Bigfoot Wallace and the Gray Bean

A Texas Folktale

Turns out, the rough and tumble life of a Texas Ranger wasn’t enough to satisfy Bigfoot Wallace. No sir! He hungered for adventure, and he found it. First he fought against Mexican General Adrian Woll’s invasion of Texas in 1842, then he volunteered for the retaliatory raid across the Rio Grande. When the raid ended, he joined the Mier Expedition organized to penetrate further into Mexico. Got himself into a mess of trouble then. The Texans in the expedition were surrounded and captured by a force ten times their size. They managed to escape a short while later, but were rounded up in the desert and Santa Ana ordered a decimation of the escaped prisoners – meanin’ that one man in ten would be executed. The Mexican soldiers put a mess of beans into a covered crock — 159 white and 17 black — and each Texan had to draw a bean in alphabetical order, starting with the Texan officers. Anyone who got a black bean was shot, and the ones who got a white bean went to prison. ‘Course Wallace had to draw near the end of the line, not good odds. And being a rebel, he ended up with a gray bean. Lucky for him the officer in charge decided the bean was white, so he didn’t get shot with the rest. Spent a couple years afterward doing hard labor in a Mexican prison before being released.

You’d think ol’ Bigfoot would have settled down after that last episode, but not him. He joined the other Texans in the Mexican-American War and fought with gusto, since he had so many scores to settle with the Mexicans who’d killed his brother and treated him so bad. At one point, he came face-to-face with that ornery coyote who held the crock from which the Texas Prisoners had drawn the white and black beans. Unfortunately, he was under a white surrender flag at the time, but it still took several fellows to restrain Wallace from shooting the man.

 

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