Scarborough, Dallas (1882–1957)

By: Katharyn Duff

Type: Biography

Published: June 1, 1995

Updated: February 19, 2019

Dallas Scarborough, Abilene civic leader and attorney, the son of Isaac Polk and Adeline (Russell) Scarborough, was born on March 14, 1882, on Brushy Creek near Round Rock, Texas, and was reared in Callahan County. He attended school at Simmons College (now Hardin-Simmons University) in Abilene and Daniel Baker College in Brownwood, where he was awarded a bachelor of science degree in 1903. He was a football and baseball star for the University of Texas, where he went to study law after turning down a contract to be a catcher for the Cleveland Americans. After two years in law school he passed the bar exam in 1905 and moved to Abilene, where he established his law practice and became the first official football coach at Simmons College. He was married in Abilene on June 4, 1908, to Laura Jewel Davis; the couple had two sons. As a Democrat and former Taylor County Democratic chairman, Scarborough ran for the city commission in 1917. Two years later he was drafted to run for mayor, a post he held until 1923. Under his guidance Abilene's first city-owned lake, Lake Abilene, was built; the sewage system became a city-owned operation; parks were added; and new schools, a fire station, and a city hall were erected.

As an attorney, Scarborough practiced civil and criminal law but was most active as a defense lawyer. He was appointed in 1906 to defend his first client in a capital case. A man was charged with stabbing a waitress who had spurned his love. The man wanted no defense, but Scarborough was assigned to represent him and lost the case; the man was hanged. After this sad beginning, Scarborough went on during the next forty-nine years to defend more than 200 persons against charges of murder or assault with intent to murder. None of his clients received a sentence longer than twenty years. Scarborough became a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers. He was named by the chief justice of the state Court of Criminal Appeals to a panel to revise the Texas criminal code and by the chief justice of the state Supreme Court to revise the rules of civil procedure. He was the only Texan to be named to both committees. He was Abilene draft-board chairman in World War I and was appeals agent for the Abilene draft board in World War II. He helped organize the Abilene Country Club, was a thirty-second-degree Mason and a Shriner, and belonged to the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest. He died at Hendrick Memorial Hospital (now Hendrick Medical Center) in Abilene on September 27, 1957.

Abilene Reporter-News, September 27, 1957, June 10, 1976. Katharyn Duff, Abilene . . . On Catclaw Creek: A Profile of a West Texas Town (Abilene, Texas: Reporter Publishing, 1969).


  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Civic Leaders
  • Lawyers
  • Criminal Law and District Attorneys
  • Religion
  • Freemasonry
  • Protestant Episcopal

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Katharyn Duff, “Scarborough, Dallas,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 27, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 1, 1995
February 19, 2019