Seven WALLACE BROTHER’S…ALL Veterans from VZC:
Two lifelong residents of Martin’s Mill, Jerry Daniel and Liston Barber, sat down with Phil Smith, PR Director at the VZC Veterans Memorial at the Martin’s Mill store.
There were seven (7) sons of Romie and Willie Wallace of Martin’s Mills, Texas. The Wallace sons, all served in the military and came home safely. Their dad never served in the military and never drove a car.
“The Martin’s Mill store wall was started in 2004,” said Jerry. “They were all early families from Martin’s Mill community who volunteered pictures for the wall and are residents from Martin’s Mill from 1950 or sooner.
There are 300+ pictures that take up an entire section of the store. It is called “Memory Wall.” Along with Jerry Daniel, research for the wall was by Quana Barber and Maefayr Mitchell in 2004.
“The wall has been a blessing,” said Jerry. “I had a guy in here last week and I asked him if he knew any of those people. He sighed and pointed to a picture, and said, I was a Pennington and he saw his granddaddy on the wall. Bob Pennington was his uncle. That has happened over and over with this wall,” smiled Jerry. “Some of the people come in here and they have never seen that picture in their life, even some of their great grandkids.”
History of Martin’s Mill:
Martin’s Mill was named for Daniel G. Martin’s grist mill located at Rocky Ford on Heifer Creek. Grist mill was in operation by 1872. The first telephone was a line from J.C. Burrage’s home to his store one-quarter mile away. McEachern Telephone System first to operate a switch board with 26 subscribers in 1898.
In 1907 a tornado on the afternoon of May 25th between 4-5 p.m. destroyed every business and store in town, except the Blacksmith shop. The first oil well in Martin’s Mill was christened with honey as Baskin Well#1 by Ethel Barber. Texas highway 19 moved 4 miles west to its present location. Originally it came from Highway 64 through Martin’s Mill to Athens.
“Martin’s Mill was a bustling town in its day’s with two movie theaters,” said Tommy Thompson, a cousin to the Wallace boys. “I spent a lot of time and knew the three older brothers.”
His aunt, Carlye Mae Wallace, wrote a book on the history of Martin’s Mill called, “A History of Martin’s Mill.”
I want to thank Tommy Thompson, U.S. Navy, for sending me the seven (7) pictures of his cousins and the information about the Wallace family history in Martin’s Mill. They will be displayed in the Veterans Memorial Museum in the near future.
Along with the seven (7) brothers, Romie and Willie Wallace had two daughters Carlene and Wilma. Carlene Smith currently lives in Cedar Hill, Texas. She was very instrumental in sharing information on her brothers and many of the photographs from her family. Carlene is the only living member from the nine kids of Romie and Willie Wallace.
Carlene Smith Interview:
“My mother had two litters, and most of my brothers were come and gone by the time I came along,” said Carlene in a recent phone interview.
“My dad’s name was Romie and my mother was Willie.
My Dad worked in Dallas for a while and would come home for weekends. He worked as a custodian for the school in later years. He also did some carpentry work around the area. He helped deliver cows and was the local veterinarian but he didn’t have a license. They would always come and get my dad if they had a problem with their cows or when they were would drop a calf. He was never in the military and my dad never owned a car. My parents lived about a mile from downtown Martin’s Mill. They walked to the store for groceries. He worked as custodian at the school and loved to grow onions to take to Canton to give away to his friends.
My dad had a picture taken of him on his horse, Old Joe which would make it being made over 45 years ago,” said Carlene.
In an interview Romie gave to the Dallas Morning News in February 1966, he said, “I’ve furnished Uncle Sam with seven good soldiers. But, I haven’t given any more than the man who’s got one boy. He gave all he had, and I’ve given all I had.”
“My mother, Willie, was the hardest worker,” Carlene said. I don’t know how she did it with all those kids. She was a great mother and a great cook. She loved to garden and give vegetables to friends. She was actively involved in Martin’s Mill Baptist Church.
She lived to be almost 100 years old. It was bad for my mother that she had to go through all the military news from my brothers.
She was a very strong lady, though. My mother was only about 88 pounds but I remember her telling me about picking cotton and having to carry a baby on the other arm in the cotton fields.
She made quilts for all the new babies born in Martins Mill. She had her own recipe of hickory nut cookies for the men in the military. She would send them to the servicemen from Martins Mill stationed overseas. When they would come home they would run over to her house to get some more of those hickory nut cookies,” laughed, Carlene.
“There is a large section on the wall with just the military from Martin’s Mill,” said Jerry. “It is a real honor to them.”
The names of each of the seven (7) brothers from the Wallace families:
Herbert “Weston” Wallace:
Weston was a major in the Texas National Guard. He was in the 36th Infantry Division during WWII. Weston saw combat in Europe and was near Berlin when the war ended. Weston was awarded the Bronze Star with a citation that commended him “for heroic achievement in combat on 28 May 1944 in Italy.
Weston continued his career with the National Guard when he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant, Field Artillery, in October 1947. He retired as a major in October 1969. He died in 2002 after a long battle with cancer.
Elyn was in the Army in Burma during WWII and was wounded when an ammunition dump exploded. He received a Purple Heart.
Elyn had a son, Tommy Wallace, that was a former Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class at U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. 4th Fleet. Elyn worked in the oil fields and moved his family to Alaska and worked there for a few years in the oil field business. He was killed in a car accident in Kaufman, TX
Truett served in the U.S. Navy, (Coast Guard) at Port Isabel during WWII. He went to Japan with U.S. Occupation Forces. Truett later worked for Texas Power & Light in Henderson as an assistant plant manager. “I was the same age as Truett,” said Liston. “They were just all good ole country boys. We all came thru the depression and was in the same boat, all just trying to make it thru life.”
Quinton served with the Army in Korea during that conflict. He moved to Dallas after the service and died from cancer. “I remember him walking down a road in Martin’s Mill playing the piano and singing “Old Buttermilk Sky,” said Jerry smiling. “He never had a lesson in his life.”
Robert Gary Wallace:
Robert was a Staff Sargent and made the Army his career. Tommy(Elyn’s son) was in the service the same time my brother Robert was in the service. They ran into each other one time on the ship. He volunteered during the Korean conflict and also served in Thailand. He was with the Secret Service and lived in Manassas, Va. After retirement from the service, he served at the Pentagon until his death from a heart attack.
Merthell (Mike) Wallace:
Mike was drafted into the Army and served two years in the United States. He was stationed at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas as a cook. “I grew up with Robert & Johnny and he changed his name to “Mike,” when he was in the service. He was next to Johnny. He lived in Louisiana and worked for the railroad. I also grew up with the oldest brother, Johnny and Robert. They were the three I grew up with,” Carlene told me.
Johnny Delino Wallace:
The last brother, Johnny, was drafted in September 16, 1966 and served in Germany for two years. He worked in Dallas for a while but returned to Martin’s Mill where he resided, taking care of his mother until her death. He passed away from cancer on January 29, 2021.
Only surviving member of the Nine kids. Carlene contributed a great deal of the information and photos for this story. She now lives in Cedar Hill, with her husband Ford.
Wilma: Has a son Donald Gary Furrh who served in the Army National Guard.
The Veterans Memorial (Phil Smith, PR Director) interviews veterans from Van Zandt County. You can visit and read their stories at www.vzcm.org and at the top click MEET OUR VETERANS. They are in alphabetical order according to the branch of military they served.