Shumard, Benjamin Franklin (1820–1869)

By: Seymour V. Connor

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: June 1, 1995

Benjamin Franklin Shumard, geologist and physician, son of John and Ann Catherine (Getz) Shumard, was born at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on November 24, 1820. He graduated from Miami University at Oxford, Ohio, took a medical course at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, and received his M.D. degree at Louisville, Kentucky, in 1843. While practicing medicine in Kentucky he became interested in paleontology, wrote some papers on the subject, and built a collection of specimens. By 1846 he had given up medicine to devote his time to geology. He headed a section of the geological survey of Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota in 1848 and 1849 and in 1850 accompanied a geological survey to Oregon. He married Elizabeth Maria Allen in Louisville, Kentucky, on November 18, 1852. In 1853 Dr. Shumard was appointed paleontologist and assistant geologist of the Missouri Geological Survey, but in 1858, before that work was finished, he resigned to become chief geologist of Texas under appointment of Governor Hardin R. Runnels. That year he was president of the Academy of Sciences in St. Louis. Shumard organized the Texas Geological Survey, the first on a comprehensive scale authorized for the state, and appointed as his assistants his brother George G. Shumard, W. P. Riddell, A. R. Roessler, Caleb G. Forshey and Svante Palm (see JAENSSON, SWEN). On November 1, 1860, Shumard was removed from office by Governor Sam Houston but was temporarily reinstated by the legislature. Shumard returned to St. Louis at the beginning of the Civil War and in 1866 was appointed professor of obstetrics at the University of Missouri. At the time of his death on April 14, 1869, he was president of the St. Louis Academy of Science and a member of the Geological Society of London, of the Geological Society of France, of the Imperial Geological Society of Vienna, and of the academies of science of Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and New Orleans.

Biographical Encyclopedia of Texas (New York: Southern, 1880). Walter Keene Linscott Ferguson, Geology and Politics in Frontier Texas, 1845–1909 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1969). S. W. Geiser, "Men of Science in Texas, 1820–1880," Field and Laboratory 26–27 (July-October 1958-October 1959). Robert T. Hill, The Present Condition of Knowledge of the Geology of Texas (U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin No. 45, Washington: GPO, 1887). National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 8 (New York: White, 1891-). Amelia W. Williams and Eugene C. Barker, eds., The Writings of Sam Houston, 1813–1863 (8 vols., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1938–43; rpt., Austin and New York: Pemberton Press, 1970).


  • Health and Medicine
  • Physicians and Surgeons
  • General Practitioners

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

Seymour V. Connor, “Shumard, Benjamin Franklin,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 22, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 1, 1995

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