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Dear America Wiki

Rosalia on the cover

All of the characters that appear in Valley of the Moon by Sherry Garland.

Main characters[]

María Rosalia de Milagros[]

Main article: María Rosalia de Milagros

María Rosalia de Milagros (1832[1] — 1906)[2] was the older sister of Domingo. At five, Rosalia and Domingo were orphaned when their mother died of smallpox. They were found by Padre Ygnacio, whom taught Rosalia how to read and write. The siblings lived at the mission until being adopted by Gregorio and Lupita, whom were servants at Rancho Agua Verde. Rosalia and Domingo also became servants for the wealthy Medina family. After being at the rancho for several years, Rosalia became determined to learn the identities of her parents whom she had forgotten.

Supporting characters[]

Domingo de Milagros[]

Domingo Medina[2] (formerly de Milagros; born 1835)[1] was the younger brother of María Rosalia de Milagros. His mother passed away when he was three. Unlike Rosalia, he had no interest in learning about his biological parents. Domingo instead considered Gregorio and Lupita his parents. He wanted to be a vaquero like Gregorio someday. Domingo was also interested in animals, keeping a pet pig named Pequito and training his fighting rooster Señor Valeroso. After the truth of their parentage was revealed, he and Rosalia changed their name to Medina. Domingo eventually settled on their inherited rancho, where Gregorio and Lupita came to live with him. He married an indigenous woman.

Gabriela and Rafaela Medina[]

Rafaela (born c. 1830) and Gabriela Medina (born c. 1834)[3] were the younger daughters of the Medina family after Miguela. Rafaela was sweet and had been sickly her whole life. After falling deathly ill in early 1846, Rosalia gave Rafaela some advice that she took to heart. She had Rosalia appointed her personal servant and began regularly exercising. Rosalia became heathier and later developed a crush on Walter Johnston. Gabriela was the closest in age to Rosalia, who considered her a little sister. She was sometimes unkind to Rosalia, though the two always made up. Rafaela and Gabriela moved to Monterey after marrying their husbands. They later financially supported their parents.

Gregorio and Lupita[]

Gregorio and Lupita were a husband and wife who were servants at Rancho Agua Verde. Lupita was the cook there, while Gregorio was the head vaquero. They were both indigenous people, but Lupita grew up in missions while Gregorio was raise by his tribe. The pair met when Lupita nursed him back to health. He converted to Christianity and they lived at the mission until going to work for the Medinas. The couple were childless and raised several orphans, including Ramona and later Rosalia and Domingo. Though they considered Rosalia and Domingo their children, Rosalia always felt something was missing. In later life, Gregorio and Lupita went to live with Domingo on his rancho.

Henry Johnston[]

Henry Johnston (born c. 1817)[4] was an American from Missouri who settled in Yerba Buena. There he started a successful merchant business. His brother decided to join Henry in California, but was killed in an accident on the way there. Henry subsequently took in his surviving niece and nephew, Nelly and Walter. In 1846, he married Miguela after a long courtship and several delays in their wedding. During an epidemic, Miguela, Walter, and Nelly became sick. Miguela, whom miscarried their first child during it, and Walter survived but Nelly passed away. Years later, Henry made his fortune from the miners coming for the gold rush. He and Miguela had eleven children.

Señor and Señora Medina[]

Señor (born c. 1805)[5] and Señora Medina were the parents of Miguela, Rafaela, and Gabriela. Señora Medina also gave birth to four boys who died in infancy. She continued to grieve for them even years later. Señor and Señora Medina were criollos, meaning they were both descended from "pure Spanish blood." Señor Medina gradually took an interest in both Rosalia and Domingo. After learning that Rosalia and Domingo were the children of his late brother, the Medinas happily welcomed them into their family. Sometime after 1850, Señor Medina was forced to sell his lands. He and his wife moved to Monterey, where Rafaela and Gabriela supported them.

Miguela Medina[]

Miguela Johnston[6] (née Medina; born c. 1828)[3] was the eldest daughter of Señor and Señora Medina. Considered a "great beauty," Miguela was vain about her looks. She was also short-tempered and sometimes mean for no reason. She married the American Henry Johnston in February 1846 after many delays. Miguela moved into his home in Yerba Buena. After her marriage, she was much nicer to everyone around her. Miguela soon announced her pregnancy. Later, when she became sick, Henry brought her to stay with her family. She ended up miscarrying before her fever finally broke. Rosalia lived with the Johnstons for two years teaching Miguela how to cook and clean. Miguela and Henry had eleven children.

Nelly Johnston[]

Nelly Johnston (c. 1832[7] — June 1846)[8] was the niece of Señor Johnston and younger sister of Walter. On their way to California, Nelly's parents and two younger siblings were killed were crossing the Sierra Nevada. She and Walter were taken in by their uncle. Nelly found solace in befriending Rosalia, who spoke some English. Being from "common stock," Nelly wanted to be useful and greatly disliked doing nothing like the Medina sisters. Nelly eventually went to live at Yerba Buena with her uncle and brother, though she occasionally came to visit the Medinas and Rosalia. She did all the housework for her uncle, even after he married Miguela. Nelly died after catching a disease, possibly cholera.

Walter Johnston[]

Walter Johnston (born c. 1829)[9] was the older brother of Nelly and nephew of Señor Johnston. While crossing the Sierra Nevada, Walter's parents and two youngest siblings were killed when their oxen slipped near a cliff. He blamed himself for the accident, though he could not have done anything. Walter began living with his uncle at Yerba Buena, where he helped with the family business. He eventually became friends with Rosalia, though the two did not always agree on what was right for California. In 1851, Walter and Rosalia were married. After discovering a gold deposit, they bought land in Napa Valley. Walter cultivated a successful business called Milagros Winery. They had five children, including Carolina and Nelly.

Minor characters[]

  • Andrew Hoeppneu was a German piano teacher hired to teach General Vallejo's family.
  • Antonio Medina was the younger brother of Señor Medina. During his work as a captain in the Mexican army, he met Carolina and married her despite it going against social norms. The family moved to San Francisco Bay in 1836 when he was transferred. Antonio went to Mexico on business and returned nearly a year later to find his family gone. He later moved to Monterey and died young.
  • Bernardo was a matador. Señor Medina asked him to come to Sonoma to perform a bullfight.
  • Carolina Medina ("Mamá;" 1810 — 1838)[10] was the mother of Rosalia and Domingo. She was the daughter of a tribal shaman and was studying to follow in his footsteps. Carolina married Antonio and moved to San Francisco Bay. Antonio was away when smallpox outbreak happened. Carolina had her children vaccinated, but there was not enough for herself. Padre Ygnacio found her and her children just before Carolina passed away of smallpox.
  • General Castro was the military leader of Alta California.
  • Gertruda was Señora Medina's sister who was a widow. She lived in town with her mother-in-law and four children. Gertruda always welcomed a visit from her sister and her family.
  • Señor Gordillo was Gabriela Medina's tutor who also taught Rosalia and Domingo at time.
  • Jacob Leese was an American who was a brother-in-law of General Vallejo.
  • Johann Sutter was a settler from Switzerland. He named his settlement New Helvetia, but everyone called it Sutter's Fort.
  • Captain John Frémont was an American officer who came to California to purportedly "survey the land." He captained a small band of soldiers after the bear flag revolt.
  • Kit Carson was a famous American scout whom escorted General Vallejo to Sutter's Fort.
  • General Mariano Vallejo was the founder of Sonoma and considered the wealthiest man in Northern California. He was taken prisoner by some Americans, called the Osos, in June 1846.
  • Maricela was Rafaela's elderly personal servant until she was replaced by Rosalia.
  • Paladin was Señor Medina's favorite fighting rooster. After being injured in a fight, Señor Medina retired him to live the rest of his life with the hens.
  • Pedro was an indigenous boy who worked at the blacksmith's stables. He was feed very little by the blacksmith and was always hungry. Miguela Medina once gave him pan dulce in exchange for him pushing Rosalia into a puddle. Feeling sorry for him, Rosalia did not take revenge and treated him nicely afterwards. The friendship later paid off when Pedro lied for her.
  • Pequito was a runt piglet whom had been rejected by his mother. Rosalia gave the piglet to Domingo, who took care of it as a pet. Domingo even let Pequito sleep in his bed.
  • Pío Pico was the governor of Alta California.
  • Ramona was the seamstress at Rancho Agua Verde. She was brought to the rancho at a young age by Gregorio and Lupita whom raised her.
  • Lieutenant Revere, a descendant of the famous Paul Revere, was an American military leader. He came to Sonoma to announce the war against Mexico and put up the American flag there.
  • Chief Solano was the Suisun leader. He was befriended by General Vallejo and the two became allies. Chief Solano often looked after the General's interests.
  • Señor Valeroso was a fighting rooster given to Domingo by Señor Medina to train.
  • Señor Villareal was the mayordomo of Rancho Agua Verde. Seeing a ring worn by Padre Ygnacio, he learned of Rosalia's and Domingo's parentage. Señor Villareal, who was secretly taking money from Antonio Medina's land, threatened Padre Ygancio into secrecy.
  • William B. Ide was the leader of the Osos, the Americans who declared California's independence from Mexico and created the short-lived California Republic.
  • Padre Ygnacio Juan Morales[11] was a priest at Mission Rafael who found Rosalia and Domingo. He gave them names. Over the years, Ygnacio learned about the children's origins. When Walter Johnston visited him on behalf of Rosalia, he penned a letter explaining everything and sent a ring with it as proof of her heritage. Ygnacio, who had been excommunicated by the church, was in poor health by this time.

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?