When you think about Colorado legends, the type of people you'd put on a Colorado-centric Mount Rushmore, people like John Elway, Jake Jabs, and South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone typically come to mind.

However, a lesser-known man by the name of Philip Van Cise accomplished amazing things in his lifetime and his life story is almost stranger than fiction.

Who Was Colorado's Philip Van Cise?

Philip Van Cise was born in 1884 and graduated from the University of Colorado in 1907, at which time he pursued a law degree before joining the Colorado National Guard in 1910.

While in the National Guard, Van Cise was elevated to the rank of captain, became an intelligence officer in France during the First World War, and remained a Lieutenant Colonel in the Officer Reserve Corps until 1942.

However, it was his career in law after serving in the military that would see him become a thing of legend.

Colorado's Philip Van Cise the Gangbuster

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After serving in the military, Van Cise ran a successful race for Denver District Attorney in 1921 and immediately began to pursue well-known con men and gang members in the city.

Van Cise found that con men such as the Blonger gang were in cahoots with then-mayor Dewey C. Bailey as well as local law enforcement, wealthy Denver residents, and even Federal Agents. Despite learning of this, Van Cise quietly had Colorado Rangers arrest 33 suspects on August 24, 1922, who were detained in a church to minimize the risk of the Denver Police Department tipping any of the gangsters off.

This resulted in the Million Dollar Bunco Ring's dissolution and the arrests of 20 con men which included leader Lou Blonger.

Colorado's Philip Van Cise takes on the Ku Klux Klan

Following the feat of taking down the aforementioned gang, Van Cise went after the Ku Klux Klan which resulted in crosses being burned in his front yard, a kidnapping attempt in the same yard, as well as death threats.

However, Van Cise prevailed through all of this adversity, as well as an attempt on his life by a disgruntled husband of a woman the attorney represented in a divorce case. The man showed up at Van Cise's office and fired two rounds from a gun but missed both times.

Van Cise finally retired in 1967 and died of natural causes on December 8, 1969.

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