The following story was told by Mrs. Darrell Guest and printed, either the St. Joseph paper, the Tri-County paper one of the Kansas City papers, I'm not sure which. Anyhow, the Guests were friends of the Bennett's for probably more than a century.
EMPIRE PRAIRIE ENLIVENED CROSSROADS
We live nine and onehalf miles northwest of King City, Missouri, in and area called Empire Prairie. When we were married some 53 years ago, there was country store at Empire Prairie. It was located at the crossroads north of 48 Highway.
On one corner of the crossroads was a garage and blacksmith shop; on another, a lodge hall; on one other corner, the Empire Store. Next to it was a large ice house. My husband was a native of this area and he said there was a store there as long as he could remember before our marriage. At one time it was a very busy place. Farmers would take their cream and eggs there, especially on Saturday evenings, and buy their week's supply of groceries. One could hardly find a place to park. Most of us had a small child or two, and they really had a good time.
It was a time of visiting and fellowship. The store carried a fine line of groceries and a lot of dry goods, ice cream, pop, gas, oil, feed, and ice in the summer time. A lot of men would congregate there of evenings to visit and exchange ideas. That store was a life saver when the snow storms came and we needed groceries.
Extra room was added to the store several times when feed sales increased, a new feed house was built.
In winter time, farmers cut ice from a nearby pond and put it in the big ice house owned by the farmers. The ice was cut in large cakes and packed in sawdust.
One evening in summertime, while a group of customers were visiting ,they missed the storekeeper, Cleo Simmons, and set out to find him. They found him in a little ice house close to the store. The door had accidentally come shut and locked when he went in. Simmons now lives in Albany, Missouri, with his wife, Zella, and they are dear friends of ours.
Some of those who ran the store were: McCamus, Wall, Vance, Simmons, Miller, Edson, and others.
The old garage is now gone, as well as the lodge hall and the store. The lodge hall was moved to property we now own. The Star Chapel Church is all that is left of the rural city. We have precious memories of that place. They were some of the best days of our lives.
--Mrs. Darrell Guest, King City, MO.
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