The history of the Hutchinson family

Mar 7, 2014
by WLJ

The Hutchinson family is extremely proud of its heritage in the Upper Arkansas Valley since the ranch has been owned and operated as a cattle ranch for six continuous generations. Joseph Sykes Hutchinson and Annabel McPherson Hutchinson first homesteaded the earliest portion of the ranch in 1868.

Joseph came to Colorado in 1866 after being wounded at the Battle of Vicksburg during the Civil War. By the 1870s, the Hutchinson ranching operation had grown to more than 5,000 head of cattle that ranged over much of Colorado. Today, sixth generation Abby Hutchinson operates the ranch and cattle operation for her grandfather, Dr. Wendell Hutchinson, who still resides on the ranch but is disabled with blindness.

Wendell, born in 1924, is the oldest of three boys of Mills Hutchinson and Myrtle Burkart. He has lived on and worked the ranch most of his life except when away at college and WWII. He married Mary Sue Swallow in 1949, descended from another local ranching family, and they took over the operation of the ranch following the early death of his father, Mills, in 1949. Wendell and Mary Sue were able to hold on to the ranch and keep it operating by subsidizing it with his veterinary income, and a lot of hard physical work.

Wendell, “Doc Hutch,” as many know him, and his wife Mary Sue have always been a big supporter of the community. He served for 29 years on the Salida school board, as well as many other organizations and boards; including the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District Board, local bank boards and was a Chaffee County 4-H Livestock Club Leader for 16 years. He also is a noted historian of the valley and often gives local history talks and presentations. He co-authored a local history book, Under the Angel of Shavano, with George Everett, from another prominent Salida area ranch family. He is very proud of the fact that the Hutchinson family arrived in the valley in the 1860s before the roads, railroad or even statehood.