The Tracy Family History
Baptist Billy Wallace
& others
definite maybe's


    Leave it to Cousin Mildred Bailey to come up with interesting people so I can tell interesting stories. She sent me a clipping more than 25 years old from a newspaper, The Knoxville News Sentinel (1978). It is about Baptist Billy Wallace, a pastor you can guess.
    Baptist Billy is a strong "maybe," which also ties us into two other strong "maybe’s."
    Billy was by adoption by Rex Wallace of Anderson County, Tennessee. Inasmuch as all of the Wallaces in Anderson County descend from my John Wallace then it is a good bet that he is one of our cousins. (Remember, John Wallace’s first wife was Jane Miller who was killed by lightening; his second wife was Rebecca Norton.)
    He has a long list of educational and vocational accomplishments, but that is not our story. Baptist Billy was related to another Bill Wallace, a famed Southern Baptists missionary to China who would meet a martyr's death in that country. The last name is the same. Hometowns are the same and they are related, so I am going to stick my neck out a little bit and call Billy Wallace of China one of our cousins.
    He is born in 1908 (?), and becomes a shy, accomplished, surgeon. He is a medical missionary to China. He enters that country in 1935, serves his mission for 15 years and dies in prison in 1951. A book was written about his life in 1963, Bill Wallace of China, by Jesse C. Fletcher. It went through several printings but is now out of print. I ordered a copy through the Inter Library loan system (ILL).   
    A movie using the same title was released in 1968. Both book and movie were church-oriented and reflect that view.


Dr. William Wallace in China. Photo courtesy of Jesse Fletcher.

    Baptist Billy has another famed relative, this time a cousin to his wife, Lynne Ogg. This cousin is Metropolitan Opera star, Mary Costa, who also lives in Knoxville. “We are good friends and she visits the house all the time,” says Mrs. Baptist Billy, a fine lady and good pastor’s wife.
    Mary Costa’s entrance to fame came when she did the voice of "Sleeping Beauty" in the 1959 Disney animation. Because she was a world opera star means that much biography is available on her for those who are interested.
    She retired in 1984, after four decades of professional singing. Today she holds the prestigious position of being a member of the National Counsel on the Arts, one of only 14 members.



Mary Costa photo provided by the National Endowment of the Arts. Photo by Steven Purcell.

    This shows you just how far back I am willing to go to find a story. How far? Back to Adam and Eve...and beyond them.

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