1871 - Empire and the First Church of South Lake - James Knight

1871 - Empire

   The area known as Empire is located four miles south of Mascotte.
   During the 1800s there were few established roads. Houses were built in isolated areas, sometimes several miles apart. This sometimes makes it difficult to establish definite boundaries for settlements and to place certain families in specifically named areas.

   It is known that James Henry Knight settled south of what is now Mascotte, about 1871, in an area that would be called Empire.

   In 1871, a church was established there with Rev. Joel Swain as the first pastor. It is known that land was purchased from the government by James Henry Knight and would later be deeded for the erecting of a church building and for a graveyard. It is recorded that people came from miles around to attend service at this Primitive Baptist Church. People arrived in ox carts, wagons, on horse back, or walked. The Empire graveyard is one of the oldest in this area.

   The charter members and their families of this congregation came from various communities, including:
       George W. Dukes (Taylorville),
       Jesse Lee (Carter's Island),
       Simeon Tison (Bay Lake).

   Although not charter members, others who joined during the 1800s were the families of:
       Stephen Carlton,
              John Douglas,
       John Goff,
       John Story (Bay Lake),
       Aaron and Moses Tomlinson,
       Jake Varn (from east of Taylorville),
along with others.

   Around 1874, the family of James and Lavina Lee arrived in Monte Vista. James was the brother of Jesse Lee who had already come to Monte Vista or Carter's Island around 1871. James was a medic during the War of Northern Agression (Civil War). Since there were no doctors in Empire, James offered medical help to the locals.
   Milton Lee, one of their six children, married Idaho Swain, the granddaughter of Joel Swain, who was the first pastor of Empire Church.

   The Empire graveyard, being one of the oldest in this area, has many early settlers and veterens of the War of Norther Agression (Civil War) buried there, including:
       Aaron Tomlinson, buried 1886
       James Henry Knight, buried 1888,
       Newton Stewart, buried 1895.
   Other Confederate veterans buried there are:
       Stephen S. Carlton,
       Hezekiah Drawdy,
       James Lee,
       Jesse Lee,
       John Story,
       Simeon Tison.

[Contributors: Mary Helen Myers, Jason Brown]

Next Article: 1874-1888 - The Forgotten Town of Monte Vista