Money was a problem for the Wade family, and it had been for years. The marriage of Captain James Wade and Mary Ann Filby started on rough terms and under a cloud. The captain brought into the marriage a child from another woman, and he had faced and beaten criminal charges of forcible fornication in the case of the boy. Wade was accused of arson, assault, and larceny, and he served time for the latter offense. In 1850, he owned a tailor shop in the town, but in 1852, Mary petitioned a court to have him found insane and committed. The court agreed, and James Wade was committed to the Adams County Alms House, which itself would become a major fixture on the first day of the battle.
With James at the Alms House, Mary Wade and her daughters were left to run the tailor shop. Both Georgia and Virginia (or Jennie, as she came to be known popularly) became instrumental in the business as they got older and as their mother began to suffer the effects of her age.
Particularly with Georgia’s marriage, Jennie became critical for the maintenance of the family. In an 1878 affidavit, Mary petitioned Congress for a pension in light of the loss of income from Jennie’s labor and in consideration of the fact that Jennie had been killed during the battle as she prepared bread for Union soldiers. In her affidavit, Mary particularly noted the following:
You may recall from Catherine Bushman’s story that the Bushmans might have been some of the last citizens of Gettysburg to see Jennie alive. Jennie saw Catherine and her younger children coming back from Cemetery Hill and invited them inside.
Perhaps it is not surprising, then, that Catherine’s statement appears first in the list of witnesses who supported Mary’s application.
Mary obtained the testimony of four other townspeople, and accordingly, Congress passed a bill in favor of her petition and granted her $8 per month.