The little community of Brazos is situated in the area
where Big Foot reported he was captured by Comanches while eating
the finest pecans he had ever tasted. Take 129 east from Santo and
admire the landscape Big Foot found so beautiful.
October 24, 1837, Big Foot Wallace took his gun and
hunting equipment, left his camp alone and ascended to the summit
of a nearby hill in territory that afterwards became Palo Pinto
County. From here Wallace descended the hill and after going through
a nearby path was hemmed in a small valley, where he found an excellent
variety of pecans. Wallace stated these were the finest nuts he
had yet seen. When he had gathered two or three handfuls, and while
resting against a tree to enjoy the nuts, Wallace was surprised
to see a band of twelve or fifteen Indians riding rapidly in his
direction. His only hope of escape was to conceal himself in the
nearby underbrush or steal away into an adjacent canyon.
Big Foot Wallace started off in a long trot, and after
going for a considerable distance, could see the Indians still trailing
him, but he successfully reached the nearby canyon, and tried to
conceal himself in the crags and rocks. Big Foot Wallace, however,
soon saw he would be overtaken, for the Indians were fastly following
his trail. So this veteran of the Southwest hid behind a large rock.
In a moment or two a lone Indian was seen traveling along his trail
in a "Dog trot." The famous old frontiersman, who was
then in his younger days, gave a low whistle, which caused the Indian
to halt. At that moment Wallace shot him down, and the Indian fell
dead in his tracks.
Wallace reloaded his gun as soon as possible and then
pushed on. He had gone only about half a mile, when again he struck
another canyon coming in at right angles to the one he had been
previously following. Up this he wound his way for he thought he
was being pursued by the remaining Indians. Soon dark overtook him
and when he discovered he could go no farther because of his exhaustion,
he soon fell fast asleep among the cliffs and craigs. He did not
awake until the sun was well on its way during the succeeding day.
"Big Foot" Wallace
Wallace was now lost approximately two hundred miles
from the nearest settlement. Noon came and he was tired and hungry.
But in this hour of his bewilderment a large buck deer came down
to the creek for a drink and stopped within twenty yards of where
Wallace was sitting. He felled him in his tracks, and Wallace said,
"This was the fattest venison I ever saw." It was not
long until he had him roasting. After satisfying his hunger, he
cut off as much of the venison as could be safely carried. It was
now night, and the veteran old frontiersman began to look around
for shelter for it was drizzling rain and unpleasantly cold. Nearby
he found a shallow cave in a cliff, where he made a bed of grass.
Wallace said, "I was lucky in finding this cave, for that night
there fell a torrent of rain, which would have made camping out
of doors extremely unpleasant."
On and on he journeyed. Near a splendid spring Wallace
found the remains of old Indian camps, and here he picked up a Mexican
goard, which was used as a canteen for water. In this vicinity the
lonely wanderer found a companion, a lost dog which Wallace called
After eating his breakfast Big Foot Wallace filled
his goard canteen with water and with gun in hand, and other utilities
hanging on his side, he continued his journey with his companionable
dog at his heels. But the following day Big Foot sprained his ankle,
so he was compelled to lay up in a cave for several days. When Wallace
awoke on the morning of November 21st, a dozen Indians were coming
rapidly toward him. He resolved to sell his life as dearly as possible
and kill as many of the Comanches as he could. But one of the Indians
asked Wallace in Spanish, who he was and what he was doing. Wallace,
who could also speak a little Spanish, told them he was an American
lost from his party and on his way back to the settlements. The
Indian then made signs for Wallace to put down his arms, which he
did, for he saw that resistance would bring him nothing and perhaps
if he would be friendly, the Indians would possibly spare his life.
Wallace's hands were then bound with buckskin, and he was carried
to their camp.
Big Foot Wallace
After much pow-wowing, several warriors came into
the lodge or tepee where Wallace was confined, and one of them proceeded
to black his face and hands. Much excitement prevailed among the
Indians, and Wallace was led out to a nearby point where preparations
were being made to burn him at the stake. The dry wood was piled
thickly around his feet, and the principal chief made a thrilling
speech to his warriors. Afterwards a big dance started and the Indians
were singing their wild songs. Wallace said:
"I thought sure enough my time had come, and
I tried to summon up courage enough to meet my fate like a man.
I don't know how far I would have succeeded in this, for just at
this moment an old squaw, who had taken a liking to me in the lodge,
rushed through the crowd of painted warriors and began to throw
the wood from around me. One of the warriors seized this squaw and
put her out of the rank by main force; but she adjusted herself
to the cause, and made them a regular speech, during which every
now and then turned and pointed at me. I was satisfied that for
some cause, I knew not what, the old squaw was doing her best to
save me from burning at the stake, and it is hardly necessary to
say that I wished her success from the bottom of my heart. The crowd
listened to her in silence for some time when some began as I thought
to applaud her and others cry out against her; but it seems that
she at last brought over the majority to her side where after a
great deal of jabbering a number of women rushed in between the
warriors and untied me from the stake, and handed me over to the
old squaw for safe keeping, and somehow I had understood but little
of all that had been said on either side for or against me, I knew
that I was saved, at least for the time. I felt as much relieved
in my mind as when I drew the white bean at the City of Saltillo.
I learned afterwards that the old squaw had lost one of her sons
in a fight with some of the neighboring tribes, and that she had
set up a claim to me according to Indian customs, in such cases
as a substitute."
Afterwards Wallace was treated hospitably. He said:
"I might lengthen out my story a good deal, by
telling of all that occurred to me while I was with these Indians-I
went with them upon their buffalo hunts, and once upon a foray with
them into Mexico, where I acquired a considerable reputation as
a promising young warrior in a hard fight we had there with the
Mexican Rancheroes, etc."
The chiefs that captured Wallace and intended to
put him to death also took a liking to the white companion and offered
his sister to Wallace for a wife.
When Wallace had been with the Indians for about three
months, he became despondent and discontented and longed to return
to his own people, and this despondency was noticed by the adopted
mother and her son, Black Wolf. Black Wolf, who was Wallace's brother
by adoption, said to Wallace: "My brother, what is it that
makes you so unhappy and discontented, for it seems for some time
you have had something on your mind. Has anyone mistreated my brother."
"No," said Wallace, "everyone has treated me well,
but I tell you frankly my brother, I am anxious to see my own people."
Black Wolf replied:
"I shall be very sorry if you leave us, and so
will my old mother, but it is not strange that you should wish to
see your own people again and you must go. I will help you all that
I can to reach the settlements in safety. "But be careful,"
Black Wolf said, "not to say a word about this to anybody for
if you should attempt to escape and be recaptured nobody could save
your life and I should be put to death for having aided you."
After secretly making necessary preparations, Wallace
led by Black Foot left the camp on a pretense of hunting bear. But
before he left, the old Indian mother presented her adopted son
with a necklace made of grizzly bear claws and porcupine quills,
and also presented him with a large copper ring to wear in his nose.
As they advanced, the faithful dog, Comanche, followed along behind.
On the morning of the second day, Black Wolf traced
upon the ground a map of the route Wallace had to follow, and indicated
accurately all of the ranges of hills and water courses by which
he had to pass. The Indian brother then bade Wallace good-bye, shouldered
his gun and took his course back towards the home of the savage
mother. In due time Wallace safely reached the settlements, and
his faithful dog Comanche remained his loyal companion until he
died of old age.
This initial experience of Wallace helped to produce
one of the most famous frontiersmen known to the early history of