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William Pym Long Journals

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Long

Scope and Content of the Collection

Four journals containing writings by William Pym Long along with various pieces of ephemera. Journal entries and lists are from various places, but largely from Carroll County, Illinois and Richardson County, Nebraska from 1872-1911. Additional accounts of the family business in Germany Valley, Pennsylvania from 1846-1847 also included.

Entries are mostly chronological with detailed daily accounts of his life and work, often commenting on the weather, agricultural work, and social news. He describes his nursery, attending teacher conferences, his bouts with illness, makes observations of students and the school board, and the hardships of life on the Plains. Long also includes a detailed account of his tour of various industrial sites in Moline, Illinois on his trip out to Nebraska, and accounts of travel by rail and horse to the west.

Journal 1, 1846-1958, bulk 1872-1890, includes entries from 1872-1877; list of letters written and received, 1880-1890; list of students during 1875-1876; record of family births and deaths, 1842-1958. Journal entries and lists are written among text of an account book from David Long’s business in Germany Valley, Pennsylvania in 1846-1847. Laid in are a variety of documents and notes, dried flowers and leaves, and newspaper clippings. Includes Long’s Nebraska teaching certificates for 1887 and 1890.

Journal 2, 1874-1880, includes entries from 1874-1875; list of letters written and received 1878-1880, list of students in Salem, Nebraska in winter of 1877-1878, recipes, and plant sales. Approximately 233 pages.

Journal 3, 1884-1892, includes entries from Jan. 1, 1884-Mar. 24, 1887; various other records including yearly summaries, planting schedules and plants sold, lists of letters written and received, school grades, and lists of other expenses, primarily for 1890-1892. Approximately 350 pages.

Journal 4, 1900-1911, bulk 1909-1911, is primarily a weather log from Dec. 1908-Aug. 1911 with some journal text. Laid in are several documents including a 1900 circular for Long’s plant business. Approximately 56 pages.


  • Creation: 1846-1958
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1872 - 1911



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The William Pym Long Journals are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The William Pym Long Journals are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Biography of William Pym Long

American teacher and nursery owner.

William Pym Long was born in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania on Dec. 3, 1842 to David and Evangeline Long. When he was a child, his family moved to Ogle County, Illinois. In Dec. 1866, he married Hettie J. Eshelman (1846-1939) in Carroll County, Illinois and they had eight children.

Long attempted to settle in Nebraska in 1872, returned to Illinois for several years, and then settled for good outside of Falls City, Nebraska by the late 1870s. The grasshopper, or Rocky Mountain locust, plague of 1874 thwarted his first attempt at starting a nursery in Richardson County, Nebraska. He taught elementary school and started a plant business, calling himself the “Pioneer Plant Man” and the “Potato Man.” Long died on Jan. 14, 1912 after a long illness in Falls City, Nebraska.


0.4 Linear Feet (4 journals in 1 box)


Four journals with writings by teacher and nursery owner William Pym Long, primarily from 1872-1911. Long lived in Carroll County, Illinois and Richardson County, Nebraska and wrote entries commenting on the weather, agricultural work and plants, and social news along with detailed lists of correspondence, plant sales, weather logs, and yearly summaries. He also documents his trip from Illinois to Nebraska.


Arranged chronologically.

Collection Stack Location

1 39 1


Purchase, 2015.

Processed by

Catherine Grandgeorge, 2017.

Inventory of the William Pym Long Journals, 1846-1958, bulk 1872-1911
Catherine Grandgeorge
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States