Resources and Context for Chapter 3

In the late 1840s and early 1850s, Charles W. Hoffman was one of Gettysburg’s most prominent landowners and businessmen. In all, he had at least ten properties in the town, and he ran multiple businesses: a nursery that sold plants and trees, a carriage manufacturing and repair shop, and a steam mill among others.

In Chapter 3, Jennie Wade and Jack Skelly are about 9 to 10 years old. Ed Skelly, Robert Hoffman, and Wes Culp are about 12, and William is about 21. Ed, Wes, Robert, and William all worked for Charles W. Hoffman at the carriage shop. Being older, William was probably past apprentice.

The Skellys and Wades had a relationship through their tailoring businesses. They were also known to sew for the Hoffman carriage shop.

School and work in the 1850s did not have the legal structures around them that we have today. Culturally speaking, children were expected to work at ages as young as five. Apprenticeships for young men often started at age 12 or 13. Gettysburg established its first public school in 1834, which was held in a one-room building on East Middle Street. This dovetails with Pennsylvania’s initial funding of public schools in the state. An attempt to repeal the law was rebuffed in 1835 when Thaddeus Stevens made a speech in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives that turned the legislative tide fully in favor of funded public schooling.

Despite the availability of public schooling, many if not most families sent their children to private schools. Gettysburg had various of them, including the Lutheran Seminary, the Young Ladies’ Seminary, and the Gettysburg Female Seminary, among others. Jennie Wade is believed to have attended the Lutheran Seminary.

%d bloggers like this: