Shumard, George Getz (1823–1867)

By: Roberta Shumard

Type: Biography

Published: July 1, 1995

George Getz Shumard, geologist and surgeon, was born on January 10, 1823, in Burlington, New Jersey, the second son of John and Ann Catherine (Getz) Shumard. He graduated from the medical college in Louisville, Kentucky, before moving to Fort Smith, Arkansas. He made significant geological explorations in northern and western Texas while serving as surgeon and geologist on a series of exploring expeditions sent out by the United States War Department in the 1850s, and as assistant to his brother, Benjamin Franklin Shumard, who was appointed the first state geologist in 1858. The first exploration, begun in 1852, was to the headwaters of the Red River with Capt. Randolph B. Marcy, also from Fort Smith, and Capt. George B. McClellan. The report of this expedition, made to President B. F. Pierce in 1853, included Shumard's journal about the geology of the northern plains from Fort Belknap in Young County to the Llano Estacado in the Panhandle, as well as his report on the paleontology of the region. He also made a large collection of rocks, minerals, soils, fossils, shells, and plants. His geological research on this expedition established the fact of carboniferous fossils in the coal beds of north central Texas. He also discovered the presence of Permian fossils in the area of the Guadalupe Mountains. Shumard Mountain in West Texas was named for him. In the summer of 1854 Shumard accompanied Marcy on an expedition to the Big Wichita River and the headwaters of the Brazos River, on the Llano Estacado. In 1855 he went with an expedition commanded by Capt. John Pope from Indianola to San Antonio, then to Fort Clark, up the Devil's River, up the Pecos River to Delaware Creek, and west to the Mimbres Mountains in New Mexico. In 1858 part of his report on the geology of western Texas appeared in the Transactions of the Saint Louis Academy of Sciences. In 1886 the report was discovered and published in its entirety by Hamilton P. Bee, Texas state commissioner of insurance, statistics, and history. From 1858 to 1861 Shumard served as assistant state geologist for the Texas state geological survey (see GEOLOGICAL SURVEYS OF TEXAS) and worked again along the Red River border. In 1859 he married Isabella Clark Atkinson; they had two children. After the survey was suspended in 1861, Shumard moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. He served as Ohio state surgeon general until he died on September 29, 1867.

Walter Keene Linscott Ferguson, Geology and Politics in Frontier Texas, 1845–1909 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1969). Grant Foreman, ed., Adventure on the Red River (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1937). S. W. Geiser, "Men of Science in Texas, 1820–1880," Field and Laboratory 26–27 (January 1958-October 1959).
  • Exploration
  • Explorers (American)
  • Health and Medicine
  • Physicians and Surgeons
  • General Surgeons

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

Roberta Shumard, “Shumard, George Getz,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 01, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

July 1, 1995

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