Ernest Wallace

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Ernest Wallace
Born(1906-06-11)June 11, 1906
DiedNovember 17, 1985(1985-11-17) (aged 79)
Alma materEast Texas State University

Texas Tech University

University of Texas at Austin
Years active1942-1979
Spouse(s)Ellen Kegans Wallace (married 1926-his death)
ChildrenOne daughter
Parent(s)Thomas and Lula Barber Wallace
For nearly a decade after his retirement from the history faculty of Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Wallace continued to research the southern Great Plains and in 1979 published The Howling of the Coyotes: Reconstruction Efforts to Divide Texas.

Ernest Wallace (June 11, 1906 – November 17, 1985)[1] was a historian of Texas, the American West and the southern Great Plains, who was affiliated with Texas Tech University in Lubbock.

Historical works[edit]

Wallace wrote eleven major books on Texas history. With E. Adamson Hoebel, he authored in 1952 The Comanches: Lords of the South Plains, which in its fifteenth edition in 2014, remains a pre-eminent study of the Comanche.[2] His minor in anthropology was helpful in writing this book. With David M. Vigness, he co-edited in 1963 Documents of Texas History. With Adrian N. Anderson and Rupert N. Richardson of Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, he co-authored Richardson's Texas: The Lone Star State (1970 and 1981). In 1964, Wallace published Ranald S. McKenzie of the Texas Frontier, a study of the exploits of Ranald S. Mackenzie in the Texas Panhandle, and a study of the closing of the Texas frontier in 1965 entitled Texas in Turmoil. His last book, The Howling of the Coyotes Reconstruction Efforts to Divide Texas in 1979 is a study the attempt to divide Texas during Reconstruction.[3]

His 1943 doctoral dissertation. Charles De Morse, Editor and Statesman, was updated in 1979.[4] Wallace also edited the acclaimed Texas' Last Frontier: Fort Stockton and the Trans-Pecos, written by Clayton W. Williams, Sr., father of the 1990 Republican gubernatorial nominee, Clayton Wheat Williams, Jr., who narrowly lost the race to the Democrat Ann Willis Richards. A paperback version was released in December 1982.[5]

Early years and education[edit]

Wallace was born to Thomas Wallace and the former Lula Barber in Daingerfield, the seat of government of Morris County in east Texas. His early education was procured in rural schools in Morris and neighboring Cass County. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from Texas A&M University-Commerce, then known as East Texas Teacher's College at Commerce. Wallace began his teaching career in the 1925-1926 academic year at the White Lick community east of Sweetwater in West Texas; there he wed his wife, the former Ellen Kegans (January 16, 1908 – October 12, 1987), a college classmate from Merkel in Taylor County near Abilene, and the couple had a daughter.[6]

The next year, he returned to East Texas to teach at Linden in Cass County, where he was also a coach. For some eight years, he was until 1935 the superintendent of the public school in the Cornett community in Cass County. From 1935 to 1936, he taught in Tulia in Swisher County south of Amarillo.[3][6]

University career[edit]

Wallace received his Master of Arts degree at then Texas Technological College in 1935, after two years of study, and began as a Texas Tech instructor of history in 1936. He was promoted to assistant professor in 1941, associate professor in 1943, and full professor in 1946. In 1942, he completed his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, under the supervision of Professor Walter Prescott Webb. From 1945 to 1949, he directed the Texas Tech summer school program and was the assistant dean of the School of Arts and Sciences from 1945 to 1955. He was awarded fellowships in 1938 and 1952, respectively, by the UT Regents and the Ford Foundation. He served for a time as a consultant to the United States Department of Justice regarding suits filed against the national government by the Kiowa, Kiowa-Apache, and Comanche tribes.[6]

From 1975 to 1979, he was consultant for The Great Chiefs and The Texans for Time-Life Books. In 1967, he was among the first four professors named a Paul Whitfield Horn Professor, the highest recognition that the university bestows. He held the designation until his retirement in 1976, the official end of his 40-year career. Horn was the first president of Texas Tech, having served from 1923 to 1932.[7] In 1954, Wallace was named a fellow of the Texas State Historical Association and served as president of the association from 1977 to 1978. In 1968, the West Texas Chamber of Commerce presented Wallace with the "Cultural Achievement Award for Significant Contributions to Historical Literature". In 1969, he received the Minnie Stevens Piper Award. In 1971, the West Texas Museum Association presented Wallace with its Action Award for his "outstanding contributions to the enrichment and culture" of the South Plains.[6]

Among Wallace's colleagues at Texas Tech were professors emeriti Paul H. Carlson and Alwyn Barr, other authors on Texas topics.

In 1975, Wallace received the Outstanding Teacher Award, which involved the establishment of the Ernest Wallace Scholarship in History, from the Texas Tech chapter of Phi Alpha Theta honor society. Though he suffered a heart attack in 1972, Wallace recovered to continue his academic duties and was still active professionally long after his retirement,[6] having maintained an office in Holden Hall, the home of the Tech history department.

Wallace grave monument at Resthaven Memorial Park in Lubbock, Texas
Wallace grave marker

In addition to the Texas State and West Texas historical associations, Wallace was active in the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, the Southern Historical Association, the Western Historical Association, the Panhandle-Plains Historical Society, and the Texas Association of Classroom Teachers.[6] The West Texas Historical Association offers the Ernest Wallace Grant for graduate student research at Texas Tech University.

He was a member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, the Rotary International, and the Masonic lodge. Wallace died of a second heart attack at Methodis] Hospital in Lubbock. He and Mrs. Wallace are interred there at Resthaven Memorial Park.[8]

One of Wallace's doctoral students at Texas Tech, Joe Robert Baulch (1932-2016), subsequently a professor and administrator at several institutions, including Schreiner University in Kerrville, Texas, and an active contributor to the West Texas Historical Association, successfully championed the acquisition of Wallace's papers to the Archives and Special Collections section of the William Logan Library at Schreiner University.[9]


  1. ^ "Social Security Death Index". Retrieved September 11, 2009.
  2. ^ The Comanches: Lords of the South Plains. Retrieved September 11, 2009.
  3. ^ a b David Murrah, "Replacing the I-35 Bias with an I-20 Bias: The Landmark Work of Richardson, Holden, and Wallace", West Texas Historical Review, Vol. 90 (2014), pp. 54-55
  4. ^ "Ernest Wallace: An Inventory of His Papers ... at the Southwest Collections Library". Retrieved September 11, 2009.
  5. ^ "Texas' Last Frontier: Fort Stockton and the Trans-pecos". Retrieved September 11, 2009.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "H. Allen Anderson, "Ernest Wallace"". Texas State Historical Association, Handbook of Texas. Retrieved September 11, 2009.
  7. ^ "List of Horn Professors at Texas Tech University". Retrieved September 13, 2009.The next historian at Texas Tech so honored was Allan J. Kuethe, selected in 1990.
  8. ^ Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, November 18, 1985
  9. ^ Joe Robrt Baulch obituary, Sweetwater Reporter, Sweetwater, Texas, December 28, 2016.
Preceded by
Dan E. Kilgore
President of the Texas State Historical Association

Ernest Wallace

Succeeded by
F. Lee Lawrence