Sanderson's Perfect Apples
The Sanderson label was a simple, yet attractive design that relied more on typography than color. There is only one known surviving label.
In researching these Last Bite columns for Good Fruit Grower, it is always fascinating to learn where the first-generation fruit growers originated, as well as any connections they left behind in their former residences. The Sanderson brothers are a typical example of the many individuals to seize new opportunities in a new land. Henry Sanderson, born in 1866, and his older brother, Cyrus, born in 1861, grew up in Jacksonville, Illinois. Jacksonville is located in the center of rich Midwest farmland, and is also the home of William Jennings Bryan, a famed nineteenth century American orator and presidential candidate. The Sandersons were personal friends of the Bryan family and remained in contact throughout their lives.
Both Henry and Cyrus completed high school in Jacksonville. Cyrus went to business school, but by 1890, the two brothers had moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, to start a shoe business. For the next 19 years, the retail shoe business supported the brothers in what apparently was a relatively profitable livelihood. Then in 1909, the business was sold.
Cyrus went to Europe for a year and then on to Cuba. It is unclear what Henry did at this time, but in 1912, the brothers had seen advertisements about irrigated virgin farmland in the Pacific Northwest. Both had married by this time, Henry to Lillie and Cyrus to Jennie. They were tired of running a retail operation, and when they decided to go back into business together, it was with the purchase of 30 acres in Yakima, Washington.
Twenty-five acres were planted in apples and the other five in pears. The next year, they built a large double home on the ranch for both families, a frost-proof storage plant, and a packing house. By 1918, the Sanderson Ranch was producing 12,000 boxes of fruit a year; they had become proof of the land investment claims that ten acres in the Yakima Valley could make a man rich (or at least support a family).
Cyrus was one of the organizers of the Yakima Fruit Growers Exchange and served as its president for several years. The exchange later merged into the Yakima County Horticultural Union, which itself was transformed into present-day Snokist Growers following the combination of the Horticultural Union with the Yakima Valley Fruit Growers Association.
The Sanderson brothers had only the one label that is illustrated here, but it a very rare item. The only known copy is in the collection of the Yakima Valley Museum, and it is unusual for two reasons. It was printed in Yakima by the Republic Press, the job printing arm of the company that still produces Yakima's only daily newspaper, the Yakima Herald-Republic, and it was produced in three colors—red, blue, and green on a white background. Most labels were printed by regional concerns that specialized in product labels or, if they were printed by a local concern, that information is lost. The Sanderson label bears the Republic Press name, and the surviving example is in excellent condition.
The Sanderson Ranch was a short-lived operation. Its peak may well have been the 12,000 boxes produced in 1918. By 1923, the firm was no longer listed in the Polk City Directories, and Cyrus and Henry had also apparently moved on to other careers in another community.