William A. A. “Big Foot” Wallace
1817 – 1899
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.
Suggestions for further reading:
- John C. Duval, The Adventures of Big Foot , Macon, Georgia, 1870
- A. J. Sowell, Life of “Bigfoot” , 1899
- Stanley Vestal, Bigfoot Wallace
- Darren Ivey, The Ranger Ideal Volume 1:Texas Rangers in the Hall of Fame, 1823 – 1861, UNT, 2017
- Vertical Files, Center for American History, University of Texas, Austin, Texas; Adjutant General’s Service Records
- Vertical Files, Texas Ranger Research Center, Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, Waco, Texas