Here’s a guide to Prosser’s Bicentennial Mural. This might be a nice review for long-time residents and provide new information for more recent residents. There are 40 separate depictions of local history on the mural. I’ll explain 3 to 5 of them each week.
Benton County Museum Curator
The mural was dedicated on July 4, 1976 in celebration of the nation’s bicentennial. Painted by local artist Zanna Williams, it was the major project of Prosser’s Bicentennial Committee.
The building on which the mural is painted was home to the venerable Golden Rule Store (1901 to 1996.) Fred Long opened the store in 1901 as the Kash Savin Stor and in 1909 moved the business to 6th & Meade.
The establishment was renamed The Golden Rule Store a few years later. Young T.B. Sampson began working at the store in 1906. He and wife Fanny purchased the Golden Rule Store in 1927 and in 1936, their son Paul joined the business. Buck Bruns joined the management team in 1974.
The store sold work clothes, cowboy hats, lettermen’s jackets, athletic gear, fabric, shoes, family apparel and more. The Golden Rule Store was filled with magnificent Western antiques and Native American
Colonel William Farrand Prosser
Nestled in the capital “P” in the upper left hand corner of the mural is none other than Colonel William Farrand Prosser. He established a homestead on the banks of the Yakima River in 1882. In 1885 he filed a town site on his property, which would later be called Prosser.
Before establishing his homestead, he served as: a Civil War Colonel (Union), Nashville Postmaster, Tennessee State Rep., U.S. Congressman and Special Agent for the Dept. of the Interior.
After leaving Prosser in 1890, the Colonel served as: North Yakima Mayor, Washington State Constitutional Convention Delegate, Washington State Historical Society Founder and Seattle City Treasurer. Prosser’s Farrand Park is named in his honor.
To the right of Colonel Prosser is a cowboy attempting to lasso wild horses. Mustangs once roamed free on the Horse Heaven Hills south of town, and were a source of income and entertainment for local people.
According to a 1906 article in the Prosser Falls Bulletin: “The Yakima Valley Horse Company, which has a contract to supply cavalry horses for the government in the Phillipines, delivered the first consignment here last Saturday.
A large crowd of people assembled around the old livery barn to see the horses ridden, they being animals just brought in from the range. There was some tall bucking at times; the exhibition being almost equal to the Wild West Show.”
To the right is a depiction of wheat threshing operation. Dry land wheat farming was among Prosser’s original agricultural industries, and centered on the Horse Heaven and Rattlesnake Hills.
Before horse-drawn combines, farmers cut the wheat and tied it into bundles. The bundles were then brought to the threshing machine to separate the grain and straw.
Although some farms owned their own threshing equipment, others were served by crews that traveled from farm to farm. After threshing, the wheat was poured into bags and delivered by wagon to nearby grain elevators.
Threshing required tremendous physical energy, so the crews (usually 20+ men) were fed extravagantly three times daily - think biscuits, fried chicken, gravy, pies, etc.
Meals were typically prepared by female members of the wheat ranch and neighborhood women. Often, the meals were cooked and served from a wagon. The Crooks Family cook wagon is shown just below the threshing scene.
Be sure to read the other posts in this series