Author: John Outcalt (1925)


A man of excellent business ability and thrift, Joe Cleveland Cocanour is a worthy representative of the successful business interests of Merced County and
the San Joaquin Valley and he is held in high esteem as a man and citizen throughout the entire community. A native of California, he was born in Merced,
on July 30, 1883, the son of John Boyd and Mary E. (Mitchell) Cocanour. John Boyd Cocanour was born in Lancaster County, Pa., on April 15, 1813, and when he was eleven years old he went to New Orleans. In 1832 he located in Fort Wayne, Ind., where he worked at the trade of carpenter until 1850. In that memorable year he left for California via Panama and arrived in San Francisco on August 12. He went at once to the mines and after a short time spent in seeking for gold he turned his attention to raising cattle, realizing that a surer way to independence would be found in that line of work. He ranged his stock along the Merced and San Joaquin Rivers and met with good success, having as high as 8000 to 10,000 head of stock. He used to hold his rodeo on Bear Creek near the present site of Merced. He took an active part in the political life of the country and served as supervisor of Mariposa County before Merced was organized, and when the latter county was formed he became a member of the supervisorial board here, serving in all fourteen years. He was one of the prime movers in establishing the Merced Woolen Mills and was a large stockholder in it. With the changing of conditions Mr. Cocanour disposed of his cattle in 1872 and thereafter devoted his time to agriculture. He was one of the builders of the Madera Flume and lost a fortune in its construction, as did the other promoters of the project. In 1877 he married Miss Mary Mitchell; and they had three children: Mary Alma, of Merced; John Roy, in the San Joaquin; and Joe Cleveland.

For several years prior to his death John Boyd Cocanour was superintendent of the County Hospital. He passed away on November 26, 1893 at the age of eighty years. Mrs. Cocanour is still living in Merced.

Joe C. Cocanour attended the Merced public schools and when he was about twenty-five years old he entered the retail grocery business but during 1923 he changed to the wholesale grocery and produce business and is building up a wonderful trade. Besides shipping in carload lots he is also a wholesale
distributor for Merced. During the busy season he employs 100 people and is the largest truck-shipper in this locality.

As early as 1915 Mr. Cocanour began packing and shipping tomatoes, first on a small scale and continuing until his business has grown from year to year until he now operates two packing houses and ships hundreds of cars of tomatoes to all parts of the United States every year. It was directly through his efforts that the Merced Tomato Products Co. is building a $100,000 plant at Merced for canning tomatoes, specializing on tomato paste. Through extended tests it has been found that the Merced tomato is best adapted for that product. The 1925 acreage will total 2000 acres. Besides tomatoes, Mr. Cocanour has the largest single tract of land in sweet potatoes in California that has ever been planted.

Mr. Cocanour was united in marriage with Miss Delia May Dean, a native daughter of Merced, and they have two children, Donald and Jane. Fraternally,
Mr. Cocanour is identified with Merced Lodge No. 208, I. O. O. F.; Merced Lodge No. 1240, B. P. O. E.; and Yosemite Parlor No. 24, N. S. G. W. In politics he supports the democratic candidate in national elections but in local affairs considers the man best fitted for the position. He is deeply interested in the growth and development of the county and State and supports liberally with his time and means those projects that have for their aims the upbuilding of the commonwealth.

Additional Comments:

Biographical Review
The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been
Identified with Its Growth and Development
from the Early Days to the Present



File contributed for use in USGenWeb Archives by:
Joy Fisher