Swearingen, Richard Montgomery (1838–1898)

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: July 1, 1995

Richard Montgomery Swearingen, physician, son of Richard Johnson and Margaret (Conner) Swearingen, was born in Noxubee County, Mississippi, on September 26, 1838. In 1848 the family moved to Washington County, Texas. Swearingen attended Chappell Hill Male and Female Institute (see CHAPPELL HILL FEMALE COLLEGE) and Centenary College at Jackson, Louisiana. He was attending New Orleans Medical College in 1860, when secession induced him to join the Confederate Army. Swearingen was in the Cumberland Valley campaign and the Kentucky campaign, at Murfreesboro, and in the retreat through Georgia. In 1864 he married Jennie Jessie of Sneedsville, Tennessee. He returned to medical school after the war and finished his training in 1867; in 1875 he moved to Austin, Texas, where he practiced medicine. In 1878 Swearingen and Dr. T. D. Manning, also of Austin, volunteered their assistance in the yellow fever epidemic that swept Memphis, Tennessee, and Holly Springs, Mississippi. Manning died, and Swearingen was appointed by President Rutherford B. Hayes to a commission of experts that investigated yellow fever. The report of this commission brought about the establishment of the National Board of Health, which afterward merged with the Marine Hospital Bureau. In 1881 Swearingen was appointed state health officer of Texas. He served in that capacity for several terms and was president of the Austin school board. After neglecting his own health while tending to the yellow fever epidemic he died of Bright's disease in Austin on August 7, 1898.

George P. Garrison, "Richard Montgomery Swearingen," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 9 (January 1905). George Plunkett [Mrs. S. C. Red], The Medicine Man in Texas (Houston, 1930).


  • 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.

Anonymous, “Swearingen, Richard Montgomery,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 28, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/swearingen-richard-montgomery.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

July 1, 1995

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