Dear America Wiki
Dear America Wiki

Lydia Pierce pictured on the cover of Like the Willow Tree

All of the characters that appear in Lois Lowry's Like the Willow Tree.

Main characters[]

Lydia Pierce[]

Main article: Lydia Pierce

Lydia Amelia Pierce (October 4, 1907[1] – 1990)[2] was the daughter of Caroline and Walter Pierce. Her parents and younger sister passed away in the 1918 flu pandemic. She and her brother lived with their uncle Henry briefly, before he took them to live with the Shakers in Sabbathday Lake, Maine. Under the care of Sister Jennie, Lydia learned the Shakers ways and became comfortable with her life there. Over time, Lydia settled into Shaker life and considered them her family.

Daniel Pierce[]

Main article: Daniel Pierce

Daniel Walter Pierce (born February 27,[3] 1904)[4] was the elder brother of Lydia and Lucy Pierce. His parents and youngest sister died of influenza in 1918. He and his sister went on to live with their uncle's family, where he had a hard time adjusting. Daniel often mentioned wanting to enlist in the army to join in the war efforts (World War I). At Sabbathday Lake, Daniel worked hard with the other brethren, but ran away to Oxford Hills, where worked at Mr. Melby's general store. He returned during a mysterious spring blizzard.

Supporting characters[]

Caroline Pierce[]

Caroline[5] Pierce ("Mother;" c. 1884[6] – October 1918) was the mother of Daniel, Lydia, and Lucy, and the wife of Walter Pierce. Caroline graduated high school early in order to marry Walter, instead of going to teachers' college. At the age of eighteen, she and Walter married at Woodfords Congregational Church, where they attended services the rest of their lives. On Lydia's eleventh birthday, Caroline gave Lydia her mother's ring. She died of influenza with her husband and youngest daughter in Portland, Maine. Her brother Henry took in her two surviving children for a short time.

Brother Delmer[]

Brother Delmer (died 1961)[7] was a important member of the Shaker community. Delmer was brought to Sabbathday Lake as a young boy with his brother, Harry. Their mother came back for her sons a few years later. Harry went with her, but Delmer refused and said "[the Shakers are] his true family". He had "a gift for mechanical things", and built many of the tools, inventions, and buildings around the village. Brother Delmer was the only one who could drive the Selden (a car). He also often fixed the pipes when they froze during the winter. Brother Delmer was a real Shaker, who was appointed an Elder but refused to use the title.


Henry was the husband of Sarah and father of their six children: John, Joseph, and Robert; twins, Margaret and Mabel; and a baby, Willie. He lived on his farm in the countryside of Maine. He took in Daniel and Lydia, the children of his younger sister, Caroline. However, he was unable to care for them and brought them to live with the Shakers at Sabbathday Lake.

Sister Jennie Mathers[]

Sister Jennie Mathers[2] (died 1946)[7] was a member of the Shaker community called "Chosen Land" in Sabbathday Lake. She was the caretaker of the girls around Lydia's age and younger. Jennie became a mentor to Lydia and explained the Shaker's customs to her. She often sewed or read aloud, while the girls worked on their crafting. Jennie went on to do several other jobs in the community, before passing away at the age of sixty-eight. She was based on a real Shaker that Lois Lowry had read about in their daily journals.

Eldress Lizzie Noyes[]

Eldress Lizzie Noyes[8] (died 1926),[7] who worked with Elder William to govern the Shaker community of Sabbathday Lake. Her mother's name was also Lydia. After her mother's death, Lizzie at age sixteen entered the Shaker community with her father and uncle. She left to become a teacher and taught in Missouri, before returning and donning the Shaker dress. Lizzie was frail in her old age and had health problems with her heart and ears. Eldress Lizzie was a real woman, who led the Shakers in the early 1900s.

Walter Pierce[]

Walter[5] Pierce ("Father;" died October 1918) was the husband of Caroline, and father of Daniel, Lydia, and Lucy Pierce. Walter married Caroline at Woodfords Congregational Church. He worked as a store clerk and had hope to become the store manager. He also had plans to send all of his children to college. Walter went to work everyday, despite the ongoing flu pandemic. He became sick in mid-October of 1918, after coming home from work. Walter died of flu around the same time as his wife and youngest daughter at their home in Portland.

Elder William Dumont[]

Elder William Dumont[9] (died 1930)[7] was co-leader of the Shakers as well as the caretaker and mentor of the young boys. He lead the Shakers prayers and worship. William always took the young girls on a carriage ride, which he did yearly. He also oversaw the building the forty-eight room brick dwelling in 1884 as well as the water tower, which was made as a preventive measure against fires. He had a dog named Pup, despite their teachings that animals are "unclean and full of evil spirits." Elder William was a real man who became a Shaker at nineteen and was appointed Elder ten years later.

Minor characters[]

  • Sisters Ada, Agnes, Edith, Hannah, Hazel, Helen, and Lavinia, Shaker women at Sabbathday Lake.
  • Sisters Amanda Stickney, Sarah Fletcher, Mary Grant, and Sirena Douglas,[10] four Shaker women, who signed the covenant at the same time as Eldress Lizzie.
  • Sister Cora Soule was a teacher at the Shaker's schoolhouse. She taught all the children as well as the non-Shakers who lived nearby.
  • Brother Eben, a Shaker man that the sisters often mentioned had "stepped out", meaning he passed away. One sister said she saw his spirit after he passed.
  • Edward, a boy in Portland that Lydia thought was handsome.
  • Eli was Gloria's brother. He attended school in the Shaker village and sat next to Daniel. They became friends and Daniel told him where he was running away to.
  • Eliza McCool[11] was a girl that use to sleep in Lydia's bed. Lydia thought she had ran away or died, but she had actually moved the third floor of the girls' shop. She had a sister named Lila.
  • Elvira Brooks,[12] another Shaker girl. She had a visit with her grandparents at the time Lydia was allowed to visit Daniel. She shared a room with Susannah and the Holt sisters.
  • Emily Ann Walsh was a good friend Lydia Pierce. They enjoyed reading and acting out scenes of The Secret Garden together. She lived on Rackleff Street in Portland, Maine.
  • Emma Freeman was a Shaker at Sabbathday Lake. She left to be a "part of the world" in early July 1918,[13] but returned a month later. She helped serve dinner.
  • Mrs. Flynn (died October 8, 1918)[14] was the newlywed next door neighbor of the Walshes'. She was pregnant at the time of her death of influenza. Her husband also developed a fever and presumably passed away sometime after.
  • Frances Dudley was a noisy neighbor of the Pierce family. Lydia mentioned that Mrs. Dudley often complained about her husband.
  • Elder Frederick Evans was a leader of the Shakers during the Civil War. He negotiated with President Abraham Lincoln, so that the Shakers would not have to join the war.
  • Sister Gertrude, an elderly Shaker woman, who had heart trouble.
  • Gloria, a girl from the world, who attended school at the Shakers schoolhouse. Lydia asked Gloria to question her brother, Eli about Daniel's whereabouts.
  • Grace was a Shaker girl, who shared a room with Lydia, Polly, and Rebecca. She lived in Harrison, Maine, before her mother's death and arrived at the Shaker community in March 1918.[15] Grace had curly hair and freckles and was "full of energy and mischief".
  • Dr. Hayden was a dentist, who came to Sabbathday Lake to work on the Shakers teeth.
  • Ida, a teenage girl, who worked in the Shakers kitchen. The other women had hopes that she would go to college and become a teacher a Sabbathday Lake in place of Sister Cora. She ran away, possibly with a delivery boy she had a crush on.
  • Brother Isaac, a Shaker, who built a bridge across the village's mill pond to a small island in the middle.
  • John, Joseph, Robert, Margaret, Mabel, and Willie, Lydia and Daniel's six cousins. They all helped with the various chores around their parents' farm.
  • Brother John Dorrington (died January 25, 1919),[16] an elderly Shaker, who fell ill and passed away.
  • Elder John Vance was a leader of the Shaker community in Alfred. Someone claimed that they saw his spirit at Sabbathday Lake. Shortly later, they learned that he had passed on that day.
  • Levi Mitchell was a hired man, who had worked on Henry's farm. He was raised by Shakers, but left "to make his own way". Levi always spoke well of the Shakers
  • Lila McCool was Eliza's sister. She worked with Lydia on the Shakers poplar boxes.
  • Louise and Marian, two local girls, who attended the Shakers school. They were friends with Gloria.
  • Lucy Pierce (July 1918[17] – October 1918) was the the three month old sister of Lydia and Daniel. She passed away with her parents from influenza. Lydia had wanted to name her Victoria.
  • Majorie Fallon was Lydia's Catholic friend in Portland. Lydia often compared the Shakers with the stories Majorie told her about the Catholic church.
  • Sister Mamie Curtis, a Shaker woman. She had false front teeth, which she was proud of.
  • Marie, a laundress, who lived in the Italian section of Portland. She had worked for the Pierce family.
  • Martin Farlow was a young man, who lived on Seeley Avenue in Portland. He was suppose to attend Colby College in Waterville, Maine in 1918, but the opening was postponed due to the flu pandemic. Walter Pierce helped fix Martin's bicycle.
  • Mr. Melby, a general store owner in Oxford Hills. He hired Daniel as a store helper for a short time.
  • Mrs. O'Brien was the Pierce's next door neighbor. She watched Lucy on Lydia's birthday in 1918. Later, she refused to help Lydia and Daniel when their parents were dying.
  • Pearl and Lillian Beckwith, two young girls whose mother left them with the Shakers because she could no longer take care of them. She came back for them a few months later, only to leave them again in September 1918. They were two of the youngest girls in the village.
  • Polly was a Shaker, who shared a room with Lydia, Grace, and Rebecca. She wore glasses, and was "shy and scholarly".
  • Eldress Prudence Stickney[18] was the second Eldress in the Shaker community. She was in charge of the younger sisters and teenage girls.
  • Rebecca (born c. 1906),[19] a young girl at Sabbathday Lake. She shared a room with Lydia, Polly, and Grace. Lydia described Rebecca as "quiet and serious" with blonde braids.
  • Ruth, whom the Shakers took in at the age nine, left them at age twenty-three. The sisters were troubled by her leaving and the fact that she never thanked them.
  • Sarah was the ill-tempered wife of Henry and mother of six children. She opposed taking in her niece and nephew, and told her husband to take Lydia and Daniel to Sabbathday Lake.
  • Susannah (born c. 1907),[19] a Shaker girl at Sabbathday Lake that Sister Jennie mentioned was working in the kitchen at the time of Lydia's arrival. Susannah also worked in candy-making and shared a room with Elvira and the Holt sisters.
  • Dr. Sturgis, a doctor from the world, who often visited to check on Eldress Lizzie's and Sister Gertrude's hearts.
  • Mrs. Walsh was the mother of Emily Ann. She caught a cold on October 6, 1918, but was feeling better by the next day. Mrs. Walsh also refused to help Lydia with her sick parents and sister.

Epilogue characters[]

  • Ben Chamberlin was the husband of Lydia Pierce. At the time that he met Lydia, he worked as a biology professor. They married in 1930 at Lydia's parents church in Portland. They had two daughters.
  • Caroline and Lucy Chamberlin, the daughters of Lydia and Ben. They were named after Lydia's mother and sister. During their childhood, Lydia took them on trips to visit the Shakers. Caroline and Lucy grew up and gave Lydia six grandchildren.


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?