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Daniel Webster (80 John) Wallace, born a slave in Victoria County, Texas, on September 15, 1860, did not like farm work, and ran away to become a cowboy. Daniel worked for a number of ranchers in east-central Texas, but it was through his work as a wrangler and horse breaker for John Nunn-- whose brand on his cattle was a large number 80—that “80 John” eventually became Webster’s nickname. While Webster was a typical cowboy in some respects, he was atypical in others. He saw a bigger future for himself than many of his peers who were contented to spend their lives following someone else’s cattle. He realized that his lack of education was a handicap and traveled to Navarro County, Texas, where he learned to read and write. He also married Laura Dee Owens, who by comparison was well educated, on April 8, 1888.
By his mid twenties 80 John Wallace had made an arrangement with his boss, Clay Mann, to accept cattle as part of his pay. He later acquired a 1,280 acre ranch, a reputation for fairness and hard work, and a savvy that allowed him to survive in the ranching business. Daniel Webster “80 John” Wallace died on March 28, 1939, leaving behind a legacy that included a wife, three daughters, and a son; a well earned respect from all who knew him; and an estate valued at more than $1 million. He also received the admiration of Mitchell County and the state of Texas with an historical marker recognizing his achievements and a school named in his honor.
Joyce Gibson Roach, “Daniel Webster Wallace: A West Texas Cattleman,” in Sara R. Massey, ed., Black Cowboys of Texas (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2000), pp. 180-191.
Augusta State University