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Howard & Idelle Cochran and daughters, 1910-1920

Arctic & Northern Biographies

    This story began when I came across a 1912 newspaper article about a woman dying 4 hours after her baby was born in a remote Yukon mining camp 2 days after Christmas. That led me to another article, about their 6-year-old daughter dying on a steamer headed for Skagway in 1910.

    I really got involved in the story when I was unable to find the graves of either mother or daughter. Idelle Cochran was buried at what is now called the Pioneer Cemetery at Whitehorse, and Carolyn Cochran was buried at what is now called the Pioneer Cemetery at Skagway, but neither cemetery has a record of them.

    The image below shows the 1911 census page for Wheaton, which had 23 residents. The last 2 columns I have shown are the month of birth and the age on last birthday, so this page also shows that Howard Cochran was born in March 1869, Idelle Cochran was born in March 1879, Marion Cochran was born in May 1899, and Mavis Cochran was born in April 1901.

Howard Cochran and family, 1911 census

    On July 20, 1917, The Weekly Star reprinted a note from the Skagway paper stating that Miss Mavis Cochran and Miss Marion Cochran, of Carcross, had been guests in Skagway for several days before leaving on the steamer Prince Rupert for Oakland, California, where they would enter school and make their home with their aunt.

    Howard Cochran's Whirlwind mine got a good amount of press for a few years, but the last article was published in The Weekly Star on April 23, 1920, and then both the mine and Howard vanish from sight (so far).

    On September 9, 1938, Mavis and Marion reappeared in the Star, though with a few spelling errors: "Many of the old-timers in this community will remember the two young sisters - Marian and Mavis Cochrane - whose father operated the Whirlwind mine in the Wheaton district years ago (The late Mr. Becker of Carcross, who passed away some months ago was his partner.) The former Miss Marian Cockrane is now the wife of Mr. Steinhauser, purchasing agent for Messrs. Alexander & Baldwin of Honolulu, Hawaii. Her sister, Mavis, is his secretary. Mrs. Steinhauser, who has been visiting in the United States recently, called upon Mr. Cam Smith's sister, Mrs. Deyo Le Vake at Portland, Oregon."

The Weekly Star, May 5, 1910

Died On Steamer - Little Girl's Sudden Taking Off on Cottage City, 1910

    A very sad occurence took place on the Cottage City last Friday evening when little Carolyn Cochran died after an illness of less than one day. On Thursday the child complained of feeling sick and it was not thought that anything serious was the matter, but on Friday without any warning she was taken with a hemorrhage of the lungs and died in a few minutes.

    Mrs. Cochran was on her way from Los Angeles to join her husband at Carcross where he is employed as mining engineer on the Big Thing mine. - Skagway Alaskan,

    Mr. Cochran met his wife at Skagway Monday evening and they buried their little daughter there Tuesday. The bereaved parents are now at Carcross.

The Weekly Star, January 5, 1912

Wife and Mother - Mrs. Howard Cochran of Wheaton Dies Suddenly, 1911

    Mrs. Idelle Cochran, wife of Howard Cochran, who, with his partner, Theo. Becker, is operating the Whirlwind mine in the Wheaton district, died on Wednesday, December 27th, four hours after giving birth to a girl baby. Mr. Becker was not at home at the time, and after the death of his wife Mr. Cochran was forced to leave the infant and dead mother with their two little daughters, aged 13 and 10, while he went to Carbon Hill, a distance of ten or eleven miles, their nearest neighbors, for the purpose of taking Mrs. Joyce to his home to assist them with the motherless babe.

    Mr. Cochran arrived here on Monday evening's train with his wife's body and the children, including the five days old baby which was at once taken by Mrs. M. G. Watson who will care for it. Funeral services were conducted Tuesday afternoon at 2 o'clock in the afternoon from the Presbyterian church by Rev. Edwin Burgess. Although the bereaved family were strangers here a large crowd was present at the funeral and many followed the remains to the cemetery.

    Mr. Cochran, his two eldest daughters and Mr. Becker returned to Robinson on the way to their home on Wednesday's train, The sympathy of the entire community is extended to the bereaved father and daughters in their sorrow.

    The Cochrans are from Los Angeles, California. The husband and father preceded his family to the Yukon early in 1910 and when his wife and three little daughters were on the way here from the coast in the latter part of April of the same year, a daughter six years of age was taken suddenly sick and died on the steamer two days before arriving at Skagway, the body being buried at that place on the first day of May, 1910. The family resided for several months at Carcross where the deceased made many warm friends and where her death is greatly regretted.

The Weekly Star, January 5, 1912

Card of Thanks

    In behalf of myself and daughters I desire to express my heartfelt thanks to the kind people of Whitehorse who so readily came to our aid and rendered such valuable assistance to us in our loss of wife and mother. Words are inadequate to convey our deep appreciation of the many kindnesses shown. We came as sorrowing strangers to you, but you opened your hearts and your homes to us and did all that could have been done by lifetime friends. Your kindness will never be forgotten.


The Weekly Star, May 24, 1912

    Howard Cochran and daughters, Misses Marian and Mavis, came down from the Whirlwind mine out from Robinson last week, the father returning on Friday and the daughters remaining until after the celebration. They are the guests of Miss Deyo Puckett. Both the father and daughters were pleased to find the babe, which has been cared for by Mrs. M. G. Watson, practically all of its life and since its mother died late in December, getting along nicely and developing into a beautiful child.