Sam Wallace was one of the most unique and interesting characters that Otter Tail County has ever known. He was a pioneer of Corliss Township, coming from Scotland in the early 1880s.
He and his wife were the first European settlers northwest of the Toad River for 200 miles. Logging was a big industry in the early days. For seven winters, Wallace was a cook in the logging camps. In 1883, he was employed by A. Pelton as a timekeeper on the first large drive to Winnipeg. After that, he took to farming and built a large barn, of which he was particularly proud. Sam was always a writer and a thinker, and was very active in politics.
He was a Populist when the People’s Party flourished in Minnesota in the early 1900s. Ten years later, he was a Socialist, welcoming the Non-Partisan League in 1916. Later, he became an ardent champion of the Farmer-Labor Party. Sam didn’t believe in hiding his lamp under a bushel. At every Non-Partisan League or Farmer Labor picnic held within 30 miles of Corliss Township, his Scotch voice could be heard, strong and clear, either in speech or song (for he was as good a singer as he was a speaker and writer).
Sam’s body was rather small, but his soul and spirit were large. He was honest, sincere, courageous, and to know him was to love him. Born in 1854, he had been married three times and was the father of 21 children. At the time of his death at the age of 93, he had 36 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Virginia Wallace, a descendant (by marriage) spent years at the History Museum of East Otter Tail County compiling extensive research on Sam Wallace.
The above information is from “The History of East Otter Tail County, Volume I, 1977.” Lina Belar is the founder and retired director of the Friends of the History Museum of East Otter Tail County.