While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Merle Mears Duncan

WALLACE, DAVID RICHARD (1825–1911). 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.

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


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

Handbook of Texas Online, Merle Mears Duncan, "WALLACE, DAVID RICHARD," accessed August 14, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fwa33.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on July 10, 2017. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...