Mistaken Identity

April 2007 - Hard to believe, but it's been almost two years since I mused about all the other Jennifer Wades out there. And, there are quite a few to muse about. But, there's one woman who's not a Jennifer Wade, and you need to know about it before I go crazy!

Jennie WadeI've included a picture of her. I ask you, do I look like her? If you know me, you know that the answer is "No." If you don't know me, trust me. I do not look anything like this woman. And, contrary to popular belief, our names are NOT the same!

Let me backtrack to the recent past. I had to go somewhere and, when I got there, I had to give them my name. When a person at this place heard my name, she said, "Oh! You must have been named after Jennie Wade!" I guess I rolled my eyes a little too loudly, because she quickly said something like, "I guess you must get tired of hearing that."

Yes. I do. I get tired of hearing it because I'm tired of hearing it already. I used to work with a guy who would say to me, "You're looking well today" - a reference to the fact that Jennie Wade died some 140+ years ago. It was funny for, like, the first 10 times.

I get tired of hearing it because I'm not, in fact, named after her! Do you know why? Because her name was not, in fact, "Jennie" Wade! A fact which, admittedly, I didn't know until a few years ago, when I finally took the time to learn her story.

The woman everyone knows as "Jennie" Wade was actually named Mary Virginia Wade. Her nickname was "Ginnie," and she is famous for being the only civilian killed during the Battle of Gettysburg. If I recall correctly, she was killed on the morning of the third day of the battle, July 3, 1863. Ginnie was baking bread for the Union soldiers when a bullet came through the door and killed her. When the journalists of the day heard about this tragedy, they immediately doomed me to a lifetime of bad jokes by reporting her name as "Jennie" instead of "Ginnie." Given that I am a journalist, I'm sure there's irony in here somewhere.

(By the way, not only was Jennie's name not Jennie, but the famous "Jennie Wade House" where she died, wasn't her house! It belonged, I think, to her married sister's family.)

Finally, as far as I know, I am not related to Jennie's Wades. Family lore is a little lacking on my father's side of the family, but I'm (fairly) sure that if Jennie Wade were even some sort of "fifth cousin twice removed" I would have heard about it. I mean, you can't let famous dead relatives like that go unmentioned.

So, my point is this: Give it a rest already! And, for Jennie's sake, brush up on your history!