How Bigfoot Wallace Got his Nickname
A Texas Folktale
Well now, Bigfoot Wallace was jest about the roughest, toughest Texas Ranger that ever rode west of the Pecos. Came to Texas bent on avenging the death of a brother and cousin who’d been massacred at Goliad by Santa Ana’s army, but by the time he got here the Revolution was won and Texas was a Republic. He might’ve gone home then, but Wallace discovered Texas was a hunter’s paradise, so he made his way to the extreme edge of the frontier, where he hunted the abundant game that he sold to the settlements.
Wallace soon learned that Austin was the place to be if you wanted to earn some good money. So he packed up and went north to Austin, which was the new capital of the Republic. Seems there was plenty of work with high wages for a man who could do construction, and Bigfoot was an expert with a broad-ax. Earned himself two hundred bucks a month plus board hewing logs for the buildings being put up along Congress Ave. Bigfoot partnered up with a fellow named Leggett who was as brave and crazy as he was. They head out into hostile Indian territory to get cedar and other lumber, and then they’d raft down to town. The native tribesmen in that area were so fierce most folks refused to leave the settlement, and forty men were killed in the short time Wallace lived there.
It was during this time that Wallace earned himself a nickname. There was a bloodthirsty Waco warrior living in the area, who stood six foot eight inches in his moccasin feet and weighed over three hundred pounds. Folks called him Chief Bigfoot because his moccasin tracks measured over fourteen inches in length with the right toe protruding from the moccasin. He’d been terrorizing the settlement for nearly twenty years, raiding the good people’s homes, stealing horses and killing any soul he encountered.
Well, one fine day Wallace’s neighbor came home to find his kitchen a mess and large moccasin tracks leading from his house next door to Wallace’s place that he shared with William Fox. Fellow came running over to accuse Wallace of entering his cabin since he knew the hunter always wore moccasins. Wallace had to drag the old coot over to the nearest tracks and put his much smaller moccasin foot inside the track before the feller would believe he hadn’t gone inside his cabin. William Fox was so amused by the incident he started calling Wallace “Bigfoot”, and the name stuck.
Sad to say, it was that same Waco chief who killed and scalped Fox a year later. Bigfoot Wallace tracked down Chief Bigfoot and shot him, but somehow the warrior survived. It was Westfall, a great friend of Bigfoot’s who managed to kill the huge chief in a ferocious hand-to-hand combat on the Llano.
You can read more Texas folklore and ghost stories in Spooky Texas by S.E. Schlosser.