September 2018 History Question of the Month

September 2018 History Question of the Month
Posted on 09/03/2018

What early Butlerville resident’s father was a well-known African-American activist from Maryland?

Answer

Francis Hezekiah Grice, an African American, homesteaded 160 acres of land east of Wasatch Boulevard. His father, Hezekiah Grice, was born in September 1801 in Maryland.  He became very prominent in the “Free Black Movement” of the 1820s to 1860s, and was credited with being the impetus behind the establishment of the “National Negro Convention Movement” that became the vehicle for African Americans to debate and adopt strategies to elevate the status of free blacks in the north and promote the abolishment of slavery.

His son, Francis, was born in the mid-1830s and eventually emigrated to Salt Lake City. In 1880, he and his wife applied for a 160-acre homestead in Butler. He was involved in the mining industry, owned a restaurant in Salt Lake City on Main Street between 100 and 200 South. Francis was an artist and was active in politics. He was later appointed to a committee to establish a Republican Club for those supporting the “liberal” agenda of the National Republican Party.

A short time later, he was falsely accused of poisoning a neighbor’s horses. Although innocent, the community shamed him to the point that he left the area. He sold his property, including a large granite house, the only house in Butler to be built completely of granite. The new owners never moved into the house and it remained vacant for many years.

Francis Grice died Feb. 2, 1893, in Salt Lake City, of kidney disease.  He is buried in the Mount Olivet Cemetery.