University of Texas, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

A Guide to the William Alexander Anderson Wallce Papers, 1845-1967

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Wallace, William Alexander Anderson, 1817-1899
Title: Wallace, William Alexander Anderson, Papers
Dates: 1845-1967
Abstract: Materials in the William Alexander Anderson Wallace Papers include papers relating to the black bean lottery and to his imprisonment in Perote Prison, and family correspondence.
Accession No.: 82-80; 84-244; 2002-050; 2003-112
OCLC No.: 23285456
Extent: 6 in.>
Language: Materials are written in English.
Repository: Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical/Historical Note

William Alexander Anderson Wallace, popularly known as “Bigfoot,” (1817-1899) set out for Texas in 1836 when he learned that a brother and a cousin had been shot down in the Goliad Massacre. For a while he tried farming in the vicinity of La Grange, but the occupation was not to his taste. In the spring of 1840 he moved to Austin, saw the last buffalo of the region run down Congress Avenue, then moved to San Antonio. He was with the Texans who fought Gen. Adrián Woll's invading Mexican army near San Antonio in 1842 and then volunteered for the Somervell and Mier expeditions. After his release from Perote Prison following the failed Mier Expedition and the black bean lottery, Wallace joined the Texas Rangers under John Coffee (Jack) Hays and was with the rangers in the Mexican War. In the 1850s Wallace commanded a ranger company of his own, fighting border bandits as well as Indians, and during the Civil War he helped guard the frontier against the Comanche Indians. He also worked as a mail carrier, drove a mail hack from San Antonio to El Paso.

Wallace later settled on the Medina River on land granted him by the state of Texas, and spent the later years of his life in Frio County in the vicinity of a small village named Bigfoot. He never married. Wallace died on January 7, 1899, and shortly thereafter the Texas legislature appropriated money for moving his body to the State Cemetery.

Source: J. Frank Dobie, "WALLACE, WILLIAM ALEXANDER ANDERSON [BIGFOOT]," Handbook of Texas Online ( Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Scope and Contents

Materials relate to Wallace (1817-1899), popularly known as “Bigfoot.” Included are papers relating to the black bean lottery and to his imprisonment in Perote Prison following the Mier Expedition into Mexico. Papers were collected and produced by Mildred Dolita Campbell Varner, great-great-niece of Wallace. A latter addition to the papers is comprised chiefly of family correspondence, particularly letters to Wallace’s sister Rebecca Sehorn and her daughter, Mary Sehorn Brazleton.


Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Index Terms

Subjects (Persons)
Wallace, Big-Foot, 1817-1899--Archives
Wallace, Big-Foot, 1817-1899--Photographs
Varner family
Mier Expedition, 1842
Texas--History--Republic, 1836-1846
Texas Rangers
Perote Prison (Mexico)

Separated Material

Some material has been separated to the Artifact Collection.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

William Alexander Anderson Wallace Papers, 1845-1967, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Processing Information

Subsequent revisions were made by Stefanie Lapka, April 2013.

Detailed Description of the Papers


2B54 Legal documents, 1784-1933
Correspondence, 1824-1933
Biographical and genealogical material, 1850-1968, and undated
Newspaper and magazine clippings, 1850-1968, and undated
Obituary, [January 1899]
Letters to Mary Sehorn Brazleton and Cathy Brazleton, 1870-1875, 1890-1906
Letters, 1888-1896
Newspaper clippings, 1892, [1899]
3S3 Photographs, 1859-1872 and undated
2.325/D6d The Bean and Big Foot Wallace Museum News, 1969
2.325/D41f Letters to Rebecca Sehorn, 1845-1888