Monday, October 16, 2017

it was Georgia's house, not Jennie Wade's

Georgia Wade McClellan
In my last post, I shined a light on my Iowa hometown's Abraham Lincoln connection -- the land grant he received for service in the Black Hawk War. Today I'm highlighting a Gettysburg connection, one that I was entirely unaware of in my junior high and high school years in Denison, Iowa, even as I made a family visit to Gettysburg, and poured through my first Bruce Catton volume. 

Civil War enthusiasts will know that one of Gettysburg’s well-known tourist attractions is the Jennie Wade House, at 548 Baltimore Street. It was there that Mary Virginia Wade was killed while kneading dough in the kitchen, the only known civilian to die in the Battle of Gettysburg. [Exploitation of that family is presumably lucrative, and knows no bounds.]

It bears noting that it wasn’t actually Jennie Wade’s house – it was the home of her older sister, Georgia Wade McClellan (one might also note that Mary Virginia was called “Gin,” or “Ginnie,” or "Jinnie” by her family, but Jennie is how she is remembered today, and is the name that appears on her tombstone in Gettysburg’s Evergreen Cemetery). Mary Virginia Wade and her mother had taken refuge in Georgia’s house, where Georgia had just given  birth to her first child. On the third day of the battle, a wayward bullet entered the house and struck Jennie. 

It wasn’t until the sesquicentennial commemorations that I learned -- through a Civil War-related news item -- that Georgia Wade McClellan is buried in Denison. Georgia — who turned 22-years-old the day after her sister was killed — served as a nurse for wounded soldiers after the battle. Not long after the war, Georgia and her husband, John L. McClellan, moved west, eventually settling in Denison, where three of their children were born. Her husband reportedly became Denison’s first marshal. 

Georgia ran a home for women in Fort Dodge, Iowa for awhile. After her husband died, she lived with a grandchild in Carroll, Iowa, down the road from Denison, where she died in 1927. She was buried beside her husband in Denison's Oakland Cemetery on September 7 of that year. 

I have read in at least one source that Georgia was in attendance when Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address in the national cemetery, and I'm endeavoring to substantiate that (the FindAGrave entry for Georgia goes so far as to say she was on the platform with Lincoln, and was one of the speakers that day, but no source is given). Check out FindAGrave for some additional information on Georgia, and a number of other photos. 

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