About William Alexander Anderson "Big Foot" Wallace
William Alexander Anderson "Bigfoot" Wallace (April 3, 1817 – January 7, 1899) was a famous Texas Ranger who took part in many of the military conflicts of the Republic of Texas and the United States in the 1840s, including the Mexican-American War.
Wallace was born in Lexington, Virginia. When he learned that a brother and a cousin had been shot down in the Goliad Massacre, he set out for Texas to "take pay out of the Mexicans"; years later, he confessed that he believed the account had been squared.
Wallace was a magnificent physical specimen. In his prime he stood six feet two inches in his moccasins, and weighed 240 pounds without surplus fat. Wallace fought at the battles of Salado Creek, Battle of Hondo River, and Mier. Some of his most graphic memories were of his experiences in Perote Prison after having survived Black Bean Incident. Wallace later participated in the Mexican-American War Battle of Monterrey and the Comanche Wars.
In the 1850s Wallace commanded a ranger company of his own, fighting border bandits as well as native Americans. He was so expert at trailing that he was frequently called upon to track down runaway slaves trying to get to Mexico. He drove a mail hack from San Antonio to El Paso, and on one occasion, after losing his mules to Comanches, walked to El Paso and ate twenty-seven eggs at the first Mexican house he came to-before going on to town for a full meal.
During the Civil War he helped guard the frontier against Comanches. At one time Wallace had a little ranch on the Medina River on land granted him by the state of Texas.
The later years of his life were spent in South Texas in the vicinity of a small village named Bigfoot. He never married. He was a mellow and convivial soul who liked to sit in a roomy rawhide-bottomed chair in the shade of his shanty and tell over the stories of his career. Wallace was personally honest but liked to stretch the blanket and embroider his stories.
Wallace died on January 7, 1899, and shortly thereafter the Texas legislature appropriated money for moving his body to the Texas State Cemetery. The Big Foot Wallace museum is a local museum dedicated to Wallace, and houses artifacts related to Wallace, as well as, those of the community. http://www.bigfoottx.com/page8.html
Larry McMurtry included a fictionalized version of Wallace in his Lonesome Dove prequel, Dead Man's Walk. In this book, Wallace is one of the Rangers who signs on with Augustus McCrae and Woodrow Call to go on the Texas Santa Fe Expedition. After they are captured by Mexican authorities, they are made to draw beans to decide who will live or die, a method borrowed from the Mier Expedition. Unlike his real-life counterpart, Wallace in this story draws a black bean, and is executed. In the film, he is played by Keith Carradine.
William A. A. Wallace was born 3 April 1817 in Lexington, Virginia. He was a descendant of the Scottish Highlanders William Wallace and Robert Bruce. After learning that a brother and a cousin had been killed in the Goliad Massacre, Wallace went to Texas to "take pay out of the Mexicans." He tried farming near La Grange, but soon tired of that occupation. He found Austin too populated for his tastes and eventually moved to San Antonio.
He was a member of the Texan Army which fought General Adrian Woll's invading Mexican army near San Antonio in 1842. He then volunteered for the Somervell and Mier expeditions. He was a prisoner in the Perote Prison, surviving the "black bean" incident.
Following his release, Wallace joined the Texas Rangers under Jack Hays, serving until the outbreak of the Mexican War. He was a Lieutenant in Capt. R. A. Gillespie's Company of Texas Mounted Volunteers in the United States Army during the War. He again served as a Ranger during the 1850s, fighting border bandits as well as Indians. Wallace's tracking skills were often put to use trailing runaway slaves trying to get to Mexico. He also drove a mail hack between San Antonio and El Paso. During the Civil War Wallace stayed in Texas to help protect the frontier from depredations by Indians, deserters, and Union soldiers.
Wallace's later years were spent in Frio County, Texas near the small community of Bigfoot. He died on 7 January 1899 and is buried in the State Cemetery in Austin, Texas.