Characters Discussed

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Elijah Morgan

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Elijah Morgan, a Lutheran minister who finally gives Harry Donner, his son-in-law—in his late thirties—his blessing to enter the ministry.

Harry Donner

Harry Donner, the main character, a storekeeper who later pastors the town of Mahanoy. When the church resents his work at Lost Run, he takes a position in Wetherill. He finds a rift there and resigns, even though he does not have another position. He finds work at Paint Creek and also serves Chadd’s Cove. He serves others after retiring at the age of seventy.

Oliver Piatt

Oliver Piatt, the treasurer of the Wetherill church. He always requires Harry Donner to ask for his small salary. Piatt wants a big, new church.

Phillip Rodery

Phillip Rodery, who opposes Piatt. He keeps a stray pig, is arrested, and is later injured in two falls. Church meets on his farm after a fire. Later, Piatt helps Rodery and others replace their church.

Isaac Gottschall

Isaac Gottschall, a one-armed miner who loses his other arm. Donner helps him purchase a home with a store.

Shelby Bashore

Shelby Bashore, who is dying and wants to live. Donner tells him that life can never be put in the ground, that every seed rises, and that the ground is comforting: warm in winter and cool in summer.

Cal Harmon

Cal Harmon, a ninety-four-year-old man who wants to die.

Jake Schneck

Jake Schneck, who promises to shoot anyone who comes to his room. He shoots Tom Staller, his best friend, when Tom 3comes upstairs. Donner convinces Jake to allow him to enter after Jake shoots himself. Donner takes Jake downstairs to die.

Dave Mace

Dave Mace and

Sheba Mace

Sheba Mace, two residents of Chadd’s Cove. This couple thinks that Donner is preaching about them when they hear that he spoke of David and Bathsheba.

Valerie Morgan Donner

Valerie Morgan Donner, Elijah Morgan’s daughter and Harry Donner’s wife. She bears three sons: Gene, Johnny, and Tim. She dies before Harry does.


Mimm, who preaches a trial sermon in another church on Donner’s recommendation. Although almost eighty years old, Donner drives one hundred miles to hear Mimm, whom he helped to educate. Because Mimm wants to return for a funeral, Harry drives him. Mimm does not even invite Donner to rest, though it is close to 2:00 a.m. Donner spends the night in the cold car and later dies of pneumonia. It is significant that this character, to whom Donner has given much and who indirectly causes the death of the old man, has no first name; others whom Donner meets become friends with him on a first-name basis.

John Donner

John Donner, the narrator and the son of Harry Donner, the main character. John discovers that his father has few possessions. His father has groaned much in his sleep but has praised God much in his life. John sees his father’s life as wasted on a log church in a little-known valley—his father’s final resting place.


Tilly, an in-law but still a family member. She senses Harry Donner’s death about the time that it occurs.


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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 109

Barnes, Robert J. Conrad Richter. Austin, Tex.: Steck-Vaughn, 1968.

Carpenter, Frederic I. “Conrad Richter’s Pioneers: Reality and Myth.” College English 12 (1950): 77-84.

Cowan, William. “Delaware Vocabulary in the Works of Conrad Richter.” In Papers of the Twenty-ninth Algonquian Conference, edited by David H. Pentland. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1998.

Edwards, Clifford D. Conrad Richter’s Ohio Trilogy. The Hague, Netherlands: Mouton, 1970.

Flanagan, John T. “Conrad Richter: Romancer of the Southwest.” Southwest Review 43 (1958): 189-196.

Gaston, Edwin W., Jr. Conrad Richter. Rev. ed. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1989.

Johnson, David R. Conrad Richter: A Writer’s Life. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2001.

Kohler, Dayton. “Conrad Richter’s Early Americana.” College English 7 (1947): 221-228.

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