Ellen Call Long
The Grove Museum
Ellen Call Long (1825-1905), the daughter of Richard Keith Call, owned The Grove from 1851 until 1905. Though she owned plantations and profited off of the labor of enslaved people, Ellen was a Unionist, and may have separated from her husband in part due to disagreements over secession.
After the Civil War, Ellen traveled extensively and pursued many different interests, including silk-worm cultivation. She became actively involved in forestry in the 1880s and served as the first woman officer of the Southern Forestry Congress. In 1888, she presented a paper advocating for the use of prescribed burning, over a half-century before the practice became industry standard in the region.
A tireless promoter of Florida, Ellen represented her home state at a number of national and international expositions, including the 1876 U.S. Centennial in Philadelphia, the 1882 Cotton Centennial in New Orleans, the 1889 International Exposition in Paris, and the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. She also joined with other women who pioneered historic preservation in the United States and helped preserve sites like George Washington’s Mount Vernon and Andrew Jackson’s The Hermitage.
Ellen’s views on race and civil rights evolved over the course of her life. After refusing the job of Postmaster in 1882, Ellen threw her support behind an African American candidate, William G. Stewart, much to the outrage of the local white community. When her book, Florida Breezes, was published the following year, white residents of Tallahassee reportedly destroyed most of the available copies to demonstrate their anger at Ellen for supporting Stewart and for expressing her views on national reconciliation following the Civil War. In spite of her detractors, Ellen consistently broke societal norms for women in her era, and remained a staunch advocate for the issues in which she believed. Visit The Grove Museum to learn more about the lives of all the members of the Call-Collins family.
Photo caption: Ellen Call Long, ca. 1880. (https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/32557)