(October 16, 1825 – April 9, 1891)
Crown Hill Incorporator William Wallace was born in Brookville, Indiana, in October 1825. He was the son of Indiana’s 6th Governor, David Wallace, and brother of Civil War General and author Lew Wallace, who wrote the famous book, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. His father’s political career brought the family to Indianapolis in his youth and he first caught the public’s eye when he had the starring role in a local production of a play about the life of Pocahontas. He played the Indian princess, while his younger brother, Lew, played the role of her sister.
Wallace left his short-lived acting career behind and studied law. He was admitted to the bar in 1850, and in 1854, he and the future 23rd president, Benjamin Harrison, started the firm of Wallace & Harrison, later dissolving it in 1860 when Wallace was elected County Clerk. (Another William Wallace served as Indianapolis Mayor from 1856-1858 and as County Sheriff from 1858-1862.) It was his law career that brought him to Crown Hill’s Board of Corporators in September 1863, and he prepared the Articles of Association along with Judge Addison Roache and James Ray. He continued to serve on the board until his death in 1891.
In her book, The Story of Crown Hill, Anna Nicholas quotes another author who described Wallace as “a quiet unspectacular citizen but one who by force of character created a confidence in himself that gave him many positions of responsibility in private affairs.” He may have shied away from politics in favor of “private affairs” following the advice of his father, who Nicholas quotes as having said, “William, I want you to remember that it will be a good deal better to have a few thousand laid away for old age than to have been Governor of the State or member of Congress.” Thus Wallace was very active in city life as well as his legal practice, usually in ways that did not draw attention to himself. The author Meredith Nicolson, himself later a board member, studied law under the mentorship of Wallace before deciding to try to live the life of a writer.
Wallace married Ovid and Cordelia Butler’s daughter, also named Cordelia, on June 17, 1847. The couple had eight children, three of whom died in infancy. After Cordelia died in 1866, he married Sarah Jameson in 1868 and they had two children. At the time of his death in April 1891 at age 65, Wallace was serving as the local postmaster. He’s buried in a lot with his two wives and other family members.
Buried in Section 6, Lot 1; GPS (39.8199319, -86.1745078)