Cochran, William M. (1807–1853)

By: Jennifer Eckel

Type: Biography

Published: April 30, 2008

Updated: June 23, 2020

William M. Cochran, pioneer and Texas representative, was born on April 7, 1807, near Abbeville, South Carolina, son of John and Margaret (McClanahan) Cochran. About 1828 William moved with his family to Columbia, Maury County, Tennessee. After his father's death around 1830 he entered the mercantile business with the firm of Cochran and Gilmer. On September 21, 1837, William M. Cochran married Nancy Jane Hughes in Columbia.

In 1840 William and Nancy moved to Greene County, Missouri. After seeing a sample of soil from Mustang Branch in Nacogdoches County, Texas, the Cochrans decided to move to Texas; they arrived at Mustang Branch and were issued a land certificate in the Peters Colony in March of 1843. William established a farm where he grew wheat and cotton as well as fruit trees, corn, and pumpkins.

Upon the creation of the state of Texas and Dallas County in 1846, William M. Cochran was elected county clerk in the county's first election. Soon after, Cochran was elected to be the first Dallas County representative to the state legislature. He was reelected in 1848. The Cochran family's prosperity increased, and in 1849 they built a corn and cotton mill. In 1851 the Cochrans purchased an additional 640 acres of land, built a chapel, and set aside land for a family cemetery.

On April 23, 1853, Cochran died of typhoid fever and became the second person buried in the Cochran Chapel Cemetery in Dallas County. His sons Archelaus M. Cochran and John Hughes Cochran also served in the Texas legislature.

William Foster Jacoby, "Cochran, William M." (, accessed August 4, 2006.

  • Third Legislature (1849-1850)
  • House
  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Jennifer Eckel, “Cochran, William M.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 20, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 30, 2008
June 23, 2020

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