118 N. Seventh Street – Addison Cochran

by | Historic Homes

From 1875 through 1878 this was the home of Col. Addison Cochran, an early prospector whose gift to the city was Cochran Park.

H.H. Field, writing about the early pioneers in his History of Pottawattamie County, tells this story: “Addison Cochran was another fine old southern gentleman, who had been a colonel in the Mexican war. He bought more property than he could handle or pay for and when crowded, begged his creditors to take all and release him.

“This they refused to do and he fled to the mountains, went into mining, made a raise as well as had his land, during his absence. He sold some, redeemed the balance and became rich at last. He was elected mayor of the city. He also donated a square for a park which has been nicely improved. He died May 20, 1896, and has a beautiful monument in Fairview” (Note: “made a raise” means “struck it rich”.)

Cochran was born in 1817 and grew up on a farm near Hillsboro, VA. He moved to Steubenville, Ohio where he married Sarah Jones.

He left after his wife and only child died, and went south to Charlestown, SC where he worked in a mercantile store- first as a clerk and then as manager.

He fought in the Mexican-American war, went through New Mexico, California, and along the Pacific coast as far north as Washington, returned to Santa Fe and engaged in the trading that was going on from St. Louis and Kansas City.

When he came to Council Bluffs in 1852, his first investment was in a farm near Little Sioux. He continued to make investments in that area of the state and for years was an extensive dealer in farm lands.

These early investments formed the nucleus of his estate of more than 6.000 acres, which he still owned when he died. His Land Agency & Exchange Office (and his residence until 1875) was at 419 W. Broadway, near the Pacific House.

In the 1850s, after Iowa became a state and Nebraska was still a territory, claims were frequently made from the Iowa side. Some resulted in conflict and violence.

118 N. Seventh, Cochran

In one instance, a small group of Iowa citizens, including Cochran, Sherman Goss, H.C. Purple, J.P. Casady and A.J. Poppleton, went to investigate a claim they made for a town site on the Elk Horn River, having heard that it was taken over by claim jumpers. They found this to be true and, in the conflict that followed, Goss was shot and killed and Purple lost an arm.

In a second dispute on the Elk Horn River, Jesse Winn severely cut Richard P. Snow with a knife and Snow’s father-in-law shot and killed Winn. (The more detailed story can be found online in Field’s History of Pottawattamie County.)

A news story appeared in The New York Times on March 8, 1856, submitted by their Nebraska correspondent, which stated in part: “This is the second murder that has occurred in Nebraska and gone heralded in the States as a Nebraska murder, while really neither is, literally speaking, a Nebraska murder. Both indeed were brought about by residents of Iowa, and yet, poor innocent Nebraska must bear the blame and obtain the unjustified name of a barbarous country.”

After serving as mayor of Council Bluffs, Cochran retired to his farms in Harrison County where he died. A memorial service was held in the council chambers on May 21, 1896, in recognition of his service to the city and his donation of the park.

The lead story on the front page of the Nonpareil at the time of his death called Cochran “one of the leading pioneers of southwestern Iowa.”

From 1858 to 1861, Cochran “served on the city council, and in 1879 he was elected mayor. He inaugurated the sewer system of the city, and the straightening of Indian Creek was due to his efforts…He has left to the city as a lasting memorial a tract of land bounded by First and Second Avenues and 21st and 22nd Streets, which has been named Cochran Park in his honor.”

The house at 118 N. Seventh St. was built in 1875 for Cochran. He purchased the property that year and was the first to live at that address. Seventh Street was originally named Marcy Street. The name was changed to North Seventh in 1881 when many of the street names were changed.

According to the site inventory that was done prior to the construction of the Avenue G viaduct, it was built in the Italianate style and retains some Italianate/Queen Anne details in the gable ends.

The two-story single family dwelling has a gable-hipped roof with lower cross-gabled ells. The wrap-around front porch was added after 1928 (as shown on the Sanford fire insurance map) and replaced two smaller porches- front and side.

A two-story bay on the south side has a gabled roof supported by brackets. The front gable peak has original fish-scale shingles and elaborate cornice line trim board, and a stylized Palladian window. The north gable peak has fish-scale sin shingles, an elaborate cornice line trim board, and a single arched window.

Source Material

Preserve Council Bluffs acknowledges the following sources of information for this series: National Register of Historic Places nominations, the reference department of the Council Bluffs Public Library, the auditor’s office of the Pottawattamie County courthouse, Council Bluffs Community Development Department, homeowners, family members and individual research.