Thursday, June 11, 2015


This time we're going real far back. This is a photo of Lew Wallace of Indiana.

According to Wikipedia, he was a lawyer, author, politician, diplomat and a Union general in the Civil War. He and General Ulysses S. Grant had a longtime disagreement over whether he had followed orders at the battle of Shiloh. Wallace later resigned from the Army and became a major general in the Mexican army. After his service there he was appointed governor of the New Mexico Territory and later served as U.S. minister to the Ottoman Empire in Turkey. When the Spanish-American war broke out, Wallace offered to raise a force of troops which he would command but he was turned down by the War Office. He then went to a local recruiter and tried to enlist as a private but again was rejected, probably due to his age. He was 71 at the time.

During his time in New Mexico Wallace dealt with Billy the Kid in an attempt to have him renounce his outlaw ways. He offered him a full pardon if Billy would testify in a murder trial. The Kid took the deal and testified but the local district attorney refused to recognize the deal and set him free. Billy then escaped and continued his life of crime until he was shot by Pat Garrett.

Wallace retired to his home in Crawfordsville, Indiana, and wrote until his death in 1905. His most famous of many published books was Ben Hur.

Now, why, you might ask, am I posting about Lew Wallace? Because of a newspaper clipping my wife found in family papers of her ancestors on her mother's side. You may have to expand it to make out the words.

That newspaper clipping is 154 years old and was folded into a piece of paper with the handwriting of Judy's grandmother saying: "Please notice this clipping. This is our own Lew Wallace who wrote Ben Hur."  The family had arrived in Indiana in the early 1800's and probably knew Wallace personally.

So there you have it. A Throwback Thursday and a history lesson all rolled into one. It is sometimes amazing what one can learn from one's own family history.


Tom Cochrun said...

Fascinating! As a Hoosier by birth and familiar with Lew Wallace, thanks.

Steve said...

That was very interesting.

joeh said...

What an interesting character...quite a full and accomplished life.

Stephen Hayes said...

A fascinating history History and family connection.

Should Fish More said...

What a different time. One could be a general in the US Army, then go to the Mexican Army as an officer, then come back and be a territorial governor, then an ambassador! Thanks for the great historical post.

Thérèse said...

How neat! The best way to learn history and make it easy stick in one's mind :-)

Jerry said...

A fascinating bit of history....and especially with the twist of writing Ben Hur. In fact, the Ben Hur thing evoked some memories so I downloaded the Ben Hur Overture just to refresh my memory. We used to perform that triumphant march in college band. Thanks.