Maddie Abbott, reluctant adventurer

Nov 01

I am fascinated by adventure and often looking to create new adventures for myself. While shuffling through old family papers I came across the letters of a reluctant adventurer from my family. Her name was Maddie Abbott and she was just 16 years old when her adventure began. It was 1860 and war was brewing in America. Maddie and her three siblings had lost their parents and were living their grandmother who could scarcely afford to feed four additional mouths with war on the horizon. The family reluctantly decided to send Maddie on a steamer ship to San Francisco to live with her Uncle Flournoy Shockley.

Maddie was sent from Kentucky to New York to board the steamer Sonora on November 21,1860. She boarded the ship along with 628 passengers and 222 soldiers. They passed through the Panama Canal and entered the port in San Francisco on December 11, 1860. Maddie wrote letters home to her grandmother on a regular basis telling of her adventure and of her sadness at missing home but often did not receive letters in return. Grandmother Shockley saved all of these letters and bound them together in a booklet.

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