It’s just a few more weeks until The Lone Ranger movie gallops into theaters. Based on the fictional exploits of John Reid, a Texas Ranger who survived an ambush by the evil Cavendish gang, the movie is looking to be one of Summer 2013 biggest blockbusters.
But in truth, the real history of the Texas Rangers is much more exciting than any movie. And you can read all about the Texas Rangers history in my book Texas Rangers: Legendary Lawmen, illustrated by Roxie Munro.
His legal name was William Alexander Anderson Wallace. But standing at 6’ 2” tall and weighing over 240 pounds, with enormous feet, he earned the nickname ‘Bigfoot’ Wallace. And there is perhaps no other Texas Ranger that touched as much of their celebrated history as this famous Ranger Captain.
Born in Lexington, Kentucky Wallace learned of his brother’s death during the Battle of Goliad. He decided to head to Texas, to seek ‘revenge on the Mexicans’ for his brother’s demise. By the time he arrived the war with Mexico was over. But Wallace was attracted to the independent spirit of the ‘Texians’ and stayed on.
During his years in Texas, Wallace was part of some of the most famous moments in Texas Ranger history. He served in the Texas Army including during the Mexican War. Wallace’s biggest claim to fame may have been surviving the famous ‘Black Bean’ incident during the Mier expedition. Taken prisoner by the Mexican Army, the commander decided ten of the one hundred plus prisoners would be executed. A large jar was filled with beans, a single bean for each of the prisoners. Ten black beans were added to the jar. Those drawing the black bean would be shot. Wallace always said he figured his odds were better if he ‘dug deep’ in the jar. So he worked his hand to the bottom of the jar and his fingers emerged clutching a white bean. He survived the execution and his years in the Mexican prison.
When Wallace returned to Texas, he left the Army and joined the Texas Rangers. Wallace served under John Coffee Hays and took part in some of the most famous engagements in Texas Ranger history. When the Civil War started in 1861, Wallace stayed in Texas to help guard the frontier against Native American incursions. Wallace was against secession for Texas, but did not believe he could fight against his own people. Staying in Texas to guard the frontier was his compromise.
Wallace lived until 1899. The state of Texas, in gratitude for his service, gave him land for a small farm along the Medina River. Wallace is buried in the Texas State Cemetery.
Read about Bigfoot Wallace and other famous Texas Rangers in my book Texas Rangers: Legendary Lawmen, illustrated by Roxie Munro.
“The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven” is one of Sherman Alexie’s first collections of short stories.