Levi Clifford Wade was born in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, on January 16, 1843, son of Levi Wade (b. 1812) and A. Annie Rogers (b. 1819). He attended Yale between 1862 and 1866 and, following his graduation, he moved to Newton, Massachusetts, where he attended the Newton Theological Institute (now the Andover Newton Theological School) until 1868. That year, he began to study law and to teach school, and in 1873 he was licensed to practice before the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. Between 1877 and 1880, he had a legal partnership with John Q. A. Brackett, future governor of Massachusetts, and after 1880 he worked in railway law and management. Wade served in the Massachusetts General Court from 1876 to 1879, and was Speaker of the House during his last year. He also served as president of the Mexican Central Railway Company and as a director of several other railroad companies. He married Margaret R. Rogers of Bath, Maine, on November 16, 1869, and they had 4 surviving sons: Arthur C. (b. 1875), William R. (b. 1881), Levi C. Wade, Jr. (b. 1885), and Robert N. (b. 1887). Levi C. Wade died on March 21, 1891.