The lead heroine.
- Extreme Doormat: She tended to just put up with whatever crap her family threw at her, but to be fair, she knew no one except the slaves and her aunts Adelaide and Lora would have stood up for her. Even when her father punished her unfairly, she didn't stand up for herself, believing it to be the quickest way to earn his love. She matures out of this somewhat as an adult, while still believing in Turn the Other Cheek.
- Happily Married: She marries Edward Travilla when she grows up.
- Nice Girl: One of the nicest characters in the series, to a fault.
- The Pollyanna: She tends to believe the best in everyone, even people who mistreat her.
- Token Religious Teammate: Elsie was this to her family at first, as nobody else could comprehend why she's so obsessed with her Bible.
- Southern Belle: A charming, beautiful, kind lady from the South who is nice to all that come her way. Definitely a Bonne Belle.
Horace Dinsmore Jr.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Lots of things set him off, from Elsie not obeying his every command, to being told how to raise her. He even gets mad at Elsie for the most asinine things, such as crying (for justifiable reasons at that) and freeing a hummingbird that he himself trapped in a glass jar and attempted to kill for his own amusement. He calms down significantly after his HeelFaith Turn.
- My Greatest Failure: He considers willingly going along with being separated from his first wife and leaving Elsie in the care of her relatives to be his greatest mistake.
- Parents as People: He's kind of a temperamental jerk, but does care for Elsie and his two children with Rose Allison. His temper is toned down a good deal in the reprints.
Youngest aunt of Elsie.
- Bratty Half-Pint: The story begins when she's six years old, and she starts out as an insufferable little brat who takes Elsie's things for herself and throws tantrums when she doesn't get her way.
- Spoiled Brat: Hoo boy, is she a real brat. In the beginning, she deliberately takes Elsie's things and claims them as her own even when she's not entitled to it, and when she doesn't get her way, she throws a tantrum. Her parents actually condone her behavior rather than punish or discipline her for it, which is why she grows up to be a Womanchild in later books.
- Womanchild: She never really emotionally matured because her parents spoiled her, even when she became a mother herself.
- Character Death: He and his brother Walter die in the Civil War
- Creepy Uncle: Downplayed since he is only two years older than her, but freely admits to having a one-sided crush on Elsie when they're more-or-less adults.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: When they were younger, he often attacked Elsie when he doesn't get his way with her, but still cared for her. He may be something a ne'er-do-well, but does have moments of kindness, rare they may be.
- Spoiled Brat: When they were younger, he often attacked Elsie when he doesn't get his way with her. One such example is the incident with the watch, where he breaks it but tries to place the blame on Elsie.
Mr. and Mrs. Dinsmore
Elsie's grandfather and step-grandmother.
- Old Money: The Dinsmore's have had their plantation for generations
- Parental Neglect: Mr. Dinsmore allowed Elsie to be abused by his wife and children. He doesn't fully admit that he treated her poorly until long after she's an adult, but Elsie has since let it go.
- Rich Bitch: Mrs. Dinsmore. She's rich and wealthy, but hates Elsie and her stepson Horace, and is pretty much the reason why their relationship is so strained at first.
- Wicked Stepmother: Mrs. Dinsmore is both a wicked stepmother and step-grandmother. She resented Horace since he's a child of Mr. Dinsmore's first marriage. She also sent letters about Elsie to her stepson slandering Elsie, and when Horace was sick, she kept Elsie out of his room, but told him Elsie intentionally didn't see him. Even when both Elsie and her own daughter Enna are adults, she can't help but sneer at Elsie.
Mr. and Mrs. Dinsmore's oldest daughter.
- Old Maid: She is 26 when she marries and felt uneasy about her age.
- Southern Belle: She's the Bonne variant like her niece
- Turn to Religion: After her first fiance dies, Elsie helps her convert to Christianity.
Lora, Louise and Walter Dinsmore
Mr. and Mrs. Dinsmore's other children; Elsie's other aunts and uncle.
- Bystander Syndrome: Walter wasn't so much a bully to his niece Elsie, but he still didn't defend her when his siblings would bully and abuse her.
- Character Death: Walter dies in the Civil War after both parents shame him for his initial refusal to sign up for the military.
- Shrinking Violet: Walter, who's a male example, is described as shy and bookish.
- Spirited Young Lady: Lora. She has a strong sense of justice, and tries to stand up for her niece Elsie after she's given an unfair punishment fro their governess.
- Spoiled Brat: Louise, while not nearly as bratty as Enna, does grow up into a gossipy Rich Bitch.
Elsie's devoted nursemaid
- Happiness in Slavery: She doesn't seem to mind being a slave, but admits she does miss her family. Eventually, Elsie buys Chloe her husband and granddaughter.
- Outliving One's Offspring: She had four children who are long dead by the start of the first book; two died of illness, one drowned, while a daughter lived to adulthood and had her own daughter, Dinah.
- Parental Substitute: Raised Elsie like she was her own child.
Horace's childhood friend
Elsie's aunt Adelaide's friend from the north.
One of Arthur's ne'er-do-well friends.
- Dirty Coward: For all his talk about killing Elsie or her friends, most of the time he finds one reason or another to put it off, or goes in when they're asleep or otherwise vulnerable.
- Gold Digger: He and Arthur plot for Tom (under an assumed name) to marry Elsie for her fortune.
- Yandere: He does not take Elsie's rejection of him when she finds out his true colors very well, up to and including trying to kill her, and her husband Edward on their honeymoon.