George Ratcliff was born about 1838 in England. He came to Douglas County when Colorado was still part of a Territory and when Douglas County’s eastern boarder extended all the way to Kansas. In 1860 when George was about 22 years old and living in Denver. He traveled south to Douglas County with a group of men, George saw the western part of the county along the West Plum Creek and he started buying up land in 1861. In the end George had the largest ranch in all of Colorado with 5,000 acres to his credit. His holdings extended from just north of today’s Wolfensberger Road, down south to Perry Park.
George married Mary (Nickson), sister to George Nickson. She was the same age as her husband. George and Mary started a family, the children were: Elizabeth, Pearl, Richard and Lucy. The ranch prospered with Hereford cattle being raised, at one point there were 400 head, some of which were sent to market in Denver. Apples, plums, and hay were among items grown on the vast ranch. In 1896 the Ratcliff’s built a barn that was 32 x 75 feet. In the basement of the barn were the stables.
In 1888 the Castle Rock Journal reported of a dance given at the Ratcliff residence.
“On Monday evening last the hospitable doors of Mr. and Mrs. George Ratcliff were thrown open and their friends invited to a merry dance. Nothing was lacking that the heart could desire, and it was pleasant to observe how thoroughly everyone enjoyed the entertainment. Many were the pretty girls who graced the floor and dance succeeded dance until five o’clock when we said goodbye to our kind host and hostess who had spared no trouble and expense to make it a great success.”
In 1889 the Castle Rock Journal showed the following ad for the Ratcliff and Dillon Castle Rock Meat and Provision Market.
“A choice stock of – beef, mutton, pork, hams, bacon, sausage, leaf lard, etc. Kept always on hand and prices as low as the lowest. Fresh fish and celery every Friday morning. Whole corn, corn chop, oats and bran at the following prices until further notice. Oats $1.25 per 100 lbs. Whole corn 95cents per 100 lbs, Corn chop $1.00 per 100 lbs. Bran (fine Colorado) $1.10 per 100 lbs.”
Then in 1892 a short article appeared in the same paper telling of George Ratcliff opening a feed store. Around this time George also served the county as a commissioner. Elizabeth Ratcliff married William Dillon in May of 1885 and possibly this is the reason that a Dillon and a Ratcliff made a joint business venture.
George was involved in many community activities starting in March of 1873 when it was reported that he and Upton Smith, another pioneer of the area, started the Farmers Club. They wrote to Washington for seeds to be distributed among their members and had meetings where members learned about such topics as calf rearing and dairy farming. George, along with a handful of other pioneers, established a West Plum Creek “Pioneer Club” in 1893. This was for pioneers who had been in the area for upwards of a quarter of a century. In 1900 George was appointed to an executive committee for the newly formed Stock Growers Association. The committee’s purpose was for the protection from “cattle thieving”; Senator E. M. Ammons opened the meeting as temporary chairman. Senator Ammons also raised cattle in Douglas County. In December of 1904 George was appointed by county commissioners to represent the county at the Colorado Sportsmen’s Convention in Denver. Politically speaking, George was a member of the Democratic committee.
George died in 1907 and Mary died the year before. Upon George’s death his will showed that he had two-thousand acres of land east of the West Plum Creek state road.
Ratcliff house front.
Ratcliff house back.
Ratcliff children and their horses on the ranch.
Thanks to the Colorado Historic Newspaper Collection; Ancestry.com; Clara McClure Turner’s account of life in Larkspur, Greenland and Perry Park; Douglas County a Historical Journey, by Josephine Marr; Larkspur 76’s; Our Heritage the People of Douglas County; Biographical Record