This book takes place between January and February 1880.
One of the characters is Seth Timmons, who used to be a Union soldier in the Civil War. Laura refers to him as a Plymouth pilgrim, called that way because he was captured in the Battle of Plymouth. The Battle of Plymouth was an engagement during the American Civil War that was fought from April 17 through April 20, 1864, in Washington County, North Carolina.
Timmons was then sent to Andersonville Prison. Andersonville, or Camp Sumter as it was known officially, held more prisoners at any given time than any of the other Confederate military prisons. It was built in early 1864 after Confederate officials decided to move the large number of Federal prisoners in and around Richmond to a place of greater security and more abundant food. The Confederate government could not provide adequate housing, food, clothing or medical care to their Federal captives because of deteriorating economic conditions in the South, a poor transportation system, and the desperate need of the Confederate army for food and supplies.These conditions, along with a breakdown of the prisoner exchange system between the North and the South, created much suffering and a high mortality rate.
We learn that Laura attended normal school to get her teaching certificate, and Kitty was also a normal school student. A normal school is a school created to train high school graduates to be teachers. Most such schools are now denominated “teachers’ colleges“.
When Hattie falls down the stairs, she is rushed to St Mary’s Hospital, and Seth is also sent there. St. Mary’s Hospital was opened on July 27, 1857 by the Sisters of Mercy.
When Annie and Nate think that there is a political reason behind the threatening letters, a name is mentioned in connection with the political plot. It is Buckley. Christopher Augustine Buckley, Sr. (December 25, 1845 – April 20, 1922), commonly referred to as Blind Boss Buckley, was a saloonkeeper and Democratic Party political boss in San Francisco. He was routinely accused in the newspaper for corruption, bribery, and even felonious crime.