Amidst the hustle and bustle of the Hell’s Kitchen area of New York, Etta Angell Wheeler arrives to investigate reports of a neglected child. There, she finds conditions so terrible that they shock her to her core. But when she tries to save the little girl from her desperate situation, she is forced to turn to an unlikely ally.
The story began back in 1864, when a baby girl, Mary Ellen, was born to Francis and Thomas Wilson in New York City. Tragically, soon afterwards, Thomas passed away. Unable to stay home and look after her daughter, Francis paid a woman named Mary Score to look after Mary Ellen.
However, Francis’ work as a laundress was not well paid, and she soon slipped into financial difficulty. When she began missing payments to Mary Score, the woman decided to entrust the city’s Department of Charities with the care of Mary Ellen.