GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KREX) — Back in 1881 John, Samuel, and Marcs Hines moved to Mesa County from Missouri. County records show they bought 10 acres along orchard avenue breaking ground on what would soon become one of the most popular fruit orchards in town.
“John or Marcus Hines that had an orchard on Orchard Mesa, that was new information to me and my family” voiced, granddaughter of Harry Butler, Christine Westermire.
The Hines brothers later sold the orchard to their father, former slave and civil war veteran Elijah Hines who became a beloved member of the community.
The orchard is no longer here. Instead, Orchard Avenue Elementary later sprung up in its place.
but the family’s story goes on. Elijah’s descendent harry butler, born in 1943 would grow his own local legacy. Harry’s great uncles, part of the group “the Black Citizens and Friends” helped build a house of worship for the African American community called the Handy Chapel. It’s been a part of the national register of historic places since 1994 and still stands today.
Christine stated “It feels great to know my family came here in I believe 1888 and was part of the first black family that arrived here.”
That’s Harry’s granddaughter, Christine Westermire who tells me butler started his own ministry in the handy chapel in 1981. She says harry was a father figure to her, but also a local legend becoming the city’s first black representative.
“He became the first ever city councilmen of Grand Junction ” Christine uttered.
It was 2001. Harry broke new ground and a barrier that hadn’t been crossed while still preaching at the chapel.
Harry didn’t stop there. In 2005 he became the first African American member to serve on d-51’s board of education.
Christine mentioned, “He opened the door for us to have more diversity on our city council and our school board.”
Besides breaking barriers on the Western Slope, Butler was a loving man up until his very last breath.
I forgot my lunch and I was working at the mesa county jail as a booking tech, and I couldn’t leave. so, I called him and said I forgot my lunch and he brought it for me made me lunch and brought it for me and give me a big hug and kiss me on the forehead like he always does. That resonates with me because the next day he passed away.
A special memory Christine will carry with her for the rest of her life along with one of his most famous sayings.
Don’t ever let anyone steal your joy.