Prunes and politics were dominating features in the life of Edward L. French, whose home at state Highway 14 and Ellsworth Road was torn down in 1973 to make room for a new interchange.
French was born in Indiana in 1860 and moved to Washington about 1892, when the boom in prune growing was well under way.
He built a prune dryer in the mid-’90s, and before long he was packing prunes. Scores of emplyees were busy during the season at the packing plant, and French became one of the better-known prune packers of the region.
Prunes were the main crop in Clark County at the time; pears, cherries, apples and toher fruit also were grown.
For 12 years, until about 1920, French also served in the Legislature. During this period he was active in promoting the Interstate highway bridge (now the Interstate 5 Bridge,) completed in 1917.
In 1921, French was appointed state director of agriculture and continued in that position four years. He was an unsuccessful candidate for governor on the Republican ticket in 1924 and 1928.
French’s daughter, Edith, married Walter Zinn in 1919, and the couple bought a home across the road from the French residence. Zinn aided in the family prune business. About the time of World War II he converted buildings to turkey brooding houses and raised many turkeys.