A special exhibit on Empire, Wyoming will be on display at the Campbell County Rockpile Museum during the month of October. The the exhibit, a collection of standing banners, is on loan to the Rockpile Museum by the Wyoming State Museum in Cheyenne.
Empire, Wyoming itself is no longer a town you can find on the map, but from 1908 until about the mid-1920s, Empire was a thriving agricultural community of African-American homesteaders in eastern Wyoming, near the present-day city of Torrington.
In many parts of the Great Plains, African-American settlers, like so many others, found opportunity in the Homestead Act of 1862: A tremendously impactful land law that gave away more than 270 million acres of land across the United States from 1863 to 1986. Some of these settlements experienced strong partnerships with their neighbors, such as the amicable relationship between DeWitty—Nebraska’s most successful African-American homesteading town—and neighboring, mostly white Brownlee. In Empire, however, the black residents experienced hardship and discrimination.
This special exhibit is one part of several events happening in Gillette this month that will be sponsored by the Campbell County Rockpile Museum and the Rockpile Museum Association. A new exhibit: “The Black Cowboys of Campbell County” is also on display featuring highlights of some of the early pioneers of Campbell County. Additionally, on Saturday, October 12 and Sunday, October 13 the Campbell County Rockpile Museum and the Rockpile Museum Association will be presenting “A Tribute to Black Cowboys” there will be a special edition of “Black & Yellow Theatre: Voices of the Powder River Basin” at 11am and 2pm at the museum in the Campbell County Room Saddle Exhibit on Saturday, October 12, followed by a special screening of the award-winning documentary “Fire on the Hill: The Cowboys of South Central L.A.” at 7pm at the Rockpile Museum that evening. Then on Sunday, October 13 at 6pm at the Campbell County High School Auditorium, the Rockpile Museum Association is pleased to present Grammy Award Winner and Two-Time Emmy Nominee, The American Songster, Dom Flemons in concert as he presents his Smithsonian Folkways album, “Dom Flemons presents Black Cowboys”
Admission to all events are free to the public.
To find out more please contact Museum Educator, Stephan P. Zacharias at [email protected]