"Yakima's Choicest Fruit"
William P. Sawyer was proud of the fruit he grew and packed, and he made that clear on his box labels.
These are probably the two oldest pear labels used in the state of Washington. The damaged one is one of a kind and was discovered in an antique store in central Oregon last year. The gentleman standing by the tree in both labels is William Perry Sawyer, who farmed near Sawyer Station in the center of the Parker Bottoms district at Wapato, Washington.
Sawyer was the owner of Elmwood Farm, a ranch that occupies historic ground near Sawyer Station. He built upon the place one of the finest homes in Yakima County, completed in 1911. Nearby stood a little log cabin built in 1864 by J.P. Mattoon, who homesteaded the land originally. Just back of the house was an old Catholic mission, which was used for three or four years until a new one was built on the Ahtanum in the 1850s. From the early days of settlement in this section of the territory of Washington, the ranch has been used for farming.
Sawyer came to Washington from Boston, Massachusetts, where he was born in 1851. His ancestors were of the same family as Commodore Perry, and both the Sawyer and Perry families have been represented in America from early colonial times. In 1856, the family moved to Wisconsin where the father farmed and later conducted a hardware business at Stillwater, Minnesota, where he located in 1870. Sawyer worked with his father in the hardware business until 1889. Eventually, he came to Yakima and purchased the business of the A.B. Weed Hardware Company, running the business under the name of Sawyer & Pennington until 1892. He then left the retail business field and purchased 220 acres of land on Parker Bottoms. At that time he raised hops, but soon had 75 acres planted to fruit trees, mostly apples and pears. He built his own warehouse and packing house. As you can see by the lettering on the labels, he took tremendous pride in the quality of his fruit. Such statements as "Finest Quality Grown," "Perfectly Packed," "No. 1 Perfect Pears," and "Yakima's Choicest Fruit" are placed prominently on the labels.
Sawyer still found the time to spend on bettering the City of Yakima as he served on the board that built the Masonic Temple, being the one who planned the building and supervised its erection. With the exception of the U.S. Courthouse–Post Office building, when finished it was the finest building in Yakima County. In fact, it was the finest Masonic Temple on the Pacific Coast, being a reproduction of the inner chamber of King Solomon's Temple and the only replica at that time. The keystone in the arch over the entrance to the elevator lobby was taken from the ancient quarries of Jerusalem. The stone for King Solomon's Temple is supposed to have come from the same quarry. Sawyer also was one of the trustees who built the Yakima Street Railway and no doubt did more than any other citizen toward giving Yakima its street car system.
The home that he built in 1911 has been used continuously since and is one of the show homes in the valley.