Astyanax M. Douglass, physician, Confederate officer, and state representative, was born in Sumner County, Tennessee, on September 10, 1838, to James S. and Caroline (Mills) Douglass. Douglass was raised in Tennessee and attended several area schools, including Columbian Academy. He went on to study medicine at a college in Nashville and received a medical degree in 1861. Astyanax Douglass relocated to Rankin County, Mississippi, where he practiced medicine briefly before electing to volunteer for service in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. He enlisted in Company I of the Sixth Mississippi Infantry Regiment. Following the April 1862 battle of Shiloh Douglass received promotion to second lieutenant. During the summer of 1862 at the siege of Corinth he was wounded so severely that he was sent to Bowling Green, Kentucky, to convalesce. Here Douglass served for a time as an assistant surgeon before rejoining the Sixth Mississippi during its 1863 and 1864 Tennessee campaigns. He was wounded again at Franklin, Tennessee, before being taken prisoner at the conclusion of the war.
After his parole at Meridian, Mississippi, Dr. Douglass practiced medicine briefly in Sumner County, Tennessee, before immigrating to Texas in 1866. He settled a 700-acre homestead in the vicinity of Covington, Hill County, and in addition to his medical practice engaged as a farmer. Here in February 1868 Astyanax Douglass married the widowed Charlotte "Lottie" A. (Gathings) Wier. This couple had five sons and two daughters. During this time Douglass established himself as a leading area politician and physician. In 1873 he won election on the Democratic ticket as representative for District Twenty-three—comprised of Johnson, Hood, Parker, Erath, Palo Pinto, Stephens, Shackelford, Jones, Eastland, Callahan, Taylor, Hill, Jack, Young, Throckmorton, and Haskell counties—to the Fourteenth Legislature. Dr. Douglass won election to the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Texas legislatures as well, representing District Fifty-six—comprised of Hill County—in 1876 and 1879. In the latter two sessions he was chair of the Committee on Public Lands and Land Office.
Following this turn at state office Douglass returned to Hill County where he served as chairman for the Democratic Executive Committee of Hill County. He later held a number of titles and positions within the medical profession including the presidencies of the Medical and Surgical Association of Hill County and of the Medical Examining Board of the Eighteenth Judicial District, membership within the Central Texas Medical Association and within the Texas State Medical Association (a body in which he was second vice president for 1887–1888), and the chairmanship of the Texas State Board of Health. In February 1890 Douglass was elected permanent president of the Confederate Veterans and Old Settlers Association of Hill County. Late in life he returned to state office and served as a senator in the Twenty-third and Twenty-eighth legislatures. Dr. Astyanax M. Douglass died in Hill County on March 1, 1908, and is buried in Covington Cemetery.