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Dear America Wiki

William (left) on the second edition

All of the characters that appear in Barry Denenberg's The Journal of William Thomas Emerson.

Main characters[]

William Emerson[]

Main article: William Emerson

William "Will" Thomas Emerson (born c. winter 1762)[1] was an orphan, who worked at the Seven Stars Tavern. His parents and sister passed away during a thunderstorm in 1772. Two years later, he ran away from an abusive household and was found by Mr. Wilson, who introduced him to Mrs. Thompson. He worked at the tavern doing odd-jobs, such as cleaning, waiting on customers, taking care of Rebecca, and later he kept the tavern's account book. William was a spy for Mr. Wilson's "Committee", a resistance against the British.

Supporting characters[]

Mr. Davis[]

Mr. Davis (died June 1775)[2] was a barber living in Boston and a member of John Wilson's "Committee". He fought during the French and Indian War and knew how to handle a knife. Mr. Davis made flints, muskets, powder horns, and lead balls for the patriot cause. He had a daughter, Molly, whom he was protective over since his wife died. Mr. Davis died fighting during the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Elizabeth Thompson[]

Elizabeth[3] Thompson was the owner of the Seven Stars Tavern. Her husband abandoned her in 1773, leaving behind a mountain of debt for her to pay off. She had one daughter named Rebecca by her husband. Mrs. Thompson took in William Emerson and had him work as a helper. She elected to stay in Boston during the Brits year-long occupation. Her tavern thrived and became a popular spot for politicians.

Henry Moody[]

Henry Moody (c. 1760[1] – winter 1775) was Mr. Armstrong's apprentice at Armstrong Book and Printing Shop. At eleven, he emigrated from Liverpool, England to Boston, Massachusetts. He died a day after being beaten by a British soldier in the winter of 1775. He was good friends with William and admired his mentor, Mr. Armstrong. Henry enjoyed books more than anything.

John Wilson[]

John[3] Wilson was a writer, who boarded at the Seven Stars Tavern. He wrote pamphlets and newspaper articles supporting America's independence from England. Mr. Wilson introduced William Emerson to Mrs. Thompson, who allowed him to stay at the tavern. He set up a "Committee" with Mr. Armstrong, Mr. Palmer, Mr. Davis, Mr. Monk, Dr. Endicott, and Mr. Cummings to combat British rule. Mr. Wilson eventually enlisted William's help for two missions. John disappeared after leaving Boston in the spring 1775.

Rebecca Thompson[]

Rebecca "Becca" Emerson (née Thompson; born July 4, 1772)[4] was the daughter of Elizabeth Thompson. Like most toddlers, she was lively and playful. William helped take of her for Mrs. Thompson, while she ran the Tavern. In her adult life, she married William at eighteen and had two children, Henry and Ben. Becca became a teacher and taught for many years on School Street.

Minor characters[]

  • Mr. Armstrong (died June 1775)[2] was the owner of Armstrong's Book and Printing Shop in Boston. He was good friends with John Wilson and joined his "Committee" to combat the British. Mr. Armstrong died alongside Mr. Davis during the Battle of Bunker Hill.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Bacon were forced to house British soldiers. Mr. Bacon was a hatter and paid off his tab to Mrs. Thompson with seven beaver hats.
  • Mr. Carlisle was a suspected loyalist. He had a grand house, which the citizens of Boston burned down, after tarring and feathering him.
  • Mr. Clapham was an apothecary. He sent the wrong medicine by mistake to Mrs. Nelson, which led to deaths of her three daughters.
  • Mr. Cummings was a member of Mr. Wilson's "Committee". He worked as a merchant.
  • Mr. Davenport was a butcher living in Boston. He was tripped by a British soldier due to rising tensions.
  • Mrs. Dill (died fall 1775)[2] was a patron at Mrs. Thompson's tavern. Henry Moody told William a story about Mrs. Dill being kidnapped by Indians, her escape, and how she wrote a memoir under a pseudonym. She had a sister who lived in Braintree. Mrs. Dill moved to Hingham with Mrs. and Mr. Paddock and died a few months later of dysentery.
  • Mr. Dudley was a loyalist and so-called "richest merchant in Boston". William once followed Mr. Palmer and found him at Mr. Dudley's house.
  • Dr. Endicott was a doctor and member of a "Committee" set up by Mr. Wilson. He had a daughter named Susan and a son. His son was a loyalist, who sailed to England after writing a letter for the newspaper. Dr. Endicott became a surgeon during the Revolutionary War.
  • Mr. Heath was a man living in Menotomy, who took in William Emerson for a short time after his parents' death. He often spoke of "the Lord's mysterious ways".
  • James "Jimmy" Carr (born c. 1755)[5] was the apprentice of Mr. Williams. He was from Ireland and sometimes went by "James 'Jimmy' Smith". Jimmy ran away and Mr. Williams put up a notice to find him.
  • Jonathan[5] Williams was the owner of J. Williams- Instruments and Supplies. He had an apprentice Jimmy Carr, who ran away.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Marsh were a couple that William lived with for two years. Mr. Marsh often beat William after consuming alcohol, while Mrs. Marsh stood there, "shaking like a leaf".
  • Martha and Tabitha[6] Fitch were sisters and co-owners of Fitch- Retail or Wholesale. They sold British goods in their shop, angering many citizens in Boston. Eventually, they closed their shop and left town.
  • Colonel Matthew Chaney[2] was a British soldier that deserted with William's help. He joined the patriot cause and trained the Continental Army. Matthew married Molly Davis in 1783 and had six sons with her.
  • Molly Davis was the daughter of Mr. Davis. She married Matthew Chaney in February 1783. They had six sons. Molly was a talented painter, which she became well known for later.
  • Mr. Monk was a blacksmith in Boston. He was fond of Mrs. Thompson and often did favors for her. During the war, Mr. Monk was captured by the British and died aboard a prison ship.
  • Nathaniel and Samuel Armstrong (born c. 1766)[7] were the twin sons of Mr. Armstrong. They were tutored by Henry Moody. After the war, they returned to Boston with their mother. They reopened their father's book-selling and printing businesses.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Nelson were bakers, who owned Nelson's Bakery in Boston. Mr. Nelson gave Mrs. Thompson a puppy as partial payment. They had three daughters, whom died after an accidental poisoning.
  • Mr. and Mary Paddock were regular patrons at Seven Stars Tavern. She was a friend of Mrs. Dill. Mr. Paddock was considered "demented" after a nervous fever years ago. He worked as a carpenter and paid Mrs. Thompson with furniture. They moved to Hingham in 1775.
  • Queen George was Mrs. Thompson's Newfoundland dog. She was named after King George of England. Mr. Nelson gave her the dog as partial payment for his bill. She was found of Mr. Monk.
  • Rebecca Emerson (c. 1767[8] – c. winter 1772)[9] was William Emerson's younger sister. William helped his mother take care of her. She and her parents died during a thunderstorm.
  • Robert[10] Palmer (died 1779)[2] was a lawyer and member of Mr. Wilson's "Committee". He was missing his right arm. William discovered him spying for the British and later followed him to Mr. Dudley's house. In 1778, he was seriously injured after being thrown off his horse.
  • Samuel Robbins (c. 1766 – winter 1774) was a young boy, who drowned after falling through ice.
  • Susan Endicott was Dr. Endicott's daughter. She caught smallpox and spent a year in bed recovering.
  • William and Mrs. Emerson ("Papa" and "Mama"; c. died winter 1772)[9] were the parents of William and Rebecca. They passed away after being struck by lightning.

Epilogue characters[]

  • Henry and Ben Emerson were the two sons of William with his wife Becca Thompson.
  • Queen George II was Becca Thompson's pet dog. She was probably a descendant of the first Queen George.


See also[]