Foy Esco Wallace
Sketch On The Life Of Foy E. Wallace, Jr.
Foy E. Wallace, Jr.,
was born September 30, 1896, in a farm house surrounded by cotton
fields, a few miles south of Belcherville, in Montague County,
Texas. He often said that he was born in the middle of a cotton
field. His father, Foy E. Wallace, Sr., was one of the most
prominent preachers in Texas, and led the fight with many others
against the missionary societies and instrumental music in the
worship of the churches. His mother was Martha Anne (Mattie)
Higgins, a very devout student of the Bible and the daughter of
Marcus D. Lafayette Higgins, who was an elder and part-time preacher
in the church, and Martha Jane Harvey, whose family numbered many
members of the church.
The subject of this
sketch was not a "junior" in the full meaning of the term, since his
middle name was Esco, while his father's was Edwin. The name, Edwin,
was given to a previous child who had died, but all of his preaching
life he was known as Foy E. Wallace, Jr.
His grandfather, Thomas
Knox Wallace, who came from Morgan County, Alabama, with his family
to Cherokee County, Texas, in 1849 when he was just a boy, was one
of the pioneer preachers in Texas, who preached and farmed, as was
the custom of so many of the early preachers. Foy E. Wallace, Jr.'s
great uncles were Ed S. and A. Leroy Elkins, preachers who did much
for the cause of Christ in Texas and Oklahoma. His genealogy also
includes many preachers of the Wallace, Higgins, Elkins, Morrow, and
Peden families, reaching back to the 1500's in Scotland, where one
of his ancestors, Andrew Hugh Peden, gave his life as a martyr for
A very traumatic event
in his life was the death of his beloved mother in 1913, when he was
16 years of age. He often spoke of her and of the words which
C. R. Nichol spoke to him at the cemetery.
"Foy, this is not your mother. She is not here. She has gone to be
with her God." His great love and devotion for his mother was
reflected in the high pedestal upon which he placed womanhood.
While a student at
Thorp Springs, Texas, he preached his first sermon at Stephenville,
Texas, at the age of 15. He soon had all the appointments and
meetings he could hold, partly because of his father's reputation,
but mainly because of his precocity and innate ability. Everyone
seemed to want to hear "Little Foy." Long after he was married, he
was still advertised as the "boy preacher."
one of his preaching appointments, in Belton, Texas, he met a
vivacious and beautiful girl, Virgie Brightwell, to whom he gave his
heart and from whom he never swerved in absolute devotion for 65
years. She was the daughter of William Henry Brightwell and Nancy
Jane Edds, the youngest child, born 10 years after the family had
lost their three youngest children in one month during a terrible
epidemic. She had come from her home in Temple with her father to
hear the "boy preacher." They were married November 29, 1914, she at
age 16, he at age 18.
Their first local work
together was at Lott, Texas. They also lived in Temple, Vernon,
Wichita Falls, and Fort Worth, where he preached for the churches,
but more and more, he was called upon to preach in gospel meetings
until eventually he spent most of his time in such meetings. At
first, Virgie would go with him to the meetings, but as the family
grew, she would stay at home with the children. Throughout the long
absences from her husband, she was always cheerful and never
complained. She supported him fully in the great work to which he
was committed. He was often away for weeks at a time. On one
occasion, he preached in a six-weeks meeting in Pensacola, Florida.
Family crises always seemed to occur when he was away. On one
occasion, while he was away in a meeting, the family home in Fort
Worth burned to the ground. He returned home in the wee hours of the
morning to find the family, who had barely escaped with their lives,
in their night clothes in the yard awaiting his arrival.
One of his rare, but
fruitful, periods of local work was with the Central Church of
Christ in Los Angeles, California, in the early 1930's. The churches
in California at that time were few and far between. The Central
Church, when he first arrived, met in a rented hall. He traveled
back to Texas and raised funds to build a beautiful and commodious
building for the church, one of the first of its kind in the West.
From California, he was
called to come to Nashville, Tennessee, to assume the editorship of
the Gospel Advocate. It was in the days of the Great Depression, and
when he arrived in Nashville, he was to be greeted with the news
that his salary had been cut even before he had assumed the work. He
was called on to preach in numerous meetings. The churches knew that
he had a salary at the Advocate, so they did not support his
meetings adequately. With five children to support, the going was
very difficult. Yet, during that time and until the day of his
death, he never would tell the churches an amount for his support,
but always left it to their discretion. In answer to what amount he
would expect for his services, he invariably replied, "Just do what
you can, and I will be satisfied."
Heavily burdened with
debts, which he eventually repaid in full, he resigned his work with
the Gospel Advocate and headed with his family toward Texas. In
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, a group of dedicated friends met him and
told him that he was to go no further. Oklahoma City was to be his
home for many years. During all this time, he was in constant demand
for gospel meetings throughout the United States and Canada.
During these years, the
question of premillennialism was plaguing the brotherhood. At first,
almost single-handedly, and then with many devoted co-workers, Foy
E. Wallace, Jr., waged a successful fight to keep premillennialism
out of churches of Christ. First, from the pages of the Gospel
Advocate, then from his own papers, the Bible Banner, the original
Gospel Guardian, and Torch, he covered the brotherhood with his own
effective writing and with that of the most talented men in the
church in his determined fight that error "shall not pass." In this
work, he depended greatly upon the pen of his brother, Cled E.
Wallace. Through his writings and preaching, he also effectively
championed the Christian's right to bear arms for his country. He
opposed the support of colleges and schools from the treasury of the
church. In his later years, he waged a relentless war against the
perversions of the scriptures in the new translations and versions
of the Bible.
In his meetings he
literally baptized hundreds. In one meeting at Lomita, Texas, there
were over 100 baptisms, the youngest being 16 years of age. There
were 25 who came from the Baptist Church, including several of their
deacons, and 40 from the Methodist Church. His debates were
classics, and also resulted in many conversions.
He never debated simply
for the sake of debating. He insisted on their being a capable
representative of the opposing doctrine. Among his notable debates
were the two debates in 1933 with Charles M. Neal concerning
premillennialism, the debates with Dr. J. Frank Norris in 1934 in
Fort Worth, with Dr. E. F. Webber in Oklahoma City in 1937, and with
Glen V. Tingley in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1938, all on the subjects
of premillennialism and Baptist doctrines, and several debates with
capable representatives on the subject of instrumental music in
worship. In 1944, he traveled to California to debate Dr. John
Matthews in Los Angeles on the subject of Anglo-Israelism.
In 1952, while he was
in a meeting in Cushing, Oklahoma, he returned to his hotel room to
find the door locked and no answer from his wife to his knocking. He
found that she had collapsed in the bathroom, having suffered a
major stroke. He rushed her to Scott and White Hospital in Temple,
Texas, where the doctors first said that she could not live and then
that she would never walk again. He cancelled all his preaching
appointments and devoted himself to his beloved's recovery. He first
took her to Corpus Christi, Texas, but then heard of the therapeutic
work for stroke victims at Hot Springs, Arkansas. At Hot Springs,
she gradually began to regain partial use of her body and learned to
walk again with aids. After he resumed his meeting work, he took her
with him to most of his appointments. His love and solicitude for
her was a marvel for all who witnessed them.
For over 25 years, they
traveled together to meetings from one end of the nation to the
other. The hearts and hearths of many devoted friends were opened to
them. Without the love and help of his friends, he could never have
endured those last years. In the last of their traveling, she was
confined to a wheelchair. The picture of the old white-haired
patriarch pushing his invalid wife in a wheelchair, warmed the
hearts of many people.
Many of the large
churches were closed to him in those years, partly because of the
length of his sermons, which often far exceeded an hour in length.
Where he did go, the listeners invariably commented that the time
had passed so rapidly that they were unaware that he had spoken so
long until the sermon was over. It pleased him that the young took
to his preaching so enthusiastically; they, for the most part, had
never heard anything like it before.
He was entirely
contented and happy to go where he was wanted and needed, and he
helped countless small and rural churches. When he died, there were
appointments waiting to be filled in California, Texas, Tennessee,
He was the author of
more than a dozen books which have greatly influenced young
preachers and members of the church. His book "God's Prophetic
Word," is considered a classic in its field and is used as a
textbook in colleges and schools of preaching. Among his other books
are "The Book of Revelation," "Bulwarks of the Faith," "The Gospel
for Today," "The Christian and Government," "The Sermon on the Mount
and the Civil State," "The Story of the NorrisWallace Debate," "The
Neal-Wallace Debate," "Number One Gospel Sermons," "A Review of the
New Versions," "The Present Truth," and "The Instrumental Music
He was devoted to his
children and to his grandchildren. Two of his sons, Wilson and
William (Bill) are preachers. His daughter, Martha Jane, is married
to a gospel preacher, Richard E. Black. His eldest son, Taylor, and
his daughter, Lee Ella, are also members of the church.
In 1979, he moved to
Hereford, Texas, to be near his son, Wilson, and his family. He had
developed a blood condition similar to hemophilia. In the blood
transfusions he needed, he contracted hepatitis. He was in the local
hospital in Hereford for two weeks, during which time he seemed to
be making a recovery. His doctor thought that he would recover. In
the early afternoon of December 18, he worsened and quickly passed
from this life, evidently from a stroke caused by his blood
condition. He had requested to be buried where he died, and thus he
was interred in the West Park Cemetery in Hereford, Texas. His
grave-stone reads, "Soldier of the Cross." His widow thought that it
was appropriate for him to be buried in West Texas where he had
preached so often and among the friendly people he had loved. He had
preached at the Central Church of Christ in Hereford on Sunday for
both services just two weeks before he died. His sermon was one of
his favorites: "The Beatitudes-Pentecost Pointers."
If ever a man fought a
good fight, kept the faith, and finished the course, Foy E. Wallace,
Jr., did. He rests from his labors and his works do follow him.
Survivors included his wife, Virgie; his three sons, Wilson Wallace,
William Wallace, and Taylor Wallace; two daughters, Mrs. Richard E.
Black and Lee Ella.
Funeral service was
held in the Central Church of Christ in Hereford, Texas, with
George DeHoff, and J. T. Marlin officiating. Gary Colley led the
prayer. Burial was in Hereford, Texas, with interment in West Park
—In Memoriam, Gussie Lambert, c.1988,
Front Cover Of Gospel Advocate - Foy E. Wallace, Jr. Memorial Edition
Left to right: Foy E. Wallace, Jr., Austin Taylor, J. Early Arceneaux
This photograph was taken in Uvalde, Texas late in 1951 by Swofford's Photo Service.
A cropped version the photo was published by the Firm Foundation of 11 December 1951 on page nine.
The caption read, "Three Great Gospel Workers."
Photo courtesy of Terry J. Gardner, 10.01.2014
Signature of Foy E. Wallace, Jr.
Courtesy of Terry J. Gardner, 04.2010
Directions To The
Grave Of Foy E. Wallace, Jr.
F.E. Wallace, Jr. is
buried in West Park Cemetery in the city of Hereford, Texas.
Hereford is located in the Texas panhandle, just 47 miles southwest of
Amarillo. Take I-27 south of Amarillo toward Canyon. Take Exit 110,
Hwy. 87/60. Within a few miles Hwy. 60 will bear toward the
southwest. Head southwest on
Hwy. 60. When entering Hereford take E. Park Ave. (Hwy. 211) and go
2.1 miles. The cemetery will be on the left. Enter the main entrance
and go to the second paved road to the left (at the flagpole). Begin
looking to the left. The Wallace monument is close to the street.
Acc. to 14ft.
N34° 49.264’ x WO102° 25.292’
Grave Faces West
West Park Cemetery, Hereford, Texas
Married Nov. 29, 1914
January 2, 1898
January 5, 1987
Soldier Of The Cross
Foy E. Jr.
September 30, 1896
December 18, 1979