Empire, Wyoming: African American Community Building in the West

Empire, Wyoming: African American Community Building in the West (HM298M)

Location: Torrington, WY 82240 Goshen County
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Country: United States of America
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N 42° 2.865', W 104° 11.031'

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In the 1870s, thousands of African Americans fled the poverty and racial unrest that followed the American Civil War to homestead on the plains of Kansas. These migrants were known as the Exodusters. Some intended to create separate, self-sufficient agricultural communities that offered African Americans political autonomy. The Exodusters soon spread beyond Kansas into other Plains States, and eventually to Empire, Wyoming.

In 1912, Empire was a flourishing community of almost fifty individuals from several branches of the Speese and Taylor families. Each family worked to turn the arid plains into productive farmland through the use of dryland farming techniques. The community had its own post office and a Presbyterian church established by Reverend Russell Taylor. Taylor also administered the local public school.
Russell Taylor: Early Civil Rights Activist in Wyoming
The early 20th century was a low point for race relations in America, and Wyoming did not escape the turmoil. Between 1904 and 1920, five African Americans, including Russell Taylor's brother Baseman, were lynched by whites or killed by law enforcement. The residents of Empire were often denied service at restaurants and hotels in Torrington and encountered laws that enforced racial separation. The people of Empire, however, were

empowered through Taylor's leadership. Taylor used his education and role as a minister to advocate for his community though editorials and activism in local and state politics. He fought for the right to choose African American schoolteachers to act as role models for the children of Empire.
HM NumberHM298M
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, July 10th, 2018 at 10:01pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)13T E 567541 N 4655400
Decimal Degrees42.04775000, -104.18385000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 42° 2.865', W 104° 11.031'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds42° 2' 51.9" N, 104° 11' 1.86" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)307
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling North
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 501 CanAm Hwy, Torrington WY 82240, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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