John Lynn Cochran was born at "Folly Farm" in Augusta County, Virginia on November 9, 1863. His parents were James C. Cochran and Elizabeth Brooke. He attended the Virginia Military Institute during the period 1879-1881, and subsequently attended Swarthmore College (Pennsylvania), from which he graduated in 1883. In the fall of 1883 he enrolled at the University of Virginia, where he became ill with typhoid fever. Cochran never regained his health and he died at "Folly Farm" on January 22, 1887.