"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."
—Sarah Jane[2]

Sarah Jane Denning (née Price; born c. 1867) worked as a school teacher in Broken Bow, Nebraska. She became a teacher in February 1882, after the death of her father three months prior. Sarah Jane lived at Miss Kizer's boardinghouse. She was a lifelong friend of Ida Pelham.


Early life

Sarah Jane Price was born around 1867[1] to Mr. and Mrs. Price. Her mother passed away in 1871, when Sarah Jane was four.[3] She and her father spent the following years traveling west through Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa, stopping for a school semester or two.[4]

Broken Bow

Sarah Jane and her father moved to Broken Bow, Nebraska in August 1881.[5] He passed away the following October,[1] orphaning Sarah Jane. She continued to stay at a boardinghouse owned by Miss Kizer, who had lowered the rent for Sarah.

A few months later, Miss Kizer announced that she wanted Sarah Jane to move to an orphan girls asylum. Sarah Jane went against Miss Kizer's wishes and became a teacher instead, after convincing Mr. Gaddis to give her a chance. She began working as a teacher on February 27, 1882 in a one-room sod house.

The first month of her teaching went well with few incidents. However in mid-March, a fierce snowstorm hit Broken Bow during school hours. Sarah Jane made the decision to venture out into the storm, when the roof began to detach. She tied all her students and managed to convey them all to safety. Her actions won over most of the town even Mr. Gaddis, who promised that a new schoolhouse was going to be built.

Later life

Sarah Jane worked as a teacher in Broken Bow for thirty-six years. At the same time, she went to school to earn her teaching certificate at nineteen and later, her master's in education. She remained friends with Ida and Miss Kizer and kept in contact with her first class of students.

At age twenty-five, Sarah Jane's former student, Charles Denning proposed to her. They married shortly after and began living in a brick house just outside of town. Sarah Jane and Charles had a daughter named Faith.

Personality and traits

Sarah Jane was reserved and had only a few loyal friends. She also had a hard time confronting others, including Miss Kizer and Mr. Gaddis. Over time, she conquered this weakness and transformed into a brave young woman. The courageousness she showed during the snow storm of 1882, won over most of the people who disliked her. Sarah Jane likely died a well respected woman of Broken Bow.

She was smart and quick-witted, which she demonstrated several times while interacting with her students. Sarah Jane was able to tame many of her trouble making students and had a way of making children listen to her. She was also well read and familiar with several poets.

Family tree

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

Behind the scenes