Nancy Dunham, a recent college graduate needed a summer job. She never expected to become obsessed with the history of the town of Willimantic, Connecticut, and The American Thread Company's first bookkeeper, Nellie when she was hired by the company's last bookkeeper, Connie to help pack up the files of the American Thread Company.
Nellie's dream was to go to New York and become a dress designer, but she felt obligated to remain at home to financially help her family in Willimantic, Connecticut. As the bookkeeper for more than 30 years at the Thread Company, Nellie has been fudging the books to help her family who also are employed at the Thread Mill. Nellie has a problem with the nepotism and the mistreatment she knows because she is the bookkeeper and Austin Dunham's trusted employee who will take advantage of his trust.
When the ethics of Nancy's investigation become increasingly dim, she decides to trace the life of Nellie Buckingham through the Census records, the town records, her obituary, and her will, and both Nancy and Connie are surprised and oddly satisfied with their findings.