Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 508
Hannah Bridewell, a transported felon and escaped Indian captive. Wiry and resilient, Hannah is able to adapt readily to the frequent violent changes in her life. As a young prostitute in London, she befriends “Squire” Josiah Devotion Raglan, saving him from many unpleasant incidents during their incarceration. After she is transported, sold to a settler, and captured by Indians, Hannah uses her instincts to survive for weeks in the wilderness. After her marriage to Jeremiah Catlett, she uses her natural cunning to establish a successful farm and family in Beulah.
Jeremiah Catlett, a solitary squatter in western Virginia. Although he abjures human company before Hannah’s arrival, her presence and, later, the needs of their children convince Jeremiah to coexist with the other settlers in Beulah. His actions are all pointed toward the protection of his family and land, however, rather than toward the interests of the community.
“Squire” Josiah Devotion Raglan
“Squire” Josiah Devotion Raglan, Hannah’s fellow prisoner in England, who is transported and purchased by a young dandy, Peregrine Cockburn. After the untimely death of his master at the hands of Indians, Raglan, in the guise of a lawyer, turns to fleecing ignorant settlers of their land rights and money. He eventually receives his just deserts at the hands of Jeremiah Catlett.
Jonathan Lacey, a provincial captain and planter. Deeply convinced that the future of his young nation depends on the settlement of its outlying areas, Jonathan successfully presides over the small community in Beulah and unsuccessfully tries to establish his family there.
Sally Lacey, his young and frivolous wife. Although she loves Jonathan, rears their children while he explores the western territory, and eventually follows him to their homestead, Sally is hurt and unhappy with life on the frontier. Her snobbish attitude angers the Beulah residents. After several incidents, she leaves Jonathan and returns to the old life that she knows and loves in the East.
Jarcey Pentacost, a Virginia planter and printer by trade. Driven by his ethical and political convictions, he strives to enlighten the people in several communities through his newspaper, eventually establishing a school in Beulah, in which project he is aided by Jonathan Lacey.
Ezekiel Catlett, the son of Hannah and Jeremiah Catlett. He and Sara Lacey are members of the first generation born in Beulah. They have shed the fears and inhibitions of their parents and look to the future with courage and an open-minded attitude. Their marriage, which crosses the boundaries of social station, is a symbol of this new, American attitude. It is on them that Jonathan and Jarcey place their hope for lasting success in Beulah.
Sara Lacey, the strong-willed daughter of Jonathan and Sally Lacey. She and Ezekiel will provide Beulah with future generations who will possess her father’s love of freedom and self-reliance rather than her mother’s devotion to a life that will not provide the strength to endure in the wilderness of western Virginia.