Wallace, David Richard (1825–1911)

By: Merle Mears Duncan

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: July 4, 2017

David Richard Wallace, pioneer physician and psychiatrist, was born on November 10, 1825, on a small farm near Greenville, North Carolina, the son of Warren and Phoebe (Powell) Wallace. He attended schools in Greenville, graduated from Wake Forest College in 1850, taught at Warrenton Institute and Greenville Academy, and then pursued the study of medicine at New York City Medical College, where he received a medical degree in 1853. Wallace returned to Greenville and formed a partnership to practice medicine with another physician. In December 1855 he took his mother with him to Bastrop, Texas; several months later he moved to Independence, where Baylor University was then located, formed a partnership with another doctor, and taught Latin and Greek at Baylor. In 1861, when the faculty of that school moved to Waco to open Waco University, Wallace moved also, continuing to practice medicine and to teach at the university. In 1862 he reported to the Fifteenth Texas Infantry Regiment as a surgeon and served throughout the Civil War. At the close of the war he was surgeon for the Department of Southern Texas. Wallace returned to Waco, formed a partnership with J. H. Sears for the general practice of medicine, and also went into the drug business. He was appointed superintendent of the State Lunatic Asylum (later renamed Austin State Hospital) and served in that position from 1874 until 1879. In 1883 he was appointed to help establish the North Texas Lunatic Asylum (later renamed Terrell State Hospital); he was appointed superintendent there but resigned in 1891 to return to Waco. He did not enter the general practice of medicine again; instead, he specialized in nervous diseases and was often called upon for advice in the treatment of insanity. He believed that the insane should not be hidden away but should be treated for illness. In this respect Wallace was a pioneer in the psychiatric field in Texas. Wallace was prominent in civic and business enterprises, as well as professional medical groups. He was awarded an honorary degree by Baylor University and an honorary membership in the American Psychological Association. In 1857 Wallace was married to Arabella Daniel; they had five children. His wife died in 1868, and three years later he was married to her sister, Susan Lavinia Robert, a widow with one son; they had one son. Wallace died on November 21, 1911, in Waco, and he was buried in Oakwood Cemetery.

Merle M. Duncan, "David Richard Wallace," Texana 1 (Fall 1963). Merle Mears Duncan, "The Death of Senator Coke," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 63 (January 1960). Doris Dowell Moore, The Biography of Doctor D. R. Wallace (Dallas: Timberlawn Foundation, 1966). George Plunkett [Mrs. S. C.] Red, The Medicine Man in Texas (Houston, 1930). Waco Daily Times-Herald, November 21, 1911. Waco News-Tribune, November 22, 1911.

  • Health and Medicine
  • Physicians and Surgeons
  • General Practitioners
  • Psychologists, Psychiatrists, and Neuropsychiatrists

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

Merle Mears Duncan, “Wallace, David Richard,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 05, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/wallace-david-richard.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

July 4, 2017

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