John Gocher




Photo Credit:  Rosa G. Gonzales

1.  Biography

The record written in stone for John Gocher report that he lived from 1820 to 1875.  John is a native of England that apparently was initially married there for the eldest son living with him in the 1870 federal census of Nueces County, Edward, is reported as born in England also.  His later children are all listed as born in Mexico, but the census record of daughter Sarah Gocher in 1880 report that both her parents are from England even though she was born in Mexico.  This would seem to indicate that John’s wife was living when they migrated to Mexico, and that they resided there at least for the duration of the birth of four children who were born between the years of 1860 and 1866 (the time of the Civil War in America).  It may mean that they were hoping to travel to America when the War broke out and forced a change of plans.  At any rate, John is only reported in the 1870 federal census of Nueces County (page 155A & B) as he died prior to the 1880 census.  His oldest son Edward was executor for his estate whose records can be found in the Nueces County Probate Records.  Those records indicate that he died May 4, 1875.  The census and oral tradition report that John Gocher was a miller who ground grain.  Mr. E. L. Caldwell in the reminiscences he gave in a series of interviews in 1938-9 stated, “Mr. Gocher, in 1872, operated a windmill; it was somewhere near the present homes of Horatio Gussett and Mrs. E. Morris (Buffalo and N. Broadway).  It was elevated on a base of shell, sand and lime concrete and was used to grind grain for food for man and beast” (page 14-15 in the transcription of his interviews).  After his untimely death, at least some of his children returned to Mexico to live.  Older brother William is living there at San Luis Potosi as late as 1936 when his sister Sarah dies.  Edward may have also gone with him.  However, John’s daughters, Sarah and Eliza “Lizzie”, remained in Corpus Christi.  Eliza married John A. Smith in 1884, and numerous descendents from them have been residents of the Coastal Bend even to the present.  Miss Sarah Gocher is found in the 1880 census, living with William and Margaret (Moore) Headen as a domestic servant.  She is only 16 years old at the time and probably had been taken in and raised in exchange for her services (Nueces County 1880 federal census).  The last three years of her life she spent in Austin.  Her obituary noted that she had been a resident of Alice and Corpus Christi practically her entire life.  Her nephew, J. Arthur Smith, is listed as living in Alice at the time of Sarah’s death so it may be that he cared for her in her later years before the move to Austin.  Many of the descendents of John Gocher are buried in local cemeteries, but none other than himself are known to be buried in Old Bayview.  His grandchildren include: Lillian V. Smith (Herman) Davis, Edith Smith (Henry C.) Sibley, Edwin Gocher Smith, Perry R. Smith, J. Arthur Smith, Linton C. Smith, Wm. Shirley Smith, and G. Wallace Smith.  They have numerous other descendents, both living and deceased, presently in the south Texas area.

Research and transcription: Michael A. Howell


2.  Related Articles


Some of the articles in older newspapers of Corpus Christi give further information related to Mr. Gocher. One article report, “On Friday evening, April 16, while returning from the funeral of Mr. Gocher, two horses attached to the ambulance of J. W. Fogg became uncontrollable, capsized the vehicle, and threw Mrs. Headen and a young daughter of the deceased out, slightly injuring the latter. The ambulance was almost a complete wreck.” This article is from the Corpus Christi Caller of 20 April 1922 on page 4 and is quoting stories from the older Corpus Christi Gazette published 47 years earlier. The young daughter of John Gocher thrown from the ambulance is probably his daughter Sarah who is found living with the Headen family in 1880 census (Nueces County federal census page 2D). Presumably they helped raise her after the death of her father which left her and her siblings orphans. An article from a paper only a few months later notes that Mr. Gocher building was destroyed by a fire. The article states, “The Gocher house on the side of the hill almost in front of the Congregational church, was destroyed by fire on Saturday night. B. F. Overman, the carriage factory man, had just purchased the property, which could have been saved by the firemen if they had only had a sufficient water supply for their steam engine.” This article is from the 18 July 1922 edition of the Corpus Christi Caller and purports to be reporting an article from the 17 July 1875 issue of the Corpus Christi Gazette.

Research and transcription: Michael A. Howell

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