My special thanks to Prof. Esmaiel Yourdshahian for reviving the history of a dedicated American family in Iran through his latest novel, “Where I was born”.
Marjan Abdi, PhD
Life of Dr. Joseph Plumb Cochran M.D. 1855-1905
“Founder of Urmia’s First Medical College”
“He came not to be ministered unto, but to be minister”
The above sentence is carved on Joseph. P. Cochran’s gravestone, adopted from the holy Bible. The gravestone is huge, wide and heavy and broken in the mid section. On one side of the stone, there is a text in Assyrian language; an ancient language of Mesopotamia; and on the other, a text in English.
Dr. Cochran’s grave is located next to Catherine’s, his young wife who died in 1895, when she was only 42, at the peak of her youth.
His father, Joseph. J. Cochran, his mother, Deborah Plumb Cochran and others like Justin Perkins, Dr. Wright, Mr. Walter and the former British council lie silently in the neighborhood.
A bit farther, outside the cemetery boundary walls, and on a mild slope, in the middle of a pasture, the grave of the one who was his best friend since childhood lies. His gravestone is a grain millstone; carved by himself, supposed to be placed in the new mill of the village.
American presbyterian missionary’s cemetery is located at the top of the “Seer mountain” in Urmia, Iran and in the old Christian’s cemetery of “Seer village” which today is called, “Seer-e-Heidarloo”. The cemetery is in the west side of the village and on a mild slope. Down there, near a narrow lane, in the Southwest of the village, there is Cochran’s house, facing towards west. It was inherited from his father. The house used to have a brick facade but now the ceiling is collapsed. There is still a wooden door and a metallic knocker; and grid-like wooden windows, which are long and slim where Dr. Cochran used to look at the mountains through, to the medical school of Urmia, Westminister hospital, the Urmia city and the narrow path which was stretched from the village to far; to eternity.
The medical college of Urmia continued its activity until 1905, the time when Dr. Cochran passed away.
Dr. Joseph. P. Cochran, who consecrated his entire life to serve his fellow people, became depressed and all alone in his last days of life had faced with lot of disgracefulness from some people. In 1895, his beautiful wife, Catherine, died of typhoid which took the life of a lot of others, and left him and her children alone (She had four sons and one daughter).
After her death, he took the entire responsibility of the hospital, family and the college and during that time he traveled three times to the U.S to bring more supplies for the college and the hospital.
In reply to his friends who had asked if he wanted to come back to the U.S, since his wife had passed away and children needed further education, he answered: “This is the matter of their own; I was born here and will die here too!”
In the spring of 1905, a Kurdish rebel man, intrigued by some people, unsuccessful to assassinate Dr. Cochran, Killed Albery, his coworker with stabbing a knife repeatedly. This circumstance had an immense effect on Dr. Cochran and left him desperately depressed.
In June 1905, to overcome a sudden famine and scarcity of flour, Dr. Cochran decided to build a mill near the river in “Hesar” village. Two men, Ivan and Heidar who had carved the millstones in a nearby mountain called “Ghoshlar Ghalasi” (birds’ fortress) started carrying them with a cart.