Dr. Alexander Archer Beville: Waco’s First Dentist
contributed 2008 by T. Bradford Willis, D.D.S., M.S.D., Waco, Texas
The writer wishes to express thanks to Pat K. Laverty of Laverty’s Antiques of Waco who permitted the writer to transcribe the Beville and Luedde Bibles which she had purchased at the Jane Katherine Beville estate sale in 2007. These hand-written transcriptions, photographs, obituaries, and Dr. Alexander Archer Beville’s biographical sketch were placed on the computer by Leah Menning, Julie Dobson, and Bryan Broussard who are Baylor University pre-dental students. This historical project would not have been completed without their knowledge and assistance. Appreciation is expressed to them for their time and dedication.
The writer also wishes to express appreciation to Dr. Richard J. Behles, the Historical Librarian/Preservation Officer for the University of Maryland Health Sciences and Human Services Library, for researching and sending the information on Dr. Alexander Jacob Beville’s 1892 graduation from the Dental Department of the University of Maryland.
Dr. Alexander Archer Beville was born July 11, 1841, in Amelia County, Virginia, the son of Alexander and Catherine Walthall Beville.1
During the Civil War, Dr. Beville enlisted as a private on July 20, 1861, at Wytheville, Virginia. A member of the 51st Virginia Infantry Regiment, Dr. Beville served as a clerk for the brigade commander, and on August 16, 1864, he was wounded in the foot by a bullet.2, 3
After the Civil War, Dr. Beville married Margaret Jane Keister in Blacksburg, Virginia, on December 24, 1867,4 and they later moved to Waco, Texas, in 1870.5 According to several sources, he was the first dentist in Waco.6 After Dr. William R. Clifton arrived in Waco circa 1871, he and Dr. Beville formed a dental partnership which lasted one year.7 In 1876, Dr. Alexander A. Beville’s office was located at 49 ½ Austin Street. After his graduation from the Dental Department of the University of Maryland in 1892, Dr. Alexander Jacob Beville joined his father in the practice of dentistry in Waco.
Their office was located at 401 ½ Austin Avenue.
On September 1, 1873, Dr. Alexander Archer Beville was elected secretary of the Texas Dental Association.8 One of the organizers of the Texas Dental Association, Dr. Beville served on its executive committee. In May 1887, Dr. Alexander A. Beville was elected second vice-president of the Association and served on its finance committee.9 In 1894, he was elected president of the Texas Dental Association.10
Active in the community, Dr. Beville was a charter member of the Austin Avenue Methodist Church of Waco, and was a member of the Pat Cleburne Camp. Dr. Beville died at his residence, 1712 Austin Avenue, on October 16, 1930, and was buried in the Oakwood Cemetery of Waco.11
In May 2007, the Jane Katherine Beville (Dr. A. A. Beville’s granddaughter) estate sale was held in Waco. The author purchased Dr. A. A. Beville’s photographs; his remaining mother-of-pearl dental instruments made by S. S. White; his 1897 Texas dental license; and his 1870 diary which includes names of patients and their dental treatment, and office expenses.
In 2008, the author obtained a granite grave marker from the Department of Veterans Affairs, and it was erected at his gravesite.
1 Texas State Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Standard Certificate of Death 49851, Alexander Archer Beville, 1930.
2 James A. Davis, 51st Virginia Infantry (Lynchburg: H.E. Howard, 1984), 55.
3 Mary B. Kegley, Wythe County, Virginia A Bicentennial History (Marceline: Walsworth Publishing, 1989), 388.
4 Heart of Texas Records, 50 (Winter 2007): 13.
5 Waco Times-Herald, 17 October 1930, 9.
6 Waco Times-Herald, 23 December 1957, 11.
7 B.B. Paddock, ed., A History of Central and Western Texas (Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1911), 826.
8 Walter C. Stout, The First Hundred Years A History of Dentistry in Texas (Dallas: Press of the Egan Company, 1969), 28.
9 Waco Daily Examiner, 4 May 1887, 3.
10 Walter C. Stout, The First Hundred Years A History of Dentistry in Texas (Dallas: Press of the Egan Company, 1969), 291.
11 Waco Times-Herald, 17 October 1930, 9.