For Ben Cotton this tumultuous decade began on the Mississippi River and closed, ten years later, enroute back to San Francisco on the newly opened transcontinental railroad. In between those markers were many nautical miles and easily double as many on railroad tracks. The nation would convulse in a Civil War that engulfed his own family; a war that he watched from a safe distance in California. A great deal of the latter part of the decade was also a considerable distance from his wife, Rebecca, and their three daughters. The eldest, Sarah Elizabeth (Lizzie), married and began a life in Bristol, Rhode Island that was far from the theatrical world she had witnessed in San Francisco. Ben Jr. began a career as a minstrel dancer, traveling together with his father and his uncle, Charles.