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'Big Foot' Tom Folliard

Thomas O. Folliard, Jr. was born in 1858 in Uvalde, Texas to Tom Folliard, Sr. and Sarah Cook Folliard. The family moved to Monclova, Coahuila, Mexico when Tom was still a baby and both his parents died there of smallpox. Tom's maternal uncle John Cook, after getting out of the Civil War, traveled down to Mexico and brought the infant Tom back to Uvalde, Texas. Back in Uvalde, Tom stayed with his aunt, Margaret Jane Cook. In 1873, Aunt Margaret got married to a Pat Dolan, and Tom went to live with his uncle John Cook. After Cook married a Miss McKinney in 1875, Tom went to live with his grandmother, Mrs. Jane Cook. In May of 1878, when he was about nineteen, Tom left Uvalde with a friend, James Woodland, and traveled to Lincoln County, New Mexico. Sometime in late May, Tom and Woodland began rustling cattle from Jas. J. Dolan & Co. Around early June 1878, Tom traveled to San Patricio and joined the Regulators. Woodland, however, did not and no one seems to know what became of him. Immediately after joining the Regulators, Tom became best friends with Billy "the Kid" Bonney, with Billy teaching him how to shoot well with a rifle and pistol. Tom fought in the McSween house alongside Billy and twelve other Regulators during the Five-Day Battle in Lincoln. On July 19, 1878, the last day of the Five-Day Battle, Tom was one of the Regulators that fled from the burning McSween house and managed to escape. However, he was possibly shot in the left shoulder when he stopped to try and rescue another man who was in the McSween house, namely Harvey Morris, a non-Regulator law student who just happened to be in the McSween house during the battle. Morris was killed while fleeing from the McSween house. Tom continued to ride with Billy the Kid after the war's end, everywhere. Billy hardly went anywhere without Tom beside him. Tom was the best friend Billy would ever have. He basically worshiped Billy and would do anything for him. On Sept. 5, 1878, Tom, Billy, and what was left of the Regulators (Fred Waite, Henry Brown, John Middleton, and maybe Big Jim French, Tiger Sam Smith, and George Bowers) raided Charles Fritz's ranch and rode off with 15 horses and 150 head of cattle. They then drove the animals to Tascosa, Texas, where they sold them. While in Tascosa, Tom got into an altercation with a man while playing cards with him and the two nearly came to shooting it out, but Billy intervened and calmed Tom down. The Regulators disbanded in Tascosa, with Tom and Billy being the only two to return to New Mexico. On Feb. 18, 1879, Tom accompanied Billy, Doc Scurlock, Yginio Salazar, and George Bowers to Lincoln in an attempt to meet with Jimmy Dolan and his gunmen and make peace. This idea of peace ended though when Dolan and his men killed Huston Chapman, a lawyer for Sue McSween. Afterward, Billy made a deal with Gov. Lew Wallace promising him a full pardon for his testimony before the grand jury against Dolan and the other men. On March 21, 1879, Billy and Doc Scurlock surrendered to Lincoln County Sheriff George Kimbrell. For the next twenty-seven days, Billy and Doc were under house arrest in Juan Patron's house, and Tom stayed with them for ten of those days. In mid-April, Tom was indicted, along with Sam Smith, for stealing Charles Fritz's livestock, but both men took Gov. Wallace's amnesty offer (the offer gave amnesty to anyone who committed a crime during the War who had not been previously indicted). After the Rustlers were formed in the Fall of 1879 with Billy as the leader, Tom became the second-in-command. In early December 1880, Tom began planning to go back to Texas to see his grandmother. He was able to persuade Billy into going along with him. On the night of December 19, 1880, as Tom, Billy, and the other Rustlers were entering Fort Sumner to sleep, Sheriff Pat Garrett and a posse, lying in ambush, opened fire on them. A bullet from Garrett's rifle slammed into Tom's chest as he sank in his saddle. His horse took off, but he finally got it under control again and surrendered to the posse. The posse took him to the Old Indian Hospital and waited there for him to die. About forty-five minutes after he was shot by Garrett, Tom breathed his last. He was buried the next day in the Fort Sumner cemetery. When posse members went through Tom's saddle bags, they found a letter Tom had written to his grandmother telling her that he and Billy were coming to visit her in Texas. Tom never made it there.