“Seeing the elephant” (or “I’ve seen the elephant”) means “now I’ve seen everything” or “now I’ve seen it all.” Civil War soldiers also used the term to mean they had been in a battle. Maggie and her family have seen the elephant, too. Scarred from their experience in Gettysburg, they finally return to the safety of Blaineton, New Jersey only to find that their hometown is not the same. An insane asylum has opened on a hill north of town – and it is where Maggie’s daughter Frankie finds employment, much to everyone’s trepidation. To Blaineton’s south, a woolen mill and army uniform factory are doing a booming business. And then there’s Josiah Norton, a wealthy industrialist who is out to change the face and tenor of their little town, something that raises the curiosity of Eli Smith, the new Editor-in-Chief of the Blaineton Register.