Davis R. Gurley, Confederate officer and adjutant general of the state of Texas, son of Davis and Patience Bland (Smith) Gurley, was born in Franklin County, Alabama, on October 17, 1836. He received his early education at home. In 1853 he moved to Waco, Texas. He attended Wesleyan University in Florence, Alabama, where he graduated in 1858. In 1861 Gurley enlisted as a lieutenant in Company G of the Sixth Texas Cavalry. When Lawrence Sullivan Ross became colonel of the regiment he made Gurley a member of his staff. Gurley served the regiment as adjutant. With the formation of Ross's brigade after the battle of Corinth, Gurley was appointed adjutant general and eventually promoted to the rank of major.
At the end of the Civil War he went back to Waco, was elected district clerk in 1866, and served for one term. During the administration of Governor James W. Throckmorton, Gurley was named adjutant general of Texas, a position he held until the state government was set aside by military authorities. After leaving public office he raised fine Jersey cattle and cotton just south of Waco and published an article, "Agricultural Report on McLennan County, Texas" (1884).
While Gurley was in the Confederate Army he became a Mason. He was a member of the Waco lodge and served as the first worshipful master of J. H. Gurley Lodge No. 337 in Waco, organized in 1872 and named for Gurley's brother. Davis R. Gurley was the high priest of Waco Chapter 45 of the Royal Arch Masons and was at one time grand commander of the Grand Commandery of Texas Knights Templar. He also was a member of the Fifth Street Methodist Church in Waco. He married Loulie Earle on April 25, 1865; they had four daughters and a son. Gurley died on January 11, 1914, and was buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Waco.