Wallace, Daniel Webster (1860–1939)

By: Martha Earnest and Melvin Sance

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: May 11, 2017

Daniel Webster (80 John) Wallace, black rancher, was born near Inez in Victoria County on September 15, 1860, the son of William and Mary (Barker or Barber) Wallace, both slaves. About three months before his birth, his mother had been sold to the O'Daniel family; he grew up with the O'Daniel sons, M. H. and Dial, and remained in close contact with the family all of his life. Tiring of his job chopping cotton near Flatonia, Fayette County, he ran away and joined a cattle drive in 1877. He drove cattle for C. C. Slaughter, Isaac L. Ellwood, Andrew B. Robertson, Sam Gholson, and C. A. "Gus" O'Keefe, and for the Bush and Tillar Cattle Company (see TILLAR, BENJAMIN JOHNSON). He worked for John Nunn's N.U.N. cattle outfit on the headwaters of the Brazos River as a wrangler and horse breaker. Wallace had had little formal education, and at age twenty-five he returned to school in Navarro County, was admitted to the second grade, and in two winters learned to read and write. He eventually joined Clay Mann's outfit near Colorado City in Mitchell County. It was branding Mann's cattle with a large "80" on one side that gave Wallace his well-known nickname of 80 John. His dream of becoming a rancher was implemented by a plan with Clay Mann, who paid Wallace five dollars a month from his thirty-dollar wage for two years and put the remainder aside to invest in his own herd, for which Mann provided free pasture. This working relationship nurtured a bond of mutual trust and respect which lasted until Mann's death in 1889. Two years later Wallace moved his cattle to about 1,280 acres which he had purchased in 1885 and started ranching for himself southeast of Loraine in Mitchell County. He became one of the most respected black ranchers of his time. His Durham cattle brand was a D triangle; on his Herefords he used a D on the right hip and a running W on one side. Wallace married Laura Dee Owens of Navarro County on April 8, 1888; they had three daughters and a son. Wallace was a member of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association for thirty years. He died on March 28, 1939, leaving an estate worth more than $1 million, and was buried on his ranch. A state historical marker in Loraine commemorates his life. A school in Colorado City was named in his honor in the mid-1950s.

Effie Kaye Adams, Tall Black Texans: Men of Courage (Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall-Hunt, 1972). The Afro-American Texans (San Antonio: University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures, 1975). Alwyn Barr, Black Texans: A History of Negroes in Texas, 1528–1971 (Austin: Jenkins, 1973). Hettye Wallace Branch, The Story of "80 John" (New York: Greenwich, 1960). R. C. Crane, "D. W. Wallace (`80 John'), A Negro Cattleman on the Texas Frontier," West Texas Historical Association Year Book 28 (1952). A. C. Greene, A Personal Country (New York: Knopf, 1969). Wilma Pinkston Roberts, "80 John Wallace: Black Rancher Who Died Wealthy," Oeste, December 1975.

  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Cowboys and Cowgirls
  • Ranchers and Cattlemen
  • Trail Drivers and Riders

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Martha Earnest and Melvin Sance, “Wallace, Daniel Webster,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 27, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/wallace-daniel-webster.

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May 11, 2017

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