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Dear America Wiki

Clotee pictured on the cover of the reissue

All of the characters that appear in Patricia C. McKissack's A Picture of Freedom. Many of the characters also appear in the television film released in 1999.

Main characters[]


Main article: Clotee Henley

Shadia Simmons as Clotee

Clotee Henley[1] (c. 1847[2] – May 6, 1941)[1] was a slave owned by Master Henley and his wife Lilly. After her mother was sent away, Clotee was taken in by Aunt Tee and Uncle Heb, who became her surrogate parents. Her friend, Hince was like a big brother to her. Clotee worked with Aunt Tee in the "Big House" kitchen. She later secretly began learning how to read and write, while fanning William during his school lessons. In March 1859, she began writing a diary. Clotee had to keep it a secret from her friends. She later became close friends with Spicy, when she came to work in the kitchen.

Supporting characters[]

Uncle Heb[]

Uncle Heb (died July 24, 1859)[3] was the husband of Tee. He was a second generation slave since his mother was born in Africa. Heb was born at Belmont and grew up alongside his master, David Monroe. He was later a slave to David's daughter, Lilly. After Lilly married Master Henley, he arranged for Heb and Tee to "jump the broom." He took care of the gardens and orchards. Heb was like a grandfather to Clotee, whose mother placed her in his and his wife's care. In July 1859, Master Henley blamed him for William getting injured, though it was an accident. He beat Heb until Tee begged him to stop. Heb died an hour later.

Master Henley[]


Richard Sali as Master Henley

Master Henley was the owner of Belmont Plantation. He was originally from Tennessee. Henley was poor until he convinced Lilly to marry him. He often quarreled with his wife, and the only thing they agreed on was slavery. His only slave was Aunt Tee at the time of his marriage. He was a short-tempered, unpredictable man, who actually believed his slaves were happy. In July 1859, he beat Heb to death, blaming him for his son's injuries. He later moved Tee to the fields as he could not trust her to cook any longer. During the Civil War, he fought for the Confederates and lost an arm at the Battle of Fredericksburg.



Jason Burke as Hince

Hince Henley[1] (born c. 1843)[4] was a close friend of Clotee. His mother, Ola, was sold off when he was young. Hince was a jockey for Master Henley, becoming his "bread and butter". Due to his complexion, there were rumors that his father was white, possibly Henley or his brother. In December 1859, Henley lost Hince in a bet to the Campbelles. Hince did not want to leave, so he exposed Mr. Harms in exchange for freedom papers. Before the Campbelles came to collect him, Clotee helped him and Spicy escape. In later life, Hince became a skilled horse trainer. He married Spicy and had a large family with her by 1910.

Lilly Henley[]


Catherine Fitch as Lilly

Lilly Henley (née Monroe)[5] was Master Henley's wife. She was a wealthy widow and mother of Clarissa, before her second marriage. She nearly died giving birth to her son William, but was saved with Aunt Tee's help. Lilly and her husband often fought as they usually chose the opposite side of any argument. In July 1859, Clotee warned her that William was going to try riding Dancer, but Lilly did not believe her. When Clotee's warning came to past, Lilly worried thatt she would tell her husband. She later had Missy spy on Clotee. Lilly went crazy during the war, when the Union Army turned her house into a hospital.



Erica Luttrell as Spicy

Spicy (born February 28, 1844),[6][7] later known as Rose Henley,[1] was Clotee's best friend. Her mother was literate and tried to run away several times. Before she was sold off, she gave Spicy her Bible. She also wanted to name her daughter "Rose", but their old mistress said no. In April 1859, Spicy was bought by Lilly Henley and put to work in the kitchens. She was later sent to work in the fields, following Uncle Heb's death. Meanwhile, Spicy fell in love with Hince. When Clotee learned that Henley was going to sell Spicy, she came up with a plan for her and Hince to run away. Spicy eventually married Hince and went by the name "Rose". They had a large family.

Aunt Tee[]


Alison Sealy-Smith as Aunt Tee

Aunt Tee (died December 25, 1864)[1] was the wife of Heb. She was Henley's only slave when he married Lilly. After Tee refused to "live in sin" with Heb, Henley arranged for her to marry him. Henley was "particular" about who cooked his food and only trusted Tee to do it. Tee was also the plantation's midwife. She later became a foster mother to Clotee. In July 1859, Henley beat her husband to death. He then sent Tee to the slave quarters since he felt he could no longer trust her to cook. There Tee looked after the small children. After the Union Army took over Belmont, she helped save countless lives. Tee died of cholera in December 1864. She was buried next to her husband.

Minor characters[]

  • Aggie (died November 22, 1859)[8] was Wook's mother. She married Rufus, who treated Wook like his own daughter. She gave birth to a son, Noah, in May 1859. Aggie later drowned while trying to run away.
  • Amelia and Wallace Morgan were Master Henley's sister and brother-in-law. He gave Rissa to them as a wedding present. They had at least one child.
  • Amos and Silas Campbelle, a son and his father who wanted to buy Hince. Henley made them a bet instead, Hince against their jockey. They cheated, but Henley was unable to prove it.
  • Bob Coleman was the father of Clotee. He drowned sometime before she was born.
  • Briley Waith was hired by Master Henley to oversee the slaves. Clotee described him as "common as dirt" and frightening. He previously worked as a slave-catcher. Waith later fought at Fort Sumter.
  • Buddy Barnes, Clarissa's carriage driver. Clotee danced with him during the "Big Times" celebration.
  • Canterbury's Watch was a horse purchased by Master Henley for racing.
  • Clarissa Davies[9] was Lilly Henley's daughter from her first marriage. She was married to a lawyer, Richard, with whom she had Richard, Jr. and Wilbur.
  • Dancer (died July 24, 1859)[3] was a stallion that Master Henley purchased under the pretense of giving it to William. Master Henley later shot him, after William was injured while trying to ride him.
  • David Monroe was the father of Lilly, who inherited his plantation. He grew up with his slave, Heb. As an adult, he often took Heb travelling.
  • Edmund Ruffin, a slave owner who spoke about slaveholders' rights at Master Henley's celebration.

Mark Ellis as Mr. Harms

  • Ely Harms was an abolitionist from Virginia. In August 1859, he came to Belmont as William's tutor. When the Henleys' found out his secret, Clotee came up with a plan that saved him from being arrested and hanged. Harms later promised to help Clotee escape, but she decided to stay and help others to freedom. In later life, he had several business failures. He then moved to Scotland and "dropped out of sight."
  • Eva Mae was Missy's mother. Her husband, Master Henley's jockey, died after a horse threw him. She replaced Tee as cook, though Henley later sent her back to the fields.
  • Frederick Douglass, a former slave who became an abolitionist. He published his own newspaper The North Star. Clotee later corresponded with him.
  • Dr. Lamb was a physician. He periodically checked on William's progress with his legs.
  • Lee was Wook's husband who lived on a different plantation. Neither were happy with the arrangement since they did not love each other.
  • Missy (born c. 1844)[2] was Eva Mae's daughter. She was a jealous and mean-spirited person. Missy had a crush on Hince. In August 1859, she was put to work in the kitchen. Missy spied on Clotee for Lilly in exchange for gifts. After her mother died, Missy ran away and married a Buffalo Soldier.
  • Noah (May[10] – November 22, 1859)[8] was Aggie's and Rufus' son. He was named after a Biblical figure. Noah and his family died while trying to escape slavery.
  • Ola was Hince's mother. She was sold when he was child. Lilly was jealous of her because she was "too pretty" as well as the rumors that her husband was Hince's father.
  • Richard, Jr. and Wilbur Davies were Clarissa's sons. They were around the same age as their uncle William, whom they treated more like a playmate.
  • Rissa ("Mama;" died c. 1854)[2] was Clotee's mother and a skilled seamstress. Master Henley gave her to his sister as a present. She placed Clotee in Aunt Tee's and Uncle Heb's care. Rissa died five years later.

Jeff Jones as Rufus

  • Rufus (died November 22, 1859)[8] was Aggie's husband. He was previously owned by a preacher, who taught him the Bible. Master Henley made Rufus the field boss and allowed him to preach on Sundays. Rufus did not trust the abolitionists and tried to escape on his own. He was shot, while his family drowned in the river.
  • Shad was the Campbelles' slave. He drugged Canterbury's Watch, causing Hince to lose the race.
  • Sojourner Truth, an abolitionist who said "slavery must be destroyed - root and branch!"

Andrew Dinner as William

  • Dr. William Monroe Henley[1] (born c. 1847)[2] was Master and Lilly Henley's spoiled son. Clotee was his "fanner" during his school lessons. In July 1859, he attempted to ride his horse, resulting in being badly injured. William changed after Mr. Harms began tutoring him. In his adult life, he became a professor of philosophy and was disinherited by his father for "taking a stand against prejudice."
  • Wook (c. 1843[2] – November 22, 1859)[8] was Aggie's daughter. She was friends with Clotee though they rarely saw each other, because Wook worked in the fields. Wook was later married to a man twice her age. In late 1859, Wook, her mother, stepfather, and half-brother died while trying to escape.

Epilogue characters[]

  • Lucille Avery was a student at Fisk University who interviewed Clotee in 1939. Clotee spoke to Lucille for a period of two months, sharing her photos, diaries, and letters.


See also[]

Dear America characters
Main characters

Remember "Mem" Whipple | Deliverance Trembley | Lozette Moreau | Catharine Logan | Prudence Emerson
Abigail Stewart | Lucinda Lawrence | María Rosalia de Milagros | Hattie Campbell | Mary Driscoll
Florence "Florrie" Mack Ryder | Susanna Fairchild | Clotee Henley | Amelia Martin | Emma Simpson
Sarah Nita | Phillis "Patsy" Frederick | Libby West | Priscilla "Pringle" Rose | Mary "Polly" Rodgers
Nannie Little Rose | Angeline Reddy | Sarah Jane Price | Teresa Viscardi | Anetka Kaminska
Zipporah Feldman | Minette "Minnie" Bonner | Angela Denoto | Margaret Ann Brady | Kathleen Bowen
Simone Spencer | Lydia Pierce | Nell "Nellie Lee" Love | Bess Brennan | Minerva "Minnie" Swift | Grace Edwards
Julie Weiss | Madeline Beck | Amber Billows | Piper Davis | Dawn "Dawnie Rae" Johnson | Molly Flaherty

Supporting characters

Antoinetta Viscardi | Leon Nasevich | Daniel Pierce | Erma Jean Love | Patrick Flaherty

Lists of characters by book

A Journey to the New World | I Walk in Dread | Look to the Hills | Standing in the Light
Love Thy Neighbor | The Winter of Red Snow | Cannons at Dawn | A Line in the Sand
Valley of the Moon | Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie | So Far from Home | All the Stars in the Sky
Seeds of Hope | A Picture of Freedom | A Light in the Storm | When Will This Cruel War Be Over?
The Girl Who Chased Away Sorrow | I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly | The Great Railroad Race
Down the Rabbit Hole | Land of the Buffalo Bones | My Heart Is on the Ground | Behind the Masks
My Face to the Wind | West to a Land of Plenty | A Coal Miner's Bride | Dreams in the Golden Country
A City Tossed and Broken | Hear My Sorrow | Voyage on the Great Titanic | A Time for Courage
When Christmas Comes Again | Like the Willow Tree | Color Me Dark | Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
Christmas After All | Survival in the Storm | One Eye Laughing, the Other Weeping
My Secret War | Early Sunday Morning | The Fences Between Us | With the Might of Angels
Where Have All the Flowers Gone?