Lonsome Dove: Character Profile
Allan O’Brien is the older of two Irish brothers whom Call rescues in Mexico. His songs seem to calm the cattle, but they sadden the crew.
Augustus McCrae (Gus) is half owner of the Hat Creek Cattle Company. In an introduction to the novel, McMurtry calls Augustus an Epicurean; his appetite is “a natural calamity.” Augustus loves to think and talk and will argue any topic if he can find someone to take the other point of view. Born in Tennessee, a state he left because it became too “tame,” Augustus has some college education and has served as a Texas Ranger.
Aus Frank is an old man who lives on the plains of Texas and spends his days creating great piles of buffalo bones.
Ben and Jimmy Rainey are teenaged brothers hired to go on the drive.
Bert Borum is a seasoned hand in the Hat Creek crew who finds humor in everything.
Big Tom is a youth about Newt’s age who, with his father, steals horses from the Hat Creek remuda.
Big Zwey is a buffalo hunter who adores Elmira and considers her his wife, though she never touches him. Not an intelligent man, he is strong and utterly faithful to protecting Ellie.
Bill and Pete Spettle are teenaged brothers hired to go on the drive.
Blue Duck is an Indian outlaw who is dreaded by people across Texas and infamous for his cruelty and savvy escapes.
Bob Allen is Clara’s husband; an accident with horse has left him an invalid.
Buf and Mary are town prostitutes with whom some of the young cowboys have their first sexual experiences.
Captain Weaver is the leader of a group of soldiers the crew encounters in Nebraska. He behaves disrespectfully toward Call.
Captain Woodrow F. Call, born in Scotland, considers himself an American and served as a Texas Ranger. Co-owner of the Hat Creek Cattle Company, he is a thoughtful but quiet man, a man of action and a natural leader. McMurtry identifies Call as the Stoic foil for Gus in his introduction to the novel.
Charlie Barnes is the town’s banker, a wealthy, dapper widower who is also a deacon but is generally unliked by the townspeople.
Cholo is an elderly Mexican who assists Clara with the horses. Talented and wise, he is devoted to Clara and her daughters.
Clara Allen is a smart, pretty, independent-minded woman and Gus’s only real love. She married a “dumb” (in Gus’s opinion) horse trader and moved to Platte, Nebraska, where she discovers a talent for gentling horses.
Dee Boots is a gambler with whom Elmira had fun before she married July.
Dillard Brawley is Lonesome Dove’s one-legged dentist.
Dishwater Boggett is a tall, slender top cowhand with a large mustache and a solemn look. Dish adores Lorena, who hardly notices him.
Dixon is Captain Weaver’s tobacco-chewing scout; insults Deets and attacks Dish.
Dog Face is a buffalo hunter on the Texas plains; thin, with “crazy eyes,” he trades buffalo hides for Lorie.
Ed, Dan, and Roy Suggs are brothers who rob, murder, and extort in Texas and Oklahoma until Call and Gus arrest them.
Elmira (Ellie) Johnson is a former prostitute who married July Johnson to escape her clients’ rough treatment. A thin, impatient woman, she is a mystery to July.
Ermoke is one of several Kiowa hunters who have a half-interest in Lorie.
Fowler is the chief trader on the whiskey boat that carries Elmira north. Large and filthy, he likes to drink and talk; he protects Elmira from the other whiskey sellers.
Frog Lips is a silent, cold-eyed African American man who travels with the Suggs brothers. He is an excellent marksman.
Hugh Auld (Old Hugh) is a trapper in Montana who joins the Hat Creek outfit on the new ranchland. It is Hugh who gets the wounded Gus to the doctor in Miles City.
Hutto and Jim are two thieves who attempt to rob and kill Janey and Roscoe in Texas.
Jake Spoon is an able cowhand and an inveterate gambler who once served as a Ranger with Call and Gus. A handsome man with “coffee eyes,” he is also something of a dandy, carrying a pearl-handled pistol, preferring to avoid dirty work, and insisting on fine horses. Jake charms many women, who sympathize with him as a “man of sorrows.”
Janey is an intelligent and resourceful girl who runs away from Old Sam, who thinks he owns her, and travels with Roscoe through Texas.
Jasper Fant is a wiry and able cowboy who joins the Hat Creek crew on the drive. His terror is of drowning during one of the many river crossings.
Jennie is a whore in Dodge City and Ellie’s friend. She advises July to let Ellie go.
Joe Boot (Little Joe) is Elmira Johnson’s twelve-year-old son; he believes that his father, Dee Boot, died of smallpox. Joe idolizes the rowdy cowboys who stop in Fort Smith to drink.
Joseph C. Mobley is the doctor in Miles City who amputates Gus’s leg.
Joshua Deets is the Hat Creek outfit’s only African American hand. A savvy tracker, Deets is quiet and wise. Call relies on him, Gus values his skills, and Newt finds in him a mentor.
July Johnson is the twenty-four-year-old sheriff of Fort Smith, Arkansas, charged with tracking down Jake Spoon and returning him to Fort Smith for trial. The youngest of ten brothers all of whom save the oldest, Ben, left Fort Smith, July lacks confidence in his role as sheriff.
Lippy Jones plays piano at the Dry Bean saloon in Lonesome Dove and later joins the crew to drive the cattle to Montana. Lippy was gut-shot but survived with a constant leak that disgusts most people. He wears an ancient bowler hat that stinks but that he will not give up. Lippy gets his name from a lip so large and protruding that he must breathe through his mouth.
Lorena (Lorie) Wood is a young woman who has been coerced into prostitution. Beautiful, with fine blonde hair, and mysteriously silent, she inspires love in some of the male characters and desire in many others.
Lou is a beautiful girl who catches Jake’s eye by the Red River. When her husband accosts Jake, Jake kills him.
Louisa Brooks is a strong, aggressive widow with a farm near Fort Smith; she attempts to get Roscoe to marry her.
Luke is a buffalo hunter who travels with Ellie and Big Zwey across the plains. A small, mean man, he tries to rape Ellie.
Major Court is in charge of the soldiers in Fort Benton and buys cattle from Call.
Monkey John is a buffalo hunter on the Texas plains; old, short, and mean, he trades buffalo hides for Lorie.
Needle Nelson is a seasoned hand in the Hat Creek crew.
Newt Dobbs is a young teen who works for the Hat Creek Cattle Company. Newt is a romantic at heart and yearns for adventure, as he imagines it, as a cowboy.
Old Bolivar is the cook of the Hat Creek outfit. Formerly a Mexican bandit, Bol keeps his thought to himself and considers himself independent. Bol is a filthy, greasy cook who barely deserves the title and often, Call suspects, steals the goats he cooks.
Old Sam is an old drunkard at whose cabin Roscoe spends a troubling night.
Patrick Arandel is the doctor in Ogallala. He has a terrible cough.
Pea Eye Parker is one of the hands who work for Augustus and Call. He’s a slow thinker but handy; a blacksmith, he can fix almost anything that needs fixing. Pea Eye is deaf in one ear, the result of an Indian battle during his time with the Rangers.
Peach (Mary) Johnson is July’s sister-in-law, a towering and bossy woman, and the wife of his brother Ben, the town’s mayor and dentist, who died when Jake Spoon accidentally shot him.
Po Campo is an old, white-haired Mexican who hires on as cook. Wise and cheerful, Po takes in all experience with a practical, Stoic attitude. Gus likes to talk philosophy with Po Campo.
Roscoe Brown is July Johnson’s deputy in Fort Smith. Forty-eight years old, his duties in town have never involved much more than supervising the town drunks and whittling one stick after another down to nothing, a habit that irritates his boss.
Sally Skull is a tall woman who runs a whorehouse in Fort Worth.
Sally, age ten, and Betsey, age seven, are Clara’s daughters.
Sean O’Brien is the younger of two Irish brothers whom Call rescues in Mexico. He is deeply, continually homesick for the green country of Ireland.
Sedgwick is an eccentric man—an entomologist-turned-preacher—whom July and Joe meet at the Red River. He offers to take Joe with him and teach him his trade.
Sheriff Owensby is the law in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, where Blue Duck finally meets his end.
Soupy Jones is a member of the crew. An excellent horseman and prickly about his reputation and rank, Soupy joins the drive after the death of his wife.
Wilbarger is a large, red-faced, assertive trail boss whose path crosses that of the main characters at several points in the novel. Wilbarger is able, generous, and stoic in the face of loss and danger. He claims to have studied at Yale and uses the Latin word HIC as his brand.
Xavier Wanz is a Creole and a widower who owns the Dry Bean and is desperately in love with Lorena.
Characters named in passing:
Bacon Rind (a Plains Indian who once gave Call food)
Ben Johnson (the dead mayor of Fort Smith)
Chick (one of Wilbarger’s hands; he is killed by horse thieves late in the story)
Deputy Decker (Santa Rosa officer who shot Blue Duck)
John Tinkersley (leaves Lorena in Lonesome Dove)
Johnny (new owner of Buckthorn saloon in San Antonio)
Marlin Mosby (first pimps out Lorena)
Tobe Walker (former Ranger and now sheriff of San Antonio)
Willie Montgomery (former Ranger and owner of the Buckthorn saloon in San Antonio)