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Catalog and Seed Sales title

Nancy Hendrickson planting
Nancy Hendrickson planting corn
In 1898, the Bismarck fire took Will’s Seed Store (retail outlet). He re-built immediately and was able to harvest the seeds from that year’s crops in preparation for the 1899 growing season. His nurseries were, by 1908, located at the foot of 7th Street, though some seeds were propagated by associates on their own land. Sometime in the early twentieth century, Nancy Hendrickson of Morton County was one of his growers.
By 1901, Will was sending out 25,000 copies of his catalog. It was much larger and the vegetable section includes several varieties of most vegetables. Tomatoes which were usually a disappointment to gardeners on the northern plains until the 1920s, began to get more attention in Will’s catalog. He featured Livingston’s Acme Tomato (p. 18). (Livingston was a name consistently associated with many tomato varieties for several decades.) The catalog copy boasted that “Like Tennyson’s ‘Brook’ seems destined to go on indefinitely here in the Northwest at least.” He then quoted the final couplet from Tennyson’s The Brook:

For men may come and men may go
But I go on forever. – Tennyson

The “Old Reliable Acme still holds its reputation of being the earliest large red tomato in cultivation as well as one of the handsomest.” A packet of Livingston’s Acme Tomato Seeds cost five cents.

The 1903 catalog included thirty-six pages and was distributed to 40,000 homes. It included a page or two of advertising, and black and white photographs of flowers, vegetables, and scenes from Will’s nursery grounds. His essays continued to be modest, suggesting that he tried to improve his business and catalog each year and was pleased to have his customers’ business.