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

All 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. She became an orphan when her father died in October 1881 of diphtheria. Sarah Jane stayed at Miss Kizer's boarding house, after a few months Miss Kizer suggested that Sarah go to an orphan asylum. Strongly opposed to the idea, Sarah Jane became a teacher in order to stay in town. In February 1882, Sarah Jane began teaching her first class of students in Broken Bow. She was good friends with Ida Pelham, who was also her student.

Ida Pelham

Main article: Ida Pelham

Ida Pelham (born c. 1871)[2] was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Pelham. She had a younger brother named Timothy. Ida was Sarah Jane's best friends as well as her student. They first met in the summer 1881, but did not become friends until the following winter. Ida encouraged Sarah Jane to become a teacher and helped her prepare the school. During the following months, their friendship became somewhat constrained within a student and teacher relationship. Despite this, they remained good friends for the rest of their lives.

Supporting characters

Mr. Gaddis

Mr. Gaddis was a member of Broken Bow's school board. He disapproved of Sarah Jane teaching at the school, but provided her with a small sod house to teach in. Him and his wife were German and lived out on the prairie. Sarah Jane described him as "rude and disagreeable", while many of the Sarah's student thought him to be intimidating. The following Sunday after the big storm, Mr. Gaddis informed Sarah Jane that the school board would be building a new schoolhouse and took her requests for needed items.

Miss Kizer

Miss Kizer (born c. 1839)[3] was a boardinghouse owner in Broken Bow, Nebraska. In 1881, Sarah Jane and her father boarded with Miss Kizer. Miss Kizer later suggested that Sarah go to an orphan girls asylum. She felt insulted when Sarah Jane went against her plans and became a teacher instead. She was good friends with Reverend Lauter, though Sarah Jane suspected that "she [was] sweet on him". Miss Kizer was also prone to worrying. Later in life, Miss Kizer named her home "The Kizer Hotel" and had a crew place it near the town's new train station. Her business flourished and she eventually enlarged it to twenty rooms, despite strong competition with the Grand Paradise Hotel.

Reverend Lauter

Reverend Hermann[4] Lauter was a Christian minister. He traveled up Middle Loup River and down Muddy Creek Valley, preaching at several different towns, including Broken Bow. The Reverend always stayed at Miss Kizer's boardinghouse, when visiting Broken Bow. Lauter was friends with Mr. Williams, a headmaster at an orphan asylum, and encouraged Sarah Jane to go there. Lauter held grudges for Mr. Hibbert and Sarah Jane, both of whom he believed had wronged Miss Kizer. Reverend Lauter preached in Broken Bow for several years, before moving further west, eventually reaching Alberta, Canada in 1893.

Mr. Price

Mr. Price (died October 13, 1881)[1] was a college-educated teacher and father of Sarah Jane. He died of black diphtheria in October 1881, while working in Broken Bow. He loved reciting poems, particularly Ralph Waldo Emerson's. After his wife's death, Mr. Price traveled west through the United States with his daughter, looking for teaching jobs and stopping for a semester or two. He never stayed in once place too long and would have likely kept moving west if had not passed away. His daughter stayed in Broken Bow, after his death.

Minor characters

  • Alfred (born c. 1877)[5] and Alrah Pospisil were the younger brother and sister of Nora. They attended Sarah Jane's school. Alfred learned 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 German husband of Mrs. Bock. He worked a still by Broken Bow's river. He helped fix some things around Sarah Jane's schoolhouse.
  • Mrs. Bock was the wife of Mr. Bock. She often had her hands full with her three children and doing the laundry of all the local bachelors.
  • Carl Huftalen (born c. 1872)[6] is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Huftalen. Carl protested going to Sarah Jane's school because he wanted to become a farmer. He often skipped school or was late, before Sarah Jane informed his parents, who forced him to continue going. Carl did become a farmer and thanked Sarah Jane for his schooling, which helped with his job.
  • Charles Denning (born 1866 or 1867)[5] was the oldest student in Sarah Jane's class. He often defended her against the class's troublemakers. After several years, Charles established himself in business and asked Sarah Jane to marry him. They lived just outside of town and had a child named Faith.
  • Edwin "Ed" and Fred Hewitt were the sons of Wilson Hewitt. They went to Sarah Jane's school. The elder, Fred often caused trouble at school, while Edwin laughed or played along. Later in life, they set off in different directions and became traveling photographers.
  • 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, possibly near the Millers. Mr. Gilmer was on the school board and had voted to not let Sarah teach. They did not send their children to Sarah's school.
  • Grace was Miss Kizer's cat. Sarah Jane often imagined that Grace was looking at her suspiciously.
  • Henrietta (born c. 1870) and Mary Womeldorf (born c. 1878)[5] were two sisters, who attended Sarah Jane's school. Mary, one of the youngest students, learned the alphabet in mid-March 1882.
  • Henry was Ida's horse. She and Timothy rode him to school and he would walk back home by himself.
  • Mr Hibbert was a boarder at Miss Kizer's house. He later confessed to Miss Kizer that he was the owner of the Grand Paradise Hotel, which was being built at the time.
  • Huey and Jason Bock (born c. 1875)[7] were the twin sons of Mr. and Mrs. Bock. They often argued with one another, but always listened Sarah Jane.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Huftalen were the German parents of Carl Huftalen. They did not speak English well and had their son translate for them. Later they forced their son to go to school, when Sarah Jane informed that he had missed several days.
  • James and Rose Gandy were husband and wife. Reverend Lauter held a prayer meeting at their house.
  • John Tyson was an Easterner (from the Northeast region of the United States), who had bought land from Mr. Gaddis in July 1879.[8] Mr. Tyson eventually gave up and sold the property back to Mr Gaddis. He left behind a sod house, which Sarah Jane used as her first schoolhouse.
  • Johnnie Hatter (born August 1851)[9] was a 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. Johnnie later attended Sarah Jane's wedding with his dog.
  • Dr. Merriwether was a doctor in Broken Bow. He had a son, Andy, who went to Sarah Jane's school.
  • Nora Pospisil (born c. 1868)[5] was the elder sister of Alfred and Alrah. She lived south of Broken Bow with her family and spoke a little English.
  • Mr. Pelham was a general store owner in Broken Bow. He was the husband of Mrs. Pelham and father of the two children, Ida and Timothy. Mr. Pelham was also on Broken Bow's school board.
  • Mrs. Pelham was the wife of Mr. Pelham and the mother of Ida and Timothy. She was kind to Sarah Jane.
  • Mrs. Price (died c. 1871)[10] was the wife of Mr. Price and mother of Sarah Jane. She died when Sarah was four-years-old. Her husband described her as pretty with long brown hair as well as smart and practical.
  • Talbot Williams was the headmaster of an orphan girls asylum in Grand Island, Nebraska. He was friends with Reverend Lauter.
  • Mr. Tillings 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. His wife seemed to know all the gossip around town.
  • Timothy Pelham was the "pesky" brother of Ida. He was very attached to his mother and rarely left her side. He also attended Sarah Jane's school. Timothy became a real estate lawyer, before being elected as a state senator in 1918, after a string of different political positions.
  • Willa Miller was a student at Sarah Jane's school. She lived with her family on the edge of Broken Bow.
  • Wilson Hewitt was the postmaster of Broken Bow. He was also the father of Fred and Edwin.

Epilogue characters