Across Five Aprils Major Characters
Jethro Creighton: As Ellen and Matt Creighton's youngest child, Jethro is nine years old when the story begins. Showing 'special talents' as a boy, he becomes the man of the household taking care of the family farm when his brothers go off to war. He is especially close to his older brother Bill and his schoolmaster Shad. A naïve, innocent boy, Jethro gradually matures into a strong, intelligent man.
Jenny Creighton: Jenny who is fourteen years old is the daughter of the family. She is in love with Shad, the schoolmaster, but she often feels frustrated because her father who does not think her old enough will not allow her to marry him. When her brothers go off to war, she is left at home with Jethro, and they tend the farm together, keeping each other company.
Shadrach Yale: Shad is a college student of physics from Philadelphia who comes to Jasper County to teach at the local school to support himself through school. A tall, precocious man of twenty, Shad is treated like a part of the Creighton family. He is in love with Jenny, but is not given the permission to marry her before he goes off to war. Although he is injured during the war, he eventually recovers to marry Jenny. He is especially affectionate to Jethro, his student, in whom he instills the importance of book learning.
Ellen Creighton: Ellen is 'a small, spare woman with large dark eyes and skin as brown and dry as leather.' Once a pretty girl, she is now a weary mother of twelve who has lived through many hardships in life. To her, the most important thing is her family, and she particularly favors her youngest child, Jethro.
Matthew Creighton: Matt is the head of the Creighton family. Highly respected in the community, he also serves as director at the local schoolhouse. After he collapses, he becomes weak, unable to do the work on the farm, but neighbors come to help him.
Bill Creighton: The second oldest son of the family, Bill is gentle, silent, and thoughtful. Although he is physically strong, he also likes to read and takes interest in book learning. He is considered 'peculiar' in the community where young men like to hunt or wrestle or drink. Later, he leaves home to join the Confederate army.
Eb Carron: Like Tom, Eb who is Matt's nephew is also eighteen years old. He has been a member of the Creighton family since he was orphaned as a child. Eb later returns home after deserting from the army, but is eventually allowed to go back.
John Creighton: John is the eldest of the remaining children in the family. He is married to Nancy, and has sons of his own. He and his family live in a cabin that is a half-mile away from the Creighton home. Although he is more impatient than Bill, he is very close to Bill. The two brothers end up fighting for opposing sides during the war.
Nancy : Nancy is John's wife. Originally from Kansas, she is a thin girl who does not speak very much. She is good-hearted, but aloof. John explains that it is because she was raised by relatives who treated her harshly, and remaining reserved is her way of protecting herself. After John goes to war, Nancy spends more time with the Creightons, eventually moving in with the family.
Mary: Mary dies during the winter of 1859 in an accident, coming home with her date Rob Nelson from a dance at Hidalgo. On their way home, Mary and Rob meet drunk Travis Burdow who frightens the animals. The wagon is overturned, and Mary is killed.
Travis Burdow: Travis Burdow is the boy who is responsible for the accident that kills Mary. Following Mary and Rob on their way home from the dance, Travis scares the horses and overturns the wagon, killing Mary. After the accident, the townspeople insist on hunting him down to hang him, but they are stopped by Matt Creighton, and Travis' life is spared.
Dave Burdow: Dave Burdow is Travis' father. There are rumors that Dave Burdow's father came to Jasper County to escape a mob that had risen as a result of his petty thieving. Thus, the Burdows are generally disliked and shunned. Dave Burdow is 'a sullen, silent man' who generally keeps to himself, but he saves Jethro's life from Guy Wortman and later, helps the Creightons when the family barn is burned.
Mr. Roscoe: Mr. Roscoe is the old man who lives south of Rose Hill. Jethro meets him on his way to town, and Mr. Roscoe asks him to bring back a newspaper so he can check whether or not his grandson has been injured or killed in battle at Pea Ridge.
Sam Gardiner: Sam Gardiner is the round-faced owner of the general store. There is an incident in which Sam shoots Guy Wortman who is trying to loot his store in the buttocks, making Guy Wortman the laughingstock of the community.
Guy Wortman: Guy Wortman is the red-faced man who bullies Jethro at the general store. He disapproves of the fact that Bill has gone off to the South, and holds a grudge against the Creightons. He tries to attack Jethro on his way home from town, but does not succeed. He is also one of the ruffians who attacks Sam Gardiner's general store, but is humiliated when he is shot in the buttocks.