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WILLIAM HENSON WALLACE

"A Friend of Lincoln," Town on the Sound, Stories of Steilacoom. Steilacoom: Steilacoom Historical Museum Association, 1988. p. 37-40.

William H. Wallace was one of the early settlers of Steilacoom who quickly rose to prominence. He arrived in late 1853, leaving his wife and son to join him if the newly created Washington Territory held the promise he expected and found. At the age of forty-two, he had experience as a lawyer, a soldier, and a politician, patterns he soon repeated in the Northwest.

Wallace was born in Troy, Ohio, July 19, 1811. He spent his early life in Indiana, where he studied law and was admitted to practice. At the age of twenty-four he moved to Iowa, married and had three children, two girls who died in infancy, and a son. In Iowa he received an appointment by Governor Lucas as a colonel of the State Militia, a title by which he became widely known in Washington territory.

He was elected a member of the Iowa Legislature and was chosen Speaker of the House of Representatives. After that he was selected to represent his district in the State Senate and became its president. At the time he left Iowa, he was serving as the receiver of public money, an appointed position that was expiring.

One of his first acts upon arriving in Steilacoom was to establish himself as a lawyer. During his first two years, he practiced in the courts of Pierce, Thurston, Jefferson, and Island counties. Later in his career, in 1859, Wallace and F. A. Chenoweth were attorneys for the Puget's Sound Agricultural Company and argued its case before the Supreme Court of the Territory over the question of taxation of the company's holdings in Pierce County.

Wallace's involvement in politics began just after his arrival in Steilacoom with the first election, in 1854, to select a delegate to Congress for the new territory. Judge Columbia Lancaster was chosen as the Democratic nominee and Wallace the choice of the Whig Party. Although he lost the Congressional election, 698 votes to 500, he was successful later in the year when he was elected as a representative from Pierce County to the second session of the Territorial Legislative Assembly. 

The House Journal for the second session records his numerous activities. He was one of a committee of five to draw up the rules for the House, and he served as chairman of the committee to confer with the upper body, the Council, on joint rules. He was chairman of the judiciary committee and a member of the committees on military affairs and enrolled bills.

His ability as a presiding officer often was recognized; he acted as Speaker Pro-Tem of the House and was chosen to preside over joint meetings. He seemed to sense the correct procedure demanded by a particular question and both could and would make a motion necessary for its disposal.

Wallace continued to be elected to the legislature through its sixth session, either in the assembly or in the council. Additionally he was involved at the county level. In the 1850s and 1860s it was also possible to hold more than one public office and to engage in a profession. In 1858, for instance, Wallace was the county representative for the Territorial Council; he was the prosecuting attorney for the county and the county superintendent of schools.

In his second bid for a Congressional seat, Wallace again was unsuccessful. In 1859 he opposed ex-governor Isaac I. Stevens in a race marked with newspaper articles typical of the rough and tumble politics of the pioneer days. The Olympia Pioneer and Democrat remarked in one feature: "Dus Kernel Wallace git as drunk as much as ever?"

The next issue offered an apology, of sorts, including the comment:

"It is due to Colonel Wallace, as far as the common report goes, that for moral uprightness and rectitude of life, he will compare favorably with the majority of the community to which he belongs."

In the final tabulation, Wallace carried six counties to nine for Governor Stevens.

The 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln as President marked the turning point in the political fortunes of Wallace. The President was an old friend and Wallace decided to go to Washington D.C. to offer his personal congratulations. He carried with him a petition from the Council and the House of Representatives of Washington territory, evidently, from the handwriting, drawn up by Frank Clark and signed by eight members of the Council and twenty-five members of the House requesting his appointment as governor of Washington Territory.

The petition was successful and on April 9, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln appointed Wallace as governor of Washington Territory.

During his absence, however, the Republicans had nominated him as a delegate to congress and were campaigning for him in the territory. Wallace had left Washington D.C. on April 17, 1861, unaware of the political developments at home. He learned of his nomination when he docked in San Francisco and accepted it, making plans to speak throughout the territory. 

During the campaign wallace linked himself closely to President Abraham Lincoln, and pledge his support to the Chicago platform, the presidential inaugural message, the administration policy, and the theory that "...the Union must and shall be preserved, and the laws enforced though the land should run rivers of blood."

The official returns for the territory were Wallace, 1595, Garfield, 1276, Lander, 739. Wallace's dream of going to Congress was finally realized.

Each of the candidates has endorsed the division of the eastern part of Washington territory and had pledged to introduce a bill in Congress creating a new territory. Wallace fulfilled his pledge and the Idaho Territory was created in 1863 being named by Wallace's wife. Just before Wallace's term as delegate from Washington Territory expired, Lincoln named him as governor of Idaho. Shortly after taking office in a pattern similar to that in the Washington territory, Wallace was elected delegate to Congress and served from February 1, 1864 to March 5, 1865.

On the morning of April 14, 1865, in a meeting with President Lincoln, Colonel Wallace was told by the President that he would again be appointed the governor of Idaho, an action that was prevented by Lincoln's assassination that evening. Indeed, Wallace and his wife were invited to accompany the Lincoln to the theater, but declined since Mrs. Wallace was not feeling well. Wallace's time in Washington ended as it had begun, with Lincoln. Wallace was one of the pall bearers in Lincoln's funeral.

Wallace returned to Steilacoom and resumed his law practice, content to be involved at the local level. He was elected as the first mayor of Steilacoom under the charter of 1871. Shortly after his return he was elected as probate judge for Pierce County, a position he held until his death on February 7, 1879.

He was buried at the cemetery at Fort Steilacoom, a fitting resting place for a pioneer soldier and settler.

Town on the Sound, Stories of Steilacoom. Edited by Joan Curtis, Alice Watson, and Bette Bradley. Steilacoom: Steilacoom Historical Museum Association, 1988. p. 37-40.


"William H. Wallace," Steilacoom Historical Museum Quarterly, XV (Summer, 1986) p. 1, 4-6.

WILLIAM H. WALLACE 1811-1879

William H. Wallace was one of the early settlers of Steilacoom who quickly rose to prominence. He arrived in late 1853, leaving his wife and son to join him if the newly created Washington Territory held the promise he expected-and found. At the age of 42, he had experience as a lawyer, a soldier, and a politician, patterns he soon repeated in the Northwest.

Wallace was born in Troy, Ohio, July 19, 1811. He spent his early life in Indiana, where he studied law and was admitted to practice. At the age of 24 he moved to Iowa, married, and had three children, two girls who died in infancy, and a son. In Iowa he received an appointment by Governor Lucas as colonel of the State Militia, a title by which he became widely known in the Washington Territory. 

He was elected a member of the Iowa Legislature and was chosen Speaker of the House of Representatives. After that he was selected to represent his district in the State Senate, and became its president. At the time he left Iowa, he was serving as the receiver of public money, an appointed position that was expiring.

One of his first acts upon arriving in Steilacoom was to establish himself as a lawyer. He advertised in the Columbian for November 5, 1853, and court records show that he and Frank Clark were attorneys for Philip and Sarah Keach as defendants in an action filed in March, 1854. 

During his first two years, he practiced in the courts of Pierce, Thurston, Jefferson, and Island counties. Later in his career, in 1859, Wallace and F. A. Chenoweth were attorneys for the Puget Sound Agricultural Company and argued its case before the Supreme Court of the Territory over the question of taxation of the company's holdings in Pierce County.

Another case which grew out of the Indian War was the trial of Chief Leschi. After Leschi was convicted by a grand jury for the murder of Colonel A. Benton Moses during the war, a special term of court was held at Steilacoom for the trial. Frank Clark and J. S. Smith were attorneys for the prosecution, and Wallace and H. B. Crosby for the defense. After a vote of not guilty, a new trial was held in Olympia. 

This time Frank Clark assisted Wallace on the defense, and Kendall and Smith were attorneys for the prosecution. The addresses to the jury by both Wallace and Smith received the highest commendation. Leschi was declared guilty and, although Wallace did not continue as Leschi's lawyer, the case was appealed to the Territorial Supreme Court where the decision of the lower court was sustained.

The Indian Wars also were the occasion in which Colonel Wallace, of Iowa, resumed service as a Captain of the Washington Territorial Volunteers. On October 19, 1855, the newspapers published the call of Acting Governor Charles H. Mason for two companies of volunteers. Within two weeks Wallace recruited and organized Company D, 1st Regiment. The roll shows that the strength of the company consisted of Captain Wallace, 1st Lt. R. S. More, 2nd Lt. J. Q. Cole, Surgeon R. M. Bigelow, four sergeants, four corporals, and 43 privates. Captain Wallace himself enlisted 39 of the men. 

Wallace served as Captain of Company D from Oct. 30, 1855, to Jan. 31, 1856, although from Nov. 28, 1855, he was on furlough to attend the legislature. After being formed, Wallace's company was employed by the Adjutant General in his General Order No. 1, Nov. 2, 1855 which stated, "That Company D, that Capt. Wallace raised and organized with the garrison at Fort Steilacoom, is accepted and mustered into service, and will cooperate with the garrison at Fort Steilacoom when an expedition against the enemy is made."

That expedition came soon. Captain Wallace and his company made a forced march to join the regular troops from Fort Steilacoom who were deployed along the White River against marauding Indians. When Wallace left to attend the Legislature, Lt. More took charge of Company D. Wallace's continued interest in Company D was shown in several of his letters from Olympia to Lt. More. In one, Wallace cautioned that all records be accurate so that injustice would not occur, and when property had been lost, he promised that claims would be "put in proper shape to secure remuneration." 

Thus in military as in civil life, Wallace demonstrated his characteristic attention to detail and his desire for just and equal treatment for all.

Wallace's involvement in politics began just after his arrival in Steilacoom with the first election, in 1854, to select a delegate to Congress for the new Territory. Judge Columbia Lancaster was chosen as the Democratic nominee, and Wallace was the choice of the Whig party. Although he lost the Congressional election, 698 votes to 500, he was successful later in the year when he was elected as a representative from Pierce County to the second session of the Territorial Legislative Assembly. 

The House Journal for the second session records his numerous activities. He was one of a committee of five to draw up the rules for the House, and he served as chairman of the committee to confer with the upper body, the Council, on joint rules. He was the chairman of the judiciary committee and a member of the committees on military affairs and enrolled bills. His ability as a presiding officer often was recognized; he acted as Speaker Pro-Tem of the House and was chosen to preside over joint meetings. 

He seemed to sense the correct procedure demanded by a particular question and both could and would make a motion necessary for its disposal.

Wallace continued to be elected to the Legislature through its sixth session, either in the Assembly or in the Council. Additionally, he was involved at the County level. In the 50's and 60's, it was not impossible to hold more than one public office, and to engage in a profession. In 1858, for instance, Wallace was the County representative to the Territorial Council; he was the Prosecuting Attorney for the County; he was the County Superintendent for Schools, for the sum of $150, paid a year later.

In his second bid for a Congressional seat, Wallace again was unsuccessful. In 1859 he opposed ex-governor Stevens in a race marked with newspaper articles typical of the rough and tumble politics of the pioneer days. The Puget Sound Herald supported Wallace; the Pioneer and Democrat also remarked in a feature, "Dus Kernel Wallace git as drunk as much as ever?" The next issue offered an apology, of sorts, including the comment: "It is due to Colonel Wallace, as far as the common report goes, that for moral uprightness and rectitude of life, he will compare favorably with the majority of the community to which he belongs." In the final tabulation, Wallace carried six counties to nine for Stevens.

The 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln as President marked the turning point in the political fortunes of Wallace. The President was an old friend, and Wallace decided to go to Washington, D.C. to offer his personal congratulations. He carried with him a petition from the Council and the House of Representatives of Washington Territory, evidently-from the handwriting-drawn up by Frank Clark and signed by eight members of the Council and twenty-five members of the House requesting his appointment as governor of Washington Territory. 

The petition was successful, and on April 9, 1861, Lincoln appointed Wallace as governor of Washington.

During his absence, however, the Republicans had nominated him as a delegate to Congress and were campaigning for him in the territory. Wallace had left Washington, D.C. on April 17, 1861, unaware of the political developments at home. He learned of his nomination when he docked in San Francisco and accepted it, making plans to speak throughout the territory. 

During the campaign, Wallace linked himself closely to Lincoln and pledged his support to the Chicago platform, the presidential inaugural message, the administration policy, and the theory that "the Union must and shall be preserved, and the laws enforced though the land should run rivers of blood." The official returns for the territory were Wallace, 1595; Garfielde, 1276; Lander, 739. Wallace's dream of going to Congress was finally realized.

Each of the candidates had endorsed the division of the eastern part of the Washington territory and had pledged to introduce a bill in Congress creating a new territory. Wallace fulfilled his pledge and the Idaho territory was created in 1863, being named by Wallace's wife. Just before Wallace's term as a delegate from the Washington territory expired, Lincoln named him as governor of Idaho. Shortly after taking office, in a pattern similiar to that in the Washington territory, Wallace was elected delegate to  Congress and served from February 1, 1864 to March 3, 1865.

On the morning of April 14, 1865, in a meeting with President Lincoln, Colonel Wallace was told by the President that he would again be appointed the governor of Idaho, an action that was prevented by Lincoln's assassination that evening. Indeed, Wallace and his wife were invited to accompany the Lincolns to the theatre, but declined since Mrs. Wallace was not feeling well. Wallace's time in Washington ended, as it had begun, with Lincoln: Wallace was one of the pallbearers at Lincoln's funeral.

Wallace returned to Steilacoom and resumed his law practice, content to be involved at the local level. He was elected as the first mayor of Steilacoom in the charter election of 1871. Shortly after his return, he was elected as probate judge for Pierce County, a position he held until his death on February 7,1879. He was buried in the cemetery at Fort Steilacoom, a fitting resting place for a pioneer soldier and settler.

"William H. Wallace," Steilacoom Historical Museum Quarterly, XV (Summer, 1986) p. 1, 4-6.


WILLIAM H. WALLACE APPOINTED FIRST GOVERNOR OF IDAHO 

William P. Bonney, "William H. Wallace appointed first governor of Idaho," History of Pierce County. Volume I p. 143.

William H. Wallace. 

William H. Wallace, prominent pioneer attorney of Pierce County, selected a donation claim of 322.10 acres on the Sound, just south of Steilacoom and opposite Ketron Island. It was surveyed by the Government December 16, 1870, F. M. Reed being the civil engineer to run the lines. Wallace was born in Troy, Miami County, Ohio, July l9, 1811.

He spent his early life in Indiana, where he studied law and was admitted to practice. At the age of twenty-four he moved to Iowa, and while there received an appointment by Governor Lucas as colonel of the State Militia. He was elected a member of the first Legislature, and was chosen speaker of the House of Representatives. After that he was selected to represent his district in the State Senate, and became its president.

In 1853 Wallace came to Washington, and soon became prominent in politics and in the legal profession. He was elected to the Legislature, and became president of the territorial council. In 1861 he was appointed governor of Washington Territory, but did not qualify, preferring to serve the people of the territory as a delegate to Congress, that honor having been conferred upon him by the voters before his acceptance of the governorship. 

Before his term had expired he was appointed the first governor of the Territory of Idaho. He was also elected as the first delegate to Congress from that territory; and upon the expiration of his term of office returned to Steilacoom to resume the practice of law. He was elected probate judge of Pierce County, holding the position at the time of his death, which occurred at Steilacoom on February 7, 1879.

William P. Bonney, "William H. Wallace appointed first governor of Idaho," History of Pierce County. Volume I p. 143.