The Tracy Family History
The Cousin Who Never Was
Michael Woods Sr., of Blair Park married Lady Mary Campbell. They had a daughter...
Martha Woods, my 5th great grandmother, and sister to Magdelene, who married Peter Wallace Jr. He had a brother...
Andrew Wallace who married Margaret Woods, another sister to Magdelene and Martha. They had a son...
Andrew Wallace who married Eleanor Jones (niece of Admiral John Paul Jones & when a young girl, a great favorite of George Washington. Became a brilliant woman.) They had a son...
David Wallace, Governor of Indiana & US Congressman who married Esther French Test. They had a son...
General Lew Wallace (“The man who arrived too late at Shiloh.”)
Major General Lew Wallace in Civil War uniform.
Our people did a lot of significant things when very young. Before reaching his twentieth birthday, Lew Wallace recruited a company of Indiana infantrymen to fight in the Mexican War. He was also there as a second lieutenant in that war..
He studied law, takes the bar exam, and flukes it. After the second time around we now have another lawyer in the family. He is a successful lawyer and becomes a prosecuting attorney. Then he serves one term in the Indiana State Senate. Better than average, but for our people pretty small stuff.
At the outbreak of the Civil War he enlist and a year later he is a Major General. It is at the Battle of Shiloh that his reputation would be made, or marred, depending on how you look at it.
He was handed a note from a courier, which the superior officer thought clearly ordered Lew Wallace to march his troops to the field of battle immediately. Lew Wallace did not interpret the note as having any urgency and casually threw it away. This simple act would destroy the evidence that could have saved his reputation.
Arriving at the Shiloh battlefield he fought valiantly, and was forever after known as the “Man who arrived too late at Shiloh.” This "rock" around his neck would stay with him until the day he died, and even after.
He fought a battle at Monocacy, Maryland, which is known as the “Battle That Saved Washington (DC).” By this time, Lew Wallace is becoming well known.
President Lincoln was assassinated. Wanting to make sure that the conspirators are convicted and hanged, the government does not allow a civil court, but holds the trial in a military court. Lew Wallace is second in command of the military court, which condemns to be hanged the first woman in American history. (She was innocent.)
Then, he is head of the military court that tries and hangs the commander of the infamous prison camp at Andersonville, Georgia, Henry Wirz.
In 1878, he became Governor of the New Mexico Territory, and three years later the US Minster to Turkey.
All of these things are enough to make any man famous. However, that is not why he is famous. He sits under a tree at his home in Crawfordsville, Indiana and writes a book, which would be published in 1880: The title, Ben-Hur. It was the biggest selling novel of the nineteenth century. So, does that make Lew Wallace the greatest author of the nineteenth century?
Two movies were made based on this book, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.
The first was a silent film in 1925.
Before the two famous movies, there was a Broadway play, which opened on November 29, 1899.
A short while ago my local library was having a book sale. Staring right at me was a first edition Ben-Hur. However, this was a special edition: Ben-Hur, The Players Edition. This was “illustrated with scenes and characters from the play.” First edition, 1901. The book was marked $7, which the librarian thought was to low. So I talked her down to $5. The photo of the stage actor portraying Ben-Hur is from the hard cover of this book.
The famous Ben-Hur Beech. Underneath this mighty tree, if you will look at 5:30, you will see Lew Wallace in the very act of writing the famous novel.
There is only one problem with this story. The relationship to our pedigree is theoretical, not proven. Neander Woods does a masterful job of research and comes up with this presumed relationship.
He even corresponds with the family. Gen. Lew Wallace replies that he believes the relationship is true.
Then in 1905, the famous author dies before he can document the kinship. This is the same year that Neander Woods publishes his massive works. Since publication, all have accepted this relationship as being true.
However, the famed genealogist, George Seldon Wallace continues the research. He concludes that Andrew Wallace, brother to my Peter Wallace Jr., could not be the forefather of the general. But, he believes it is possible that another brother, named Samuel, is the progenitor. He also corresponds with the family, and Lew Wallace’s son replies that he believes the relationship is true “...and expressed the purpose of continuing the investigation with the hope of establishing this fact beyond any quibble.”
Then the son dies before the research is completed. George Seldon Wallace publishes his book in 1927, with a big question mark on this relationship.
Unfortunately, when doing research, sometimes you find something you wish was not there. Now comes back into the story our cousin Scott Hosier Jr., the patriarch in uniform at the Kings Mountain parade.
“I attended Wabash College at Crawfordsville, Indiana, and passed Gen. Lew Wallace’s home every time I went down town. I spent many hours in his house. The first thing I did was to research his pedigree. That was seventy years ago. I do not remember the details but was then satisfied that a relationship to him was just not possible.”
As to the belief that Lew Wallace was our cousin--
“...until someone can offer some substantial evidence by way of rebuttal we are justified in accepting this view as correct.” – Neander Woods.
I believe that Scott Hosier Jr., has provided substantial evidence.
The Lew Wallace home is currently a private residence. Next door is the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum, which is open to the public. It is located at the end of East Pike Street and Wallace Ave in Crawfordsville, Indiana. Times and seasons vary so contact the Montgomery County Visitors and Convention Bureau, 218 East Pike Street, Crawfordsville, IN 47933 www.ben-hur.com
There are several books written on our famous non-cousin.
My family history web site has 79 chapters. If you would like to know more about the other chapters then go to my
Home Page www.thetracyfamilyhistory.net