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Dear America Wiki

Sarah Jane Price on the cover of My Face to the Wind

All of the characters that appear in My Face to the Wind by Jim Murphy.

Main characters[]

Sarah Jane Price[]

Main article: Sarah Jane Price

Sarah Jane Price (born c. 1867)[1] was the schoolteacher of Broken Bow, Nebraska. Her mother passed away when she was younger. She arrived in Broken Bow with her father in late 1881. After her father died a couple months later, she became an orphan. Sarah Jane continued staying at Miss Kizer's boardinghouse. However, after a few months, Miss Kizer suggested for Sarah Jane go to an orphan asylum. She was strongly opposed to the idea and became a teacher instead, despite Mr. Gaddis's disapproval. After a month of teaching, Sarah Jane helped her students survive a blizzard which finally earned the respect of those whom had opposed her appointment.

Supporting characters[]

Carl Huftalen[]

Carl Huftalen (born c. 1872)[2] was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Huftalen. His family were German immigrants and they lived on the outskirts of Broken Bow, Nebraska. Carl was not interested in attending school since he felt education was unnecessary for a farmer. He was friends with fellow troublemaker, Fred Hewitt. After missing school for too many days, his teacher Sarah Jane Price informed his mother. The following day, Carl's father dropped him off at school and assured Sarah Jane that he would be attending from then on. Ultimately, Carl did become a farmer but was grateful for his schooling. His math knowledge helped him negotiate crop prices, while reading books became his hobby.

Charles Denning[]

Charles Denning (born 1866 or 1867)[3] was the oldest student among Sarah Jane's first class of students. He was a year or two older than her. Due to his age, Sarah Jane often paired Charles with the younger students to help them with subjects he already knew. He tried to defend her against the class's troublemakers on several occasions, though his intervention sometimes made the situations worst. Charles always listened to whatever commands Sarah Jane gave. During the blizzard of 1882, she put Charles in the lead with Edwin and Fred Hewitt. After several years, Charles established his farm and proposed to Sarah Jane. They lived just outside of town and had a child named Faith.

Edwin and Fred Hewitt[]

Edwin "Ed" and Fred Hewitt were the sons of Wilson Hewitt. The boys were often troublemakers, though not maliciously so. The elder brother, Fred, was usually the instigator, while Edwin either just laughed or played along with his scheme. On the first day of school, Fred left the schoolhouse without permission with Carl Huftalen while his brother distracted their teacher. As punishment, Sarah Jane made him chop wood outside. This chore often stopped him from talking back to Sarah Jane, though he still enjoyed playing tricks on her. As adults, Fred and Edwin each bought wagons and set off in different directions. They became traveling photographers and took thousands of photos.

Mr. Gaddis[]

Mr. Gaddis was the head of Broken Bow's school board. From the start, he disapproved of Sarah Jane becoming the town's teacher, but brought the proposal to the board at his wife's prompting. Despite the majority of the board voting yes, Mr. Gaddis continued to make his disapproval clear. He provided her with a shabby sod house, which a former tenant of his had built. Sarah Jane described him as "rude and disagreeable", while many of her students found him intimidating. After the blizzard, Sarah Jane had finally won some of Mr. Gaddis's respect. He informed her that the school board would be building her a new schoolhouse and slightly begrudgingly took her requests for supplies.

Hermann Lauter[]

Reverend Hermann[4] Lauter was a minister. He traveled on horseback up Middle Loup River and down Muddy Creek Valley, preaching at several different towns along the way. In Broken Bow, Hermann always stayed at Miss Kizer's boardinghouse. He seemed to easily hold grudges. For example, when Sarah Jane flouted Miss Kizer's idea to send her to an orphan asylum, Hermann never warmed back up to her. He also disliked Mr. Hibbert, whom was building a hotel to rival the boardinghouse. Reverend Lauter continued to come to Broken Bow for several years, but moved further west when attendance dwindled. His last letter to Miss Kizer in 1893 was postmarked Alberta, Canada.

Ida Pelham[]

Ida Pelham (c. 1871[5] – 1941)[6] was the daughter of the general store owners, Mr. and Mrs. Pelham. She had a younger brother named Timothy. Ida first met Sarah Jane shortly after she arrived in Broken Bow, but the two did not become friendly until wintertime. She encouraged Sarah Jane to become a teacher and also helped her prepare the schoolhouse. Their friendship became somewhat constrained due to Mr. Gaddis's rule about teachers not being too close to their students. After the snowstorm, Sarah Jane forgoed this rule to Ida's delight. They remained friends for the rest of their lives. As an adult, Ida became a successful landowner. She never married, but adopted several homeless children.

Miss Kizer[]

Miss Kizer (born c. 1839)[7] was a boardinghouse owner in Broken Bow. She constantly worried about everything. In late 1881, Sarah Jane and her father boarded with Miss Kizer. After his death, Miss Kizer arranged for Sarah Jane to go to an orphan girls asylum. She was embarrassed when she was the last to learn of Sarah Jane's plans to teach instead. Her anger gradually dissipated and the two became closer. Miss Kizer was good friends with Reverend Lauter. She once harbored romantic feelings for him, but realized they were too "different." Later in life, Miss Kizer had her boardinghouse moved near the town's new train station. Her business flourished and she eventually enlarged it to twenty rooms.

Mr. Price[]

Mr. Price ("Father"; died October 13, 1881)[1] was the father of Sarah Jane. He had received a college education. Mr. Price loved reciting poems, particularly those by Ralph Waldo Emerson. After his wife's death, Mr. Price traveled west across the United States with his daughter. He took up teaching jobs, but usually only for a semester or two. Though he always had a reason for leaving, Sarah Jane later reflected that she thought he "just needed to move" and "get away from his memories of the past and Mother." Shortly after arriving in Broken Bow, he and passed away of black diphtheria in October 1881. Sarah Jane saw her father several times in her dreams, which led to her becoming a teacher in Broken Bow.

Minor characters[]

  • Alfred (born c. 1877)[3] and Alrah Pospisil were the younger brother and sister of Nora. They attended Sarah Jane Price's school. Alfred was able to say the alphabet by mid-March 1882.
  • Andy Merriwether was the son of Dr. Merriwether. He also attended Sarah Jane's school.
  • Mr. Bock was the husband of Mrs. Bock, and father of Jason and Huey. His family was German. He worked a still by Broken Bow's river, resulting in him often being intoxicated. Instead of paying the school assessment, Mr. Bock helped Sarah Jane with some things around the schoolhouse.
  • Mrs. Bock, the wife of Mr. Bock. She often had her hands full with her three young children. To earn money, she took laundry from the local bachelors.
  • Emmett[8] Tilling was the bank owner in Broken Bow. He would not let anyone touch the bank's money besides himself. Mr. Tilling sided with Mr. Gaddis against letting Sarah Jane teach. He also refused to send his children to school. After Sarah Jane helped her students through a blizzard, Mr. Tilling was embarrassed by his previous stance and thanked her for her courage.
  • Mrs. Gaddis was the wife of Mr. Gaddis. She convinced her husband to take Sarah Jane's proposal to the school board. Like her husband, she was also German.
  • The Gilmers were a family that lived out on the edge of town. Mr. Gilmer was on the school board and had voted to not let Sarah Jane teach. Despite considering it, they did not send their children to her school.
  • Grace was Miss Kizer's pet cat. Sarah Jane often imagined that Grace was looking at her suspiciously.
  • Henrietta (born c. 1870) and Mary Womeldorf (born c. 1878)[3] were Mr. and Mrs. Womeldorf's daughters. They attended Sarah Jane's school. Mary, one of the younger students, had learned the alphabet by mid-March 1882.
  • Henry was the Pelhams' horse. Ida and Timothy rode him to school and he would go home by himself.
  • Mr. Hibbert, the owner of the Grand Paradise Hotel. While his hotel was being built, he boarded at Miss Kizer's boardinghouse. He eventually confessed to Miss Kizer that he was the hotel's owner, which she already knew and said that she hoped they could be "friendly competitors." Mr. Hibbert continued to board there.
  • Huey and Jason Bock (born c. 1875)[9] were the twin sons of Mr. and Mrs. Bock. They often bickered with one another, but usually listened to Sarah Jane.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Huftalen, the German parents of Carl. They did not speak English well and had their son translate for them. His parents were eager for Carl to attend school. After Sarah Jane informed Mrs. Huftalen of Carl's absences, they made sure that he attended.
  • James and Rose Gandy, a married couple whose house Reverend Lauter held a prayer meeting at.
  • John Tyson, a former resident of Broken Bow from the east. He bought land from Mr. Gaddis in July 1879, but later sold it back to him. He left behind a poorly built sod house, which served as Sarah Jane's first schoolhouse.
  • Johnnie Hatter (born August 1851)[10] was a former citizen of Broken Bow. On his thirtieth birthday, he set fire to his house and moved into a cave nearby. He could often be heard speaking or singing to himself, which frightened many of his neighbors. Sarah Jane later spotted him with a dog and realized "all he wanted was to be left alone in peace." Some years later, Johnnie attended Sarah Jane's wedding with his dog.
  • Dr. Merriwether, a doctor working in Broken Bow. He treated Sarah Jane when she became ill and insisted that she stayed in bed. His son, Andy, went to Sarah Jane's school.
  • Nora Pospisil (born c. 1868)[3] was the elder sister of Alfred and Alrah. She lived south of Broken Bow with her family and spoke a little English.
  • Mr. Parker was the former owner of the home used as Sarah Jane's second schoolhouse while her real one was being built. He was remarked at being a better builder than John Tyson.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Pelham was the parents of Ida and Timothy. Mr. Pelham operated a general store and was also on the school board.
  • Mrs. Price ("Mother;" died c. 1871)[11] was the wife of Mr. Price and mother of Sarah Jane. She died when Sarah was only four-years-old. Her husband described her as pretty with long brown hair as well as being smart and practical.
  • Talbot Williams, the headmaster of an orphan girls asylum in Grand Island, Nebraska. He was friends with Reverend Lauter, whom often visited the asylum.
  • Mrs. Tilling was Mr. Tilling's wife. She always had the latest news about Broken Bow.
  • Timothy Pelham was Ida's "pesky" brother. He was very attached to his mother and rarely left her side. Timothy attended Sarah Jane's school. Later in life, he became a real estate lawyer. Timothy became a state senator in 1918, after a string of different political positions.
  • Walter Chalmers, a salesman whom sold "Chalmers Old Time Bitters." Mr. Price remarked to Sarah Jane that he had not guranteed that his product would work or that he would refund the price.
  • Willa Miller, a student at Sarah Jane's school. Her family lived on the edge of Broken Bow.
  • Wilson and Mrs. Hewitt were the parents of Fred and Edwin. He served as the postmaster of Broken Bow.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Womeldorf were the parents of Henrietta and Mary. He led the prayer meeting after Reverend Lauter moved on to the next town.

Epilogue characters[]


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?