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 Georgeanna “Georgia” <I>Wade</I> McClellan

Georgeanna “Georgia” Wade McClellan

Gettysburg, Adams County, Pennsylvania, USA
Death 5 Sep 1927 (aged 86)
Carroll, Carroll County, Iowa, USA
Burial Denison, Crawford County, Iowa, USA
Memorial ID 60505475 · View Source
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Georgeanna (“Georgia”) Wade:

Civil War Nurse
President, National Woman’s Relief Corps (WRC)
President, Iowa Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU)
Matron, Benedict Home for Unwed Mothers, Ft. Dodge, IA.

Georgeanna (Wade) McClellan was born 4 Jul 1841 at Gettysburg to Mary Ann Filby (1820–’92) of nearby York, and Capt. James Wade Sr. (1814–’72), a native Virginian who received his commission on 03 Aug 1842 in the 80th Pennsylvania Militia, and by 1845 was Captain of 10th Company, Adams Co. Militia. Capt. Wade had entered the marriage with one son (James A., 1839-1915), and “Georgia” became the first of another six children, living at 242 Baltimore Street where both parents worked as tailors. Capt. Wade was absent for prolonged periods, and Mary Ann moved Georgia and her siblings into 49-51 Breckenridge Street. This was the Wade family’s home in 1863 during the Battle of Gettysburg.

At about age 14, Georgia began learning the millinery business, continuing in the trade until her marriage on 15 Apr 1862 at Gettysburg’s German Reform Church to John Louis (“Lou”) McClellan (1838-1913). Lou was a private in Co. E, 2nd Regiment, Pennsylvania Infantry, having enlisted at Harrisburg in April 1861, six days after President Lincoln’s call. Georgia established their new “McClellan” household at 548 Baltimore Street, a rented 2-story brick double, where they lived until 1866.

On 26 Jun 1863 at 2:30PM, Georgia delivered the couple’s first child, Louis Kenneth McClellan, in her home with her mother present. One hour later, General Early rode into Gettysburg with the Army of Northern Virginia. Four days later, around 8:00PM on 30 Jun 1863, General Buford’s Union Cavalrymen also arrived at Gettysburg.

On the morning of 01 Jul 1863, two divisions of Confederate troops heading into Gettysburg from the west encountered Federal cavalry near Willoughby Run -- and the Battle of Gettysburg was joined. Georgia’s house on Baltimore Street was near Cemetery Hill, making it a safer location than the Wade’s house on Breckenridge Street. Georgia’s sister, Mary Virginia (today called “Jennie”), began to evacuate the Wade residence, first carrying to Georgia’s house a crippled boy who lodged with the Wade family. Leaving him with Georgia and their mother, Mary Virginia returned to Breckenridge Street for their 8-year old brother Harry, and all eventually took shelter in Georgia’s house at 548 Baltimore Street. Brother John was away as the bugler of Co. B., 21st Pennsylvania Cavalry, and step-brother James was at Fortress Monroe as a corporal in the 3rd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery -- but brother Samuel was back home again, safely released to his mother after his brief capture on 26 Jun 1863 by General Early’s Confederate troops.

By 3 Jul 1863, Cemetery Hill had become a defensive position under heavy attack, and by 7:00AM the McClellan house was in a crossfire. The first bullet to enter the house hit Georgia’s bedpost where she lay with her newborn in the parlor (converted in April to a bedroom/nursery). By 8:30AM Georgia’s sister, Virginia, was in the kitchen mixing the biscuit dough she had promised to nearby Union soldiers…when a Confederate bullet, presumably from a sharpshooter’s rifle across the street at the Rupp Tannery office, penetrated the house’s outer door on the north side and struck her in the heart. She fell dead. In this moment Mary Virginia Wade became the only woman, and the only civilian, to be killed during the Battle of Gettysburg. Called “Gin” or “Ginnie” by her immediate family, contemporary writers called her both “Jenny” and “Jennie,” the name by which she is remembered today.

Like her husband, Georgia served the Union cause. In the aftermath of Gettysburg, she worked as a nurse for wounded soldiers quartered at the Adams County Court House. On 19 Nov 1863 she was among those gathered with President Lincoln as he delivered his Gettysburg Address in dedication of the new Soldiers’ National Cemetery. The following year she worked in Washington, D.C., caring for wounded soldiers at Emery Hospital.

General Lee surrendered at Appomattox on 09 Apr 1865, and Private Lou McClellan was discharged at Lynchburg, VA on 08 Jul 1865. In August the couple’s second child was born, Jenny Wade McClellan (1865-1932). Looking for a fresh start, Lou traveled as far as Mahaska Co., Iowa, where a small railroad had just penetrated, and in 1866 the couple left Gettysburg to live there temporarily. On 03 Nov 1866 the first passenger train arrived at the unincorporated village of Denison, laid out 10 years earlier in Crawford Co. In 1867 they settled in Denison, In Denison they had 3 more children: James Briton (1867-1936), Nellie G. (1870-1959), and John Harry (1880-1952). Lou McClellan became Denison’s first marshal, serving 3 terms. He was a building contractor by trade, remembered for many structures, including the “old” courthouse.

Georgia was a dedicated temperance activist throughout her life, achieving many distinctions in the movement. Her elected positions included Secretary of the National Woman’s Relief Corps (WRC), President of the Iowa Woman’s Relief Corps, and President of the Iowa Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). In 1911 she and Lou moved to Fort Dodge, Webster Co., IA, where they became Matron and Superintendent of the Benedict Home, founded by the WCTU of Iowa in 1882 as a reformatory for “fallen women.” (Over 1,900 single pregnant women and former prostitutes lived at the Home between 1882 and 1943.) After Lou died there in 1913, Georgia moved to Carrol, Carroll Co., IA, to live with their granddaughter, Georgia Wade (McClellan) Schwarzenbach (1891-1969).

Georgia’s mother died 24 Dec 1892, and on 20 Mar 1893 the children sold her house at 49-51 Breckenridge Street. Thirty years later on 21 May 1922, Georgia returned to Gettysburg to unveil a bronze tablet at this house, commemorating her parents’ residence during the Battle of Gettysburg. On 16 Sep 1901 Georgia lead the Woman’s Relief Corps, Dept. of Iowa, in a ceremony at Gettysburg’s Evergreen Cemetery, dedicating a monument to Mary Virginia Wade. Georgia’s “McClellan” house at 548 Baltimore Street is today a museum: The Jennie Wade House. A proponent of Christian Science, Georgia died at age 86 on 05 Sep 1927 at St. Anthony Hospital in Carroll, IA, and was laid to rest on 07 Sep 1927 beside her husband in Oakland Cemetery, Denison, IA.
[--JSGjr., 2nd-gr. grandson; Feb. 2018]

See also:
-- Georgia (Wade) McClellan & John White Johnston, The True Story of “Jennie” Wade, A Gettysburg Maid (Rochester, NY: Davis & Jeens, 1917).
-- WCTU of Iowa, Records, Photographs and Artifacts (1874-2006); Iowa Women’s Archives, University of Iowa Libraries.
-- Cindy L. Small, The Jennie Wade Story: a true and complete account of the only civilian killed during the Battle of Gettysburg (Gettysburg: Thomas Publications, 1991).
-- Mary (Henderson) Eastman, Jenny Wade of Gettysburg (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1864).
-- Georgia Wade McClellan, entry 5 Sep 1927: Carroll Co., Iowa, Certificate of Death #14-1400.

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  • Maintained by: J. Scott Grimes
  • Originally Created by: ADD
  • Added: 22 Oct 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 60505475
  • J. Scott Grimes
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Georgeanna “Georgia” Wade McClellan (4 Jul 1841–5 Sep 1927), Find A Grave Memorial no. 60505475, citing Oakland Cemetery, Denison, Crawford County, Iowa, USA ; Maintained by J. Scott Grimes (contributor 48134220) .