A stone plaque lists the names of most of the people buried in the Sheep Creek Presbyterian Church Cemetery in this Sunday, Jan. 6, photo, north of Henry, Neb. The cemetery is the sole remaining evidence of the existence of the Empire, Wyo., community, which thrived northwest of Torrington from its founding by African-American settlers from Nebraska in 1908 till it dissapeared off the map in the mid-1920s. The settlers came to eastern Wyoming “to build a racially self-sufficient, politically autonomous community in the Equality State,” according to an article on Alliance for Historic Wyoming website, historicwyoming.com. The settlers, known as “Exodusters,” were originally from the post-Civil War south, migrated first to Kansas in the 1870s, eventually leaving there for the wide-open spaces and opportunities further west.
An old, iron-pipe cross is silhouetted against the afternoon sky Sunday at the Sheep Creek Cemetery north of Henry, Neb. The cemetery is the last physical presence remaining of the town of Empire, Wyo., a community founded around 1908 by African-American settlers that is now an almost lost part of the history of the state.