Colonel William Hughes
The life of a rancher was a natural fit for William E. Hughes. Born March 15, 1840 on a Jacksonville, Illinois farm, William left home at the age of 19 to become a sheep and cattle driver in Texas. He fell in love with the Lone Star state and joined its military during the Civil War, where displays of bravery and fortitude earned him the rank of Colonel, a status he used proudly the rest of his life. Successful at both law and banking, Colonel Hughes also founded the Continental Land and Cattle Company, which grew to become one of the largest ranching conglomerates in the world.
In the mid 1890s, Colonel Hughes followed his daughter Eliza, her husband John Springer, and granddaughter Annie, to Denver, where the family had moved hoping the thin mountain air would aid Eliza’s battle with tuberculosis. Hughes was involved in several real estate ventures, including the purchase of Perry Park in southwest Douglas County, which he hoped to establish as a way-station between Denver and Colorado Springs.
In 1913, Hughes purchased John Springer’s Cross Country Horse and Cattle Ranch, changed the name to Sunland Ranch, and continued to operate it as a working ranch. At the time of his death in July 1918, it was estimated that Hughes was Colorado’s second wealthiest man (the first being Lawrence Phipps, Sr.). Hughes bequeathed Sunland Ranch to his granddaughter Annie, who sold it two years later to oil tycoon Waite Phillips.