Just outside Denver City, there's a place that'll take you back in time. One hundred year old walkways lead to one of, if not the, oldest home in Yoakum County. Denise Dean says, "Pat McHugh and his three sisters lived in here and it's 103 years old."
Denise Dean and her family now own the ranch property that first belonged to McHugh. McHugh migrated to Yoakum County from Sligo, Ireland in 1902. Denise explains, "This is the cowboy way of life. They had sliding windows. It's dug out into the earth and when you come in in the summertime, come in here and it's cool. Some of the glass in the windows is over 100 years old."
Old nails, wood floors, door handles still remain but they're certainly not all McHugh left here. In 1906 he built a large ranch house next door to the "dugout." In 1909 McHugh's niece Annie Armstrong also migrated from Ireland. She cooked, cleaned and helped with the ranch. Denise says, "As the stage coach would run through this draw, Pat and Annie would meet the stagecoach and welcome people and feed them and offer them shelter."
When Annie's uncle died in 1926, the ranch, the ranch house, and the dugout became hers. She ran a store, a post office, and opened a school. All the time, continuing to provide shelter to travelers. Annie leased the ranch to a man named "Big" Hollar and he and his six children moved into the dugout. Dalphene Benson, a Denver City local since the town's inception recalls, "Doris and Dorothy Hollar were real good friends of mine and we would play together and it seemed like I would walk five miles to visit them."
Dalphene looks back fondly upon the time she spent at Miss Annie's house. She says at the time it seemed like a mansion. "These are things I can remember so well. In her house she had a fireplace and she would bring us three girls in and she would set us in the chairs and she would make hot chocolate and cookies for us." she says.
Now, Miss Annie's ranch house and the dugout are just suitable enough for a spider to call home. But old hitching posts scattered about the property and an old windmill out back remind everyone of whence Denver City came. Denise says, "It's so intriguing and interesting and it's such a learning experience for my children... to come out here and imagine what it was like."
The Dean family plans to donate the large ranch house to the historical society so they can restore it.