Posts Tagged ‘sackets harbor new york’

Meet Caroline – And Her Home Town

September 4, 2012

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!