lthough every fruit box label has a story to tell, the tale of the Rosehill brand can almost be understood just by looking at the wonderful graphics in the design. In 1905, Lester and Ellen Barbee bought 20 acres of land on the bluff east of Buena, Washington, at the point where the Old Yellowstone Trail joined Bella Terra Road. The acreage was already planted in hops, but the cost of picking hops that year was twice the return. Consequently, the hop vines were pulled out; Winesap apples were planted the next year. They also converted the existing hop kiln into a packing shed, and moved the small farmhouse nearer the road. The hop ranch the Barbees had bought was now a brand-new apple orchard, and the family prospered.
In 1917–1918, the large home shown in the label was built. Electricity had not yet been extended to the ranch, which became known as the Rosehill Ranch, but the house was wired and lovely fixtures hung in anticipation of its coming. Hooks were installed, however, at the same time, so that large gas lamps could be used until electric power arrived. The floors were polished wood, broad steps led to the front entryway which was framed with two dark wood columns, and all the rooms were very spacious, both upstairs and down. The Rosehill Ranch was one of the showplace homes in the entire Yakima Valley at the time; the picture on the label illustrates an extremely well-kept residence and grounds. Ellen Barbee took great pride in her roses.
In 1924, the Barbees built a state-of-the-art, poured-concrete cold storage warehouse. The building had ice chutes down two sides and an ingenious fan and vent system. The floor was arranged with trenches underneath for water. A packing line was put on the first floor of the old hop kiln, and the second floor became storage for the wooden
The stage is now set for the incident shown on the label. It is a late spring or summer day at Rosehill Ranch, and probably a Sunday morning as Mr. and Mrs. Barbee are dressed up as if on their way to church. In 1924, Mr. Barbee had purchased his first Paige automobile—a touring model with a convertible top and a right-hand drive. The scene appears idyllic, but a closer look will reveal a problem. Mr. Barbee, while driving down the driveway, has crashed into the fence. Family lore has it that it was because of the directions he had been receiving from his wife, and if you could add sound to the image, you would undoubtedly learn that Mr. Barbee is "getting an earful" from Mrs. Barbee.
The label is the only one ever used by the Barbees, and it truly is a wonderful example of 1920s artwork.