Today around Rifle, many last names are linked to the Chivers name. The Greens, Hendricks, Prettis, Stephens, Stringfields, Andrews and Shroyers are all related to William and Alice Chivers, according to the couple’s granddaughter, Velma Shroyer.
The Chivers have been around even longer than incorporated Rifle has ” more than 114 years.
William (“Will as everyone knew him,” said Velma) came here with his mother, Sarah Chivers, his siblings and his extended family. After her first husband died, Sarah remarried a man named Bussell. He came to western Colorado, and left her and the children here. He moved from Rifle to Denver and filed for a divorce in 1902.
At first, the family settled in the Piceance basin area, then later up Rifle Creek near Rifle Falls.
Will used to tell Velma about the Native Americans he came in contact with around here as a boy.
“He used to talk about the Indians coming in and asking him if the Army scouts were out,” Velma said. “If they were, they would go back to the reservation, but if he hadn’t seen them, they would go ahead and hunt. He used to get along with them fine, but his mom was always a little nervous about them coming around.”
Young Will married a schoolteacher named Alice Hetzel in 1899. She came to Rifle from Illinois to teach school. They lived on their ranch about three miles north of Rifle with their three daughters. It was on the ranch, and on more land Will purchased near the JQS Trail northwest of Rifle, that Will raised Hereford cattle and farmed. He had grazing permits in the Coulter Mesa and Bookcliffs areas.
Besides ranching, Will also helped build the first telephone line for the Rifle Creek Telephone Company.
“He built his own cow camp and horse pasture up on Butler Creek where they would stay when they was working with the cattle,” Velma said. “The cow camp is still there and can be seen from the road going to Butler Creek.”
Always a horseman ” Will had caught and broken wild horses for the Army or to sell when he was a boy ” he was particular about his own.
“If anyone was caught being mean to them, they were fired on the spot,” Velma said.
Velma remembers her grandfather telling her about the haying and branding seasons, too.
“The ranchers along Rifle Creek would get together and help each other out,” Velma said.
The Chivers family sold their ranch in 1962. A portion of it was eventually turned into the Deerfield Park ball fields.
Thank you to Velma Shroyer and Dorothy Pretti for sharing family information for this story.
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