I hope you had a chance to watch “Texas Rising” on the History Channel over the last month and a half. It was entertaining. I know that some characters in the series were fictional or their stories were highly fictionalized, so this summer I will try to find the real stories of their lives, starting with Emily D. West, Jack Hays and Erastus (Deaf) Smith. I was also intrigued by Juan Seguin and the other Hispanic residents of Texas who fought with Houston against the Mexican Army. These were my takeaways from “Texas Rising.” I am grateful to the History Channel for the project, but the armchair historian in me always appreciates the real stories behind the fictional ones.
William A. A. “Bigfoot” Wallace lived from 1817-1899 and was a Texas Ranger, one of 30 to be inducted into the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame. He came to Texas after the death of his brother and a cousin at the hands of the Mexican Army at Goliad in 1836, intending to somehow even the score for his lost relatives. Wallace is believed to have many times exacted his revenge, though he was captured and imprisoned by the Mexican Army himself in the early days of 1843 in the so called “Black Bean Episode,” which he survived. Wallace is mentioned in many other historical accounts as he fought as a Ranger in the Mexican-American War, continued to serve as a Texas Ranger during the 1850s and beyond. He did not serve in the Civil War, electing instead to remain in Texas to guard the borders against Indians, renegades and Union soldiers. The young State of Texas benefited from an uneasy arrangement with the Confederate Army to allow some Rangers to remain in place to defend the frontier.