Meet Caroline – And Her Home Town

Are you ready to meet Caroline Abbott? At long last, the 1812 character I created for American Girl is launching into the world! All six books are now available.

Caroline Abbott lives in Sackets Harbor, New York. The village is on the southern shore of Lake Ontario.

The Abbott family owns a small shipyard, situated to take advantage of a protected harbor. Readers will quickly discover that Caroline wouldn’t want to live anywhere else! She loves her family home, which is not huge, but quite a step up from the log cabin she was born in. She loves visiting the family shipyard. She loves to look over Lake Ontario and imagine sailing her own ship one day.

Native Americans had long lived in this area, which was rich with fish and game and surrounded by forests. In 1801 those same natural resources attracted a businessman from New York hoping to establish trade in the region.  He wrote, “There a harbor is found which is sheltered from the winds and surges of the Lake. A peninsula of limestone rock perfectly protects a sheet of water covering about ten acres.”

Although this photo was taken many years after Caroline’s time, it clearly shows the natural harbor.  Can you imagine Abbott’s Shipyard on the shoreline near the bottom of the photo?

When Caroline’s story starts, Papa’s small shipyard is already successful. The deep woods provide timber for the ships needed to transport people and goods around the Great Lakes. And that sheltered harbor provides protection as he builds his merchant ships.

Meet Caroline begins in June, 1812, just as the United States declares war on Great Britain. Sackets Harbor becomes the center of American naval and military operations. Caroline watches as her tiny village grows into a bustling town jammed with troops and shipbuilders. The British colony of Upper Canada was right across the lake—just thirty miles away!

Today, two hundred years later, it is very easy to stroll through Sackets Harbor and imagine Caroline there.

The view from Caroline’s bedroom window would have looked much like this.

A handful of buildings dating back to her era still exist.

Today this beautiful building overlooking the harbor houses the village Visitor Center.

Although no single house was used as the basis for the Abbott home in the Caroline books, a number of period homes—like this one—provided inspiration.

This shoreline must have looked very similar in Caroline’s day.

A lot of exciting things happened in this area during the War of 1812. Setting Caroline’s stories in Sackets Harbor gave me a wonderful environment and lots of exciting historical events to work with. I’ll share more about those in future blog posts, so stop back again soon!

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31 Responses to “Meet Caroline – And Her Home Town”

  1. Elizabeth Johnson Says:

    What fun it must have been to imagine, research, and write about Caroline and her world! Thanks for sharing your process, and congratulations!!

    • Kathleen Ernst Says:

      Elizabeth, I appreciate the kind words! This whole project was a great fit for me. I loved doing the research and looking for ways to bring an adventurous 9-year-old girl into the scene.

  2. Amy Says:

    This is so exciting! Today is the day! I can’t wait to read about Caroline. From what I’ve read so far, her and I have some things in common.

    • Kathleen Ernst Says:

      Hi Amy! If you and Caroline have some things in common, I imagine you will especially enjoy her stories. I hope so!

      • Amy Says:

        I haven’t had the chance to read any of the books yet. I’m hoping to go tonight to find them. I’m getting even more excited because some of my online friends have started reading them and they really like them.

  3. Danielle Says:

    I grew up in Sackets Harbor, how exciting to have an American Girl from our small town! A beautiful, historic place with lots of interesting history!

  4. Amelia Rose Says:

    Love Caroline Abbott! She is beautiful! AND GREAT BOOKS!

  5. Amelia Rose Says:

    Thank you so much for creating Caroline and writing even more American Girl Books!!!

  6. Kelly Says:

    OMG I’m going to love this american girl doll. The war of 1812 is my most favorite war and I just move from the sacets harbor area! I have to save up all my money to buy her and the books!
    Thanks for making Caroline!

  7. Caroline Paper Dolls Review and Printables — Doll Diaries Says:

    […] while we are talking about Caroline, Kathleen Ernst has updated her blog with some interesting insight and history into Caroline’s home town of Sackets Harbor, New York (thanks Madelon for sending this […]

  8. Karen Davis Says:

    I am so excited about the new Caroline Doll and her story! I grew up in Watertown and moved to Sackets Harbor. It is where I met and married my husband who was stationed at Ft. Drum. It is an amazing and special place. I am so excited to read all the books. My daughter just got the doll for her birthday and we are planning to meet you in Seattle in November at The American Girl Doll Store visit. I walked along those shores so many times. We had our reception at Tin Pan Galley, the restaurant on Main St. Lots of special memories and so excited about this doll! Can’t wait to meet you.

    • Kathleen Ernst Says:

      Hi Karen! I’m so glad Caroline’s series is bringing back such good and personal memories. I didn’t know what to expect when I visited, fearing that it would be difficult to “find” the historic landscape, but of course that’s not the case at all. I loved the village and surrounding area, and the rich history provided ample inspiration! It’s a very special place. I look forward to meeting you and your daughter in Seattle. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Amelia Rose Says:

      I would love to get her, but LOVED the books. The doll is beautiful!
      Thanks, Kathleen for creating this beautiful character!

  9. Kayla Says:

    I just so happened to check the American Girl website for the first time in years, and find the Caroline books just a month after they were released! I’ve always found the War of 1812 an interesting time period, and I just fell in love with the books! Caroline’s world seemed to just jump right off the page and it was so easy to imagine her life back then. Thanks so much for making the Caroline books, and I look forward to seeing if you make anymore Historcial Doll Characters. :)

    • Kathleen Ernst Says:

      Kayla, thanks so much for connecting! I’m very glad you enjoyed the Caroline books. I agree with you–the War of 1812 is fascinating, and I must admit I knew almost nothing about the war on the Great Lakes until I started this project. Lots of fascinating history to build on! I do have one more Caroline book coming soon, a mystery called Traitor in the Shipyard. You might enjoy that one too!

  10. Arielle Says:

    Caroline is such a believable character, and as Kayla said 1812 was really interesting! I grew more engrossed the more I read, and every page I read I felt more and more like I was with Caroline. I without a doubt agree with Kayla. :) Every one of your stories are marvelous, and being historical [fiction] is just a added bonus!

    • Kathleen Ernst Says:

      You’re very kind, Arielle. I’m so glad you enjoyed the stories. I very lucky–I get to do something I love by writing historical fiction. And having the chance to create an 1812 character was the opportunity of a lifetime!

  11. Hope Irvin Marston Says:

    Hi Kathleen,
    I am reading the Caroline Abbott stories and enjoying them very much. I just discovered you have a new book, TRAITOR IN THE SHIPYARD. I look forward to reading that one after I finish this first series. These books are of special interest to me because I am the author of SACKETS HARBOR POWDER MONKEY – THE WAR OF 1812. Having researched the first battle of Sackets extensively, I enjoyed this first book. I felt like I was meeting old friends…though I hadn’t met Caroline along the way…and I knew how that battle was going to end.

  12. generationnext Says:

    Love this so much. Very informative and really makes me love the books even more.

    • Kathleen Ernst Says:

      I’m so glad you found my blog! So many interesting parts of researching and writing my books happen behind the scenes…I love having this forum to share some of them with readers.

      • generationnext Says:

        That’s usually the best part of writing. I’ve read all of your historical fiction books from American Girl,even the History Mystery series like Betrayal at Cross Creek, Trouble at Fort La Pointe, and Whistler in the Dark. I was so excited when I heard you were writing the American Girl Caroline series. I am a historian. I teach history and my kids absolutely love these stories. Seeing how you experienced many of the scenes in the books make them feel very real for me and my students. This blog was a great idea. I want to plan a trip to the museums that are behind the inspiration. Thanks for responding. That means a lot. :)

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