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.
ERDMANN & HAMEN'S
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, 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
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, Mary Mrs
Cowan, Bell Miss
Cowan, Etta, Miss
Crow, Jas R. postmaster
Crow, Hattie M Mrs
Curry, Rose Mrs
Decker, Mary M Mrs
Decker, Sadie Miss
Decker, Blanche Miss
Edwards, Henry clk Hemenover & Bacon
Edwards, Loue Mrs
Gillmore, Clara Mrs
Hartwell, J. G. drugs
Hartwell, L. M. Mrs
Hemenover & Bacon general merchandise
Humphrey, Jas R carpenter
Humphrey, Amanda Mrs
Killion, Thos section boss MP RR
Killion, Anna Mrs
Killion, Minnie Miss
Leake, Maggie, Mrs
Madson, M blacksmith
McMakin. P. C.
McMakin, Sarah Mrs
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, 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
Price, L. B.
Price, Ellen L Mrs general merchandise
Shattuck, A. T. & Son Poland China hog breeders
Seely, Mattie Mrs
Simpson, Effie Mrs
Smith, Sam W
Smith, Nancy Mrs
Stedman, Rachel Mrs
Vreeland, G. G. grain dealer
Wineburger, Louis manager Marquis Bros.
ADAMS COUNTY DIRECTORY 1925-26
Published by Wolfe and Pickering, Kenesaw, Nebraska
Alphabetical List of Prosser ResidentsAbel, Fred, Section Hand.