypocritical mask would have been rent assunder, and the hidden iniquity have been revealed. But his excessive charity restrained him. He repiled, "Jacob, I cannot take you into my heart. I love you at a distance;" raising his staff, -- "I love you at the end of this stick."

27

Eld. Phinney did not demand testimonials of his good standing; he did not call for the reasons of the hope that was in him; nor did anyone else; but treated him with Christian and ministerial courtesy. Had he done so a mighty evil might have been quenched at its kindling; a moral pestilence rolled back, which crushed many an unsuspecting victim.

Some religious interest was awaked, and Mr. Cochran stood ready to follow it up and draw the converts after him when Elder Phinney left the ground. In this he succeeded and his popularity rapidly increased. In the Spring and Summer of 1817 his operations and meetings were seriously impairing the attendance at Dr. Coffin's meetings in Buxton. This aroused the people to adopt measures to prevent it. Proposals were made to the aged pastor to have a colleague employed, and he consented. Mr. Levi Loring, who had followed school teaching, and had then been studying theology with Dr. Cogswell, was engaged to preach on the Sabbath, and in the Autumn of 1817 he was installed as colleague pastor of that church.

Then Cochran had a large number of permanent followers, and many occasional hearers. He was active and persevering, holding meetings in various neighborhoods, and thus extending his acquaintance and popularity. He also pressed his way into other towns; Hollis, Waterborough and Biddeford fell in his way, and the northern part of Kennebunkport proved to be an inviting field for his endeavors. There a Baptist church had held the ground, with its house of worship and stated meetings, but then was without a resident minister. With few exceptions the people with one accord received him, but few doubted his worthiness, none opposed; and this became one of his strongholds. In the vicinity of the Heath Meeting House in Saco he still made his headquarters; and there in the Summer of 1818 [1817] there was an extensive and powerful revival. In this he was not

28

alone, other faithful ministers joined in it, but Cochran was the master spirit. One who shared in this work, and who in after life professed to speak impartially, affirmed that in the preaching and other exercises its meetings were conducted as Methodist, Free-will Baptist and Christian meetings in times of revivals generally were. It drew many from adjoining vicinities. There was great excitement, loud responses, shouts, and various outbursts of emotion, but no grievous departures from rapturous religious feeling. It was for a while considered by many as a good work; and to some extent so it proved. Two thousand were thought to be converted and they did not all prove to be chaff: some of' them became accepted and useful ministers in the Methodist, Free-will Baptist and Christian connections, and some of them proved to be good members in different churches.

God sometimes honors his truth, though it be mixed with hurtful error -- though unsanctified lips proclaim it.

In this noted revival Cochran rose to the highest crest of his popular wave, and in consequence of it precipitated himself to his deepest disgrace. He could not modestly and temperately bear such unexpected popularity. He did not exalt the Divine Power and realize his own mere instrumentality. His most sanguine admirers became mentally intoxicated, and did not repress indecent adulation. Females in the craze of their fanaticism would embrace him in public meeting and unblushingly kiss him, and he found apology for it in "the holy kiss" of Scripture. Previous to this he had not broached any of his corrupt and damnable heresies. He had intimated innovations, but had not pressed them; had aspired to leadership, but moved towards it in an adroit and modest way. He now felt that Cochranism had become rooted, and he proceeded to give it a distinct form.

29

He assailed the institution of Freemasonry with unsparing severity. He contended that the Eucharist was now useless, as much so as the Jewish Passover. But baptism, and that by immersion, he exalted as essential to salvation, and administered it to all who professed to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, whether they had before so received it or not, if they would consent to it. These baptismal scenes are remembered as exhibitions of revolting and wild enthusiasms. A great rabble-rout would gather. Some would pray, some sing, some shout, some roll upon the ground, and all together raise a confused tumult. His fame spread, and other wandering stars scented from afar their disgusting idiosyncrasies, and were drawn to his aid. For in other parts audacious heresies had been preached, and vile free love abominations practiced by the Osgoodites, and others, under the sacred garb of Christianity; and it is said that notorious adepts of this sort -- pre-historic Mormons -- came to Cochran's aid and helped sink him to his worst behavior. From the "holy kiss" which had been common, the "holy dance" was only a slight advance, and this became another addition to their worship.

These things began to awaken disgust in the crowded ranks of his followers There was doubt, debate and confusion in the tents of Jacob. Many who had been in good repute as Christians before recoiled in disgust and walked no longer with him. This withdrew a conservative force, and left an enthusiastic portion easily moulded by his will. He knew his position, and conscious of his power, immoderately used it.

His next, and worst of all his devices, was his assault upon the sacred bonds of matrimony for the most corrupt purposes, and by the most revolting machinations he attempted to demolish this divine and all prevalent institution. Given in Eden for the virtuous propagation of the race; as the guardian of the most precious social

30

enjoyments, it has kept pace with the descending ages, defying barbarism, ignorance, heathenism and lust; and yet this besotted fanatic, in the sacred name of religion thrust a dagger into its vitals. He taught a spiritual matrimony sanctioned by a ceremony of his own, into which any man or woman, already married or unmarried, might enter choosing at pleasure a spiritual wife or a spiritual husband, with all the privileges of a legitimate marriage. Existing vows were violated, connubial happiness tortured often the forsaken party, and hitherto happy families severed. And soon it did not wait for any ceremony, but liberty was taken to practice unbridled licentiousness, of which Cochran himself was the most noted example.

Thus the man who professed to be sent of God to raise the Christian Church to a higher state of spiritual life, practice and enjoyment, taught and practiced corrupting immoralities, which common decency scorns. Many deluded by him early, but had not become besides themselves, now broke off all connection with him; no faithful minister failed to denounce him, and kind warnings sent to his deceived partisans to reclaim them if possible. But many still adhered to him; many who had been hitherto modest and virtuous, but now having no other rule of action but his word, no confidence in any persons which he did not approve, no other worship than that which he prescribed. Some connected themselves, their families, their property entirely to his dictation, and he was verily King in his realm; a title that he had slurringly applied to such ministers as opposed him.

With the means contributed by his followers he purchased a house a little retired from the river-road running from Saco Village to Buxton, and in this his wife and children resided, and several others of his deluded followers. Here too he had a regular harem, consisting of several unmarried females, some of them formerly

31

belonging to respectable families, now subjects of his seduction and nothing else than his concubines.

Nor were his vile practices confined to himself nor to these concubines, but wherever he went he corrupted any wife, mother or maiden that he could seduce, and his devoted followers generally walked in the same steps. With true fanatical zeal he pressed on in propagating his actions and corrupting views. In addition to the places already mentioned, he went into Waterborough, Alfred, Newfield, Limington, Sweden and Conway, N. H.; but he met with small success in these places. In Kennebunk and York he left a few traces of his blighting delusions. He loudly boasted that he would sweep every thing before him from Buxton to the sea, but he did not shake the solid ramparts that Saco Village held up against him. He pretended to have power to work miracles; but always failed in the presence of intelligent observers, though he deceived his besotted dupes by saying, your lack of faith prevents it. In Conway, N. H., he told a sick woman that he could heal her by the laying on of his hands, but she indignantly refused to allow him to try. And sometimes he would escape a crushing refutation by his ingenious devices. He insisted upon this as an unquestionable dogma, "You must never look back;" so if he predicted a certain thing was to take place, and it failed, or if he promised to work a miracle, and it failed, his followers must not look back and see the failure.

When in the height of his power and of his wildest enthusiasm, his meetings beggard description. They would always be crowded. His dupes would come with wild and excited countenances. It would start with singing, prayer, loud speaking, clamorous responses, accompanied with violent gestures. Some would roll upon the floor, and others, if the room permitted, would join in marches and dances to swell the tumult. Cochran would pass around, directing one to do this, another that, to show his absolute

32

control over them; but carefully passing unnoticed such as seemed to have the stamina to withstand him. Such were his measures where he had gained the people; in a new place he was more cautious. If a stranger entered his meeting, when the excitement was in full blast, he would fix his keen eyes upon him, and if he withstood that glare without flinching he would let him alone; but if he quailed under his piercing gaze he would feel sure of his man, and would soon draw him into his vortex. In but few instances did he ever mistake the mettle of his subject.

On one occasion he encountered a stranger, who had evinced considerable firmness, but he thought to subdue him. He began his artifices, and soon commanded him to intake some sign of Submission. The man firmly refused. He repeated his mandate with loud pretensions of miraculous power, and with harsh menaces of fearful punishment. Still the subject sat as unmoved as a statue. He still plied him, finally threatening, "if you do not instantly obey me I will send you right down to hell." This did not avail. Cochran approached his unterrified subject, took him by the hair of his head, and in a magisterial tone said, "now you are going right down to hell." He cooly replied, "I don't know but I am, for the devil has got me by the foretop." There the contest ended.

In another instance a woman drove him. He called where this lady was making an afternoon visit. She was intelligent, argumentative and well read in the Scriptures, and took him to the law and the testimony, and with all his tact he found himself worsted in argument. He also attempted to terrify her by threatening to call down the judgment of God upon her; if she did not stop her opposition to him she would be smitten dumb. She fearlessly replied, "if you wont touch me I can risk all else." He solemnly invoked the curse, but his power was not sufficient to tame a woman's tongue moving in defence of truth and virtue.

33

At the height of his career he boasted that he had seven hundred church members, all rebaptised by him and received into his distinct connection. But let it not be understood that all these went to the full extent of fanaticism and vice which he allowed and practiced. Many never went into the inside of his dark arcana; many revolted at these disreputable reports and would not believe them, while others were drawn by these vile proceedings and joined with him, and rioted in them.

One of his early followers, a man in middle life, of good moral character, who resided at a distance from Cochran's abode, made him a friendly visit. He was pleasantly received and affectionately treated. His acquaintance and attachment had been formed in the better portion of Cochran's career, and he had sternly rejected all the defamatory reports as false that had gone out against him. But when the time to retire to rest came Cochran assigned him to a bed already occupied in part by one of Cochran's women. The man was thunderstruck. He had lived many years in conjugal fidelity with his wife, and had children rising to manhood. He chose a place upon the floor, rather than enter that adulterous bed, and rose in the morning to be sharply reproved by the teacher he had thought perfect. But his eyes were opened. He renounced his favorite teacher, and no longer was one of his followers.

So it would have been in all probability with a large part of the seven hundred whom he counted as his members, had they fully known the depths of his devices. It may here be remarked, that not one of Elder Ho[d]gdon's church was led astray by these tempestuous delusions; nor a single member of the Buxton Congregational Church taken captive by it. And though in those days, when so many ran after him, some from that congregation went with the multitude to see what these strange things were;

34

yet not one regular attendant was ensnared, not one young person from such families turned.

The Baptist Church in North Kennebunk did not so safely weather the storm. When its reliable members discovered the cloven foot of Cochranism, they turned back and went no longer with it; but it had taken root in the neighborhood, and long abode there. The church received a staggering blow, and at length gave up its identity. Then as in other places many came to themselves, but its deadly wound never fully healed.

We may now seriously ask, why such bald iniquities were tolerated in civilized and religious communities? Why did not observing people rise up, and invoking the power of the law, demolish it? Eventually it did. But it must be remembered that it did not float its banner in the villages, or among the most refined people. Its meetings were early forsaken by respectable classes, who warned their neighbors to avoid them, so that the masses did not realize the dark turpitude of their proceedings. And it was well known that the cry of persecution would be raised if any power was applied to suppress the most disreputable fanaticism. But in due time it wrought its own destruction. Emboldended by his frequent successes and by the lenience which the appointed guardians of public morals had shown him, he boldly entangled himself where injury found proper resentment.

Calling one day upon a certain family, the husband found it necessary to step out for a short absence, and upon returning caught him (Rev. Cochran) in criminal connection with his wife. This was too much for his principles or patience. He did not however settle the abuse as another husband did a similar offence, by seizing his ox-goad and giving him a smart drubbing, but went to a magistrate and had him legally arrested. But by this Cochranism was death struck, a steady depletion from his counted ranks followed. Fanaticism boiled

35

over, but flowed in different streams of folly. The mostinfatuated believed that his professed miraculous powers would be his safeguard, and that he could carry his own part, and deliver himself from any officers, or bonds, or imprisonments. But this failed for want of faith in his environments probably. Others proposed to arm their male forces and go forth, and by "vi et armis" rescue him from his custodians, but too much cool counsel lingered among them to attempt such an adventure. And his adherents still seemed to think that he had not violated any laws, human or divine, or outraged any of the social virtues.

But by this Cochranism was death struck, a steady depletion from his counted ranks followed. Heretical spiritual matrimony tottered and fell; his entangled victims returned to their former homes and wives, and silently sought to keep out of harm's way.

Cochran was still at liberty, though found guilty and bound over to the next Court his friends furnished satisfactory bonds, but he confined his visits to his tried and trusty friends and abstained from his lawless seductions.

The Court before which he was arraigned was at York; his bondsmen presented him, but did not deliver him to the custody of the Court and take up their bond, but continued their responsibility for him. The grand jury returned a "true bill" against him, and Hon. John Holmes of Alfred was retained as counsel.

When the testimony was all in and the case committed to the jury, he thought it prudent to beat a hasty retreat. Some say he did this through the advice of his lawyer, and perhaps with the consent of his bondsman; certainly with the knowledge and assistance of some of his friends. He was taken into a chaise and hurried off over an unfrequented road, and dropped at a point whence he

36

could take to the woods and reach the top of a hill which overlooked the highway homeward. Here he kept concealed until, in the darkness of night, a friend came with a carriage, gave the concerted signal, called him out and conveyed him away.

The jury convicted him, but sentence could not be pronounced in the absence of the prisoner. At the next term of the Court he was arraigned and sentenced to the State's Prison in Charlestown for a term of four years.

Between his escape from York Court House and his conveyance to the Penitentiary he kept quite close, in retired families, in Biddeford and Kennebunkport; and if reports are correct the rights of property were not always respected.

Cochranism had now received its death blow. It had been well given. It fell upon the Head of the Beast. Others were guilty, and were pestilent in their influence and deeds, but he was the leader, the corrupter, the most guilty.

After he was thus removed it dwindled away, and stayed its poison. Many of his victims discovered their folly and shame, and deeply repented of it; but a few were so thoroughly taken captive that they still adhered to it, aiding and encouraging each other, and occasionally meeting in some private house, and waiting their leader's enlargement.

After his liberation from prison he gathered his family, and such as cast in their lot with him, and, by the aid of friends, purchased a small farm in a remote part of Hollis. The procured provisions by making and selling willow baskets. As the different articles were brought in they were all laid down at his feet, and apportioned to each one, as he thought best.

Sunday he held meetings, noisy and boisterous, to which the curious were sometimes attracted.

37

One incident while there deserves to be remembered. A Baptist minister had appointed a lecture in a school-house near by, but failed to meet the appointment. The people gathered, waited long and became convinced that he would not reach them. One of the deacons of a respectable Baptist church was present; he was well acquainted with Cochran's whole career, but strange to relate proposed to send for Cochran and have him preach to them. As soon as he was sent for he came, and knowing whom he was dealing with, he preached such things as were acceptable to them. Let each one make his own comments.

His children attended the public schools, and there was necessarily some commingling with their neighbors, but no one pried into their private domestic practices.

Sometime about 1829 the clan removed from this place and left the State, and their resting place is not sufficiently well known to state it.

At length death overtook him. An affecting interest gathers around that honest hour in the history of such a man. It is said that he was penitent and bemoaned his apostacy; affirming that when he commenced his work as a minister, his professions were sincere, his motives good, his intentions right and honorable; but elevated by his success, and thrown off his guard the excessive confidence and indiscreet conduct of his admirers, he fell into those depths of Satan, in which we have traced him. A person who nursed him in his last sickness, spoke in high terms of his devout and humble appearances.

It must be admitted that his case presents a hard subject for the religious anatomist.

After his death his wife, and such as still survived of his attachees came back to Saco, from New York State, bringing the remains of her husband. For a season they

38

rested in the family burying place of Mr. John Dennett. Amarble stone stood over it bearing, with the usual inscription, the following borrowed epitaph, --

He hath dispersed his alms abroad. --
His works are still before his God,
His name on earth shall long remain,
While envious sinners fret in vain.

Here again comment is not necessary.

Able friends assisted them, so that a permanent home and crdinary comforts were enjoyed by them until Mrs. Cochran's death.

His eldest son is said to have made himself wealthy by inventing a yale-lock, and obtaining a patent for it, and they had daughters marriedm respectably and comfortably.

The mother, who had always borne a good name, was not forgotten in her last sickness. Sometime about 1850 she also expired.

Another removal of Cochran's remains followed this event. They were disinterred, and with those of his wife removed from the State privately, and in the resurrection they will undoubtedly rise from some spot in the eastern part of Enfield, New Hampshire. Those concerned strove to keep the removal a secret. The monument was concealed for a while, and then used, with a new inscription, another person's grave.

A few years more will consign the last of that people to the dust; but not entirely to forgetfulness.

Their history was briefly sketched by Elder E[phraim] Stinchfield, a cotemporary, who passed over the ground soon after Cochran's imprisonment. Elder C[lement] Phinney gave to his biographer a short account of it from his own personal recollection. In the history of the Free-wlll Baptists attention is made of it. But most of the

39

above has been gleamed from the personal statements of persons who were eye witnesses of his labors.

Dated August 3rd, 1867.

Transcriber's note: The location chosen during the late 1820s for part of the Cochranites' removal to New York was evidently in western Grove (now Granger) twp., Allegany Co., a few miles southwest of Dansville. It appears that some of the sect's members purchased land in that place as early as 1827-28 and that some former Cochranites remained in northwestern Allegany Co. as late as the 1850s.

 

- 1871 -







From: William Fishbough, John B. Newman's book:
Library of Mesmerism and Psychology (Vol. 1 of 2)
(New York: Samuel R. Wells, 1871)


[p. 88]

...Some years ago, in the town of Saco, in Maine, lived a Robert [sic] Cochran, a man who, by pretending to a more than ordinary share of inspiration -- working wonders, curing diseases by the laying on of hands, and other apparent miracles -- created a schism in the church to which he belonged, drawing after him a crowd of zealous followers. Upon his death, as his mantle did not descend to another, the society declined in numbers, until, finally, nothing more was heard of the schismatics for along period. Some time afterward, when the sect had nearly been forgotten, a man -- who, it was known, had many years before embraced Cochran's tenets, and had, since then, lived a life of perfect seclusion -- entered the town on business. Passing by a lawyer's office, his attention was arrested by a gentleman in it fascinating the lawyer's son. He stood, transfixed with astonishment, before the door, until the process was completed and the boy asleep; when he exclaimed aloud, "My God! that is the way in which Robert Cochran used to give the Holy Ghost."

The Mormons rest their claims of being the true church on the same basis: "Is any sick among you, let him send for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith shall save the sick man." It is a notorious fact that the exhibition of this proof, as they wish it to be supposed, of apostolic power, has been the means of converting the majority of that deluded sect...



 

- 1875 -


From: Edward E. Bourne's The History of Wells and Kennebunk
Portland, Me., B. Thurston & Company, 1875, (p. 635)



... [Cochran] must have a place which would be abiding, where the community of his disciples could enjoy a common home and have all things common. He accordingly found an impressible disciple in a neighboring town, owning a large house, who was willing to open his doors and receive the brethren and sisters under his roof To make the home fit for more complete freedom, some of the partition walls were taken away, converting the rooms into one, so that day and night they could enjoy all the communion and fellowship which they desired. Here he broached the new doctrine that spiritual men should have spiritual wives.... Some females from Kennebunk became associates and part of the great family. Here, under his own roof, Cochran and his disciples preached, and carried out this religion. How large his community was, we have not learned. But, while here, in the exercise and enjoyment of his spiritual freedom, violated law took hold of him, and he soon found himself an inmate of the State's prison....



 

- 1903 -


From: The New York Times: of Oct. 23, 1903

DOCTRINES  OF  JACOB  COCHRANE.
_______


To the Editor of the New York Times:

About the year 1825 one Jacob Cochrane, a "New Light" preacher, ranged over York County, Me., teaching doctrines in many respects similar to the theories of Dowie. His personal apprance was attractive, a man of ready wit and much shrewdness, a fine singer, a graceful dancer, and ready speaker. Some attributed his influence, esepcially over the women, to mesmeric power, others by special power given by the devil.

Cochrane rejected creeds, but taught that he and his followers were the Chosen of the Lord and all others children of the devil. That all their thoughts and impressions, regardless of their moral qualities, were direct commands from the Almighty. They claimed the power to work miracles, especially to cure the diseases of those who had faith in them. Civil laws and ordinances, especially the marriage relation, were from the devil, and not binding. That love was the only bond holding husband and wife.

The imprisonment of Jacob Cochrane checked the spread of his dogmas, but as the time of his release drew near, his disciples grew rempant and receieved a new command to take "spiritual wives." Changes and exchanges of companions were the order of the day, thus demoralizing many families. After a time the civil authorities, finding the parentage of the coming generation rather mixed, interposed vigorously. There were a few divorces, some marriages, and several elopements of spiritual partners, and finally emigration to Salt Lake City, under the guidance of Mormon missionaries. Cochrane returned to his legal wife, broken in health and spirit, a "back number."     S.
Jersey City, Oct. 20, 1903.


 

- 1911 -


From: Daniel Remich's History of Kennebunk from Earliest Settlement to 1890
Portland, Me., Lakeside Press Co., 1911, (pp.268-274)


... One Jacob Cochrane, who started on his career from Fryeburg, Maine, about 1815, succeeded in creating a wonderful excitement and in gaining great numbers of proselytes in several towns in Oxford, Cumberland and York Counties during the years 1816, 1817 and 1818....

Cochrane soon gained a prominence and fame which at the outset he had neither sought nor expected. The superstitious notion that led him to become a religious teacher had no basis of sound morality, no affinity with pure Christian faith. Surrounded and fawned upon, as he was, by females of all ages, it was easy for him to cast aside the modicum of spirituality that had influenced his action -- if, indeed, he had ever been moved by such an influence -- and to yield to the "lusts of the flesh," to devote his unexplainable gift to the basest purposes, to become an impostor and a scourge. There were among his followers pure-minded, truly-excellent men and women, who would not participate in the unhallowed practices of their leader. Some of these had sufficient intelligence and firmness to enable them to abandon the cause altogether. Others, weak-minded, credulous and superstitious, disapproved and lamented the gross corruption of their chief but could not subdue the feeling that such power as had been imparted to him must be from above....

The Newburyport Herald (May or June, 1819) says: "We have seen a pamphlet, published by a Baptist minister of regular standing in New Gloucester Maine, giving an account of Cochrane and his deluded followers. It appears that under the guise of religion they have committed the most indecent and abominable acts of adultery... One of their leading tenets was to dissolve the ties of matrimony as suited their convenience, and a promiscuous sexual intercourse was tolerated by each male, being allowed to take seven wives! It seems Cochrane, the high priest of iniquity, had had nearly half his female followers for wives in the course of his ministration, which has been two years standing."

The principal places of resort of the disciples of Cochrane. so far as we can learn, were New Gloucester, Buxton, Saco and Kennebunk. At the last-named place meetings were frequently held in Washington Hall, and there were in the village three private dwelling-houses in some one of which a meeting was held every evening when the hall was not occupied for that purpose. In the largest and best of the three from ten to twenty of the brothers and sisters were accustomed to take up their abode from two to four weeks at a time, perhaps quarterly.

The time came when it was believed by the lovers of good order that these flagrant offenses against the best interests of Society should be met by the fiat, "No farther." In February, 1819, Cochrane was brought before Justice Granger, of Saco, on a complaint of gross lewdness, lascivious behavior and adultery, filed against him by Mr. Ichabod Jordan. On examination, the allegations of the complainant were so well sustained by the evidence produced that the Justice ordered the accused to recognize in the sum of eighteen hundred dollars for his appearance before the Supreme Judicial Court, at York, on the third Tuesday in May following. This he did. At the commencement of the May term of the Supreme Judicial Court the grand jury found a bill against Cochrane and "he was arraigned on the third day of the term on five several indictments for adultery and open and gross lewdness," to each of which he pleaded "not guilty." On the trial for the offenses charged in the second bill of indictment the jury brought in a verdict of "guilty." It was found that the prisoner was not in court when the jury rendered its verdict, and farther inquiries disclosed the fact that he had absconded....

We learn from the court records that at the November (1819) term of the Supreme Judicial Court "the said Cochrane is brought into court and set to the bar" and sentenced, on the first count, to solitary imprisonment for the term of five days and that afterward he be confined to hard labor for eighteen months; on the second count a like sentence is imposed; on the third count, three days Solitary confinement and one year hard labor; sentence to be executed at the state prison in Charlestown, Mass. Warrant for removal to the prison issued November 3, 1819....


 

- 1914 -










Handbook  History  of  the
Town  of  York


From  Early  Times  to  the  Present




By Edward C. Moody





Press of the
KENNEBEC  JOURNAL  COMPANY
Augusta, Maine
For the York Publishing Company
[ 1914 ]

 



[ 185 ]



COCHRANISM

This delusion did not gain a foothold to any large extent in York, though for some weeks its devotees gathered at a barn in the vicinity of Cape Neddick Village in 1818. The principal communities were at Kennebunk, Buxton, Saco and New Gloucester. The founder of this sect, Jacob Cochrane [sic], began his disturbing career in Fryeburg in 1816, and he succeeded in arousing wonderful interest and securing a large number of adherents in Oxford, Cumberland and York counties. He was about thirty-five years old when he commenced his ministry. In personal appearance he was tall and robust, a handsome countenance which is said to have indicated more of sensualism than of intellect. Up to the time he conecieved that he had a "call" to preach, he was engaged in the grocery business and was well patronized. He was considered by his customers as a "good fellow" but rather lazy, and his moral character was at par. That Cochrane did have a wonderful hyponotic or mesmeric power is not questioned, but the use to which he put it was, and is, questionable. He soon gained a prominence he did not seek or expect. There were even among his followers some pure-minded and excellent men and women who would take no part in the practices of their leader or his "chouce helpers." When it is taken into consideration that there was no pulpit, no singers' seats, but that the master and his flock joined with the sinners and scoffers on the floor, it can be easily imagined that much confusion prevailed. Speaking of this sect, the Newburyport Herald of the early part of 1819 has the following: "We have seen a pamphlet, published by a Baptist minister of regular standing in New Gloucester,


 



186                        HISTORY  OF  THE  TOWN  OF  YORK                       


Maine, giving an account of Cochran and his deluded followers. It appears that under the guise of religion they have committed the most indecent and abominable acts of adultery  *  *  *   One of their leading tenets was to dissolve the ties of matrimony as suited their convenience and a promiscuous sexual intercourse was tolerated by each male being allowed to take seven wives.

"It seems Cochran, the high priest of iniquity, had had nearly half his female followers for wives in the course of his ministration, which has been two years standing."

In February, 1819, Cochrane was brought before Justice Granger at Saco, charged with gross lewdness, lascivious behavior and adultery by Mr. Ichabod Jordan. And he was ordered to recognize in the sum of eighteen hundred dollars for his appearance before the Supreme Court at Alfred, the third Tuesday of May. At that time he was found guilty but left the town and his bail was forfieted. He was apprehended in November and removed to the State Prison at Charleston. He was in Cape Neddick for a short time in 1834. In September, 1835, he succeeded in establishing a "Convent" at Stratham, N. H., at which some of his former York disciples were allowed a "sacred retreat" and privileged to keep the Passover. In 1823, Mr. Samuel Junkins, a follower of Cochrane and a shining light, attempted to build up and control a new sect but did not find great encouragement. He issued the following manifesto: "At the Baptist meeting house in York, on the Lord's Day next this House will be free for the Sons and Daughters of Zion to wait on the Lord and honor Him that hath made them free. Also the Family of Egypt may have another opportunity to come up to Jerusalem to keep the feast of Tabernacles, or if they refuse they must not expect to have any rain of the Spirit


 



                        OF  THE  TOWN  OF  YORK                        187


on them. Hypocrites, Mongrels and Lepers are desired to withdraw. Samuel Junkins, Servant of the Church of Christ, York.   York, August 1, 1823."

This proposed gathering of the children of Zion resulted in the following court action:

At the October term, Court of Common PLeas, Junkins was fined twenty dollars and costs, in all forty dollars, and his wife, Olive, who was thirty-five years old, and by no means the weaker vessel, was fined five dollars and costs of thirty-four dollars, "for wilfully disturbing a meeting held at a Baptist Meeting-House in York on the Lord's Day."




 

- 1926 -










The

One Hundred and Fiftieth

A N N I V E R S A R Y

of  the

I N C O R P O R A T I O N

of  the

TOWN  OF  BUXTON

MAINE

Held at

Buxton Lower Corner, August 16, 1922

WITH ADDITIONAL HISTORY






PORTLAND, MAINE
THE  SOUTHWORTH  PRESS
1 9 2 6


 



74                    One  Hundred  Fiftieth  Anniversary                   


... Doubtless some of you recall sketches of Buxton's early days, legends of Saco, etc., which father published in the Biddeford Journal and Portland Argus at various times during the last thirty years or so.

In 1894 or 1895 he was asked to settle some disputed points regarding Cochranism, that strange religious craze that so stirred the people of this section for several years, as he was possessed of much first-hand information concerning it; so he wrote a series of articles then printed in the Biddeford Journal.

Jacob Cochrane [sic] first appeared at Salmon Falls in April, 1816, stopping at the old Warren Tavern. He is described as a man of commanding appearance and a magnetic personality.

He possessed great oratorical gifts and an hypnotic power that swayed his large audiences at will. Strong men and women became as children under his spell and followed him blindly, many to their ruination, for his doctrines promulgated a laxity of moral obligation incompatible with the divine inspiration he professed to receive direct from the Almighty.

There was much singing and dancing at these meetings and their wild and weird incantations could be heard a mile away it is said.

On one occasion the meetinghouse was not large enough to accomodate the crowd and they adjourned to a shady grove in Capt. Gibeon Elden's pasture. Horses were hitched to trees and


 



                   Town  of  Buxton,  Maine                   75


fences along the road as far as one could see, and over three hundred teams were counted, which probably represented more than a thousand people in attendance.

Father writes: "Cochrane's beat seemed to be from Broad Turn in Scarboro thro' Nonesuch, North Saco, Salmon Falls, Hollis, Limington and Limerick thro' to Effingham and Freedom, N. H."

Time will not permit relating the many interesting and humorous incidents connected with this strange fanaticism which continued until the final arrest and imprisonment of its leader about three years later, in 1819....




 

- 1938 -










THE  JUNKINS  FAMILY

Descendants  of

Robert  Junkins

of

York  County,  Maine



Compiled by

HARRY  ALEXANDER  DAVIS

Major, U. S. Army, Retired



Washington, D. C.
1938


 



40                                    THE  JUNKINS  FAMILY                                   


(top part of page not transcribed)




11 SAMUEL (5) JUNKINS


Samuel 4, Joseph 3, Alaxander 2, Robert 1.) Born in York County, Maine in 1769. He married (1) October 1793 Patty Barnard, born in 1775. They resided in Scotland Parish where he engaged in farming and lived a peaceful life until the appearance of the sect called "Cochranites." The founder, Jacob Cochran, when about 35 years old began his activities in Fryeburg in 1816 and was in the grocery business up to the time he had a "call to preach." The delusion did not have a foothold in York, but appears to have had a considerable following in Kennebunk, Buxton, Saco, and New Gloucester. Cochran was tried and found guilty of gross lewdness, lacivious behavior and adultery in February 1819 at Saco, bonded for $1800 for appearance before the Supreme Court in May. He left town and bond


 



                                   THE  JUNKINS  FAMILY                                    41


forfeited; was apprehended and removed to State Prison at Charlestown in November. He later returned to Maine and was at Cape Neddick in 1834 and in September 1835 established a "convent" at Stratham, New Hampshire.

Junkins who became a follower of this sect and one of the shining lights, attempted to establish a new organization under his control about 1823 but did not meet with great encouragement. The following notice was posted on the Baptist church:

NOTICE

At a Baptist Meeting House, York, on the Lord's Day next the House will be free for the Sons and Daughters of Zion to wait on the Lord and honor him that hath made them free, also, the Family of Egypt may have another opportunity to come up to Jerusalem to keep the feast in Tabernacles or, if they refuse they must not expect to have any rain of the Spirit on them. Hypocrites, Mongrels and Lepers are desired to withdraw.
Samuel Junkins, Servant of the Church
of Christ in York  August 1, 1823.
Patty appears to have passed on about 1822 and we have no information regarding her attotude toward this new doctrine. Samuel on or about June 1823 was "spiritually united" to Mrs. Oliver Williams, born 1789 but this defiance of the laws both morally and statutory was so bitterly denounced that they thought it prudent to be legally married, or as they expressed "united after the manner of the beast," and they were legally married 27 January 1824.

At the October term of court of Common Pleas in 1824 Samuel was fined $20,00 and costs, in all about $40.00 and his wide $5.00 and costs in all about $39.00 "for willfully disturbing a meeting held at the Baptist Meeting House in York on the Lord's Day.

He was the author of some literature of the Cochranites, notably the following:

Samuel Junkins and Mrs. Olive (Williams) ("They were very much at a loss for a name for me," i.e. her persecutors. I was called Olive Williams, alias Olive Doe, strangling woman."} Junkins.

"The Dealings / of a / Few of the Church at York who call themselves christians, / with / Samuel Junkins and his wife / together with / a short sketch of her own / Christian Experience / written by her own hand. If thou hast run with the foolmen and they have / wearied thee, then how canst thou content with / horses? And if in the land of peace, wherein thou / trustedst,

 



42                                    THE  JUNKINS  FAMILY                                   


they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in / the swelling Jordan -- Scripture. Printed for the Author / 1825."
That Samuel let his delusion run rampant is evident by a will he drew up in his own hand writing in 1840:

WILL OF SAMUEL JUNKINS

I Samuel of york being in good health and Right mind not knowing how long I am to Continue hear on earth See fit to Dispose of what property the Lord has put into my hand as followeth --

Imprimis -- In Sure and Certain hope of a resurrection to Eternal life through Jesus Christ I Commit my body to the Dust to be buried in a Decent manner and knowing in whom I have believed and being perswaded that he will keep that which I have committed unto him the fullest assurance of faith -- I commend my Soul into the hands of the Ever Loving altogether lovely Jesus on whose Everlasting Righteousness I Entirely depend for the Justification of my Person.

2 Imp -- my will is as many of the lovely Stones such as the Spiritual house is built up with Should be notified to attend my funeral and as many Should Attend as Can Convienty and Each one to get into the watch towaer and wait to See what the Prince of princes would have them Do that the vision might be plain So that he that runs may read and the good Lord that Rules in the armes above might Rule and reign in his Saint below --

3d -- my will is that all my Just Debts Should be paid out of my Effects that I shall leave by my Executor that Each of my Children with Samuel hairs now living in ohio -- Clarissa Lord wife to John Lord Thomas Martha Mary Manson Elisabath Putman Shall have one Dollar each paid to them by my Executor or administrator after my Decease -- the rest of What property I Shall Leave I freely give it to the Lord Jesus Christ altho it is all his before with a will that it might Be kept for a place to Entertain and rest Pilgrim of all Demoninations that is traviling to mount Zion having made there Escape from Egypt Land with a kingdom within them -- also followers that is a Seekinga City whose foundats on and builder is God that they may find a place to Rest and refresh themselves with Encouragement to pursue the paths that Pilgrims in all ages have troden by those that I

 



                                   THE  JUNKINS  FAMILY                                    43


shall Appoint my Executor or Those that shall have the Care of the Premises with a Desire that they may be faithful and wise Standard that the Stand may be wholly for the Lord and his followers to Refresh themselves -- amen.

And I do appoint olive Junkins my wife Executor Administrator in Sole disposer of the Same in witness whereof I have hereof Set my hand and Seal this 19 Day of (Sept) Novemver 1840.
                         Samuel Junkins   (Seal)
      In Present
      Witnesses
Signed Sealed published and declared by the
testator as his last will and testament. In
presence of each of us
      Jere S. Putman
      Chas. O. Clarke
      Josiah Bragdon

This is not to be altered without the consent of the parties if they cant agree it is to be left to the Judgment of the Church nor sell nor give away without consent of both.

                                 Samuel and Olive Junkins.
The above document was filed in the county court house by himself 5 January 1845. It was NOT admitted to probate after his death. He died 18 November 1845 and his estate was administered by Olive, his widow....


 



44                                    THE  JUNKINS  FAMILY                                   


... [Samuel's daughter] Martha: b. 23 Oct. 1808. She became a devotee of the "Cochranites" and about 1830-31 she was assigned as a "Spiritual Wife" to Joseph Gilpatrick. He was b. at Hollis, Me. 4 Aug. 1790 and was m. 5 Sept. 1813 to Hannah, daughter of Joshua Kimball, of Buxton, b. 21 Jan. 1787. He was a sea captain also a school teacher. He became deluded, like so many, in the Cochran craze, he left his wife, who seems to have had no fellowship with the doctrines and practices of the "Cochranites," and took unto himself the "Spiritual wife." It is assumed that life was not particularly pleasant for the followers of this sect and some of them left the state and settled in Allegheny Co., N. Y. About 1838 Martha and her family removed to N. Y. and joined the colony. Here he engaged in farming. We have no information concerning the death of his first wife, or if there was a divorce; no record of the marriage of Martha and Joseph. He died at Granger, N. Y. 3 June 1858, she survived him many years and died at Granville, Ohio 2 Feb. 1888....




 

- 1988 -










MAINE  IN  THE

EARLY  REPUBLIC

From Revolution to Statehood




EDITED BY

Charles E. Clark, James S. Leamon,
& Karen Bowden








PUBLISHED FOR

Maine Historical Society     Maine Humanities Council

BY

University Press of New England
Hanover and London, 1988





(Entire contents copyright © 1988 by The Maine Historical Society --
limited web reproduction rights granted 2006; all other rights reserved)






[ 146 ]





Joyce Butler


CHAPTER 7


C O C H R A N I S M   D E L I N E A T E D


A Twentieth-Century Study


Radical challenge to the established church was not confined to the backcountry. In examining the life of Jacob Cochran, Joyce Butler demonstrates that the forces of modernization that were transforming Maine's older coastal communities produced an environment as receptive to religious and social radicalism as the frontier. Many of the substantial residents of the Saco area renounced their orthodox religious heritage to follow the ecstatic -- even erotic -- preaching of Jacob Cochran, who appeared in their midst in 1816. Butler traces Cochran's theological dependence on contemporary indigenous American sects, such as Shakers and Free Will Baptists, and then suggests his contributions to later utopian movements such as Mormonism and the Oneida community.


On a spring day in the year 1817 Mrs. Betsy Foss stood in the doorway of the Warren Tavern at Salmon Falls in Buxton and looked across the Saco River to the old Hollis Town House on Brigadier Hill, where a huge crowd of people had gathered to hear Jacob Cochran preach. 1 Indeed, so many had come in from outlying areas to hear the eloquent oratory of the evangelist that the town house was not large enough to hold them all, and the meeting was being moved to Captain Gideon Elden's pasture a third of a mile away. Betsy Foss could see the teams and horses of the meeting-goers hitched to fences and trees as far as the eye could see along the Alfred and Union Falls roads, which converged at the foot of Brigadier Hill. From the large, unpainted, dismal-looking town house the people were streaming down the hill, "the whole caboodle of 'em," as Betsy described them years later, "com[ing] down Brigadier hill, with old Cochrane leading 'em, and they were singing and hollering and the women and girls waiving [sic] handkerchiefs and the Lord only knows what all, for I don't." 2

Betsy Foss had reason to remember that day, for two years later on May 19, 1819, in what must have been one of the most sensational


Joyce Butler is a writer on historical subjects and manuscript curator at the Brick Score Museum in Kennebunk.





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148                                               Joyce  Butler                                              


trials of the century in York County, Jacob Cochran would be tried and found guilty of the crimes of adultery and "open gross lewdness and lascivious behavior." For these crimes against society he was sentenced to the state prison at Charlestown for four years and eighteen days. 3

Jacob Cochran made. his first appearance in York County in 1816, and from that date to the present his life history and religious career have excited the curiosity of York County residents and Maine historians. 4 Studies of Cochran and Cochranism, the radical religious sect he founded, have surfaced with perhaps predictable regularity; so unusual, fascinating, and titillating a fragment of Maine history has invited reexamination. Although some of these studies were genuine attempts to analyze and understand the phenomena that brought confusion and discord to at least three generations of certain Maine families, most ranged in purpose from vituperative judgment to playful condemnation. 5

A reevaluation of Cochranism is justified and seems to be called for by current interest in the District of Maine in the years just prior to statehood. What does Cochranism tell us about the religious and social climate in Maine in the Federal period, and how does it 'fit into the religious history of New England, and indeed America? Answering these questions, as well as examining Cochranism from our twentieth century perspective, is the purpose of this chapter.

Cochranism was part of a mass movement of religious dissent against orthodox Calvinism called the Second Great Awakening, which swept the country early in the nineteenth century. This creative religious ferment drew inspiration from the First Great Awakening of 1740-1770 and the American revivalism it fostered. 6 America's earliest indigenous religious sects, the Freewill Baptists and Universalists, and England's transplanted Shakers all flourished and became established during the Second Great Awakening. 7 A study of the doctrine and practices preached by Jacob Cochran, as they are known, clearly shows that he borrowed freely from the forms of worship of the Shakers and Baptists and drew upon Universalism to develop his own theological response to what was being viewed increasingly in those years as a repressive Calvinism.

Moreover, Cochranism has significant ties to, mid-nineteenth century American religious dissent. In the years following Cochran's downfall and death, the form and theology of two of America's most successful Utopian societies, the Mormons and the Oneidan Perfectionists, would closely parallel Cochran's. Of particular interest is the Mormon and Oneidan practice in varying forms of spiritual wifery, the tenet that proved to be Cochran's Achilles' heel, has been vilified by sanctimonious and gleeful critics for 167 years. 8 Even in its most extreme forms, Cochranism fits into the mainstream of religious dissent in nineteenth-century America.





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A unique aspect of Cochranism might seem to be the success of Cochran's ministry in southern Maine's long-settled coastal towns. Generally, historians associate the sectarian impulse with frontier communities where social and cultural instability led to "an incessant demand for new religious forms." 9 However, rapid economic change in a traditional society, as well as the development of an "exuberant democratic national character," are also recognized as catalysts for sectarianism. 10 All three forces -- the frontier experience, rapid economic change, and manifestations of democratic thinking -- were at work in the communities where Cochran achieved his greatest success. Following the Revolution a surge in population and rapid economic growth in the District of Maine had created a frontier climate in established coastal towns. The immigrants who flooded into Maine from southern New England came infused with a hunger for new freedoms and new beginnings. Thus even in "old" towns, Jacob Cochran found potential converts.

Most of those who are at all familiar with Cochranism have gotten their information from Gideon T. Ridlon's "The Cochran Delusion" in his 1895 tome, Saco Valley Settlements. 11 Ridlon, a native of the Saco valley, which was the center of Jacob Cochran's ministry and witnessed his greatest success, was a minister whose account of Cochranism perpetuated the emotional condemnation of its earlier nineteenth century critics. Ridlon's account, abstracted here and liberally sprinkled with his hyperbole, provides a useful way of presenting that historical view, as well as contrasting it to a more reasoned twentieth century analysis of Cochranism.

Ridlon stated correctly that Jacob Cochran, the son of a prosperous farmer and his wife, was born in Enfield, New Hampshire, on July 9, 1782. 12 Although uncertain of Cochran's early education, Ridlon credits him with being a schoolteacher whose disgust with the "religious societies known as 'the standing order'" led him to begin preaching his own brand of religion. It was a "somewhat chaotic and remarkably elastic" doctrine, in substance the same as Universalism, yet mixed with a "primitive kind of spiritualism and free love, upon which he had engrafted many of the ceremonies practiced by the Shakers," as well, as the "forms of the primitive Freewill Baptists." Ridlon presents Cochran as a man of extraordinary "intellectual, mesmeric and physical powers" with, moreover, some kind of "occult power" that influenced his hearers: a calculating man whose musical voice, "eye of penetrating fire," and graceful agility caused conservative, "resolute" men to "surrender unconditionally" to his dictates. As for women, even those who had been reared in the most "puritanical" homes and were "models of virtuous propriety" were so caught up in the "delusive spell woven about them by the mesmeric power of Cochran, [that they] renounced... their former principles and habits of rectitude, and with unblushing boldness" followed his teaching,





150                                               Joyce  Butler                                              


Cochran's earliest doctrines were "in harmony" with those of the "orthodox" churches, and therefore unremarkable, but once he had "secured a firm foot-hold in the community" he began to preach 'a more radical theology. In response, "settled pastors" closed their churches against him, so that Cochran was obliged to preach in "schoolhouses, dwellings, and barns." The most objectionable part of his doctrine was his opposition to "the legal marriage bond." Those who were married were to be prepared to renounce their vows and to take spiritual -- that is, divinely designated -- consorts. "All revelations to this end were to come through Cochran, of course, and in the allotment of the spoils the leader... was... to get the 'lion's share.' Tradition assumes," wrote Ridlon, "that [Cochran] received frequent consignments,... and that such were invariably the most robust and attractive women in the community."

Ridlon had little information about just when Cochran came into the Saco valley, but he correctly placed his "principal stronghold, and the hot-bed of his delusion" in North Saco and the town of Buxton. Here "the Cochranites fairly reveled in the enthusiasm of their mock worship and disgraceful practices." The Cochranites' meetings and their "disgraceful practices," although not their theology, were of great interest to Ridlon, and his account is filled with numerous colorful anecdotes. Two are worth repeating. It was customary for the Cochranites in their meetings to illustrate scriptural incidents with tableaux. One of the favorite reenactments was the Garden of Eden with "the ideal Adam, in the person of Cochran, and Eve, in the person of some chosen female," appearing as they would have "before fig-leaf aprons were in fashion." Following one such reenactment, Cochran was warned by Saco's authorities that the "most severe penalty of the law would be visited upon him" if such conduct was repeated. Thereafter, the performers appeared in "costumes of ample dimensions."

The other anecdote concerns the Cochranites' proclivity to "swoon away" during meetings, which were marked by the "lively singing" of "rollicking" songs, "attended with clapping of hands and dancing." While "absent from the body" these elect would receive "marvelous revelations" which they would share with the others upon their return from "the realms of the spirit." On one occasion in Saco "a certain sister, named Mercy, who was a maiden of great personal beauty, sank down upon the floor.... and failing to come back... to relate her experiences... was put to bed. The next night the Cochranites gathered at the same house and were allowed to view the eighteen-year-old girl where she lay on her bed "dressed in a long, white night-robe. Her classic features were as white and rigid as... marble, and her profusion of dark hair [spread] over the snow-white pillow. Her eyes were nearly closed and the long, silken lashes lay upon her cheek. There was no movement or change of expression observable as the long line of spectators silently filed through the room to gaze upon her saintly face and graceful form. About the bed her relatives stood weeping."





                                   Cochranism  Delineated                                    151


These relatives importuned "Brother Jacob" to return Mercy to them, whereupon he announced solemnly that she was not able to return from the realms of the spirit without assistance. Then "passing his magic hand across her fair brow [he] said: 'Mercy arise.' In a twinkling she sprang from the bed with a scream and swept through the congregation."

The "resurrection... caused great commotion in the community, and public rage became menacing," resulting in a "moral cyclone." Ridlon paints a dire picture of ensuing events: a vigilante committee, whose meetings were infiltrated by Cochranite spies; secret gatherings of the Cochranites, to which they traveled by circuitous routes in the dark of night in order to escape detection by their enemies; and finally Cochran's arrest "after a desperate struggle." Ridlon was not sure whether Cochran was locked up in the state prison or whether he escaped on the way to prison and fled to New Hampshire. He was sure that after Cochran's death his body was brought back to Saco for burial at night, near one of his [disciples'] dwellings" or under the cemented floor of a cellar" somewhere in the North Saco-Lower Buxton district.

Ridlon explained that the source of his information about Cochranism was "venerable persons, of unimpaired mental faculties, who had listened to the preaching and witnessed the peculiar practices of Jacob Cochran." Ridlon was careful to point out, however, that he did not quote from "a bundle of yellow documents," which were in the hands of "a magistrate who lived in Buxton at the time these things occurred, [because] some of [the] affidavits [were] too sensational and personal." Ridlon concluded, "I have not torn the veil asunder from the top to the bottom, by any means, and have left out enough of tradition and documentary evidence, relating to this remarkable delusion, to fill a volume." Indeed he did!

Because of the nature of Jacob Cochran's alleged crimes, and the response they elicited from his contemporary critics, it is difficult to discover the truth about his career in southern Maine between 1816 and 1819. Almost without exception, nineteenth century accounts of Cochranism are marred by sanctimonious prejudice and a reliance upon oral history that is more gossip than history and from which the. names of actual participants were often withheld in order to protect their descendants from old family scandals. 13 Particular and important details concerning the sect's sexual practices were also suppressed as too sensational for publication. As Cochran's most thorough chronicler wrote, "the most objectionable features" were "eliminated and trimmed." 14

More seriously, primary documentary evidence is fragmentary. The "bundle of yellow documents" referred to by Ridlon was probably a collection of court depositions taken in February 1819, when Cochran appeared before Justice Daniel Granger who found probable guilt and bound him over to the May term of the Supreme Judicial Court at





152                                               Joyce  Butler                                              


York. These depositions, which are missing from the collection of other documents from that preliminary trial now in the State Archives, were described as "obscene, disgusting, scandalous" by Ephraim Stinchfield, a Freewill Baptist minister from New Gloucester. Stinchfield undertook a personal crusade against Cochran, which included publishing Cochranism Delineated, a pamphlet describing Cochranism as a "religious hydrophobia" and Jacob Cochran as "one of the most scandalous frauds ever imposed on any people under the name of religion." 15

Also lost, or at least not yet rediscovered, are a diary kept by Moses McDaniel of Hollis, one of Cochran's missionary disciples, letters of followers, and a few letters written by Cochran himself. These were in the hands of Joel M. Marshall of Buxton, who wrote a carefully researched series of articles about Cochranism that were published in the Biddeford Daily Journal and the Biddeford Weekly Journal between 1893 and 1896. 16

An important source of facts about Cochran and Cochranism should be the records of his trial before the Supreme Judicial Court; however, those records do not include a transcript of the actual proceedings. 17 A transcript was taken and published by an interested bystander, Gamaliel E. Smith of Newfield, and it is an invaluable source. Regrettably, however, the pamphlet that Smith published is only an abstract of the trial. 18 But perhaps the most serious stumbling block to a full analysis of Cochranism is the absence of any written record or explanation of his theology by Cochran himself.

Despite these handicaps, it is possible to present a fairly complete picture of this fascinating religious teacher and his sect. Accounts of Jacob Cochran invariably describe him as a fine-looking man, something above the ordinary, whose physical appearance attracted much attention. An eyewitness to Cochran's activities, writing in 1839, described him as "prepossessing" in his person, "somewhat above the middle stature" with a "florid complexion, light hair, high forehead, a singular dark and penetrating eye, with a wen or protuberance on the fore part of his head, in a line with his right eye." 19 Prison records reveal that in actuality Cochran was five-feet ten-inches tall, with black eyes, brown hair, and a sandy complexion. 20

The details of Cochran's history before his appearance in York County are unclear. Most observers found him "well-educated for his day," although there is no indication that his formal schooling went beyond a "common-school" education. 21 He was generally recognized as highly intelligent, with a considerable knowledge of history and reading. 22 Ridlon claimed that Cochran was "well read in law." 23 In 1805 at Enfield he married Abigail Colcord Stephenson, and by 1816 they had three children: Rachel, Helen, and John. 24 Cochran was said to have been a schoolteacher and to have served with the Army as a sutler during the War of 1812. 25 Neither of these claims can be documented. Probably the contention of Daniel Remich, a Kennebunk historian,





                                   Cochranism  Delineated                                    153


that by 1815 Cochran "had lived several years in Fryeburg, where he kept a small stock of goods, chiefly groceries, and was very fairly patronized" is accurate. 26

Remich was the only historian who wrote with certainty about Cochran's place of residence and occupation before his appearance in York County as a religious teacher. He was also the only one to profess knowledge of how Cochran began his religious career. Remich describes in some detail an incident that occurred in Cochran's Fryeburg store on a "dull afternoon." In a playful confrontation Cochran inadvertently "put to sleep" (hypnotized) a man who had come into the store with some friends to pass the time of day. The "experiment" was repeated successfully over the next several days, leading Cochran to believe that "he had been endowed with supernatural power... that could not be otherwise interpreted than as a call to preach." 27 The precise nature of Cochran's "power" remains uncertain. What is certain is that coupling it with his ready wit, shrewd understanding of human nature, fine singing voice, physical grace, and exceptional speaking ability, Jacob Cochran was able to effect the most successful and memorable religious revival ever to sweep southern Maine. 28

When Cochran made his appearance in York County in the spring of 1816, a revival was underway within Maine's New Light churches. 29 Cochran, in the tested tradition of revivalist preachers, 30 took part in the revival under the aegis of Gorham's newly ordained Clement Phinney and other Freewill Baptist ministers. 31 He was so successful that it appears in retrospect there was general uncertainty as to whether he had been a follower in or the catalyst of the revival. 32 In time this uncertainty would harden into a firm belief that Cochran had deviously presented himself as a Freewill Baptist in order to gain acceptance with the full intention of leading people away into his own "ministry of iniquity." 33

Historians have looked for an explanation for the revival. Joel M. Marshall described 1816 as "a dismal year." The weather was "cold and backward" with a black frost every month, 34 and in the aftermath of the War of 1812, which ended in 1815, "business was dull, money was scarce, our shipping [was nearly paralyzed and our] prostrated commerce [had resulted in widespread unemployment and] left our credit to the mercy of other nations." 35 It has been noted that "many people [seek] God more earnestly in adversity than in prosperity," 36 but that is a simplistic explanation for southern Maine's revival of 1816. There were more diverse forces involved.

Dissent against the Calvinist preachings of the orthodox church was raging in New England, particularly in the hill country and on the frontiers. 37 In the District of Maine religious dissent was not confined to frontier communities. Even in long-established coastal communities, such as Saco, whose first year-round settlement occurred in 1614, the old ways were being questioned. An influx of settlers eager to begin a new life had created social and cultural instability much like that of a





154                                               Joyce  Butler                                              


frontier community. The newcomers, many of whom were veterans of the Revolutionary War, had come not only looking for a fresh economic start but also with a firm belief in themselves as rightful heirs to whatever position and privilege they could garner. Out of the Revolution had come a yearning for new freedoms, and many people were no longer willing to leave religious, political, and economic decisions to the favored few -- New England's merchant aristocracy and their Harvard-educated clergymen. This attitude, coupled with the religious credulity of the times, made people receptive to new religious thought and eager for a prophet to lead them. 38 In southern Maine Jacob Cochran was to be their prophet.

And there was a place for him. In most of the communities where Cochran gained large numbers of converts, there was weakness or dissension in the organized churches. In North Saco the Baptists were split; both the Calvinist and Freewill Baptists had built their own small churches. 39 The Baptist ministry was further weakened by the divisive influence of the Christian Society. This offshoot of the Freewill Baptist faith had been successfully founded in Maine by Elias Smith and was being carried on by a new, younger group of ministers, including Mark Fernald and Peter Young. 40

Vacant pulpits were another problem. In Arundel (Kennebunkport) the decision of the Baptist minister, Andrew Sherburne, to emigrate west left his congregation without a minister. His parishioners, anxious to fill the pulpit of the small church that had been built only after a great struggle against the orthodox clergy, were eager to accept the preaching of whomever would come. Jacob Cochran filled that void with great success. 41

Even within the orthodox churches there were problems beyond basic doctrinal dissatisfaction that left room for a new voice to be heard. In Kennebunk (then part of Wells) a dispute between the Reverend Jonathan Greenleaf and the Reverend Nathaniel Fletcher may have contributed to Cochran's success in that town. Without doubt the extreme age of Buxton's Paul Coffin was influential in the decision of so many from his church to follow the new prophet. 42

Pressing in upon this theological disarray were the people who truly were seeking new ways and new answers. The diary of Benjamin Simpson, one of Cochran's Saco converts, illustrates clearly the search that many followed for their faith. 43 From 1781 until the spring of 1817, when Simpson began to attend Cochran's meetings, the pages of the diary reflect a pattern of wide participation in church services. Simpson, who lived in North Saco on what is now called Simpson Road, attended services at the Congregational Church in Saco village and Baptist services in North Saco. He also went to Congregational and Baptist services in Buxton. It was not unusual for him to attend a Congregational service in the morning and a Baptist service in the afternoon. He traveled to church in neighboring Scarborough as well as throughout the nearby countryside to hear any exhorter who came





                                   Cochranism  Delineated                                    155


to preach in a schoolhouse or in a private home. Among these was a Methodist circuit rider, a black man from Portland, the Christian Society evangelist Elias Smith, and a woman. On at least one occasion he went to Alfred to a Shaker meeting. It seems that no new church was dedicated and no minister ordained or dismissed without Benjamin Simpson being in attendance. He was a church man; the affairs of the church -- any church -- were his business.

But in thirty-seven years of diary notations about his church attendance, he does not comment once on the quality of a service. Then on April 20, 1818, after a meeting at which the wife of a neighbor was baptized by Jacob Cochran, Simpson wrote in his diary, "a powerful meeting." Two days later his own wife began a month-long travail of emotional and mental derangement marked by praying and trances. After a week of observing her and a day in which Mrs. Simpson revived enough to sing hymns and "praise the Lord," Simpson wrote, I trust I felt some of the love of God to my soul, bless the Lord for it." On Saturday May 23, Mrs. Simpson, the Simpsons' son George, and others were baptized by Jacob Cochran. On June 28, another son, Ebenezer Simpson, after "a powerful and happy meeting" was "brought to Praise the Lord." On July 12, Simpson wrote "Sunday to meeting at McKenneys barn, then to Benja[men] Haines barn to Commemmorate the death & sufferings of the Lord Jesus then went into the watter with five others and Baptized by Jacob Cockran." Simpson was sixty-three years old.

Benjamin Simpson was without doubt one of the "resolute" North Saco men whose conversion to Cochranism puzzled Cochran's critics. He was a native of York and a Revolutionary War veteran who had taken part in the Boston Tea Party and had served at Valley Forge. He was a prosperous farmer and bricklayer and a member of the First Baptist Society of Buxton. Simpson was a respected citizen of Saco who had served his town as surveyor of highways, hog reeve, and tax collector, and the county as a grand juror. 44 He was also a staunch Cochranite, or to use the name Cochran gave his sect, a member of the "Society of Free Brethren and Sisters." 45

Cochran preached freedom from all organized churches, their ministerial hierarchies, and theological restraints. He called for a return to the apostolic church, advocating rebaptism to cleanse his followers of sectarianism. Cochran's 1839 chronicler provided a list of his basic beliefs along with biblical citations. 46 Reference to these and a careful reading of the New Testament, particularly the Acts and Letters of the Apostles, provide a general knowledge of the doctrine of the Society of Free Brethren and Sisters. Here we can only briefly summarize the results of such a study. In his early ministry Cochran preached one God and one Mediator to whom repentance was due, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and baptism by immersion in his name, and Christian perfection. His doctrines became more radical as he gained converts. From the epistles of Paul, Cochran culled and preached the possibility





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of baptism by the Holy Ghost and fire, spiritual healing and the working of miracles, communal living, and spiritual wifery. With his followers he observed both Holy Communion and a Passover feast. 47

In their worship services the Cochranites practiced "holy marches," lively dancing and singing, and exercises of reaping and winnowing that resembled the worship exercises of the Shakers. Without doubt this reflected Cochran's exposure to Shaker forms of worship in his hometown of Enfield, New Hampshire, site of one of the most successful Shaker communities. Like the Freewill Baptists, the Cochranites practiced the ancient biblical custom of footwashing. When Cochran preached, sometimes standing upon a table in order to be seen by all in the crowded room, his enthusiasm evoked applause and shouts of "Amen" and "Glory to God." 48 Listeners sometimes fell into trances from which they brought back visions of the spirit world. One Cochranite reported, "I saw my Jesus; O, I saw my Jesus;... I saw heaven, I saw my Jesus there and my grandmother... I saw my father and mother almost into hell I saw P.D. enter the kingdom of heaven. I saw I.C. almost to hell. O, what a dreadful place hell is...." 49 Shouting, groaning, weeping, clapping, something called the "holy roll," and whirling and dancing that participants often took to the nearby streets accompanied these revelations. 50

To those outside the Society, these manifestations of religious hysteria we're considered sinful excesses, but actually they, were in the best tradition of radical evangelism and revivalism. 51 More to the point, in them lay the appeal of Cochranism. His eloquent oratory, the joyous singing, the dancing, even the physical excesses were a relief after "the solemn psalm tunes and hymns, the pausing and hanging on the parts in slow long metre" and all the other "rigid discipline" connected at that time with accepted religious observance. 52

Peter Young, who became an itinerant minister of the Christian Society, in describing his own conversion from Congregationalism, wrote of the Baptist elders who inspired him, "But oh! How different was the preaching of those unlearned and despised preachers, from the better-learned and world-applauded rabbis! These only made sounds of words in the ears and did not reach the heart.... But those despised ones spoke as men having authority from heaven...." 53 The appeal of Jacob Cochran was greater even than that of the Baptist preachers who before his arrival had seemed to speak with supreme authority from heaven. To quote one historian, Cochran's "commanding presence, his pleasing manners, his dark penetrating eyes, his fluent tongue and copious language, his melodious voice, his familiarity with the scripture and his untramelled interpretation of its text, his intense earnestness... all... engineered by a superb masculine vigor, made him a dreaded rival." 54

Cochran weaned men and women of all ages and levels of society away from the organized churches by the hundreds. Estimates of the number of his converts range from 1,000 to 4,000. Cochran claimed to





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have 2,000 followers. This claim seems possible when we read that his disciple, Moses McDaniel, recorded that at one meeting "about 500 went forward to [the Lord's] supper." 55 It is not surprising that the 1818 minutes of the Cumberland Baptist Association reported, "The state of religion in our churches, is not so lively as it was last year." 56 Many Baptists, like North Saco's Benjamin Simpson, had turned aside to follow Jacob Cochran. Indeed, it was with the leaders of the dissenting churches that he competed most strongly for converts.

By late 1817, the Baptists were sufficiently alarmed by the "Cochrane spirit" to form a vigilance mission to crusade against what they considered Cochran's "heresy." Chief among these guardians of the public morals was Ephraim Stinchfield of New Gloucester. Stories of Cochran's denial of legal marriage vows, of the Garden of Eden tableau, of secret late night meetings for the select few at which there was free exchange of sexual partners, and of the pairing of fathers with stepdaughters and neighbor with neighbor as spiritual consorts, provided the ministers with just cause for their crusade. But not until the social leaders of Saco and Biddeford went after Cochran was he brought down.

Whereas the Baptist ministers had confronted Cochran himself and gone among the people warning them of their danger, Saco's Dr. Richard Cutts Shannon and Ichabod Jordan of Biddeford filed legal complaints against Cochran, which led to his arrest and a preliminary trial before Saco's Justice of the Peace Daniel Granger on February 18-19, 1819. Ichabod Jordan and his brother Rishworth, who would assist in the actual arrest of Cochran, were members of one of Saco/Biddeford's most prestigious families. Jordans had been landowners, town officials, magistrates, and Congregationalists in the two towns for generations. 57 Dr. Shannon, Harvard-educated and a deacon of the First Church, was Saco's principal physician. 58

It may have been Cochran's supposed attack on Freemasonry (which he would have seen as just another form of sectarianism) that stirred them. 59 Years later Cochran would claim that it was "through the influence of Masons" that he was imprisoned. 60 Some said it was the involvement with the Cochranites of a daughter of one of Saco's leading families that moved them to action. This probably was Mary King, daughter of the Honorable Cyrus King, former Congressman of the District of Maine. 61 (There is, in turn, reason to believe Mary King may be the "Sister Mercy" described by Ridlon.) 62

The appeal of Cochran and his theology for women is another aspect of Cochranism that deserves lengthy examination. Here we can only refer those who are interested in this aspect of his ministry to Whitney Cross's The Burned-Over District. Cross states that owing in part to the socially limited and unexciting lives of women, they "comprise the great majority of members in all churches [and] dominated revivals and praying circles, pressing husbands, fathers, and sons toward conversion...." 63 Cochran's appeal to women had long concerned





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his critics. The prevailing opinion of men of that time was that women were more credulous and sentimental than men and also needed to be protected from their own sexuality. 64 There are many recorded instances of the ready response of women to Cochran's teachings. Benjamin Simpson is but one example of a "resolute" North Saco farmer who was led to Cochran by his wife. 65 Yet at the same time Cochran was noted for the number of men he converted, rivaling the great revivalist George Whitefield. 66

Cochran was brought to trial at the May term of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts at York, Maine, on five indictments for adultery and varying forms of "gross and lascivious behavior" with five different women. Mary King and Eunice and Abigail Bond, all young, single women from Saco, were the chief witnesses against him. 67 The courtroom was crowded with men who had left their spring planting to hear the testimony of the women which was "given in most expressive and unmistakable terms." 68 Cochran, who pleaded not guilty, was defended by two of York county's most prestigious lawyers, George Wallingford of Kennebunk and John Holmes of Alfred. 69

Cochran's trial on the first indictment -- "Going to bed with Eliza Hill and Sally Dennet for 1 hour on December 25, 1818" -- ended in a hung jury. The following day he was tried for "lying in bed with Abigail Clark, a married woman, and committing adultery, lewdness, etc., with said Abigail Clark on the 6th and 10th day of July [1818]." He was found guilty despite John Holmes's contention that the testimony against him was inconclusive and that Cochran was really being tried for his religious beliefs. Said Holmes, "If the testimony of a people is to be measured by their religious tenets, I know no bounds to the evil." 70 Years later a fair-minded historian would write, "[Cochran] was tried on assumptions." 71 Smith's abstract of the trial does not present conclusive evidence of guilt. Cochran's greatest proven crime seems to have been lying beside Nabby Clark in his "linen."

Cochran did not wait to be sentenced. When he was called to the bar for sentencing he was not to be found. Throughout the spring and summer, sheriffs and constables would search York county for him. In late October he was arrested at the home of John Berry in North Saco and taken to the county jail at Alfred. On November 2, 1819, he was "brought to the bar" at Alfred and sentenced to eighteen days in solitary confinement and four years at hard labor at the state prison in Charlestown. 72

Joel Marshall, who made such a complete study of Cochranism in the 1890s, questioned the severity of that sentence, calling it "disproportionate" to the crime. 73 From our twentieth century perspective it does seem so. But in the nineteenth century Cochran's espousal of spiritual wifery was a heinous crime against society. 74 As the Reverend Amasa Loring explained in his polemic against Cochranism, marriage was the "divine [institution] given in Eden (to guard] the most precious





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social enjoyments [and to] defy barbarism, ignorance, heathenism and lust." 75

Jacob Cochran served his sentence to the day despite efforts by his friends to secure his early release. Petitions to the Governor of Massachusetts and his Council were filed by York County residents, Cochran's old neighbors in Enfield, New Hampshire, and his wife. Cochran himself petitioned regularly for release from prison, citing the need to support his family, which now included four children. 76

His life following his release from prison is shadowy and -- like the rest of his history -- has been the subject of lurid and exaggerated stories. Briefly, the facts are the following. In 1824 he visited James Remich in Kennebunk and tried without success to convince Remich to release the copyright on Gamaliel Smith's report of the trial in order that he might write his autobiography. Subsequently, he is known to have been in Hamburg, New York, attempting to gain converts and to have gathered followers in South Hadley, Massachusetts, and Stratham, New Hampshire. 77 He died in Stratham on March 5, 1836. 78 His body was brought back to North Saco where it was buried on the John Dennet farm. A few years later it was disinterred and moved to an unknown site in Enfield. 79

But the story of Cochranism does not end with Jacob Cochran's death. Although most of the supposed 2,000 followers he converted turned to other faiths where they were numbered among the "most valuable members," a dedicated nucleus remembered his teachings. 80 Some of them had turned to Mormonism even before Cochran's death. Mormon missionaries came into Maine In 1832 and 1833 and "brought in a harvest" of converts in the towns where Cochran had been active. 81 As many of Cochran's converts had been Smithites (converts of Elias Smith), 82 so too many of southern Maine's converts to Mormonism had first been Cochranites. As Ridlon expressed it, "Jake Cochran was a John the Baptist for the Mormon's apostles" and "a full-blooded Cochranite made a first-class Mormon." 83

Much has been made by historians, including Ridlon, of the appeal of the Mormon faith to the Cochranites, 84 but even a cursory study of the history of the Mormon church indicates that Cochran's Free Brethren and Sisters may have made significant contributions to that society. The practice of polygamy, for which the Mormons are known, grew out of an earlier form of spiritual wifery. Louis J. Kern, whose book An Ordered Love is a detailed study of sex roles and sexuality in Victorian utopias, wrote that "Mormon social life in the 1830s was characterized by a practice akin to spiritual wifery." 85 Kern further states that "the system of polygamy as it evolved in its early years at Nauvoo... seems to have been little more than an institutionalized spiritual wifery." 86

There is evidence that Cochranites may have brought other practices to the Mormons. For example, Kern notes that one early Mormon ceremony of initiation involved "a reenactment of the Edenic temptation





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in which those who portray Adam and Eve wear very little clothing." 87

The teachings and practices of the Cochranites parallel those of another of America's early utopian societies, John Humphrey Noyes's Perfectionists, whose community flourished at Oneida, New York, from 1848 to 1879. The parallels of the Oneidan Perfectionists to Cochran's Society of Free Brethren and Sisters are startling. Noyes rejected organized churches as in opposition to the everlasting gospel." Like Cochran, he called for a return to the primitive, apostolic church as preached by Paul. The Oneidans were a communal society whose members practiced spiritual healing as well as "complex marriage," a form of spiritual wifery. There are many other minor and detailed similarities between the two societies.

Indeed, there are enough similarities between Cochran and Noyes and their societies that we must ask: Did the two men find their ways independently, or did Cochran influence Noyes, either through his missionary disciples or through direct confrontation? 88 The latter is possible. We know that Cochran was in Hamburg, New York, in 1829 because of the existence of a letter from the Hamburg selectmen to the selectmen of Saco asking for information about his character. "Said Cochran, wrote the Hamburg selectmen, "is now residing in this town and is trying to Establish a Religious Society.... He has produced some considerable excitement in this Vicinity." 89 Noyes's search for his faith took him into upstate New York, as well as to parts of New England, where he might have met or been exposed to the charismatic preaching of Jacob Cochran. However, for the purposes of this chapter it is enough to point out the similarities between the Cochranites and Oneidans. The larger and more intriguing question of influence must await further study.

If we cannot answer many questions about Jacob Cochran's history, his motives as a religious teacher, his theology, the closing years of his life, and his influence on the Mormons and Oneidans, we can state with certainty that he was a significant, robust a colorful, figure. Jacob Cochran and his Society were more than an aberration, more than a bizarre religious manifestation that happened to appear in southern Maine, as their nineteenth century critics have led us to believe. They represent in microcosm all the forces at work in the creative religious ferment of Federal-period New England, and closely parallel later religious developments in America. Moreover to examine Cochranism from our twentieth century perspective is to gain important insight not only into the religious but also into the social and cultural climate in the District of Maine as it moved toward statehood.


NOTES


1. Primary documents and historical accounts of the career of Jacob Cochran spell his name variously as "Cochran" and "Cochrane." Cochran himself spelled his name without the





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"e." See Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Governor's Council, Pardons Rejected, [1819-1822], Petition for Pardon to His Excellency John Brooks, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and Honorable Council, October 8, 1821, Archives of the Commonwealth, Boston (hereafter MaSA).

2. Joel M. Marshall, "Cochrane's Craze," Biddeford Daily Journal, February 14, 1895.

3. York County Supreme Judicial Court, Proceedings and Judgments, 1819, Commonwealth vs. Cochran, Archives of the State of Maine, Augusta (hereafter MeSA).

4. As with most aspects of Cochran's life, published accounts differ as to when he came into York County. Correlation of all available data indicates that he probably made his first appearance in southern Maine in the spring of 1816 as stated in Joel M. Marshall, "First of a Series: Full and Accurate History of Cochranism," Biddeford Daily Journal, December 22, 1893.

5. Honest attempts to explain and understand Cochranism were "Jacob Cochran, Reminisces," written by "An Eye Witness" and published in the Freewill Baptist newspaper Morning Star, July 7, 1839; Daniel Remich, "Cochranism," History of Kennebunk (Kennebunk, Me.: no publisher, 1911), pp. 268-278; a series of articles written by Joel M. Marshall of Buxton, which were published in the Biddeford Daily Journal and Biddeford Weekly Journal between 1893 and 1896. The "Cochran Fanaticism in York County," an 1867 paper reprinted in the Maine Historical Society Quarterly 19 (Summer 1980), 23-39, which was probably written by the Reverend Amasa Loring and read by his son, Lincoln Loring, to a meeting of the Maine Historical Society in 1892 (see Biddeford Weekly Journal, December 16, 1892), is typical of the harsh and abusive commentary on Cochran produced by a number of nineteenth century ministers. Cochran's most recent chronicler, Bill Caldwell, in his Rivers of Fortune (Portland, Me.: Guy Gannett Publishing Company, 1983), dismisses Cochranism as a "delightfully scandalous, religious sect" that engaged in "wife swapping."

6. For a more detailed discussion of the Great Awakening and the Second Great Awakening, see Harvey Wish, Society and Thought in Early America, 2 Vols. (New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1955), Vol. I., Stephen A. Marini, Radical Sects of Revolutionary New England (Cambridge, Mass.; Harvard University Press, 1982).

7. Marini, Radical Sects, pp. 1-7.

8. Lawrence Foster, Religion and Sexuality: Three American Communal Experiments of the Nineteenth Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981), p. 131, explains that in the nineteenth Century "spiritual wifery" was a "pejorative generic term [used to refer to] marital experimentation..., a catchall suggesting rationalized infidelity."

9. Marini, Radical Sects, p. 2.

10. Ibid.

11. Gideon T. Ridlon, Saco Valley Settlements (Portland, Me.: The Author, 1895), pp. 269-280.

12. Ridlon's information concerning Cochran's birth and parentage agrees with that of Joel M. Marshall in his essay "Cochrane's Power," Biddeford Daily Journal, December 28, 1893. In 1983 Jeanette Haarala, Town Historian of Enfield, New Hampshire, also stated that Jacob Cochran was born in Enfield July 9, 1782, to Jacob and Rachel (Webster) Cochran. It should be noted that Haarala's information did not come from town records, which were destroyed in 1850, but from genealogy gathered "from local cemeteries by an interested person." It should also be noted that the register of Cochran's committal to prison in November 1819 gives his age as 38, which would indicate a birth date of 1781. See Commonwealth of Massachusetts, State Prison at Charlestown, "Entries of Convicts [1819]," MaSA. A further search for accurate documentation is obviously needed.

13. Accounts qualifying to a degree as exceptions are Joel M. Marshall's series, and Witness, "Jacob Cochran." In "Two Strange Gods," Biddeford Daily Journal, October 12, 1892, an unknown writer tells of an instance in which Cochran is supposed to have informed a follower that by divine revelation he is to exchange his wife for Cochran's. The follower is described as one of [Cochran's] firm disciples, whose descendants still live in North Saco, and who would not... relish seeing their ancestor's weaknesses in print."

14. Joel M. Marshall, "In State Prison," Biddeford Daily Journal, March 13, 1896.

15. A Watchman [Ephraim Stinchfield], Cochranism Delineated, 2d ed. (Boston: N. Coverly, 1819), p. 19.

16. Marshall quoted extensively from the journal and letters in his "In State Prison." See also Marshall's letter dated November 22, 1910, which appeared in the Portland Argus. Argus Scrapbook, 1:40, Maine Historical Society (hereafter MeHS).

17. York County Supreme Judicial Court Records, 1819, MeSA. This collection includes a ledger of "Proceedings and judgments" and assorted loose documents (indictments, warrants, etc.) of Cochran's preliminary trial in February, as well as his final trial in May.

18. Gamaliel E. Smith, Report of The Trial of Jacob Cochran (Kennebunk, Me.: James K. Remich, 1819).





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19. Witness, "Jacob Cochran."

20. "Entries of Convicts, [1819]."

21. "Two Strange Gods," and Ridlon, Saco Valley Settlements, 269.

22. Witness, "Jacob Cochran."

23. Ridlon, Saco Valley Settlements, p. 273.

24. Joel M. Marshall, "Cochrane's Arrest," Biddeford Daily Journal, January 31, 1896.

25. Ridlon's contention that Cochran was a teacher is supported by Marshall. For Cochran's military service, see Loring, "Cochran Fanaticism," p. 23, and Marshall, "First." Although no documentary evidence could be found in the National Archives, Washington, D.C., Cochran's statement, "I have traveled in ten states...," as reported in D. M. Graham, "Cochran and Cochranism," The Life of Clement Phinney (Dover, N.H.: William Burr Printer, 1851), p. 81, might lend support to the claim for his military service. In 1888 the granddaughter of Cochran's brother Robert denied that Cochran had ever been a teacher or in the Army (see Marshall, "Cochrane's Power"); however, another letter from her to Stephen Mayberry of Cape Elizabeth, dated March 18, 1886, Mayberry Papers, Miscellaneous Box 21, Folder 11, MeHS, contains so much misinformation that she cannot be wholly relied upon as an accurate source.

26. Remich, History, p. 268. Remich must have gotten much of his information from his father James, who witnessed Cochran's activities in York County and printed Gamaliel Smith's report of the trial. The fullness of Remich's reporting of events in Fryeburg before Cochran came to York County and his evident acquaintance with Cochran's Fryeburg landlady (see pp. 268-270), also lend credence to his reliability.

27. Ibid.

28. Harrison Otis Smith, "Cochranites," Ossipee Valley News, January 1, 1883, describes Cochran as "a man of ready wit and much shrewdness, a fine singer, an elegant dancer, a ready speaker, the compass of his voice [ranging] from the coo of a dove to the roar of a lion...." Loring, "Cochran Fanaticism," p. 26, names Cochran's "attractions as a public speaker... his unparalleled, artful cunning and deep penetration into human nature." Marshall, "Cochrane's Power," describes Cochran's "oratory [to be] conceded by all to be brilliant and sometimes very eloquent." In "Two Strange Gods," Cochran is said to have been "credited with having preached the most remarkable and effective sermons ever heard in his generation." Even setting such hyperbole aside, it is clear that Cochran was a remarkably effective speaker.

29. For an explanation of New Light revivalists see Wish, Society and Thought, vol. 1, p. 158, and Whitney R. Cross, The Burned-Over District, 2d ed. (New York: Harper & Row, 1965), p. 7. For a full discussion of the evolution of the "New Light Stir," see Marini, Radical Sects, pp. 40-59. For more details concerning the revival in southern Maine, see G. A. Burgess and J. T. Ward, Free Baptist Cyclopedia (no location: Free Baptist Cyclopedia Company, 1889), p. 357.

30. Marini, Radical Sects, p. 83.

31. For a brief history of Clement Phinney's entry into the ministry, see Burgess and Ward, Cyclopedia, p. 528. For a description of Cochran's deference to Phinney, see Graham, Life of Clement Phinney, p. 81.

32. Witness, "Jacob Cochran."

33. Stinchfield, Cochranism Delineated, pp. 7, 9.

34. Joel M. Marshall, "The Cochrane Craze," Biddeford Daily Journal, January 10, 1894. See also Benjamin Simpson, Diary, 1781-1849, Dyer Library, Saco, Maine.

35. Marshall, "The Cochrane Craze."

36. Cross, Burned-Over District, p. 143.

37. Marini, Radical Sects, p. 63.

38. Whitney Cross, analyzing the initial success of the Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith, wrote that "The fundamental condition leading to the new faith was the credulity and spiritual yearning [of the times] which made people anxious to follow a prophet, whoever he might be." Cross, Burned-Over District, p. 143.

39. George Folsom, History of Saco and Biddeford (Somersworth, N.H.: New Hampshire Publishing Co., reprint of 1830 ed., 1975), pp. 296-297.

40. For a brief history of the Christian Society, see Jonathan Greenleaf, Sketches of The Ecclesiastical History of The State of Maine (Portsmouth, N.H.: Harrison Gray, 1811), pp. 292-293. See also Peter Young, Brief Account of The Life and Experiences of Peter Young (Portsmouth, N.H.: Beck and Foster, 1817); Mark Fernald, Life of Elder Mark Fernald (Newburyport, Mass.: George Moore Payne and D. P Pike, 1852).

41. For the history of Andrew Sherburne and the struggle of Arundel Baptists against the orthodox church, see Andrew Sherburne, Memoirs of Andrew Sherburne (Utica, N.Y.: William Williams, 1828); Joyce Butler, "Andrew Sherburne," Kennebunkport Scrapbook (Kennebunk, Me.: Thomas Murphy, 1977), vol. 1, pp. 17-21. In his Cochranism Delineated, Ephraim Stinchfield reported a visit to a "considerable society" of Cochranites in Arundel.





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42. When Paul Coffin died on June 6, 1821 he was eighty-four. See "Memoir of Rev. Paul Coffin, D.D.," Collections of the Maine Historical Society, 1st ser., 4 (1856), 256-257. It is significant that in 1817 Levi Loring of Saco was ordained and appointed Associate Minister by the Buxton Church. See Cyrus Woodman (ed.), The Records of The Church of Christ in Buxton, Maine (Cambridge, Mass.; Privately published, 1868), pp. 81-86.

43. The same pattern of varied churchgoing evident in Simpson's diary can be seen in the 1828-1865 diary of Tobias Walker of Kennebunk, MeHS.

44. For Simpson's Revolutionary War service, see Folsom, History, p. 287, and Joyce Butler, "Arundel and The War For Independence," Kennebunkport Scrapbook (Kennebunk, Me.: Thomas Murphy, 1977), vol. 1, p. 82. For his civil service and occupation, see his diary and "Records of The Town of Saco, 1807-1830," Dyer Library, Saco, Maine.

45. Remich, History, p. 274. Affidavits of church membership in the tax records of Saco call the society "The Free Brethren."

46. The "Eye Witness" who wrote about Jacob Cochran in 1839 gave the following biblical references for his doctrines: Acts 2:33, 4:32-37, 8:10, 19:1-6; Matthew 3:11 and 26:19-26; and Revelations 18:4.

47. Ibid.

48. Edward E. Bourne, History of Wells and Kennebunk (Portland, Me.: B. Thurston and Company, 1875), p. 634.

49. Joel M. Marshall, "Cochranism," Biddeford Daily Journal, March 13, 1892.

50. For descriptions of Cochranite meetings, see Marshall, "Cochrane's Power" and "Cochranism;" Remich, History, p. 271 Stinchfield, Cochranism Delineated, pp. 4, 6. For footwashing by the Baptists, see Marini, Radical Sects, p. 105.

51. Wish, Society and Thought, vol. 1, p. 249; Cross, Burned-Over District, pp. 173-184; Charles Nordhoff, The Communistic Societies of The United States (New York: Dover Publications, reprint of 1875 ed., 1966), p. 131.

52. Marshall, "Cochrane's Power." See also Marshall, "The Cochrane Craze" for a long description of the "rigid discipline connected with... religious observance."

53. Young, Brief Account, p. 13.

54. Joel M. Marshall, "Jacob Cochrane," Biddeford Daily Journal, January 16, 1895.

55. For estimates of the size of the Society, see Stephen Mayberry writing about Cochran in the Saco Union and Journal, January 5, 1882; Witness, "Jacob Cochran." For Cochran's estimate of the size of his sect, see Stinchfield, Cochranism Delineated, p. 13. For the quotation from Moses McDaniel's journal, see Marshall, "Cochrane's Craze."

56. Minutes of The Cumberland Baptist Association, 1818 (Hallowell, Me.: S. K. Gilman, 1818), p. 11.

57. Tristram Frost Jordan, The Jordan Memorial (Boston: David Clapp and Son, 1833).

58. Folsom, History, p. 304.

59. Loring, "Cochran Fanaticism," p. 29. Loring contended that Cochran "assailed the institution of Freemasonry with unsparing severity."

60. Letter to the Selectmen of Saco from the Selectmen of Hamburg, New York, July 8, 1829, Dyer Library, Saco, Me.

61. Genealogy of the King Family of Saco, Collection No. 296, Box 4, Folder 16, MeHS.

62. This is only a guess based on the similarity in names and ages of the two young women in court testimony during the summer of 1818. Mary King was attended by Cochran as her doctor, a role he evidently filled for his followers. See Smith, Report p. 80.

63. Cross, Burned-Over District, pp. 87-89, 177-178.

64. For a complete discussion of this viewpoint, see Louis J. Kern, An Ordered Love (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1981), pp. 52-60; Cross, Burned-Over District, p. 178.

65. John Dennet of Saco, who was not a Cochranite although his wife was, is another example. After Cochran's death, Dennet provided a burial site for him on his farm, and after the removal of Cochran's body to Enfield, N.H., his stone was recut and placed on the grave of Dennet's wife, Sarah, by their son Jacob, who had been named for the prophet. See "More About Cochran," Biddeford Daily Journal, October 19, 1892.

66. Marshall, "Jacob Cochrane."

67. Smith, Report, and Supreme Judicial Court, Records, 1819.

68. Marshall, "Cochrane's Arrest." Benjamin Simpson's son Ebenezer was among them. See Simpson, Diary, May 21, 1819.

69. For biographies of Wallingford and Holmes, see William Willis, A History of The Law, The Courts and The Lawyers of Maine (Portland, Me.: Baily and Noyes, 1863), pp. 252-255, 275-289. Holmes would go on to serve as Maine's first congressman from the new state of Maine.

70. Smith, Report, p. 32.

71. Mayberry Papers, MeHS, quoted from an unknown source.





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72. Joel M. Marshall, "Bolted from Court," Biddeford Daily Journal, February 2, 1896, and Supreme Judicial Court, Records, 1819.

73. Joel M. Marshall, "End of Cochrane," Biddeford Daily Journal, November 18, 1896.

74. No firm documentation for Cochran preaching and practicing spiritual wifery has been found, but the weight of secondary evidence seems to leave little doubt that in some form it was part of his teaching and a practice of the Cochranites.

75. Loring, "Cochran Fanaticism," pp. 29-30.

76. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Governor's Council, Petitions to His Excellency and The Honorable Council of The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, November 20 and 25, 1820; January 8, September 20, and October 8, 1821; January 19, 1822, MaSA. Cochran's second son and fourth child, Edwin, was born March 6, 1819, in Saco. See Simpson, Diary; Marshall, "Arrest," and the Mayberry Papers.

77. Remich, History, pp. 274-276; Letter to the Selectmen of Saco...

78. Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics, State of New Hampshire, Concord, N.H.

79. Marshall, "End." Today the site of Cochran's grave in Enfield is not known. Jeanette Haarala, the town's historian, in correspondence with Joyce Butler in the spring of 1983, stated that "Jacob Cochran is not buried in Enfield." That he is seems certain, as his birthdate in the town's records was supposedly taken from his gravestone in one of the town's cemeteries. See note 5, above.

80. Witness, "Jacob Cochran."

81. Steward Holbrook, The Yankee Exodus (New York: Macmillan, 1950), p. 52.

82. Remich, History, p. 276.

83. Ridlon, Saco Valley Settlements, p. 281.

84. "Two Strange Gods."

85. Kern, An Ordered Love, pp. 158-159.

86. Ibid., p. 142. Apostates from Mormonism referred to the practice of polygamy as "the spiritual wife system." See Foster, Religion and Sexuality, pp. 181, 317-318, 159 n.

87. Kern, An Ordered Love, p. 55.

88. Joseph Decker of Hollis was one of Cochran's more notable missionaries. See Ridlon, Saco Valley Settlements, p. 279. Called "The Massachusetts Prophet," he left his family and became a wandering preacher. See Martin H. Jewett and Olive H. Hannaford, A History of Hollis, Maine (Farmington, Me.: Knowlton and McLeary, 1976), p. 41.

89. Letter to the Selectmen of Saco....

(Entire contents copyright © 1988 by The Maine Historical Society --
limited web reproduction rights granted 2006; all other rights reserved)



 

- 2005 -


The  York  Weekly

Vol. ?                               York, Maine,  Wednesday,  March 9, 2005                               No. ?


Speculating on some of the history of York

By Virginia L Woodwell

YORK VILLAGE - Scandals

Copyright © 2005 Seacoast Online. All rights reserved.


Perhaps only a skilled historian, respectful of differences wrought by shifts in perspective, can be trusted to ferret out the facts behind them - most especially if long years have passed since their occurrence.

But then the sleuthing presents some formidable challenges.

Two early-19th century York scandals were the subject of a noontime talk presented at the York Public Library on March 2 [2005] by Old York Historical Society director Scott Stevens... The second "scandal" ... was rooted in the practices of a local religious sect called Cochranism, which was, in turn, part of a larger religious movement of the time known as the Second Great Awakening.

As Stevens explained it, the Second Great Awakening shared with the first, which occurred at mid-18th century, an interest in "dramatic preaching and personal, highly emotional experiences." Unlike the first, however, which revived commitment to the Congregational Church, the Second Great Awakening "tended to take the form of dissent, essentially against Calvinism and toward more individual, choice-centered religious experiences."

Into this milieu, Jacob Cochran, originally from Enfield, N.H., stepped, seeing himself as having a calling to preach, and attracting followers, after a move to southern Maine "in the vicinity of Saco and Buxton, starting in 1816."

We don't have texts of his services or sermons, said Stevens. What we do have are accounts of observers, most of which were "hostile and quite sensational." A 1819 pamphlet, for example, called Cochranism "a religious hydrophobia (i.e., rabies), which has spread, and is still spreading, in a number of the towns in the counties of York and Cumberland: district of Maine."

"Cochranite services," Stevens reported, "usually held in the open or in barns or private homes, almost surely involved clapping, perhaps dancing, with people swooning, claiming to have been transported out of their bodies, and giving vivid, emotional testimony of their faith."

Most significantly, Stevens noted, as Cochranís influence grew, "his ideas became more radical, incorporating primitive spiritualism and free love."

According to one account, in one part of one of Cochranís services, he and "a comely 18-year-old female follower" acted in a scene depicting Adam and Eve "before fig leaves came into fashion." In 1819, Cochran would be arrested and charged with gross lewdness, lascivious behavior and adultery, held on $1,800 bail, and would eventually serve time in Massachusetts' Charlestown State Prison.

"Youíve now heard the most lurid part of this particular story," Stevens then told his audience.

The rest of that story would concern a couple named Samuel and Olive Junkins of York, apparent Cochranites who took it upon themselves, in 1823 and 1824, to bring their versions of faith to the Baptist church in York, at first innocently, but eventually so intrusively and so repeatedly that they would be ejected not once, but several times, and finally be arrested, convicted and serve prison terms.

A major source of information for this tale is a pamphlet written by Olive. [The Dealings of a Few of the Church at York who call themselves christians, with Samuel Junkins and his wife together with a short sketch of her own Christian Experience written by her own hand... (1825)]

"A recent gift to our collection," said Stevens, "from Donald Junkins, of Deerfield, Mass., a poet whose work includes pieces devoted to her."

Following a detailed account of Olive and Samuel Junkinsí church intrusions, Stevens concluded:

"In my cursory look around, I have not found much other material on Cochranites in York, but I suspect it is out there. Jacob Cochrane was said to have spent part of 1834 in Cape Neddick. He established a 'convent' in Stratham, N.H., in 1835, where, according to Banks, some York followers enjoyed a sacred retreat from time to time. It may be that subsequent generations destroyed the letters or diaries of York and Cape Neddick Cochranites out of embarrassment. Perhaps material will turn up in someoneís attic, or even in an item in the OYHS collections as yet not fully explored."

Olive Junkinsí pamphlet is now serving as part of an exhibit of OYHS artifacts now on display at the Portsmouth Athenaeum.

Stevens' talk was the third in a series of "brown-bag" luncheon talks, free and open to the public, presented at the York Public Library.



 



Jacob  Cochran  Chronology

(under construction)

1782

Jul 09: Jacob Cochran born at Enfield, Grafton Co., NH


1805

no date: Jacob Cochran married Abigail Colcord Stephenson at Enfield, Grafton Co., NH


c. 1807

no date: Jacob's daughter Rachel Cochran born (probably at Enfield, Grafton Co., NH)


c. 1809

no date: Jacob's daughter Helen Cochran born (probably at Enfield, Grafton Co., NH)


1811

May 16: Jacob's son John Webster Cochran was born at Enfield, Grafton Co., NH


1812-14

no date: Joseph Smith, Sr. family lived at Lebanon (5 miles west of Enfield). (On page 46 of the 1884 Braden-Kelley Debate, Clark Braden says: "The minister employed by the Home Missionary Society, to labor in Vermont 1809-10-11-12-13, says, in his autobiography, that in 1812 a religious impostor created an excitement in the neighborhood of the Smith's. He taught that miraculous spiritual gifts could and should be enjoyed now, and claimed to be a prophet and then a Messiah, Christ in his second advent. Among the most active of his followers was Impostor Joe's father and mother, especially his mother. She prophesied, at the time, that Joe, then seven years old, would be a prophet, and give to the world a new religion. Joe was raised with this idea before him." The Osgoodites were active in Merrimack Co., NH (adjacent to Grafton Co.) beginning in about 1812.


1813-15

no date: Jacob Cochran may have functioned as a sutler or victualer (a civilian who sells provisions to the Army and who may, in some instances, also operate a retail store or commissary for the benefit of the troops). By about 1813 Cochran had moved his family from Enfield, in Grafton Co., to Conway, Carroll Co., NH (a town on the Saco River, located near the NH/ME border). From there he moved to Fryeburg, Oxford Co., ME (a town on the Saco River, located practically on the NH/ME border). While at Conway and Fryeburg he is said to have owned or managed a grocery store; possibly he conduced retail operations in both towns simultaneously. It was at Fryeburg that Cochran is said to have first developed his hypnotic skills over susceptible people -- a power which he equated with divine empowerment.


1816

no date: Jacob Cochran moved from Fryeburg, to the region near the mouth of the Saco River, (N York Co. and S. Cumberland Co., ME). At Scarboro, (in Cumberland Co., near the York Co., border) he first began to associate himself with the Free Baptist denomination. Although evidently never licensed to preach, nor ordained as a minister, Cochran began to operate as a popular preacher in Scarboro and surrounding towns.


1817

Feb: Freewill Baptist Elder Ephraim Stinchfield first encountered Jacob Cochran in Scarboro, where Cochran was making "uncommonly high pretentions of a miraculous power vested in him."

summer: According to Elder Stinchfield, "larger numbers" of believers had been converted to the Freewill Baptists under the ministrations of Jacob Cochran. A religious revival had begun in southern Maine the previous year and much of its public religious enthusiasm probably resulted in conjunction with Cochran's preaching. In 1817, shortly after the commencement of his career as a preacher, Cochran operated at Scarboro in cooperation with recently ordained Elder Clement Phinney of Gorham. Elder Phinney soon came to view him as a self-promoting religious impostor. Cochran expanded his field of operation to Hollis, on the south side of the Saco River. There he depended upon his prior association with Phinney, in order to gain acceptance among the local Baptists -- even as Phinney began to disown what he saw as Cochran's religious fraud.



1817-18

no date: The conventional Christian denominations closed their meetings to Cochran's presence and he began to operate as an independent preacher. According to G. T. Ridlon, Cochran centered his activities in "northern section of Saco, and on the borders of Buxton." Here he lived and gathered his followers about him, establishing a new sect called the "Society of Free Brethren," a name that invokes hints of Quaker nonconformity, Masonic fraternity and libertine social views. Ridlon says that during their closed meetings, "Cochran gave exhibitions of his mesmeric power" to this cult followers, and conducted other strange activities repugnant to common decency. It was during this period that Cochran first taught openly, that the marriages solemnized and legalized by the outside world were invalid and non-binding upon his followers. He also instituted his own professed revelatory control over "spiritual" male/female relationships among his followers, including a form of polygamy.


1818

no date: According to G. T. Ridlon, the people of Saco responded to Cochran's innovations and activities with such hostility that he was compelled to temporarily vacate that town. He evidently then expanded his preaching to the north York Co. towns of Limington, Limerick, Parsonsfield, and Arundel (Kennebunkport, on the coast of that county), "while the prejudice down on the Saco subsided." It was probably during this period that Cochran began sending out fully initiated members of his society as missionaries, informing the churgh-goers of New England that they should be re-baptized as converts to the "Free Brethren." It appears that many who joined Cochran's group at a distance, did so out of an acceptance of its Christian primitivist message of faith, repentance, re-baptism and a desire for perfectionism (allegedly made possible by the Cochranite "baptism of the Holy Ghost"); such converts to "first principles" of the sect may have never been made aware of the "Free Brethren's" secret excesses and purported frauds,


1819

Feb: Dr. R. C. Shannon, of Saco and Ichabod Jordan, of neighboring Biddeford, complaints against Jacob Cochran, with a York Co. Justice of the Peace, on charges of gross lewdness, lascivious behavior and adultery. A warrant was issued for Cochran's apprehension and he apparently was taken into custody -- though he may have simply promised to appear at a Justice Court hearing.

Feb 18-19: A preliminary hearing was held before Saco Justice of the Peace Daniel Granger. The judge reviewed written depostions and live testimony against Jacob Cochran and ordered Cochran to appear for trial at the the Supreme Judicial Court, to be held at Alfred, on the third Tuesday of May, 1819 (May 19th). Cochran's friends paid a bond of $1800 to guarantee his presence at the trial.

Mar 06: Jacob's son Edwin Cochran was born at Saco, York Co., ME

mid-Apr: Elder Ephraim Stinchfield wrote and had published (in Boston) the first edition of his 16 page pamphlet, Cochranism Delineated. Elder Stinchfield probably hoped that his publication would help bring a guilty sentence in Cochran's pending case before York County's Supreme Judicial Court. If so, this may be one of America's earliest instances of "trial in the media" before a scheduled trial in the court.


May 19-21: Cochran's case was heard by a grand jury at Alfred and he was indicted on five counts of "adultery and open and gross lewdness," to each of which he pleaded "not guilty."

May 22?: On one count, for lascivious behavior, Cochran was cleared; the jury, "one of their number, a disciple, refusing his assent." He was next tried for adultery, and convicted. As the jury prepared to announce its verdict, Cochran learned or guessed its negative decision, and fled York, leaving his bondsmen to forfeit the $1800 they had paid in promise of his appearance before the court. This shocking news was reported in the Kennebunkport Weekly Visitor at the end of the month, and in the Portland Gazette on June 1, 1819. From these sources the news of Cochran's conviction and escape spread to all of New England, as well as to other eastern states, within a week or so.

Oct 07: Jacob Cochran was discovered and arrested near John Berry's North Saco residence, by Rishworth Jordan John Banks. He was held in the York Co. Jail at Alfred to await sentencing for his May 22nd conviction. Reports of his captur were published soon afterwards in the Boston Massachusetts Spy of Oct. 13, 1819 and a contemporary issue of the Portland Gazette.

Nov 02: Jacob Cochran was brought before a county judge at Alfred, who sentenced him to eighteen days of solitary confinement in the jail, followed by four years "hard labor" incarceration at the Massachusetts State Prison in Charlestown. Cochran probably began serving his term at Charleston on about Nov. 20, 1819 -- entitling him to a release on or about Nov. 20, 1823. His followers, friends and family attempted to get his sentence overturned or reduced, but to no avail. Had Cochran not fled the scene of his trial, it is likely that his prison sentence would have been less severe.

c. Dec: Gamaliel E. Smith of Newfield, York Co., had his pamphlet, Report of the Trial of Jacob Cochrane published at Kennebunk. At about the same time, Elder Stinchfield published a second edition of his own pamphlet, Cochranism Delineated, in Boston.


1820-1823

no date: While Jacob Cochran was serving his prison term in Charleston, his "Society of Free Brethren" appears to have dwindled down to a few dozen active members. Other than their filing of appeals, attempting to gain an early release of their leader, the Cochranites' activities during this period remain largely undocumented and forgotten. There are indications that ministers from other churches made some attempts to redeem or capture control of some of the sect's leaderless congregations.


1821

late Apr: In a Maine Supreme Court session in York, "several persons" were brought to trial on "a charge of lewd and lascivious conduct." According to contemporary news reports they were "of the sect called Cochranites." What punishment they were sentenced to by the court remains unknown.


1823

Aug: Cochranites Samuel and Olive Junkins made attempts to revitalize the practically defunct following of Jacob Cochran -- probably based upon their anticipation of his upcoming realease from prison. Their public actions offended and/or disrupted the Baptist church at York.

late Oct: At a session of the York Court of Common Pleas, Cochranites Samuel and Olive Junkins were convicted of "disturbing a religious society assembled for public worship" and sentenced to pay fines -- one account says that they continued these public disruptions and were eventually jailed.

Nov 20: On or about this day, Jacob Cochran was presumably released from prison, in Charleston, Massachusetts. While he was serving his sentence (on Mar. 15, 1820) Maine was granted statehood. This fact placed Cochran in the curious situation of being in a different state (Massachusetts) when he was released. Probably his first actions, after his release, involved alluding his old creditors, his unhappy bondsmen, and other disgruntled citizens inclined to bring new legal charges against him. It is unlikely that Cochran returned to Maine openly.


1824

no date: Jacob Cochran visited Kennebunk publisher James Remich and attempted to secure the copyright of Gamaliel E. Smith's 1819 Report of the Trial of Jacob Cochrane. Remich refused that proposition and Cochran was thus prevented from gathering sufficient source material for his intended autobiograohy.


1827

no date: According to one report, Jacob Cochran traveled to western New York and did some preaching in the courthouse at Batavia, in Genesee Co. Cochran, who was reportedly an avid anti-Mason who claimed Masonic persecution, may have hoped that participants in the anti-Masonic hysteria then centered in Batavia would be inclined to accept his prophetic message.

late Nov: The Rev. Hull Barton (who was then evidently engaged in "sheep-stealing" among the disorganized flocks of Cochranites), visited Jacob Cochran at Hollis, Maine. Barton's report, published in the Saco Palladium, indicated that Cochran was living at Hollis with "a spiritual companion in addition to his natural one... along with "Two... State Prison convicts... lately from New-York." Possibly Cochran made some converts with New York connections while he was in prison. Contemporary news reports tell of a religious "revival" occuring at the Charleston facility during Cochran's term of incarceration.


c. 1828

no date: About this time Jacob Cochran made a decision to relocate a number of his followers to an isolated colony in northern Allegany Co., New York. The first of his religious pioneers evidently began moving from New England to reside in what is now Granger twp. (sw of Danville), either in 1828 or 1829. The first Cochranite emigrants to Allegany Co. missed overlapping with future Mormon Lyman Wight's tenure there, by a few months. Wight had lived in Centreville twp., a few miles west of the Cochranite colony's supposed location, until 1827, when he relocated to Warrensville, Cuyhoga Co., Ohio -- and from there to Kirtland, in Geauga Co., two years later. Another future Mormon leader, William Marks, lived even closer to the Cochranites (within walking distance), in Portage twp., Allegany (now Livingston, Co. NY).


1829

no date: A selectman in Hamburg, NY wrote to the local leaders in Saco, Maine, requesting information regarding Cochran. The preserved communication states: "Said Cochran is now residing in this town and is trying to establish a Religious Society.... He has produced some considerable excitement in this Vicinity." It is unclear just which "Hamburg" the letter was sent from. There are four possibilities: "New Hamburg," in Dutchess Co.; the hamlet of Hamburg, a suburb of Catskill, in Greene Co; Hamburg township, south of Buffalo, in Erie Co.; or the village of Hamburg, in Hector twp., Tompkins (now Schuyler) Co. Probably it was the last of the four (now called Burdett), located at the southern end of Seneca Lake. The next township to the east is Ulysses -- where the anti-Masonic W. W. Phelps had been (in 1827-28) editing a newspaper at Trumansburg called the Lake Light.

Dec ?: According to early Mormon William Hyde, "Warren A. Cowdery whose farm joined with our farm... obtained from his brother, Oliver, at an early date some of the proof sheets to the Book of Mormon, some of which we had the privilege of perusing, and we did not peruse any faster than we believed." Cowdery and Hyde lived in Freedom twp., Cattaraugus Co., NY, on the western border of Allegany Co. and about twenty miles distant from the Cochranite colony in West Grove (now Granger) twp. Between Cowdery and the Cochranites lived William Marks, in Portage twp. (now in Livingston Co.). Cowdery and Marks were then relatives by marriage -- In 1825 William Marks' sister Prudence married Samuel Miles, Sr. (1779-1847) of Freedom twp., Cattaraugus Co., NY. Miles first wife, Sarah "Sally" Simmonds (1790-1824) had been a sister of Cowdery's wife, Patience Simmonds (1794-1862). Like their common neighbor, William Hyde, Cowdery and Miles had adjoining farms at Freedom. Warren A. Cowdery and William Marks were certainly acquainted before they became Mormons (along with area residents Samuel Miles, Sr., William Hyde and Lyman Wight). All of these men lived in close proximity to the Cochranites -- Lyman Wight's father died at Centreville on Jan. 2, 1830 and it is possible that Warren A. Cowdery (who loved five miles away and was the only doctor in the area) was his attending physician.


1830

Apr 06: The "Church of Christ" (later the LDS Church) was established at Manchester, Ontario Co., NY. Word of this event must have soon reached Warren A. Cowdery in Freedom, for his neighbor William Hyde later recalled that at about this same time he "gained...through Warren A. Cowdery" the news that "the setting up of the Kingdom of God on the earth in the last days" was then underway. The same news most have also reached Samuel Miles, Sr. and Miles' brother-in-law, William Marks about the same time. It is likely that some of the Cochranites of northern Allegany Co. also heard news regarding these events during 1830-31.


1830

Nov: Mormon missionaries arrive in Mentor and Kirtland, Ohio. Among their very first contacts and converts were the members of the "Reformed Baptist" commune on the Morley Farm, where Lyman Wight was a leader (under the direction of Sidney Rigdon). When Oliver Cowdery ordained Lyman Wight to be a Mormon elder, on Nov. 20, 1830, the two mean shared a common connection in the person of Warren A. Cowdery, who had been Wight's neighbor (five miles away) when Wight had previously lived in Allegany Co., NY. During the winter of 1830-31, in the absence of Sidney Rigdon (who had gone to New York to meet Joseph Smith, Jr.) the new Mormon congregation at Kirtland was the center of frenetic pentacostal activities very reminiscent of Cochranite enthusiasm -- including bizarre, out-of-doors group events after (or during breaks in) their religious services. Especially similar to Cochranite practice was the Kirtlanders' acting out of converting the heathen (Indians, Gentiles, etc.), expressed in wild body movements. Wight's wild public reaction to his June 1831 ordination as a Mormon "high priest" would have been accepted form in any Cochranite meeting.


1831

fall: According to the New Hampshire Portsmouth Journal of Dec. 24, 1831: "Hull Barton, once an eccentric preacher in these parts, has become a member of the [Mormon] fraternity." Rev. Barton's conversion form quasi-Cochranite adherance, to Mormonism, did not last very long; see Mario S. De Pillis' 1966 article, "The Quest for Religious Authority and the Rise of Mormonism" for further details. Hull Barton's conversion to and defection from Mormonism did not rest well with Mormon leader Sidney Rigdon. Writing in 1836 Rigdon placed Barton among the ranks of such controversial pseudo-prophets as "Ann Lee, Joanah Southcoat... Jemimah Willkeson... [and] Matthias."


1832

Oct ?: According to Horace Galpin of Centreville, Allegany Co., NY, "A Mormon Preacher came along..." to that place "and nearly persuaded some over to his delusion." This Galpin wrote to Absolom Peters on Nov. 3, 1832. This first Mormon missionary to Allegany Co. was most likely Elder John P. Greene, a brother-in-law of Brigham Young. Greene was ordained (at Mendon, Monroe Co., NY) by Elder Eleazer Miller, in April, 1832. Greene organized a Mormon branch at Warsaw, in neighboring Genesee (now Wyoming) Co., but he did not establish any Mormon branches in Allegany. His work prepared the way for his son, Elder Evan M. Greene, and Evan's missionary companion Elder John Gould, to make numerous conversions in northern Allegany two or three years later. Elder Gould established a Mormon branch in Grove twp. (in the heart of the Cochranite colony) prior to Nov. 22, 1834. Elder Andrew J. Squires (who was ordained in June 1834 by the Mormon leader Alpheus Cutler) raised up Mormon branches in neighboring Burns, Portage and Rushford townships prior to Apr. 3, 1835. It thus appears that the first Mormon conversions in Allegany were almost exactly in the region then occupied by followers of Jacob Cochran.


1835

summer: Jacob Cochran resumed his miracle-working professions in South Hadley, Hampshire Co., MA, under the assumed name of "Jacob the Prophet." After the local residents discovered who he really was, Cochran fled to Stratham, NH, along with a number of female followers. He reportedly continued to visit the Hadley area, in the disguise of wearing women's clothing, to conduct "secret meetings with his deluded followers, most of whom are females." Cochran's establishment at Stratham was called "the Convent," a term with connotations not unlike the allegations made in 1842 by the ex-Mormon leader John C. Bennett, in describing "cloistered" young women in Mormon Nauvoo.


1836

Mar 05: Jacob Cochran died at Stratham, Rockingham Co., NH. According to Maine historian Joyce Butler, his body was taken to North Saco, where it was buried on the John Dennet farm. A few years later it was disinterred and moved to an unknown site in Cochran's birthplace of Enfield, in Grafton Co.





 



Early frame residence in Hollis, Maine


Cochranism  Bibliography

(under construction)

1819

Apr. -- Cochranism Delineated --
by Ephraim Stinchfield (exposes Cochran -- 16 page 1st ed.)

May -- Cochranism Delineated --
by Ephraim Stinchfield (exposes Cochran -- 24 page 2nd ed.)

May ?? -- Kennebunk Weekly Visitor --
(Cochran "hopped the twig" at his trial)

May ?? -- Portland Gazette --
(Cochran absconded from his trial)

Jun. 04 -- Newburyport Herald --
(reprints Portland Gazette report)

Jun. 04 -- N. E. Galaxy --
(summarizes Portland Gazette report)

Jun. 07 -- New-York Evening Post --
(reprints Weekly Visitor report)

Jun. 14 -- Baltimore Patriot --
(reprints Newburyport Herald -- article)

July -- Portsmouth, NH Christian Herald --
(Cochran escaped justice)

Oct. 13 -- Worcester Massachusetts Spy --
(Cochran captured at Saco)

Oct. 27 -- Georgetown, DC Nat. Messenger --
(reprints Portland report on Cochran's capture)

Nov. 06 -- Boston Patriot --
(Cochran sentenced to prison)

Nov. 20 -- Amherst, NH Farmer's Cabinet --
(Jacob Cochran sentenced at Alfred, ME)

Dec. 08 -- Ravenna Ohio Repository --
(reprints Boston Patriot report)

no date -- Report of the Trial of Jacob Cochrane --
by Gamaliel E. Smith (excerpts from transcript) (under construction)

no date -- Memoirs of Elder Ephraim Stinchfield --
by Ephraim Stinchfield (under construction)



1821

Apr. 13 -- Newburyport Herald --
(report of a fanatical preacher at Salisbury, MA)

May 01 -- Newburyport Herald --
(report of Cochranites on trial at York, ME)

May 04 -- Baltimore Patriot --
(Cochranites tried at York, ME court)



1823

Aug. 15 -- New Bedford Mercury --
"Hull Barton..." (short notice of new pamphlet published)



1824

Oct. ?? -- Alfred Star --
(Cochranite Samuel Junkins fined)

Nov. 01 -- Portland Eastern Argus --
(reprints Alfred Star report)



1825

no date -- Dealings of a Few of the Church at York... --
by Cochranites Samuel & Olive Junkins



1827

Nov. ?? -- Saco Palladium --
(Cochran has resumed his preaching)

Nov. 15 -- Village Register --
(summarizes Saco Palladium article)

Nov. 17 -- Essex Gazette --
(summarizes Saco Palladium article)

Nov. 23 -- N. H. Sentinel --
(Cochran has taken up residence at Hollis, ME)

Dec. 07 -- Salem Gazette --
(reprints Saco Palladium article)



1828

Jan. 26 -- N. Y. Telescope --
(reprints Nov. 1827 Saco Palladium article)

Feb. 22 -- Salem Gazette --
(Hull Barton and Kennebunk Cochranites)



1829

Jul 08 -- Letter from Hamburg NY Selectmen, to Saco ME
(questions about Cochran) Dyer Library, Saco, ME (under constr.)



1830

no date -- History of Saco and Biddeford --
by George Folsom (background info on area affected by Cochranism)



1831

Dec. 24 -- Portsmouth Journal --
(Hull Barton joined the Mormons)



1834

February -- The Unitarian --
(Book of Mormon, Jacob Cochran, etc.)

Nov. 01 -- Western Examiner --
(Jacob Cochran, Joseph Smith, etc.)



1835

Feb. 6 -- Barre Farmer's Gazette --
(Mormonism and Cochranism)

March -- Northampton Courier --
(Mormons in South Hadley, MA)

Mar. 13 -- New-Bedford Mercury --
(summarizes Northampton Courier)

April -- Matthias and His Impostures --
(origin of Cochran's imposture briefly outlined)

Aug. ? -- Springfield Journal --
(Jacob Cochran's activities in South Hadley)

Sep. 4 -- Salem Gazette --
(paraphrases Springfield Journal)

Sep. 5 -- Portsmouth Journal --
(paraphrases Springfield Journal)

Sep. 12 -- Philadelphia Sat. Evening Post --
(Jacob Cochran in South Hadley and Stratham)

Oct. ? -- Northampton Courier --
(ex-Cochranites in South Hadley)

Oct. 8 -- New Hampshire Sentinel --
reprints Northampton Courier article)



1839

Jul 07 -- Dover, NH Morning Star --
"Jacob Cochran, Reminisces" [by Oren B. Cheney?] (under constr.)



1851

no date -- Life of Clement Phinney --
by D. M. Graham (tells of Jacob Cochran's earliest activities)



1853

no date -- Philosophy of Popular Superstitions --
by S. Bulfinch Emmons (reprints 1835 "Matthias and His Impostures" account)



1867

Aug 03 -- "Cochran Fanaticism" --
previously unpublished paper, by Amasa Loring? (under constr.)



1875

no date -- History of Wells and Kennebunk --
by Edward E. Bourne (under constr.)



1877

Dec 20 -- Chicago Christian Cynosure --
"Joseph Smith the Mormon, by S. D. Greene (Cochran & Smith, 1820s)



1882

Jan 05 -- Saco Union and Journal --
"Cochranism" [?] by Stephen Mayberry



1883

Jan 01 -- Limerick Ossipee Valley News --
"Cochranites" by Harrison Otis Smith



1886

Mar 18 -- Letter to Stephen Mayberry, re Jacob Cochran --
Mayberry Papers, Misc. bx 21, fd 11, Maine Hist. Soc. (under constr.)



1892

Oct 12 -- Biddeford Daily Journal --
"Two Strange Gods" (Cochran and the Mormons)

Oct 19 -- Biddeford Daily Journal --
"More About Cochrane" (Cochran's 1836 death and burial)



1893

Dec 22 -- Biddeford Daily Journal --
"Full and Accurate History of Cochranism" by Joel M. Marshall (1st of a series)

Dec 28 -- Biddeford Daily Journal --
"Cochrane's Power" by Joel M. Marshall (2nd of the series)



1894

Jan 10 -- Biddeford Daily Journal --
"The Cochrane Craze" by Joel M. Marshall (3rd of the series)



1895

Jan 16 -- Biddeford Daily Journal --
"Jacob Cochrane" by Joel M. Marshall (4th of the series)

Feb 1 -- Biddeford Weekly Journal --
"Cochrane's Wiles" by Joel M. Marshall (5th of the series)

Feb 14 -- Biddeford Daily Journal --
"Cochrane's Craze" by Joel M. Marshall (6th of the series)

Mar 13 -- Biddeford Daily Journal --
"Cochranism" by Joel M. Marshall (7th of the series)

no date -- Saco Valley Settlements --
by G. T. Ridlon (Jacob Cochran, the Mormons, etc.)



1896

Jan 31 -- Biddeford Daily Journal --
"Cochrane's Arrest" by Joel M. Marshall (8th of the series)

Feb 02 -- Biddeford Daily Journal --
"Bolted from Court" by Joel M. Marshall (9th of the series)

Mar 13 -- Biddeford Daily Journal --
"In State Prison" by Joel M. Marshall (10th of the series)

May 8 -- Biddeford Weekly Journal --
"In Years Gone By" (Cochran and the Mormons)

Nov 18 -- Biddeford Daily Journal --
"The End of Cochrane" by Joel M. Marshall (11th of the series)



1903

Oct. 25 -- New York Times --
"Doctrines of Jacob Cochrane" (Jacob Cochran, Mormons, etc.)



1911

no date -- Kennebunk from its Earliest Settlement --
by Daniel Remich (seven pages on Cochran under constr.)



1913

no date -- Story of Waitstill Baxter --
by Kate D. Wigan (Jacob Cochran fictionalized)



1914

no date -- Handbook History of York --
by Edward C. Moody (3 page account -- Cochran's "mesmeric power," etc.)



1926

no date -- 150th Anniversary of Buxton --
(3 page account -- Cochran's "hypnotic power," etc.)



1938

no date -- The Junkins Family --
by Harry A. Davis (Junkins family as Cochran's disciples)



1962

May 01 -- Saints' Herald --
(mention of Cochran) (under constr.)



1980

Summer -- Maine Historical Quarterly 19:4 --
"Cochran Fanaticism in York County" (1867 paper published) (under constr.)



1981

no date -- Religion and Sexuality --
by Lawrence Foster (relevant content: ????)



1982

no date -- Radical Sects of Revolutionary New England --
by Stephen A. Marini (relevant content: ????)



1983

Summer -- Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 16:2
"William Smith" by Irene M. Bates (mentions Cochran)

no date -- Rivers of Fortune --
by Bill Caldwell (mentions Cochran -- relevant content: ????)



1985

Fall -- Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 18:3
"Mormon Polyandry in Nauvoo" by Richard S. Van Wagoner (mentions Cochran)



1988

no date -- Maine in the Early Republic --
chapter on Cochranism by Joyce Butler (under constr.)



1992

no date -- Solemn Covenant: The Mormon Polygamous Passage --
by B. Carmon Hardy (Cochran, "raising up a holy race of men," etc.)



1994

Spring -- Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought
"Nauvoo Roots of Mormon Polygamy" by George D. Smith (mentions Cochran)

Feb -- Vision 15 --
"Cochranism: Origin of Polygamy" by R. & P. Price

Jun -- Vision 16 --
"Cochranism: Origin of Polygamy" by R. & P. Price

Sep -- Vision 17 --
"Church Missionaries Convert Cochranites" by R. & P. Price

Dec -- Vision 18 --
"Brigham Young Father of Mormon Polygamy" by R. & P. Price



1996

no date -- The Refiner's Fire --
by John L. Brooke (mentions Jacob Cochran, Joseph Smith, etc.)



2000

no date -- Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy --
by Richard and Pamela Price (Cochranism, Brigham Young, etc.)



2005

Mar. 9 -- The York Weekly --
"York Village Scandals" (Newly received 1925 Junkins pamphlet)

Jun 02 -- "Social roots of the Mormon United Order" --
by Timothy Miller, PhD (Cochran, Mormons, communitarianism, etc.)




 


Transcriber's  Comments

Jacob Cochran   |   His Religious Life   |   His Popularity   |   His Cult   |   Fiction
Cochranism/Mormonism   |   Genesee Meeting   |   Smith Wanderings   |   Mormons


Northeastern United States in 1817 -- view higher resolution image



(under construction)


Jacob Cochran, Jr.
(1782-1836)
was the son of Jacob and Rachel Webster Cochran. He was born on July 9, 1782 in Enfield, Grafton Co., New Hampshire. This is the same county in which Dartmouth College is located -- in the nearby town of Hanover. Given Cochran's reputation for intellectual attainment it is possible that he received some educational benefit from living in close proximity to Dartmouth during his early years. In 1802 Jacob Cochran (also called Jake Cochrane) married Abigail Stephenson Colcord in Enfield. The couple were still living in that place as late as May 16, 1811, when their son John Webster Cochran was born there. Jacob Cochran, Jr. apparently died in southern Maine on March 9, 1836. Unable to inter his body in Maine, his religious associates had him buried at Stratham, Rockingham Co., New Hampshire. By that time part of Cochran's extended family had moved to New York state, where his twenty-five year old son, John Webster Cochran, married Sarah Ann McKean on April 10, 1836. John Webster Cochran died in Brooklyn, New York on Jan 2, 1873. The stories of the rest of Jacob Cochran, Jr.'s sons and daughters (several of whom were illegitimate) remain untold.


Cochran's Early Religious Life

Presumably the parents of "Jake Cochran" were Congregationalists, but they lived in a hotbed of religious dissent where various groups of Christians were experimenting with new sectarian ideas. A Shaker community was establsheed at "Chosen Vale," on the western bank of Lake Mascoma in 1793, within walking (or rowing) distance of Jacob Cochran's home. Jacob no doubt watched the construction of that colony's buildings with youthful interest, and as a teenager he may well have paid occasional visits to those same communal millenarians' displays of ecstatic singing and dancing. Two years before Jacob was born, the Rev. Benjamin Randall founded the "Free Will Baptists" in New Durham, some fifty miles east of Enfield. Randell's brand of non-Calvinist Baptist religion slowly spread out from New Durham and young Jacob would have been aware of the religious revolutionaries' liberal gospel views, as well as their custom of holding meetings in private houses, (not building any chapels of their own until about 1819). History does not positively whether Jacob was a true convert to that incipient denomination's tenets, or if he was merely a sardonic opportunist who wormed his way into their ranks. At any rate, he eventually became a member of that Baptist sect. One early account records that Jacob worked as a grocer; another says that he was a discharged serviceman from the War of 1812 -- perhaps he was both.

The year 1800 marked a turning point in enthusiastic American religion, with many believers expecting that the world was about to end, or be transformed with the advent of the Christian millennium. Around the time of Jacob's marriage to Abigail, there were strange religious events going on in neighboring Vermont -- Nathanial Wood's millennial money-digging cult flourished there briefly, in Rutland Co., between 1799 and 1801. At the same time, the Rev. David Austin was preaching a "restoration of Israel" in seaside Connecticut -- in the wild of Pennsylvania, the maverick Unitarian, Rev. Abel M. Sargent, was announcing the advent of God's Kingdom along the banks of the Ohio. A little more then a decade later, following the the mysterious and terrifying "frozen summer" of 1816, the "Prophet" Isaac Bullard and his "Vermont Pilgrims" began their tragic journey to a southern "promised land." Closer to home, Jacob Cochran could have witnessed the growth and demise of Rev. Thomas Fessendon's "science of sanctity" in and around Walpole, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. But perhaps the religious innovation which most likely had a direct effect upon the thinking of Jacob Cochran was the sect founded by Jacob Osgood (1777-1844). In 1805 Osgood disrupted the Congregational Church in Warner, Merrimack Co., New Hampshire, prophesying to the church-goers that God was warning them "to flee from the wrath to come." Osgood briefly united with the local Free Will Baptists, and then founded his own sect in opposition to "politic religion." The group began to receive regional attention after 1810 and became noted for its members' distrust of trained ministers, physicians and lawyers; as well as for their fervent singing; their "heavenly" meetings; and their practice of healing the sick by laying on of hands. Osgood's group were pacifists and were in frequent trouble with the local authorities during the early 1820s, over the refusal of their men to join the local militia units. The Osgoodites were accused of practicing "free love" and local tradition says that some of this group influenced the religious thinking of Jacob Cochran, Jr., causing him to "sink" into "his worst behavior" as a religious cult leader.


Cochran's Popularity

It does not appear that Jacob Cochran was ever trained or ordained as a minister. Indeed, his mature religious teachings were anti-clerical. For some long forgotten reason Cochran left Enfield -- perhaps due to a business failure or because of some trouble with the residents of that place. By about 1815 he had moved his family to the headwaters of the Saco River in Carroll County, New Hampshire, and it was here, perhaps at Conway, that Cochran first began to operate as a Free Will Baptist preacher. Elder Ephraim Stinchfield, who left the earliest and most detailed report on Cochran's religious evolution, says that he first crossed paths with the man in Scarboro, Cumberland Co., Maine, in February, 1817. At that time Cochran already had developed the airs of an "impostor" but had not deviated so far from Frewill Baptist orthodoxy to merit any special censure. Still, there is reason to suspect that as early as 1816-17, that Jacob Cochran was secretly teaching a radical doctrine similar to that previously propounded by Rev. Osgood. From Conway Cochran had apparently moved down the Saco River, across the border into Maine, and was moving about in York and Cumberland counties when he first attracted Stinchfield's notice. He apparently settled first in Fryeburg, Oxford, Co., Maine, but his preaching adventures soon took him down the valley of the Saco River to Scarboro and the surrounding countryside.

Elder Clement Phinney enncountered Cochran at Scarboro and Hollis, in 1817 or early 1818, and, for a time, was Cochran's associate in gospel preaching. Their alliance did not last for very long; like Stinchfield before him, Phinney soon came to believe that Cochran was an impostor -- a fraud who was using the trappings and organization of the Free Will Baptists for his own cynical self-promotion. During in 1817, Cochran's primary area of activity seems to have been along the southern bank of the Saco, between Limington and Hollis. It was there that he formed his own following of fanatical believers in his supposed God-given special powers. There was something of a religious revival under way in that region and Cochran quickly became its most prominent figure. Some accounts state that he was involved in the conversion of as many as 2000 new members, but whether these were infidels who joined the Christian fold, or members of existing religious societies who began to follow after Cochran is uncertain. Whatever their exact number may have been, Cochran's success in winning adherents to his cause was remarkable. He preached a biblical primitivism that called for the return of "spiritual gifts" and "miracles," and he professed to be in possession of such miraculous powers himself. Enthusiastic religious leaders of this sort generally draw their discioles away from the confines of biblical scripture, and into the belief that they are recipients of direct divine revelation. This seems to have been Cochran's teaching at an early date, but as his popularity increased these previously secret doctrines became more public. As for the new prophets secret activities, those also saw eventual exposure to the light, much to the dissatisfaction of the Cochranites' puritanical neighbors.


Cochran's Cult

Some time prior to 1819, at about the same time that the Osgoodites were receiving much public attention for their heretical beliefs and activities, Cochran took up the Swedenborgian belief in "spiritual wifery." He need not have appropriated the tenet directly from Swedenborg, of course; perhaps it was a natural outgrowth of Cochran's having converted numerous followers who were unable to convince their spouses to enter with them into the new cult. Such separated husbands and wives found that they had more interests in common with fellow Cochranites, than they did with their old mates. The cult members established their own social norms, apart from the "outside world," and it became an easy decision for them to forget their old marital bonds and to find new partners within the Cochranite band. Jacob Cochran himself appears to have developed an innder core following of fanatical females, whom he lived with as concubines. It was reported that he allowed his male members to posses as many as seven plural wives. Whether or not Cochran adopted such teachings directly from Osgood is unknown, but the two "prophets" seem to have been leading similar fanatical flocks by the end of the 1810s. Cochran's brand of spiritual wifery allowed the new, "spiritual" mate to assume the carnal privileges of a fellow member's previous spouse, and this personal license resulted in the break up of numerous marriages among his followers. His adoption of the notion that one man could, or should, have seven wives was perhaps Cochran's scriptural justification for his keeping a harem of about that many concubines. The seven wife tenet may have also been a part of Cochran's teaching that his followers were living in the "last days," when such strange marital innovations were a fulfillment of ancient prophecies.

Jacob Cochran's 1819 arrest for adultery, along his subsequent escape, capture and four year prison sentence, captured the attention of Americans far beyond the limits of New England. At the very pinnacle of his celebrity he was locked away from public view -- and just as quickly as it had blossomed, his ill-gained fame faded. He spent 1820-23 behind bars and reported emerged from imprisonment a shadow of his former charismatic self. Jacob Cochran died in 1836 and the last twelve years of his life he spent out of the light of public attention.

Cochran's cult, though much reduced in numbers, took on a life of its own while the founder of the tiny movement languished in prison. There are historical hints that certain members attempted to guide the group during Cochran's absence. Interested outsiders, like the enigmatic Rev. Hull Barton, reportedly tried to assume control of the leaderless fanatics (or at least to woo them into some other religious fringe group). At least one of the abandoned disciples took up the life of a wandering pilgrim-preacher. When Jacob Cochran emerged from prison he no douby found his former followers in disarray, splintered into factions and not wholly responsive to his dictates.


The "Cochrane Craze" Fictionalized

The following quasi-historical excerpt (supplied by Kate D. Wiggin) provides a fictionalized but informed, first-hand look at the effects of Cochran's teachings:

To help you better to understand the influence that has robbed me of both father and mother and made me and mine the subject of town and tavern gossip for years past, I have written for you just a sketch of the "Cochrane craze;" the romantic story of a man who swayed the wills of his fellow-creatures in a truly marvellous manner...

The chronicle of Jacob Cochrane's career in the little villages near the Saco River has no such interest for the general reader as it had for Waitstill Baxter. She hung upon every word that Ivory [Boynton] had written and realized more clearly than ever before the shadow that had followed him since early boyhood; the same shadow that had fallen across his mother's mind and left, continual twilight there.

No one really knew, it seemed, why or from whence Jacob Cochrane had come to Edgewood. He simply appeared at the old tavern, a stranger, with satchel in hand, to seek entertainment. Uncle Bart had often described this scene to Waitstill, for he was one of those sitting about the great open fire at the time. The man easily slipped into the group and soon took the lead in conversation, delighting all with his agreeable personality, his nimble tongue and graceful speech. At supper-time the hostess and the rest of the family took their places at the long table, as was the custom, and he astonished them by his knowledge not only of town history, but of village matters they had supposed unknown to any one.

When the stranger had finished his supper and returned to the bar-room, he had to pass through a long entry, and the landlady, whispering to her daughter, said:--

"Betsy, you go up to the chamber closet and get the silver and bring it down. This man is going to sleep there and I am afraid of him. He must be a fortune-teller, and the Lord only knows what else!"

In going to the chamber the daughter had to pass through the bar-room. As she was moving quietly through, hoping to escape the notice of the newcomer, he turned in his chair, and looking her full in the face, suddenly said:

"Madam, you needn't touch your silver. I don't want it. I am a gentleman."

Whereupon the bewildered Betsy scuttled back to her mother and told her the strange guest was indeed a fortune-teller.

Of Cochrane's initial appearance as a preacher Ivory had told Waitstill in their talk in the churchyard early in the summer. It was at a child's funeral that the new prophet created his first sensation and there, too, that Aaron and Lois Boynton first came under his spell. The whole countryside had been just then wrought up to a state of religious excitement by revival meetings and Cochrane gained the benefit of this definite preparation for his work. He claimed that all his sayings were from divine inspiration and that those who embraced his doctrine received direct communication from the Almighty. He disdained formal creeds and all manner of church organizations, declaring sectarian names to be marks of the beast and all church members to be in Babylon. He introduced re-baptism as a symbolic cleansing from sectarian stains, and after some months advanced a proposition that his flock hold all things in common. He put a sudden end to the solemn "deaconing-out" and droning of psalm tunes and grafted on to his form of worship lively singing and marching accompanied by clapping of hands and whirling in circles; during the progress of which the most hysterical converts, or the most fully Cochranized," would swoon upon the floor; or, in obeying their leader's instructions to "become as little children," would sometimes go through the most extraordinary and unmeaning antics.

It was not until he had converted hundreds to the new faith that he added more startling revelations to his gospel. He was in turn bold, mystical, eloquent, audacious, persuasive, autocratic; and even when his self-styled communications from the Almighty" controverted all that his hearers had formerly held to be right, he still magnetized or hypnotized them into an unwilling assent to his beliefs. There was finally a proclamation to the effect that marriage vows were to be annulled when advisable and that complete spiritual liberty was to follow; a liberty in which a new affinity might be sought, and a spiritual union begun upon earth, a union as nearly approximate to God's standards as faulty human beings could manage to attain.

Some of the faithful fell away at this time, being unable to accept the full doctrine, but retained their faith in Cochrane's original power to convert sinners and save them from the wrath of God. Storm-clouds began to gather in the sky however, as the delusion spread, month by month and local ministers everywhere sought to minimize the influence of the dangerous orator, who rose superior to every attack and carried himself like some magnificent martyr-at-will among the crowds that now criticized him here or there in private and in public.

"What a picture of splendid audacity he must have been," wrote Ivory, "when he entered the orthodox meeting-house at a huge gathering where he knew that the speakers were to denounce his teachings. Old Parson Buzzell gave out his text from the high pulpit: Mark XIII, 37, 'AND WHAT I SAY UNTO YOU I SAY UNTO ALL, WATCH!' Just here Cochrane stepped in at the open door of the church and heard the warning, meant, he knew, for himself, and seizing the moment of silence following the reading of the text, he cried in his splendid sonorous voice, without so much as stirring from his place within the door-frame: "'Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear my voice I will come in to him and will sup with him, -- I come to preach the everlasting gospel to every one that heareth, and all that I want here is my bigness on the floor.'"

"I cannot find," continued Ivory on another page, "that my father or mother ever engaged in any of the foolish and childish practices which disgraced the meetings of some of Cochrane's most fanatical followers and converts. By my mother's conversations (some of which I have repeated to you, but which may be full of errors, because of her confusion of mind), I believe she must have had a difference of opinion with my father on some of these views, but I have no means of knowing this to a certainty; nor do I know that the question of choosing spiritual consorts' ever came between or divided them. This part of the delusion always fills me with such unspeakable disgust that I have never liked to seek additional light from any of the older men and women who might revel in giving it. That my mother did not sympathize with my father's going out to preach Cochrane's gospel through the country, this I know, and she was so truly religious, so burning with zeal, that had she fully believed in my father's mission she would have spurred him on, instead of endeavoring to detain him."

"You know the retribution that overtook Cochrane at last," wrote Ivory again, when he had shown the man's early victories and his enormous influence. "There began to be indignant protests against his doctrines by lawyers and doctors, as well as by ministers; not from all sides however; for remember, in extenuation of my father's and my mother's espousal of this strange belief, that many of the strongest and wisest men, as well as the purest and finest women in York county came under this man's spell for a time and believed in him implicitly, some of them even unto the end.

"Finally there was Cochrane's arrest and examination, the order for him to appear at the Supreme Court, his failure to do so, his recapture and trial, and his sentence of four years imprisonment on several counts, in all of which he was proved guilty. Cochrane had all along said that the Anointed of the Lord would never be allowed to remain in jail, but he was mistaken, for he stayed in the State's Prison at Charlestown, Massachusetts, for the full duration of his sentence... Cochrane issued from prison a broken and humiliated man..." 
Cochranism and Mormonism

Interesting parallels can easily be drawn between the beliefs and practices of the Cochranites, and those of the early Mormons. Whether such apparent similarities are evidence of a special, hidden connection between the two religious innovations, is not so easily decided. Reorganized LDS traditionalists Richard and Pamela Price have written a book entitled Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy, in which the couple argue that Latter Day Saint "plural marriage" was partly adopted from Cochranite practices, first encountered by wandering Mormon missionaries in New England in 1832. The Prices argue that Mormon conversions among the Maine Cochranites brought members of the two new sects into direct contact and that Cochranite polygamy secretly affected certain Mormon members thereafter -- eventually developing into full public view in Utah during the early 1850s.

While this simplistic view of things may indeed account for a few historical instances of cause-and-effect, it allows no speculative room for possible pre-1832 Cochranite effects upon incipient Mormonism. The unexplored realm of possible early contact between Cochran's strange religion and Mormon origins remains just that -- entirely unexamined and seemingly of no interest to contemporary students of Mormonism's largely hidden roots. This modern indifference was not always the case among observers of Mormonism and Cochranism. The first known reference to the two isms on the same page appeared in the Boston Unitarian of Feb. 1834, when the brother of the poet Walt Whitman described the Cochran delusion as an analogy to what he termed "the Mormon delusion." That same year, the editors of the St. Louis Western Examiner summarized the two movements, one right after the other, but failed to notice that the incipient polygamous practices of certain Mormon leaders had their counterparts in the "wives spiritual and wives natural" of notable Cochranite men. The following year the editor of the Barre, Massachusetts Farmer's Gazette offered a number of hostile remarks relative to "the Mormon delusion" and then offered analogies from "the Cochran delusion," to demonstrate that the two sects "adopt the same course" of religious operations in order to make converts "the dupes of the delusion." In 1835 William L. Stone presented his readers with a brief sketch of Cochranism's supposed origins, deducing therein that Jacob Cochran "seduced great numbers of females, married and unmarried, under the pretext of raising up a race of holy men." Although Stone was aware of the content of the Book of Mormon and mentioned the Mormon sect in three places in his book, he failed to draw the logical comparison between that Cochranite tenet with the Book of Jacob's "escape clause" for polygamists -- "For if I will, saith the Lord of hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people, otherwise..." Throughout the year 1835 the New England newspapers published reports on unusual religious activity in South Hadley, Massachusetts. Both Mormons and Cochranites were active in the village and there were some hints given of their probable interaction. Probably a closer investigation of events would show some conversion cross-overs between the two sects at that time.

After the death of Jacob Cochran in 1836, his sect faded away and was thereafter rarely mentioned in the popular press. Some historical writers made occasional joint-references to Cochranism and Mormonism (most notably G. T. Ridlon), but these scholarly remarks remained largely hidden from the public eye. The modern investigator, by piecing these old sources together, might form interesting conjectures as to how Jacob Cochran and Joseph Smith, Jr. carried out their respective religious operations, conversions, faith-promoting activities, etc. For those students of religious history who see both men as being outwardly charismatic (even mesmeric), but inwardly cynical manipulators of deluded followers, the two nineteenth century sect leaders might appear to be nearly identical impostors. For faithful Latter Day Saints, who envision a God-chosen, prophetic Joseph Smith, the two might appear to be in no way alike. But, whatever their personal similarities and disimilarities, Cochran and Smith both founded societies which overlapped in time, space, membership and religious programs. If there is any basis for the notion of an "early contact" between the two religious phenomena, where might the modern investigator look for compelling evidence? The most promising field for such exploration seems to be during the last few years of Cochran's life, which witnessed an overflow of his followers from New England into western New York.


A Crossing of Paths in Old Genesee?

A careful investigation into Cochranite history sources shows that a portion of that radical group moved from New England to Allegany County, New York, during the closing years of the 1820s. Before a proper chronology of that western relocation can be well established, the names of Cochran's followers from that period should be tabulated, along with a listing of property they purchased, taxes they paid, their census listings, etc. Since such scholarly groundwork has yet to laid out, only an educated guess regarding potential relationships can be provided here. Such an informed guess says, that after his release from prison, Cochran decided that a number of his most faithful followers should be relocated in order to form a communal colony in West Grove township, Allegany County, New York. Presumably the need for westward expansion came as a result of the disintegration of Cochran's cult while he was locked away in prison for several years. In order to arrest that social splintering, and to separate his most loyal or promising disciples from the distractions of problems and "persecutions" in New England, it appears that Jacob Cochran decided to send a substantial portion of his people to the wilds of western New York.

The "Genesee country," west of Palmyra and Canadaigua was at that time experiencing a rapid development of the land and its resources, the building of a "water highway" between the Hudson and Buffalo, and the beginnings of a remarkable religious revival, centered in and around the growing village of Rochester. This was just the place for the building of New Jerusalems and quasi-religious parties, such as the newly founded anti-Masonic movement. So long as the Cochranites located their western colony "off the beaten track" a bit, they might partake of the bounty of that fruitful land and its unsophisticated pioneer inhabitants. Cochran probably made his final decision in this matter before 1828, and by the following year a sizeable number of his New England disciples were flocking to the new western "promised land." They continued the relocation process for the remainder of their leader's life -- but after his 1836 death, the migration slowed to a trickle and some of the sect's pioneers even returned to their old homes in Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Oddly enough, there is no evidence that Jacob Cochran himself ever lived in Allegany Co., New York. His son was married in eastern New York, but that event did not occur until after shortly after Cochran's death -- and there is no record of that son ever migrating west of New York City. For some inexplicable reason, Cochran seems not to have join his own colony in New York. At least there is no known record of his having resided in the west. In the years immediately following his release from prison (1824-26) Cochran must have lived somewhere in relative obscurity. Possibly he did find a temporary refuge in the west, and that part of his life was purposely covered over. Given the fact that some of Cochran's colonists returned to New England after his demise, it is logical to conclude that the colony was established and maintained in accord with his will and desire. Somebody must have made the initial decision to locate the colony in western New York, and it becomes difficult to imagine that the final plan for the move was decided by anybody other than "the Apostle to the Gentiles" himself. So then, the question naturally arises, as to whether Cochran perhaps traveled west to explore likely sites for the colony. Contemporary newspaper articles document Cochran's presence at Hollis, Maine in the fall of 1827. How long the cult leader remained at that place is unknown. Presumably he either made a westward exploration journey, soon after his release from prison (during 1824-27), or else he scouted out the colony's site in 1828, before his disciples began moving to New York.

There is but one known scrap of evidence which might argue for the 1825-27 period, as the period for Cochran's presumed explorations in the west. That scrap is a very late (1877) retrospective account of events from 50 years previous, made by an eye-witness resident of the "Genesee country." It is the only shred of historical documentation currently available for study. The writer says:

In 1827 I hired the Russell house, in the central part of the village of Batavia [in Genesee Co., New York], an old stand, and a much larger house. All at once came Joseph Smith, with James [sic - Jacob?] Cockrane and James [sic - George?] Harris. Cockrane and Smith boarded with me; Harris lived in Batavia. The history of James Cockrane, as I learned it, was that he was a preacher down somewhere in Maine, who held the doctrine that men and women, when converted, became innocent as Adam and Eve before the fall, and had no shame -- went naked. He was taken up and lodged in jail for his blasphemy and crime, tried and sentenced to State prison for ten [sic - four?] years. In 1826 his crime was out, and he came west to Batavia and found Joe Smith a fit companion. Cockrane wanted to preach in the court house and was permitted. I went to hear him, and a flow of words thick and fast, like hail upon a shingled roof, was about all I could hear, not a word spoken intelligently. He and Smith were very intimate....

Smith went to Victor and in a schoolhouse opened his doctrine. At the close of his speech he fell flat on the floor, and claimed that God had met him, who did Paul at Damascus, and had converted him to the true doctrine of Mormonism. Some said Smith was drunk and fell down, but Smith held to the fact that Mormonism was approved of the Almighty, and the true state of society, as of old, was returning to bless and confirm the true doctrine of a multitude of wives and no absolute distinction of families....

On the 2d inst., December, 1877, an elderly lady called at my house. She was raised in Cunnebunk, Maine, and when about 15 years old she knew James Cockrane and many of his followers, and confirms the statement I have made of his doctrine and followers.

(Samuel D. Greene's letter, published in the Chicago Christian Cynosure of Dec. 20, 1877.)
If Jacob Cochran truly did pass through Batavia, Genesee Co., New York in 1827, he may have been coming from, or going to, what was then the next county to the south -- Allegany. In 1827 West Grove (now Granger) township, in that county, was just opening up to increased settlement. Good virgin land was available at a reasonable price and the location was still somewhat isolated -- a place far away from the Cochranites' creditors, religious rivals, and "persecutors" in New England.

Did Joseph Smith, Jr. encounter Jacob Cochran in Genesee County during 1827? Was their chance meeting in that place an occasion for Smith to learn the essentials of Cochran's religious practices and of Cochran's charisma? Did certain personal attributes and social aspects of Smith's later life as the chief Mormon Prophet originate in his imitation of (or close association with) the mesmerizing, revelation-receiving, plural wife-advocating Jacob Cochran of Maine's Saco Valley? Does such a chance meeting help explain why the first extended Mormon missionizing away from Kirtland was directed to the far off Saco Valley, as the missionaries' furthermost target for proslytizing? These are questions still awaiting investigation -- important questions, which may one day help cast additional light upon the subject of Mormon origins.


Joseph Smith's Western Wanderings

A correspondent of the Rochester Daily Union recalled in 1867 that the young Joseph Smith, Jr. and two of his friends worked temporarily as wood-cutters on his farm, which was evidently in the Rochester area. The teenager wood-cutter may have sometimes wandered even farther afield in search of paying work, for Mr. John B. Buck later recalled: "Joe Smith was here [in or near Susquehanna Co., PA) lumbering soon after my marriage, which was in 1818, some years before he took to 'peeping', and before diggings were commenced under his direction. These were ideas he gained later." Joseph is missing from the 1820 Manchester, NY census listing of the Joseph Smith, Sr. family and may have found temporary residence elsewhere during that period in his life. It is certainly possible that the young Joseph Smith occasionally wandered off in search of gainful employment (as a wood-cutter, well-digger or common farmhand) -- in fact much of his known early chronology is filled with weeks and monthes spent along the Susquehanna River. Evidence for his possible travel in a westward direction is less plentiful, however:

  • According to a citation supplied by D. Michael Quinn in 1998, a daughter of early Mormon Alvah Beaman made mention of the fact that male members of the Joseph Smith, Sr. family had visited her father's residence prior to 1828, while "on business." Quinn continues with: "Martin Harris said that prior to 1827, Be(a)man had 'dug for money' with Joseph Sr. at various places in New York state, and Be(a)man's residence in Livonia was apparently one of those places" (Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, p. 52)

    While Quinn's supposed disclosure does not prove that the young Joseph ventured so far west as Livonia (in Livingston, the county bordering Joseph's home county of Ontario, on the west), it does provide a possible destination or even a stopping-over point for any westward journeys he was inclined to make during the mid-1820s. See pp. 56-57 of Todd Compton's 1998 book, In Sacred Lonliness, for more on contacts between the Smiths and the Beamans, before the latter family moved from Livonia to Avon (a town a few miles to the west) in 1829.

  • In 1877 William D. Purple recorded this account of testimony allegedly given on Mar. 20, 1826, in court by Joseph Smith, Jr.: "[In] a history of his life from early boyhood... He [Joseph Smith, Jr.] said when he was a lad... he... was permitted to look in the glass [seer crystal]... He was greatly surprised to see... a small stone, a great way off... He said that the stone was... situated... on the South side of Lake Erie, not far from the Now York and Pennsylvania line.... This singular circumstance occupied his mind for some years, when he left his father's house, and with his youthful zeal traveled west in search of this luminous stone.... After traveling some one hundred and fifty miles [from a stopping point west of his home] he found himself at... its exact location.... he found the stone... [and then returned to] his long deserted home.

  • In an 1884 recollection provided to Rev. Clark Braden by the son of Geauga Co. botantic physician Storm Rosa, that son reported that Dr. Rosa "had heard Rigdon, whom he had seen at Mentor and Painesville, preaching Mormonism in Rochester, N. Y.... several months before Mormons preached in Ohio. He said Rigdon used to meet Joseph in Ashtabula, O." While there is no conclusive evidence available in support of Dr. Rosa's allegations, the Oct. 16, 1830 issue of the Ashtabula Journal advertised for Rev. Sidney Rigdon, his presence in Ashtabula only days before the arrival of the four Mormon "missionaries to the Lamanites" in neighboring Geauga Co. This Rigdon announcement is unique and might be cited by some investigators as possible evidence for secret meetings between Rigdon and early Mormons, held in Ashtabula Co., Ohio, prior to Rigdon's public conversion to Mormonism.

  • The Masonic historian, Rob Morris wrote in 1883 that the notorious William Morgan, of Batavia, Genesee Co., NY "had been a half way convert of Joe Smith, the Mormon, and had learned from him to see visions and dream dreams." Smith did not become a "Mormon" until after Morgan's apparent death in the fall of 1826; however, Mr. Morris was probably speaking of what Smith became, and not what his religious affiliation was in 1826 or before. Presumably, William Morgan could have only become Smith's "convert" to extraordinary dreams and visions by having personally interacted with Smith -- either at Batavia, at Manchester, or at some point in between. Before this possibility is dismissed, out of hand, the careful investigator might wish to recall that Morgan's widow Lucinda Morgan Harris later became Smith's first or second plural wife -- also that Lucinda was for many years a best friend with Louisa Beaman, originally of Livonia, Livingston Co., NY. History does not record when their friendship first began, but they lived within 40 miles of each other, in adjacent NY counties during the late-1820s.

    Joseph Smith, Jr.'s probable acquaintance with William Batavia is strengethened by two historical oddities. Smith's cousin Warren A. Cowdery lived within a few miles of Morgan's Batavia residence, as did a number of Warren's extended family members. Also, Warren's brother, Oliver Cowdery, reportedly served as William Morgan's part-time scribe. In 1826 Lucinda admitted that her husband employed such a scribe, and in 1881 William Bryant, a former neighbor of Oliver Cowdery, told two high-ranking RLDS officials that Cowdery had once served as William Morgan's scribe -- or, that Cowdery had at least "helped to write Morgan's book." Of course this tenuous Cowdery connection to Batavia only supports the notion that Joseph Smith, Jr. visited that area during the 1820s, if it can be shown that Smith knew his second cousin, Oliver Cowdery, before their proclaimed initial cooperation in 1828. An eye-witness to the Smith family's first years in the Palmya area, Orsamus Turner, was convinced of such a pre-1828 connection, and gave purported details in 1851. Writers Cowdrey, Davis and Vanick, in their 2005 book, Who Really Wrote The Book of Mormon? -- The Spalding Enigma, explore this proposed connection, but do not provide any conclusive proof.

  • Life-long Bainbridge, Ohio resident Charles E. Henry, wrote in 1886 that a local school-teacher, who knew Sidney Rigdon, and who taught school in Bainbridge during the winter of 1826-27, within sight of Rigdon's home, had seen Joseph Smith, Jr. and Sidney Rigdon together the following spring -- "and he [Smith] and Rigdon went off together and were gone some months. It was reported that they had gone to Pittsburgh, but whether true or not no one could say. It was generally believed, however, that Smith at least visited Western New York before either returned to Ohio." All of this semi-secretive activity reportedly occurred well before the Book of Mormon was first "announced." The first known public announcement of Smith's "Gold Bible" appeared in the Columns of the Geauga Co. Painesville Telegraph on Sept. 22, 1829.

  • Given the long passage of time, since Joseph Smith, Jr.'s reported 1827 excursion to Batavia, in company with Jacob Cochran, the facts of Smith's travels west of the Palmyra region may never be fully established. What can be stated, with a good deal of certainty, is that Smith had motive, means and opportunity to travel to the west at an early date, and that gaps in his established pre-1828 chronology allow for the possibility of his having visited Batavia late in 1826, or more likely, in the weeks or months following his Jan., 1827 marriage to Emma Hale.



    Cochranite Colony and First Mormons in Allegany Co., NY -- c. 1828-1836
    (view high resolution map of the area)


    Early Mormons in Allegany Co., NY

    From the currently available evidence it is impossible to confirm Samuel D. Greene's 1877 recollections of Jacob Cochran and Joseph Smith, Jr. being together at Batavia, fifty years before. Even Cochran's supposed appearance in the western NY town is not established fact. No newspaper record has yet been located to document his holding any meetings in Batavia (in stark contrast to the local paper's 1832 report of traveling Mormon missionaries preaching in the same Genesee Co. court-house where Greene states that Cochran had previously done his preaching). What really happened? It might be helpful to know if the 1829 report of Jacob Cochran's prostylizing in "Hamburg" NY originated from Erie Co., Tompkins Co., or a "Hamburg" nearer New England, such as in Greene or Dutchess counties. Maine historian Joyce Butler refers to the 1829 letter from a "Hamburg, New York selectman" as being possible evidence for Cochran's presence in "upstate New York," but she does not pinpoint the origin of that letter. Another intriguing hint of Cochran's hidden past comes in the 1827 report provided by Hull Barton, saying that Cochran had with him, at Hollis, Maine, "a spiritual companion in addition to his natural one... along with "Two... State Prison convicts... lately from New-York." Perhaps these associates were converts whom Cochran made while he was in prison, and perhaps their New York connections supplied him with incentive and means to visit the Empire State, following his 1824 release from incarceration.

    Does an early crossing of Joseph Smith's and Jacob Cochran's paths explain why the first Mormon conversions and branch-establishment in Allegany occured in Grove township, and in the townships round about? Mormon Elder John P. Greene's 1832 missionizing in northern Allegany must have brought him into contact with Cochranite colonists there. Greene was seeking to make converts near (or among) the New York Cochranites at the same time that his co-religionists, elders Orson Hyde and Samuel H. Smith were spreading the Mormon gospel among the Cochranite remnants of the Saco Valley, in far off Maine (a spot Greene himself would visit in 1836). Was all of this mere coincidence, or evidence of a little-known Latter Day Saint effort to bring the followers of Jacob Cochran into the Mormon fold?

    Although John P. Greene (a brother-in-law of Brigham Young) did not raise up any Mormon branches in Allegany in 1832, his son Elder Evan M. Greene and Evan's missonary companion Elder John Gould, had better luck two years later. By November of 1834 Gould had established the first Mormon branch in that county -- in Grove township, the western half of which (now called Granger) was the home of the New York Cochranites. Of all the towns and hamlets of Allegany, why were did residents of that place become the county's first Mormons? Were the 1835 Grove, Burns and Portage LDS branches in nothern Allegany Co., New York (raised up by Elder Andrew J. Squires) made up primarily of ex-Cochranite colonists, who recognized a very similar religion in Mormonism? Did "spiritual wifery" come secretly into the LDS Church with these Allegany converts -- because of those same Cochranite-Mormonite religious affinities? Did Lyman Wight carry Cochranite beliefs and practices with him from northern Allegany Co., when he migrated to northern Ohio? Such questions remain unanswered. William Marks, who was closest to these scenes of the first Mormon missionizing in Allegany, left no record of the events. The missionary journals of Evan M. Greene and John Gould are not available for consultation. And it is unlikely that Richard and Pamela Price (the only contemporary Latter Day Saint writers on this subject) will supply much in the way of helpful investigation into this "black hole" realm of forgotten Mormon origins -- and no other "Mormon historians" appear to be interested in the Cochranism topic whatsoever. Perhaps, then, such questions are not merely unanswered, but will forver remain unanswerable.

    Dale R. Broadhurst




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