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.
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
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