Empire MI
Leelanau County

Empire MI - Birds Eye View 1910 - Contributed by Paul Petosky

Empire in the southwestern corner of the county near Lake Michigan is the largest of the three incorporated villages of the county. It is on the line of the Empire & Southeastern railroad and is quite a lumber, fruit and produce market. A large hardwood manufactory is also located here. A good bank (Empire Exchange). A well organized school. Two churches and a number of general stores also add to the life and standing of the village.

Empire had its beginning in a mere opening in the forest made upon its site by John Larue who brought his family into the country in the fall of 1851, soon after, John Dorsey located at Glen Arbor. With years it developed into a brisk lumber town, and still later into the trading and banking center of a fine fruit and farming region. Of late years the Empire Lumber Company, under its various managements, has been the strong stay of the village, particularly in its development of hardwood manufacturing. The basis of the industry, with its business auxiliaries, was laid in 1887 when the T. Wilce Company bought the mill formerly operated by Potter & Struthers. Extension of the plant and docks, building of the railroad and other improvements followed and made Empire a fine little town. The company has also invested in thousands of acres of timber lands in Empire, and adjoining townships, and altogether has been a strong promoter of the best interests of the village and the entire Glen Lake region. Empire became a village by an act of the county board of supervisors passed in October, 1895, and the first election held December 2nd of that year resulted in the choice of E. R. Dailey, manager of the Empire Lumber Company, for president; Fritz Rohr, clerk; Dr. S. A. Gates, treasurer; William Sullivan, assessor, and I. Nurko. R. Sullivan, James Daly. A. K. Willard and George Taylor, trustees. Michael F. Horen was the first village marshal.
A History of Northern Michigan and its people Perry F. Powers & Harry Gordner Cutler 1912