Dear America Wiki
Dear America Wiki

"He was near again. I know it. Father's voice came riding along, seeming to call to me. So I put on my cloak and went out the back door. Stood in the back, my face to the wind, listening, hoping. I know it must seem strange that I still think I might hear him. But the Bible and Reverend Lauter both talk about the Devil and angels and Lazarus rising from the dead and such. So why isn't a voice possible? It could be real, if you believe in the others."
—Sarah Jane Price[3]

Sarah Jane Denning (née Price; born c. 1867) was the only child of Mr. and Mrs. Price. After the death of her father in late 1881, Sarah Jane began working as a school teacher in Broken Bow, Nebraska. Despite her young age, she was able to prove herself to the school board when she helped her students through a blizzard.


Early life[]

Sarah Jane Price was born around 1867[1] to Mr. and Mrs. Price. Her mother passed away when Sarah Jane was four.[4] Her father worked as a teacher. By the time she was nine, her father began moving them further and further west. He worked in small towns throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa.[3] Sarah Jane often helped him with his classes.

Life in Broken Bow[]

In August 1881, Sarah Jane and her father arrived in Broken Bow, Nebraska. He passed away two months later after catching black diphtheria. Now an orphan, Sarah Jane had no other relations to go to. She stayed on at Miss Kizer's boardinghouse. Two months later, Miss Kizer began to worry about Sarah Jane's future. She soon announced that she had written to an orphan girls asylum in Grand Island. Sarah Jane was against the idea, but did not voice her concerns. When Reverend Lauter offered to write to the asylum's headmaster, she brainstormed ways to stay in Broken Bow with her new friend, Ida Pelham. Sarah Jane's dreams of her father gave her inspiration to become a teacher.

Sarah Jane spoke with the head of Broken Bow's school board, Mr. Gaddis. He reluctantly brought her proposal to the board and the majority voted yes. Mr. Gaddis provided Sarah Jane with a poorly built sod house, which she made the best of. Ida helped her prepare the schoolhouse over the next several weeks. Sarah Jane visited the homes of her future students to see who would be attending. The school term began on February 27, 1882. Her first day nearly passed uneventfully until Mr. Gaddis stopped by while the students were acting up. The brothers, Fred and Edwin Hewitt, quickly became the class troublemakers. Meanwhile, Sarah Jane became closer to Miss Kizer after her initial anger dissipated.

Another student, Carl Huftalen, was frequently absent or late. Sarah Jane was hesitant but eventually spoke to his parents, whom made sure Carl continued attending. In mid-March, Reverend Lauter finally departed Broken Bow, having never quite gotten over Sarah Jane's defying Miss Kizer's plans. Just a few days later, a fierce snowstorm hit Broken Bow during school hours. Sarah Jane kept the children inside the roof began to detach. She then tied them to together before venturing out into the storm. Sarah Jane managed to convey them all to safety. Her actions finally won over everyone in town. Mr. Gaddis later informed her that a new schoolhouse was going to be built for her.

Later life[]

Sarah Jane's new school was finished for the spring 1883 school term. When school was out of session, she went to Grand Island for advanced courses. She earned her teaching certificate at nineteen, and her master's degree in education a few years later. Sarah Jane taught in Broken Bow for thirty-six years. When she was twenty-five, former student Charles Denning proposed to Sarah Jane. Their wedding was attended by most of Broken Bow with Miss Kizer and Mr. Pelham standing in as her parents. They lived in a brick house just outside of town. They had one child, a daughter named Faith. Sarah Jane remained close with Ida and Miss Kizer, and kept in contact with her first class of students.

Personality and traits[]

Sarah Jane was reserved and had a hard time confronting others. Over time, she was able to become more assertive, particularly with Mr. Gaddis. Sarah Jane was smart and had been educated through her father. As she had sat in on his classes, she was also knowledgeable about the goings-on of a classroom. She was capable of becoming a teacher, despite the school board's reluctance because of her age. Sarah Jane was quick-witted, which she demonstrated several times while interacting with her students. However, she also sometimes fell for easy tricks her students played on her. Sarah Jane eventually gained the respect of everyone in Broken Bow, especially after the blizzard of 1882.

Family tree[]

The Price-Denning Family Tree
Mr. Price
(d. 1881)
Mrs. Price
(d. 1871)
Charles Denning
(b. 1866)
Sarah Jane Price
(b. 1867)
Faith Denning

Behind the scenes[]



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?