When the Great Depression hit in 1929, life changed for millions of families across the United States. The Sperry family of Fort Wayne, Indiana, was one such family whose comfortable life was shattered by the depression. Penniless, the Sperrys pulled up roots and moved to Brown County, Indiana, a vacation place that held happy memories for them. Portia Sperry found work at the Nashville House hotel and became the gift shop manager. In response to requests for locally handcrafted items she designed a rag doll that she named Abigail. The doll was educational, having buttons, snaps, shoelaces, and string hair that could be braided. The doll was so popular it eventually was sold at Marshall Field's department store in Chicago. As a result of the doll's popularity, Mrs. Sperry, along with Lois Donaldson, wrote the fictional tale called Abigail. Their efforts resulted in an educational and entertaining book describing how families in the early 1800s journeyed from Kentucky to Indiana.
This Hoosier classic was written in 1938 and sold at the Brown County Folks shop in Nashville, Indiana, where the Abigail doll was created and sold. Set in the 1830s, the story centers on young Susan Calvin, her doll Abigail, and the adventures they share while traveling by covered wagon from Kentucky to their new home in Brown County, Indiana.