Jane Cochran Davis (1825-1866), Ancestor No. 44

Jane (Cochran) Davis (with Otho)

[Update: Just as with her husband, until Christmas 2018 I had no idea what Jane looked like. Technically this is a photo of a painting, but it’s good enough for me. Bonus – The owner taped (!) a picture of Otho to the canvas! Now, then…]

This was intended to be a bookend piece, of sorts. I just covered the very public life of Otho Davis, so I wanted to discuss his wife Jane as well. But, while I know quite a bit about her extended families, I know very little about Jane herself.

I know she was a year old when her parents left Ireland for the U.S.A. I know she did her growing up in Coshocton County, Ohio, and moved with her family to Jefferson County, Iowa, when she was about 17. She married Otho Davis the next year (1843), and they had seven children together. Jane died in 1866 shortly after the birth of the seventh child, my great-grandmother Eva.

But that’s it. Not much of a post. So I’m going to widen the focus a tad, and see if I can make a coherent story from the bits of knowledge I have about her people.

They were all Scots-Irish, a people invented as a result of England’s desire to stake a claim in Ireland and populate it with friendly, loyal, Protestant people. In the early 17th Century, King James granted confiscated lands in County Down to Scottish nobles, an action shortly followed by colonization of those lands by mostly lowland Scots.

The “Flight of the Earls” in 1607, the hasty departure of 99 members of the major clans from the region, resulted in more confiscated land and more colonization, culminating with the Plantation of Ulster.

I assume my family’s story evolves out of the facts I’ve just recounted – but it’s hard to know for sure. There was also a part of the Ulster population that arrived as part of the Calvinist-Puritan push away from both the Church of England and the Church of Ireland. But since these folks, my family, were long attached to their local church in Glencolumbcille (Church of Ireland), and then made a living in Ohio as whiskey distillers (among other things), it seems that they weren’t part of any sort of Puritan population.

A minor tangent my sister will get a boot out of:  Among the fleeing Earls in 1607 was one Rory O’Donnell, who became his clan’s leader after his elder brother died in Spain trying to garner foreign support for the Irish cause. The brother was Hugh (“Red Hugh”) O’Donnell – whose story was told (with mind-boggling inaccuracy, I understand) in Disney’s “The Fighting Prince of Donegal” – a mid-60s favorite in the Watson household.


One issue: there was no such thing as Donegal in those days. Today, however, a large portion of those appropriated lands are located in County Donegal – and my Irish roots come from its coastal villages Glencolumbcille, Malin More, and Kilcar.

I don’t know how long my people were in Donegal, but it had to have been a tough life. The soil was dreadful, supporting flax – and consequently a reasonably hardy weaving industry – but little else. However long it was, it’s clear that by 1820, their dreams began drifting westward. About this time two significant things happened: One, the first of these relatives (including Loves, McKees, Osbornes, Corscaddens, and others) made the big move to America; and two, John Cochran and Ann Love, Jane’s parents, married.

Most of the information I have on these folks comes out of a voluminous research document produced by kinsman Bob Orr.  The following are his stories:

The first of the family of James Love [Ann’s father, my 4th great-grandfather] came to America in 1819 – eldest son Samuel. The plan was that he was to find a suitable home and the other members of his family would follow. His ship landed in New York, and to save money he and some friends walked first to Philadelphia, and then most of the way west across Pennsylvania to McKeesport (about 12 miles SW of Pittsburgh).

McKeesport had been settled by some Scots from Ireland [probably kin] and, as such, was known to the Love Family. Soon, Samuel migrated west to Coshocton County, Ohio (about 135 miles away), bought a farm, and lived and worked until 1826, at which point he wrote his family that he had readied a home for them, and it was time to leave Ireland.

And one more:

John [Love], a young man about 20 years old, was entrusted with selling much of the family property in advance of their departure. He took a herd of cattle to a market south of their home. In the course of completing the sale, a Bible was needed to finalize the contract. They finally located a family that had a Bible, and on leaving John explained that his family was going to America. The Mother, Mrs. McKee, stated that her son Andrew was in America and asked that John tell Andrew about his family and ask him to write home. John explained that America was a large country and that they would probably never meet. But they did later meet in Coshocton, and Andrew McKee married John Love’s sister, Fannie – the twin sister of my Jane’s mother Ann Love Cochran.

John Love became known around Coshocton by the nickname “Yankee”. And yours truly was forced to look elsewhere for through-and-through blarney-spoutin’, St. Paddy toastin’ Irish ancestors. (But I found some!)

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