William Jackman Thompson Ranch, James, Jones, Harris, Berger
William Jackman Thompson came to Colorado in 1863, when Denver was called Auraria and most settlers were looking for gold. W. J. Thompson, as he was usually referred to in the newspapers, also looked for gold in the Pike’s Peak area and while on a trip in 1859 to California.
In February of 1862 in Case County Iowa he was joined in marriage to Clarissa Ann Hedges. Over the years this couple had seven children. They first lived on the West Plum Creek near the Bear Canon Church, but sold this property to M. L. James in approximately 1868 (after this time the ranch was sold to Thomas Jones1887, John Harris 1888 and Mr. Berger 1895). Between 1864 and 1868 the Thompson family used the safety of local forts for protection from the Indians. It was said that the accumulated time that the Thompson’s spent at the fort during those years was seven weeks. One of those forts could have been Fort Washington at the Ben Quick ranch, as the second Thompson ranch was a couple of miles south of it.
Then the family moved to the ranch which they homesteaded in 1876 and later became known as the Jerry R. Noe Ranch. William raised and trained horses and was said to be famous as a horse trainer. In 1884 he suffered a serious accident while training a colt. His leg was broken and he may have sustained other injuries for the papers of the time wrote of his progress in recovery for at least six months and how he had changed in height as well as weight. This injury would later come back to haunt him. In 1897 William again had an accident, this time falling ten feet from the barn stairs.
In 1891 the Castle Rock Journal wrote that the Thompson ranch was being farmed by the Charles Norris family. The 1900 U.S. Census showed that the Thompson family had moved to Castle Rock. It was in September of 1917 that William had another serious accident where he broke the same leg as he had in 1884. The local paper, now called the Record Journal, reported that he fell breaking his leg that had never mended properly. William was now 86 years old and only two months later the same paper reported William’s death. In his obituary the Record Journalreported on November 23, 1917
“With his passing there has gone one more and really the last one of the first settlers of the early sixties.”
William was also a member of the Masons; he ran for county commissioner in 1886 and presided over meetings for better roads. The Record Journalwent on to say
“During his 55 years residence in this county he has been known as a man of principle, true to himself and to his fellow man, always claiming and exercising his right of citizenship, being interested in good government and often assisting in enforcing law and order.”
Thanks to Colorado Historic Newspaper Collection and U.S. Census records from ancestry.com.