Heritage, Summer 2005 Page: 26
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Just a few miles from Big Foot was a little settlement
called Centerville, with a school of its own claiming
some 20 to 30 enrollees. It was a one-teacher school
taught by Elmer M. Howard, a late teenager who
was saving a substantial portion of his monthly
salary to defray his expenses in medical school at a
To relieve his boredom on weekends, Howard used to
walk or catch a ride over to Big Foot where he could
socialize with the Saturday crowd, possibly staying over
During these sojourns to Big Foot, the young teacher
struck up a friendship with Big Foot Wallace and
enjoyed listening to him tell of his many adventures.
There are some things that should not
change. Let's save the Goodnight house
and keep it at Goodnight, Texas...They
need our help.
The adventurous life of Big Foot Wallace came to an
end in 1899 and he was buried in the Longview
Cemetery at Big Foot, the cemetery of the little town
that had been named for him.
In 1935, Elmer Howard, the young schoolteacher at
Centerville, had become a physician and was practicing
at Pearsall, the county seat of Frio County.
On a particular day, the doctor had been making
calls in the Big Foot area. As he passed the cemetery,
he saw a small crowd gathered there. A car or
two and a panel truck were present. There was a
fresh mound of dirt and apparently a grave had been
Being a man whose curiosity served him well over the
years, the doctor stopped his car and walked over to the
opened grave where he joined the crowd. Much to his
astonishment, the body of Big Foot Wallace had been
exhumed and, along with the casket it was in an excel
lent state of preservation!
The doctor realized that he was the only one in this little
drama who had known Big Foot Wallace when he
was living and he related this to the group. The casket
was duly closed, placed in the panel truck and began its
journey to Austin, Texas, for reburial.
The state of Texas held its centennial in 1936. In the
interest of tourism, the previous year authorities had,
where practicable, exhumed the bodies of prominent
Texas pioneers and had them buried in Austin. This
enabled centennial visitors to view all their graves
with a minimum of travel.
I do not question their logic in this procedure but
I thought the occasion of an old friend being present
at the exhumation of Big Foot Wallace was
most interesting. This incident was related to me
by Dr. E. M. Howard, my father, soon after its
I suppose it is just coincidental, but I knew of at least
one other occasion where the body of a tough, courageous
pioneer was exhumed and it was found in an
excellent state of preservation. This was when King
Fisher's body was disinterred at Uvalde, Texas, in
1956 or so. Perhaps they were too, too tough to really
I have visited Big Foot Wallace's grave in Austin and
had it not been there I probably would not have
known where to find it. His grave is an enhancement
to the State Cemetery, but his removal was a treasure
lost and furtherance to the decline of Big Foot, Texas.
As Robert Earl Keen said in a song, "The Brazos still
runs muddy, like she always has."
There are some things that should not change. Let's
save the Goodnight house and keep it at Goodnight,
I solicit your opinion in care of P.O. Box 1082, Dallas,
Charlie Blanton is with the Texas & Southwest
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Summer 2005, periodical, Summer 2005; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45369/m1/26/: accessed May 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.