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Dear America Wiki

Patsy on the cover of the second edition

All of the characters that appear in I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly.

Main characters[]


Main article: Phillis Frederick

Phillis Frederick[1] (c. 1852[2] – 1930),[3] better known as Patsy, was a servant working on Davis Hall Plantation. She was enslaved there until 1865, when everyone was declared free following the end of the Civil War. Patsy had nowhere else to go since she and nobody else had any knowledge of her parents. So she continued working in the house for nearly a year after the war. Her duties were constantly changing as many of the others gradually left. Patsy, who had secretly learned to read and write, began teaching the younger children. It sparked a passion in her for teaching, which gave her confidence.

Supporting characters[]


Susan[4] George[5] was the former cook of Mister and Missus Davis. She had been enslaved to the Davis family for a long time and may have been owned by Missus Davis's family before. Patsy called her "Cook" and considered her mean, before realizing "She was just being Cook." Besides cooking, Cook was skilled with medicinal remedies. She took care of anyone who was sick, including Patsy when she was a young baby. Cook continued working at Davis Hall for about a month after being freed in 1865. However, one day, she decided to leave declaring "If I stay in this house where I been a slave, I'll never know I'm free."

Thomas and Missus Davis[]

Thomas[6] (died September 17, 1865)[7] and Missus Davis (died 1877),[3] formerly referred to as Master and Mistress, were the owners of Davis Hall Plantation and another on Edisto Island. They were childless and lost at least one daughter in childbirth. Mister and Missus were both upset about the end of slavery. He agreed to pay the field hands one tenth of the cotton crop and also promised to give them land. In June 1865, Mister went to swear his loyalty to the United States government in Charleston. After returning, he was often ill and eventually passed away. Missus Davis had to learn about taking care of the plantation and later decided not to give away or sell any land, leading most of the workers to leave.


Douglass was a formerly enslaved person on the Davis Hall Plantation. As a boy, he occasionally did tasks for Missus Davis in the house. When he became a young man, he worked in the fields alongside his mother and sister. He was brave and outspoken. Patsy often wrote about Douglass in her diary, hinting at her crush on him. After being freed, his family continued working in the fields. When Missus Davis did not hold up her end of the contract, Douglass's family left along with most of the others. In 1868, he was recruited by Reverend McNeal and went to Baltimore to be trained as a minister. He later returned to the village his family had helped established. He married Patsy in 1878 and they had no children.

Mister Joe[]

Mister Joe was a black man who was born into a free family. Prior to the War, he had to carry papers proving his freedom. He married his wife who was enslaved. When she became pregnant, it was kept secret and Joe snuck her out with Cook's help. He then brought their daughter to his sister in Charleston. Unfortunately, Joe's wife died before he had enough money to buy her freedom. Joe continued working several odd jobs in order to provide for his daughter's education. After several slaves left Davis Hall, Joe worked often around there. He often ate with Patsy and the others, leading Patsy to regard him as a friend. His daughter finished her education in 1866 and came to live with him. She started a school which was attended by Patsy. She quickly saw Patsy's academic abilities.

Nancy Davis[]

Nancy Davis[8] (born c. 1852)[9] was daughter of Mary Ella. Sometime after her birth, Nancy was taken from her mother by Missus Davis. She became her personal servant, and slept on a pallet at the end of Missus Davis's bed. In 1865, Mary Ella returned for Nancy and went to the magistrate. He declared Nancy a "bound servant" to be in the Davises' care until reaching age eighteen. Nancy was happy since she was attached to Missus Davis and believed all of her lies. As the others left, Nancy was tasked with new things such as cooking. Ultimately, Nancy worked for Missus Davis until her death and then for Sarah.

Ruth Johnson[]

Ruth Johnson[5] was one of the house servants. She was married to John, whom escaped and freed himself when the War began. Ruth stayed behind since it was too dangerous for her and their son Luke who was an infant at the time. After being freed, Ruth remained on the plantation hoping for her husband's return. She eventually took over the cooking when Cook left. Ruth and her son became close to Patsy. In September 1865, John returned and Ruth and Luke left with him. Ruth asked Patsy to come too, but John thought it was best for her to stay at least for the time being.

Solomon and Violet[]

Solomon and Violet, often called by the respectful epithets Brother and Sister, were a husband and wife. Due to their age and wisdom, they highly respected on the plantation. Solomon preached every Sunday at the bush arbor where the former slaves gathered for worship. In 1865, following the War, the others appointed him as their overseer. They were together for twenty years before being allowed to obtain a legal marriage. The couple became to close to Patsy when she began teaching the children to read and write. In January 1866, Missus Davis refused to sell or give them land so Solomon and Violet decided to leave. They later accepted Patsy into their family. Solomon and Violet began farming nearby. They and several other families saved enough money to create their own village, Libertyville.

Minor characters[]

  • Annie (born c. 1855) and Charles Davis (born c. 1856)[2] were the niece and nephew of Mister and Missus Davis. They had lived with their aunt and uncle since the death of their mother. Patsy was their companion and they inadvertently taught her how to read and write. They gave her a diary, albeit condescendingly, before leaving the plantation.
  • Doctor Ashley was a doctor whom lived near Davis Hall. Miriam did his laundry before she left. Later, he treated Mister Davis when he became ill.
  • Reverend Chaplain Henry McNeal was a chaplain whom came to speak to the newly freed people at the bush arbor. He visited several times on Sundays and started a Union League there. The Reverend had to return to his home in Baltimore after being attacked.
  • Father Holmes was the priest at St. Philip's Church which the Davises attended. Every sermon he said a catechism to the slaves in the gallery, reminding them to be obedient to their masters.
  • James (born c. 1825)[10] was the former personal servant of Mister Davis. At age ten, James was given to Mister Davis by his father as a wedding present. In 1865, James left the plantation in hopes of finding his siblings in North Carolina.
  • John Johnson was the husband of Ruth and father of Luke. He escaped the plantation when the war began and joined the Union Army. After the war, John returned for his family and they went to live in Charleston where his regiment was quartered.
  • Luke Johnson[5] (born c. 1858)[11] was the son of Ruth and John. He was bright and quickly learned the alphabet when Patsy taught him. Luke became close to Patsy and was sad when he had to leave her. After settling in Charleston, he wrote to her.
  • Mary Ella was Nancy's mother. Nancy was taken from her by Missus Davis when she was four. Mary Ella made a "fuss" about it and was sent to Edisto Island. She returned for Nancy after the war, but the magistrate declared that she would stay with the Davises. Nancy later visited Mary Ella at the Yankee regiment where she worked as a nurse and laundress.
  • Miriam was one of the house servants at Davis Hall. Her mother lived Mister Davis's other plantation on Edisto Island. Sometime after the war, her mother's brother came for her and Miriam left.
  • Mother Naomi was an elderly woman. She was afraid of the fate of elderly whom could not bring in the crop anymore, but Brother Solomon assured her that she would be taken care of.
  • Nellie (born c. 1865) and Thomas (born c. 1863)[12] were the children of Sarah. Thomas was particularly rambunctious and described as "difficult." Patsy called him "Wild One." Nellie became attached to Patsy and Thomas to Nancy, leading them to cry when they had to leave.
  • Richard was one of the former slaves who left Davis Hall shortly after being freed. He was brought back by a Yankee soldier, who reminded him of the contract. He eventually left again.
  • Sarah was a cousin of Missus Davis. Her family came to stay with the Davises after they lost everything when their home city, Columbia, was destroyed by fire. She and her husband were later given back their land on Edisto Island. They left Davis Hall shortly.


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?