Peter Cochems, Farmer/Cigar Maker.

by Lois Jones - December 2002

Peter Cochems was Henry Cochems and Anna Maria Goebel's seventh child. According to the 1900 Census Peter came to the U.S. in 1870 when he was 25 years old. It is not known if he came directly to Chicago, Illinois, or spent some time in with his brother Henry.

In any event in the mid 1800's Chicago was a boom town as the following quote from the 1883 Lakeside Annual Directory by the Chicago Directory Company will attest. "The growth of Chicago has been and still is without precedent....In 1840 there were in Chicago 4,479 people. In 1850 there were 28,269. The census of 1860 showed a population of 112,172. In 1870 there were 298,700 and in 1880 there were 503,000. Thus the city has gone on quadrupling and doubling its population in each decade, until it has outstripped dozens of towns which were old and thrifty long before the ground on which Chicago now stands was reclaimed from the swamp....there are good reasons for believing that in the enumeration of 1890 the city will be shown to have left all but New York and Philadelphia far behind."

The Great Chicago Fire (caused according to some accounts by the O'Leary's cow) occurred in 1871. The fire although a catastrophe probably provided many jobs for young men eager to help rebuild the city.

I do not know when Peter arrived in Chicago or when he married Anna. I am not even sure if Anna's last name is spelled Lavan or Lavens. However Peter and Anna's first child was born in Chicago in 1874. The following are Peter and Anna's children.

  Born Died Married
Edward Oct. 13, 1874
in Illinois
July 31, 1949
Orange Co., CA
Emma Glaser on Oct. 15, 1902 
in Chicago, Illinois
Anna August 20, 1876
in Chicago, Il.
March 23, 1934
Riverside Co, CA
Mr. John Barney McNicholl & Abraham Horning
Charles Mar. 30, 1879
in Cook Co., Ill.
June 21, 1880
in Cook Co., Ill.
Oscar Dec. 10, 1880
in Illinois
Sep. 25, 1954
Long Beach, CA
Lillian Eggleton on Nov. 11, 1904
in Twin Oaks, CA
Mamie Oct. 17, 1882
in Illinois
Oct. 6, 1966
in San Diego Co.
Edwin Fairchild before 1905
Ella Feb. 21, 1888
in CA
Sept. 2, 1950
Riverside Co., CA
Walter McKean and Bert Peck

According to the 1875/76 Lakeside Annual Directory of the City of Chicago, Peter Cochems was a cigarmaker at 602 W. 12th. This address was probably his home.

In the 1880 Illinois Census, Peter's occupation was listed as saloon keeper. His wife was listed as Hannah and keeping house was her occupation. They were living at 197 Blues Island Ave. in Chicago with their three children, Edward, Anna and Charles. There were also six boarders living with them with no apparent familial connection to the Cochems family.

The existence of Charles Cochems (child #3) came as a surprise to me since he was never mentioned in any family lists put together by later Cochems. However birth and death records are clear that Charles was born on March 30, 1879 and died June 21, 1880. The census was taken on June 14, 1880; so Charles died seven days after he was enumerated in the census.

In 1883 according to the Lakeside Directory the following Cochems were living in Chicago.

"Cochems Frank, clk. 344 Clark

Cochems Joseph, baker 181 W. 13th

Cochems Joseph, baker 472 S. Halsted

Cochems Peter, cigarmnfr. 181 W. 13th"

As can be seen from the above Peter was working as a cigar manufacturer and was living at the same address, 181 W. 13th St., as his brother Joseph. Joseph Cochems and his family came to the United States about a dozen years before. According to the 1883 Directory, there was also a Frank Cochems in Chicago. I have no idea who this person might be.

On April 8, 1888, Peter registered to vote in San Diego County. As part of the registration process Peter swore he became a citizen on April 2, 1883 in Cook Co., Illinois, County Court, and now resided in Greenwood where he was a farmer. The San Diego voter registration list can be found in the San Diego Genealogical Society publication "Leaves and Saplings".

According to a newspaper article by Ruth Lindenmeyer printed by The Courier on October 19, 1978: "The family came to Olivenhain in 1885 but became dissatisfied. In 1887 they homesteaded on North Twin Oaks Valley Road, on the north boundary of Rancho San Marcos...They first built a small house with a large barn. Cochems and his sons raised hay and grain. In 1902 they built the house in the picture."

On June 11, 2000, the North County Times printed an article by Roy Haskins titled "Families Came from Chicago to Settle in Area. In the article Mr. Haskins states: "About 1880, an unscrupulous promoter placed an ad in a Chicago newspaper extolling the "golden opportunities" in the Olivenhain Colony. A few hardy families persisted but many moved on to other areas or returned to Chicago. Peter Cochems, George Oden and Jacob Uhland left Olivenhain with their families and settled in the Meadowlark area. They would walk the eight miles to Major Merriam's homestead on Monday mornings to work for the major and walk back home on Saturday night to be with their families."

For more information on the Olivenhain Colony see:

According to the 1900 California Census, Peter owned his own farm which was mortgaged. His wife Annie, and two children, Oscar and Ella lived with him. Daughter Mamie was working at a nearby farm as a house servant. I don't know where the other two children, Edward and Anna, were in 1900.

Peter Cochems died May 12, 1912, in San Marcos, California at the age of 67. After his death the farm was sold. Anna, Peter's widow was listed in the 1920 Census living on Riverene Avenue in Santa Ana, CA. Anna died September 9, 1924, in Orange Co., California at the age of 74.

Edward (child #1) married Emma Glaser in Chicago, Illinois in 1902. In the 1916 Santa Ana Directory, Edward was listed as a "commercial and high art photographer" living at 407 E. Pine. Today his work can be viewed at the University of California, Irvine. See Edward died July 31, 1949 in Orange County at the age of 74. Edward had one child Adeline Walker who was born in California in 1904 and died in California in 1985. This is the Adeline that I quote at various times in this story. Adeline also founded the Orange County Historical Society.

Anna (child #2) married a man named John Barney McNicholl and had at least three children, Oscar (1893-1979), Olive (1896-1993) and Hugh (1897-1972), all born in California. Per the 1920 Census Anna was married to Abraham Horning, a carpenter, and lived at 456 Cottage Street in the City of Riverside. Abraham Horning on November 8, 1917 in the Arlington section of Riverside, Riverside County, California. The same census for the City of Riverside showed that son Oscar McNicholl was a farmer living on Indiana Avenue and son Hugh McNicholl was a farmer living at 860 Magnolia Avenue. Anna Cochems Horning died at the age of 57 in Riverside County on March 23, 1934.

Oscar (child #4) married Lillian Eggleton on November 11, 1904 in Twin Oaks, California. They had seven children that survived to adulthood. Oscar died September 25, 1954. Lillian died February 27, 1968. They are buried together in Sunnyside Mausoleum, Long Beach, California.

Mamie (child #5) married Edwin Fairchild. In the 1920 Census Mamie lived with her husband, an insurance agent, in a home free of mortgage at 60 Hill Street, Oceanside, CA. Their daughter Pearl E., age 15, also lived in the home. Mamie died on October 6, 1966, in San Diego Co., California, eleven days before her 84th birthday.

Peter and Anna Cochems first five children were born in Illinois. However Ella the youngest child was born in California in 1888. Ella worked as a domestic in Los Angeles according to the 1915 Directory. Per the 1920 Census Ella was married to Walter McKean a master mechanic and they lived at 112 Van Ness, Santa Ana, CA. Ella later married Bert Peck. She had no children. Ella was Emma Diemer Hetz' good friend and is in several Hetz family photos. Ella died Sept. 2, 1950, at the age of 62, in Riverside Co., CA., three months before her good friend Emma Hetz died.

First | Previous | Next | Last | Home