Dear America Wiki
Dear America Wiki
This article is about a girl living during the Gold Rush. For other uses, see Susanna.

"I picked up my pan and scooped it along the bottom of the creek, keeping my head down so he wouldn't see my sudden tears. I was overcome with how good he made me feel and wanted to tell Sam that I liked being with him, but didn't know how. When at last I looked at him, he smiled. Then, as if nothing had happened, we went back to our pans and talked about regular things."
—Susanna Fairchild[2]

Susanna James (née Fairchild; born July 9, 1834) was the second daughter of Dr. and Julia Fairchild. She had an older sister named Clara. Her family boarded a ship with plans to join relatives in Oregon City. However, following her mother's tragic death, her father decided to join the California Gold Rush. The family endured several harsh months in California.


Early life[]

Susanna was born on July 9, 1834.[1] She grew up in Missouri, where her father worked as a doctor. Susanna had an older sister named Clara. Through her mother, she was related to the Campbell family.[3]


The Fairchilds decided to join family and friends whom had emigrated to Oregon City the previous year. They boarded the SS California on October 6, 1848. Several weeks into the journey, Susanna's mother, whom had been bedridden due to pregnancy, was suddenly swept off the ship. The family was devastated by her loss. Susanna found her journal in January 1849 and began writing. After a five month journey, her father wanted to join the gold rush to recover his life savings. Though Susanna and Clara were against it, they eventually decided to accompany him.

After arriving at Sutter's Fort, they heard about an old friend, Jesse Blue, living in Miner's Creek. They settled there and eventually were able to meet him again. There they also befriended another miner, Captain Clinkingbeard, whom helped Susanna's father build a cabin. At one point, Susanna's father and Captain Clinkingbeard left to stake a claim somewhere in the hills. Jesse visited them occasionally with gold from their father. Nearly a month later, an injured young man, Sam James, was brought to them. The girls left to locate their father for treatment. Ultimately, Sam's leg had to be amputated.

Later, the Fairchilds learned that Jesse had stolen most of Dr. Fairchild's gold, leaving them heartbroken. Meanwhile, Sam continued staying with them while he recovered. Over time, Susanna and Sam became close and their friendship blossomed into a romance. Sam was given permission to court her by her father. When her father decided to go to Oregon City, Susanna hoped that Sam would also come along. Eventually, both Sam and Captain Clinkingbeard, made the decision to go with the Fairchilds. The family gave their cabins to their close friends, Rosita Sepúlveda and her family, before leaving.

Later life[]

Susanna and her family arrived safely in Oregon City to the joy of their relatives and friends. They stayed with Aunt Augusta and Uncle Charles Campbell until Dr. Fairchild was able to build his own home. Susanna married Sam the day after he finished building their cottage. She gave birth to five daughters within five years. Susanna also had a set of triplet sons whom died at birth. She lived the rest of her life next door to her favorite cousin, Hattie, and across the road from her childhood friend, Betsy.

Personality and traits[]

Though calmer than her older sister, Susanna was similar to her in many ways. They both shared a love of literature, which they got from their mother. At times, they were both capable of great strength. Unlike Clara, Susanna was not fussed about appearing or acting ladylike. She began to care more about her appearance after developing feelings for Sam, though this did not last too long.

Family tree[]

The Fairchild Family Tree
Campbell family
Julia Campbell
(d. 1848)
Dr. Fairchild
Mrs. James
Clara Fairchild
Susanna Fairchild
(b. 1834)
Sam James
(b. 1831)
Virgil James
(b. 1831)
Five daughters
Three sons

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?