Cast Of Characters

Most of the characters in A Marble Heart are drawn from real events. Here are just a few of them:


Julia Anna Baker. Founder of the Joseph Walter Home (aka Sacred Refuge, aka Baker Orphanage, etc.). Respected by some, branded a fraud by others, she is the reason this book was written. (Picture taken from a 1915 edition of The Kansas City Star.)

Joseph Baker. One of Mrs. Baker’s husbands, he worked with her in Minnesota and Wisconsin. She retained his name for much of her working life.

Marie LeWald. Mrs. Baker’s younger sister, and her most trusted associate.


John Alexander Dowie. A self-proclaimed healer espousing his own interpretation of the Bible, who later proclaimed himself to be the reincarnation of the prophet Elijah. Mr. Baker is one of his followers. He is also quite deserving of his own book – a biography – but I am not the person to write it.

George M. Shelley. Former mayor of Kansas City, Mo. By the time of the novel, he is down on his luck and deep in debt.

Dr. E. L. Mathias. Chief probation officer of Kansas City, Mo., brought Mrs. Baker’s home and methods under scrutiny during a high-profile court case in 1915.

Chauncey Troyer. First a detective and later police chief of the city of Duluth, Minn., who investigated the Bakers’ operation and attempted to bring them to justice.

There are many, many others, adults and children.

As you read the book and wonder if somebody is real or fictional, a good rule of thumb is this: If a person is listed by both their first and last names, they most likely are somebody I learned about over the course of my research.

That said, virtually everybody in the book is listed by their first and last names.

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