Elizabeth Virginia Wallace was born February 13, 1885 in Independence, Missouri. Her parents, David and Madge (Gates) Wallace, were both members of prosperous families and were highly regarded in the community.
Bess was a pretty child, with curly blonde hair and blue eyes. From an early age she was referred to as Bessie, a nickname that would later be shortened to the familiar Bess. As a young girl, she was described as good humored and outgoing. She developed an interest in the outdoors and sports, which followed her into adulthood. She enjoyed tennis, ice skating, fishing, horseback riding, and swimming. She also played third base on her younger brothers’ baseball team.