Prosser History


by Catherine Renschler

Prosser, located in section five of Verona Township, came into existence in 1887 when the Missouri Pacific Railroad laid out a branch northwest from Hastings.  It was named for T. J. Prosser, superintendent of the construction crew, and the avenues of the new town were named for his children, Warren, Pearl, Florence and Virginia. The first passenger train arrived in Prosser on Sunday, April 21, 1888 at 11:25 a.m. On board were several railroad officials.  On hand to greet them were local citizens, several Hastings men, who had arrived earlier by freight train, and a reporter from the Hastings Gazette Journal.  The reporter had this to say about the new town: "A handsome little depot of modern architecture occupied the ground,  On a pretty elevation to the right stood a primitive sod house with a convenient cyclone cellar adjacent, that served as a well for keeping dairy products, and a number of stables and grain cribs indicating the home of a prosperous farmer.  Near the track a four stall round house was well advanced in construction and a huge water tank apparently ready to do its business.  The end of the track is beyond some little distance to the county line, and just where the descent begins to the great Platte River bottom lands.  The sand hills beyond formed a dark and uneven line on the horizon in that direction.  The town itself is yet a mythical quantity.  Where it will be is designated by numerous stakes locating the street corners of the town site--what it is to become is a subject for the fruitful imagination of its friends and projectors.   The plot laid out consists of thirty-nine acres situated in the corner of a 160 acre tract owned by the town site proprietors.  It is surrounded by a well settled and flourishing agricultural community.  A petition is now in circulation for a post office, Samuel W. Smith, a prosperous farmer in the locality who is in sympathy with the present administration, being the leading and perhaps only contestant for the federal appointment.  S. G. Harrow claims the honor of being the pioneer settler and now temporarily occupies the sod house, where meals are furnished at all hours of the day and ice cream twice a day, as he kindly informed the reporter.  Mr. Harrow is the leading spirit of Prosser today and will commence erecting a new building for a hotel at once...The lots of the town will not be sold until May 1st.  The new station agent at Prosser, Mr. J. H. Korner, was given possession of the office, and the excursionists and railroad officials returned to Hastings about noon."

During 1888 L. J. Ware built the first general store in Prosser, B. F. Barr opened a lumber yard and E. G. Collins built an elevator.  The Pacific Hotel was built and E. L. Price opened a grocery store.   Other early stores were J. G. Heartwell's drug store, Jim Crow's hardware store, Joe Philbrick's blacksmith shop and the Pratt livery stable.

Prosser has suffered many disastrous fires, the first occurring on June 26, 1893 when the Collins grain elevator burned.  The building and contents including about $700 worth of grain were lost.  Also destroyed was the coal and sheds of J. G. Heartwell.

In October, 1900 three of the principal business were burned.  The fire broke out in E. L. Price's general store and also consumed J. G. Heartwell's drug store and J. C. Philbrick's blacksmith shop.  It was a windy day and the hotel and livery stable were saved only by the heroic efforts of a bucket brigade which carried water from the town pump and kept the buildings covered with wet sheets and rags.  None of the buildings burned were insured.

In March, 1903 the citizens of Prosser were awakened to find the Morledge store and the hotel afire.  Within forty minutes both buildings were ashes.  J. G. Heartwell heroically rushed into the burning hotel and dragged Walter McCarty out of bed and into the hall, where he became overcome by smoke and fell down the stairs.  Mr. Long, a boarder who was suffering a broken leg, was carried out of the hotel.  Towns-people worked in their night clothes to save some of the hotel's furnishings.  After the fire J. G. and M. R. Jones built a new general merchandise store and S. W. Smith purchased the first Prosser school building and converted it into a store. 

On January 30, 1912 four buildings which stood in a row on the south side of Prosser's main street were burned.  The fire was said to have started in the hot water heating system of the Blankenbiller barber shop.   From there it spread to the Carson & Morrow drug store and then to the Wirfel butcher shop and the Robinson garage.  The flames were discovered about 3 o'clock in the morning.  The barber shop and drug store were already ablaze.  Many volunteers assembled, the town well was in the center of the intersection, only a few feet from the drug store, but there was no hose to convey the water.  It was only by concentrating their efforts on the Madison blacksmith shop that the volunteers were able to stop the spread of the flames.  The blacksmith shop was only scorched.  A telephone pole burned down, paralyzing telephone communication for several hours.   The bank building, across the street from the drug store on the west, was also scorched.  A bucket brigade watered down threatened buildings.

Again on July 14, 1925 a fire destroyed Prosser businesses.  This time a pool hall, only recently constructed, and operated by John Mall and a restaurant and grocery store operated by Perry Brothers were burned.   Both buildings, located on the north side of the street, were of frame construction.

After the Collins elevator burned in 1893, W. H. Ferguson operated an elevator which sold out tot he Farmers Grain and Stock Company, which later became the Verona Grain and Lumber Company, whose operator was Charles Moritz.   It was later sold to K. R. Huyck who moved the elevator to Kenesaw in 1949.

Prosser was incorporated in 1907 with M. W. Baxter, T. J. Killion, H. F. Moore, Charles Moritz and Fred Daggett as trustees.   Prosser reached its official peak population in 1910 with 175 residents.   During this time period businesses included the Moritz lumber yard, Daggert & Manahan general store, Carruthers harness shop, Farmers Grain and Stock Company elevator, Moore Hardware, S. G. Moore livery, Phipps restaurant, Pratt & Son general store, Stephen Schultz implements, Symonds Pharmacy, and Wirfel butcher shop.  At this time Prosser had its own telephone service, known as Prosser Telephone Company, with its office on Virginia Avenue.  It later merged with the Lincoln Telephone and Telegraph Company.

The Prosser State Bank was incorporated on May 23, 1904, and thirty years later merged with the Bank of Juniata to form the present-day Adams County Bank of Kenesaw.  Early day doctors were Dr. M. W. Baxter and Dr. C. J. Yates. 

School District 81, the Prosser School, was formed from part of District 45 in 1890.  C. J. Yates, J. R. Crow and B. F. Farr were the first school board.  Miss Alice Daily, the first teacher, had 34 pupils. School was held in a building on the south side of Main Street.  Later a school house was built two blocks north of the first location.  About 1904 a two story frame building was erected.   High School classes were taught in the new building.   Twelfth grade was added in 19929.  In 1937, after the railroad ceased operating and the elevator and bank had closed, the high school was discontinued. The grade school consolidated with Kenesaw in 1980. 

L. J. Ware organized a Sunday School early in 1887 in the railroad depot.  In 1889 lots were purchased on which a Methodist Church was built.  Rev. Demott, pastor at Kenesaw, served the Prosser congregation.  In 1893 Rev. Colony was assigned to the Prosser and Mt. Zion Churches.  In 1903 a parsonage was built and Rev. Earl Tompkins became the first resident pastor.  Due to declining membership, the Methodist Church closed in the late 1980s.  Adams County's last surviving rural parochial school, Christ Lutheran,  is located in the country south of Prosser.

Hastings City and Adams County Directory, 1895
Alphabetical listing of Prosser residents

  Prosser is the present terminus of the Missouri Pacific Railroad and is located in the north-western part of the county, 15 miles from Hastings.  It has one church, one school, one hotel, several lodges and a money order post office.  J. R. Crow postmaster.  Population 212. 

Aldridge,  Wm                 wiper, MP RR
Aldridge,  Lucy, Mrs
Barr, Benj F.                     lumber
Barr, Eva C  Mrs
Baxter,   M. W.                 physician
Baxter, May Mrs
Bechtelheimer, S. S.             agent for G. G. Vreeland
Bechtelheimer, W.  Mrs
Bechtelheimer, Wayne
Bethke,  Christian
Bethke,  Christina  Mrs
Bethke,  Albertine  Miss
Burns,  A. C.                         master mechanic, M P RR
Conger, David H
Conger, Jennie Mrs
Cook, B. F.                             prop. Stoelting Hotel
Cook, Sarah Mrs
Cowan,  John
Cowan, Mary Mrs
Cowan, Bell  Miss
Cowan,  Etta, Miss
Crow,  Jas R.                 postmaster
Crow,  Hattie M  Mrs
Curry,  Frank
Curry, Rose Mrs
Decker, Robert
Decker, Mary M Mrs
Decker, Sadie Miss
Decker, Blanche Miss
Edwards, Henry            clk Hemenover & Bacon
Edwards, Loue Mrs
Gillmore, Louis
Gillmore, Clara  Mrs
Hartwell,  J. G.                 drugs
Hartwell,  L. M.  Mrs
Hemenover & Bacon        general merchandise
Humphrey,  Jas R               carpenter
Humphrey, Amanda Mrs
Humphrey,  John
Killion,  Thos                     section boss MP RR
Killion, Anna  Mrs
Killion, Minnie Miss

Leake,  Worth
Leake, Maggie, Mrs
Madson, M                       blacksmith
McMakin.  P. C.
McMakin,  Sarah Mrs
McMakin, Ray
McMakin, Dale
McMakin,  Pearl Miss
Macklin,  H E.                     harness maker
Macklin,  A. H. Mrs
Marquis Bros                      hardware
Merritt,  C. A.                     M. P. station agent
Merritt,  C. P. Mrs
Medrritt, Lou E Miss
Moore, Henry F                 barber and blacksmith
Moore, Eva C  Mrs
Moore, Sam G.                 brakeman
Morgan,  Schuyler
Morgan, Rosa Mrs
Moritz,  R. D.                     school teacher
Parks,  Clarence G
Parks,  Lucy Mrs
Philbrick, J. C.                    blacksmith
Philbrick, M. J. Mrs
Pratt,  Jas R                         livery
Pratt, Clark
Price, L. B.
Price, Ellen L Mrs                 general merchandise
Shattuck,  A. T. & Son        Poland China hog breeders
Seely,  Chambers
Seely,  Mattie Mrs
Simpson, Effie  Mrs
Smith, Sam W
Smith, Nancy Mrs
Stedman,  Dow
Stedman, Rachel Mrs
Stoelting Hotel
Vreeland, G. G.                      grain dealer
Wineburger, Louis               manager Marquis Bros.


Published  by Wolfe and Pickering, Kenesaw, Nebraska

Alphabetical List of Prosser Residents

Abel,         Fred, Section Hand.
Abel,         Mrs. Lena, widow
Adams,     Miss Lena, Primary teacher
Aulrich,     August   retired,   wife Helen.
Aulrich,     F. M.  Pool hall,  wife Minnie,  Irene 14,  Harvey 8.
Beckel,     Martha, widow, Central Office, Franklin 12,  Raymond and Ralph 17.
Berg,        Mrs. A., widow, Tina
Berg,         Edward,   farmer.brp> Berg,         Emma, bookkeeper, First State Bank, Hayland.
Berg,         Fred,      farmer.
Berg,         Gus,   retired farmer, widower, Lena, student.
Bethke,     Christian,  widower, retired.
Boner,        Elmer, barber.
Bourg,         Tom,   drives oil truck, wife Violet.
Brubaker,     E. E.  Missouri Pacific RR conductor, wife Mabel.
Carl,              John W.  Mgr Prosser Lumber Co., wife Flossie, Dorothy 7, Edwin 9.
Creason,     Charles,  draying and trucking,  widower.
Creson,      Everet,  assistant lumberman, single.
Darling,     Miss Mary, intermediate teacher.
DeVall,     D. L.  owner Red Star Oil Co.   wife Frances,  Frances 14.
Donner,     Francis, Rosa.
Elliott,     Emma V. widow, Warren 16, David 13.
Hart,         Charles K. president Prosser State Bank, wife Clara.
Hart,         Irving.
Halte,      George, plumber, wife May, mary 9, Clara 5, Elmer 17, Gerald 15, Homer 14, Harold 12, William 6.
Halverson,     Jim, brick mason,
Jay,                  Edward, batteryman, wife Eva,  Edward Jr 2 mos,  Lois 3
Jurgens,         E. F.    manager elevator, Hayland,  wife Francis, Prosser postmistress, LaVell 12.
Katzberg,     A.  farmer, wife Anna, Ralph 12, Louis, student.
Katzberg,     Bertha,  widow.
Kroll,             Albert, wife Alice, Louise 2
Kroll,          Fred,   farmer, wife Irene.
Kroll,          Peter,   retired farmer, wife Elizabeth.
Lawson,     Ike, section hand, wife Mary,   Mary 8, Florence 4.
Lawson,       N.   section foreman, wife Florence,  Eliza works central office.
Lewis,         E. H.   mechanic, wife Anna.
Lidke,         A. C.    shoe shop, wife  Sara, Vernon 16.
McBride,     Alida, widow,  Mary,   works Central office.
McBride,    Bert,  mechanic.
McCall,     Bert, laborer, wife Stella, Bernadine 7, Fay 6 mos, Ralph 16, Lawrence 13, Leslie 3.
McCall,     Will, laborer, single, Mrs. Nellie, mother.
Mann,         R. D.   Missouri Pacific station agent, wife Elsie, Helen 14, Junior 12.
Mason,       Alfred, section hand, wife Mary, Elaine 9 mos, Jean 2, Edward 9.
Merrill,         Geo. laborer, wife Grace,  Esther 6.
Mohan,         Alfred,   asst. cashier, Prosser State Bank, single.
Nixon,         Mrs. Elsie, clerk,  Clifton 3.
Overfield,     L.  railroad round house, wife Tillie, Jimmie 6.
Overfield,     L. M.  railroad watchman, wife Ray, Mina 3, Lucile 2. 
Parmenter,     Miss Hattie, school principal.
Perry,              Floyd,  wife Florence, Louise 8.
Pierson,         C. E. section hand, wife Rachel.
Pierson,         H. M. laborer, widower,   D. D. section hand, single.
Pierson,         John A. mechanic, wife Mary,  Orris 5, Doral 3, Roy 1.
Pratt,              A. R. thresherman, wife Elizabeth,  Bernice 12, Evelyn 4, Cleal 10.
Pratt,              E. L.      farmer, wife Amilla,  Pearl 7,  Betty 2,  Junior 5, William 14.
Pratt,              Mary.
Pratt,              J. C.   general merchandise store, wife Cora.
Pratt,              W. J. works Pratt grocery, wife Mary.
Seyler,          E. J.   works elevator, wife Caroline,  Dorothy 10,  Irving 8,  Lloyd 4.
Shaw,              B. F.   farmer, wife Elvira.
Sides,              Mrs. Sophia, widow, Mabel 9, Roy 13, Harvey 11.
Smith,              Ben,   mechanic, wife Bessie, Elaine 3, Leland 2, Dorothy 11 mos.
Sprankle,         O. H.   blacksmith, wife Joy.
Swanson,         Mrs. Emma, widow of S. W.  Leona 10, Esther 6.
Uden,                 B. F.  retired farmer, wife Louise,  Martha.
Vogel,              John, cafe and meats, wife Lottie.
Williams,        D. K.   farmer, wife Della, Vernon 11, Laurel, Bernand.
Williams,        Laurence,   Asst cashier Prosser State Bank, single.

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