Annie Clifton Springer lived a charmed childhood. Born December 22, 1892 in Dallas, Texas to John and Eliza Springer, she was primarily raised by her grandparents, Colonel William Hughes and his wife Annie, whom she lovingly called Gramps and Bammy. At the age of four years old, Clifton, as she preferred to be known, moved with her parents and grandparents from Dallas to Denver, hoping the dry mountain air would aid Eliza’s struggle with tuberculosis. After her mother passed away in 1904, Clifton lived nearly full-time with her grandparents, preferring their stability to the busy, on-the-go life of her father.
In 1907, when she turned 14 years old, Clifton inherited her mother’s large fortune and John Springer agreed to transfer legal guardianship to her grandparents. She then moved to St. Louis with Gramps and Bammy until 1912 when she married Lafayette Hughes (no relation to Colonel Hughes), son of the late Colorado Senator Charles J. Hughes, and moved back to Denver. Once again, her grandparents couldn’t bear the separation between them, and they followed. Colonel Hughes purchased an enormous plot of land in Denver’s Country Club neighborhood where he built two homes: one for he and his wife and one for Clifton and Lafayette.
When Colonel Hughes died in 1918, Clifton inherited Sunland Ranch, formerly her father’s Cross Country Horse and Cattle Ranch. She owned it for a mere two years before selling it to oil tycoon Waite Phillips.