by Kelly Mueller (Loyola University ’18)
Wade Project Public History Intern, Summer 2016
Over the summer, I’ve really gotten to know the Wades, especially Jeptha Homer Wade II (1857-1926) and his wife Helen “Nellie” Garretson Wade (1859-1917). But I have to say, I think my favorite Wade is their son, Jeptha Homer Wade, Jr. (1879-1936) I don’t know what it is about “Jep,” but there’s just something about him that strikes me as a person with whom I wouldn’t mind being friends (if I were fabulously wealthy enough and alive at the same time, that is).
Jep is somewhat of an elusive figure for me, which probably adds to his star power. He only appears in one of the two journals I transcribed this summer, but each time his father mentioned him, I admired him. He rushed to get to Berlin in the excitement and chaos of July 1914 in Germany, trying to get to the capital before the trains closed. The walks he took with his father, mother, and maternal grandmother remind me of the walks I take with my family and made me smile. I can just imagine Jep and his grandmother walking through Tier Garten in Germany (mostly because I read about it so often).
It was while scanning correspondence from Jep to his brother, George Garretson, that I encountered Jep’s telegram about his father’s death and it hit home for me. As an historian, I deal almost exclusively with deceased individuals, but after getting to know the Wades all summer, it almost felt like I had lost someone I knew, even though J.H.W. II has been dead for almost 90 years. It was definitely a weird feeling.
It also helped that I stumbled across what is now my favorite picture from the WRHS Cleveland History Center Archives Jeptha Homer Wade Family Photographs Series II (PG 597)
At first I thought this was Helen Wade or maybe another daughter, but when I discovered it was actually Jep, it made me appreciate this elusive man even more.
So thank you, Jep, for helping me get through this summer, for making me laugh during your father’s sometimes dry accounts, and for letting this picture survive. Farewell for now.