Within days after the end of the Civil War a group of released confederate prisoners of war robbed a Union gold shipment. They were forty two resentful ex-soldiers released from a brutal Union prison camp.
They were expected to get home as best they could. It ment walking hundreds of miles for them. When they got home most of them would have nothing after the long war.
The robbery was carefully planed and they had stolen arms from a warehouse for the yank military. Horses were stolen there too.
They had hoped to commit the robbery with out having to kill any of the guards on the wagons. Eight of them were killed however during the robbery.
After the robbery Robert Wade was in possession of half the gold and all of the cash in a wagon that escaped the pursuit of the Union army.
Wade made his way to the Ohio River and bought a large row boat. He sold his team of horses and wagon and secretly loaded the gold in the boat.
Two months later he drifted to the shore at Memphis.
He had not been noticed on the river. He had camped during the day and drifted in his boat at night. He ate fish and small game he could catch.
At Memphis Wade bought a team of mules and a new wagon and headed east. He had bought all that was needed to become a gold buyer and to cast gold ingots. He bought a new rifle and a pair of Colt pistols and plenty of ammunition.
Two months later he was in Alabama.
Gold was being mined in north west Georgia and south of Talladega Alabama.
Wade chose Alabama to go in the gold business because he was born and raised there.
Robert Wade prospered. He was making money buying gold and casting gold ingots for sale to the Atlanta Mint. He was melting those ingots with the Denver mint emblem on them and selling them with the other gold.
When Wade came to Alabama the "Carpet Baggers" had been appointed to all county and state offices.
By bribery Robert Wade became the owner of ten thousand acres of land on the Coosa River.
He then joined the KKK and helped to return the local and state government to the citizens. There was a bloody period in the nations history that is not mentioned in the history text books.
The land Robert Wade had acquired was mostly in virgin timber but over two thousand acres was good bottom land along side the Coosa River.
Wade had a sprawling stone house built, much like a fortress, for himself and began to share crop the usable farm land.
Gold mining had almost played out in Alabama long before he had converted all the gold from the robbery to cash. He buried the remaining gold ingots under the hearth of the fire place in his new living room.
He still had a dozen bags of the twenty dollar gold coins from the robbery.
That much cash was a fortune in the days after the war.
He built a store and stocked it with the items that share croppers would need.
He bought two saw mills and began to cut and sell the timber from his land.
He had fifty houses built for share croppers and then built a cotton gin.
Robert Wade built big nice homes for his share croppers. He would only make farming contracts with white ex soldiers of the Confederate Army. He treated them well and they made a good living if they worked hard.
At the age of thirty two he began hunting a bride. He was a multi millionaire and soon found a perfect woman to share his life.
He was good to her and she gave him three sons and a daughter before she died of small pox while still young.
One son died of the small pox but the others survived the epidemic. Robert Wade raised his remaining three children with the help of the wife of one of his tenant farmers.
When grown the sons became active in the Wade empire.
One ( Robert Junior) was placed in charge of what had by then become a huge lumber and timber company.
James Wade headed the Wade farming operations.
The original ten thousand acres had been cleared of all the timber. Eight thousand acres of what had been timber lands was made into pasture land.
Robert Wade Sr. began a large cattle operation and James was in charge of it.
The daughter Mary Wade married the head of the KKK in that area and died giving birth to her first child.
The first farm store was so profitable Robert Wade had one built in nearly every county in the state.
Robert Wade Sr. ran for state senator and was elected, he served four terms.
He bought more land over the years.
He died at the age of eighty seven in nineteen twenty seven.
Wade Farms had become the largest and most diversified farming operation in the state.
Wade lumber company had thirty one saw mills in the state and was buying saw timber from hundreds of contractors.
Wade Hardware Company had a large operation in nearly every county in the state. The hardware companies sold building supplies, farm implements, horses and mules, wagons and buggies.
Of course all the Wade operations bought from each other.
The elder members of the family met every month and made decisions concerning the businesses. Robert Wade Sr. presided.
About eighteen ninety Robert Wade formed The Wade Corporation. He kept fifty two percent and gave twenty four percent of the stock to each of his two sons.
The Spanish American War made the Wade Corporation double it's land holdings.
World War One gave the Wade corporation huge growth.
The children of each generation of the Wade family were set up in a business of their choice. If they prospered, fine, if they blew it that was it, the family let those that failed in business find a job.
The depression of nineteen twenty nine made many changes.
The Wade corporation tightened it's belt and became a survivor.
Wade Farms continued it's operations even if it was not making as much profit.
Tractors replaced mules and the Share Cropper became history on the farms.
Wade Lumber Company had to lay off a lot of it's employees but sold enough lumber to keep half the lumber mills going.
Wade Hardware continued to make money all through those hard times.
The hardware division had become a petroleum distributor and a Ford auto and truck dealer. The implement business became a farm tractor dealer.
Morris Wade began to buy stock from other members of the family, many were in financial trouble because of the depression.
Some of the businesses owned by family members went under.
Some continued to prosper or at least survive.
The start of World War Two created enormous business for the Wade lumber Company. All it's saw mills were working three shifts a day.
Cotton became valuable and Wade farms was operating at it's maximum. Beef was in huge demand and the cattle operations doubled in size.
In 1932 Wade Farms had acquired a meat processing plant and started a number of hog farms. The corporation bought a bankrupt feed milling company and was the largest customer.
The hardware division had no new tractors or cars and trucks to sell but became even larger in the motor fuels and building supply lines.
In most counties in the state of Alabama Wade Hardware was the largest feed and seed supplier.
During the mid thirties Wade Corporation had bought a floundering General contracting company and thus acquired a good assortment of qualified construction people.