Barton, Welborn (1821–1883)

By: Hazel Adams Richardson

Type: Biography

Published: June 1, 1995

Welborn Barton, physician, the eldest son of Wilson and Mildah (McKinney) Barton, was born on September 25, 1821, in Greenville, South Carolina, of Scotch-Irish ancestry. His mother died at a rather early age, and his father then married a woman named Rebecca. When he was nine he was permanently crippled in an accident. Because of his handicap his stepmother encouraged him to receive an education. In 1844 Barton entered the Medical Department of Transylvania College, Lexington, Kentucky, where, in 1846, he received an M.D. degree with a major in obstetrics. After his graduation in 1847 he moved to Bastrop, Texas, where he practiced medicine for two years. He then returned to South Carolina and prepared to seek his fortune in California, but returned instead to Lexington to take a postgraduate course. At Lexington on December 12, 1850, he married Louisa Adeline Cox, daughter of a wealthy planter. In time they had at least seven children. Barton returned to Greenville, South Carolina, and practiced medicine there until October 1854, when, leading a party of around eighty persons, including his father, his brothers Alexander, Wilson Perry, David, Joel Poinsett, Columbus, and Decatur, he set out from Tigerville, again intending to go to California. On the way through Texas he stopped off in Williamson County, before moving in 1855 to Burnet County, where his father had settled. The latter soon was elected county judge of Burnet County.

Barton established a medical practice in the area. On the frontier of Texas danger from Indians was ever present; he often had to travel for miles to see the sick, and carried a shotgun for protection. He also frequently found it necessary to make his own surgical instruments. During the Civil War he served briefly as a surgeon in the Confederate forces, but because of his physical handicap he was soon ordered home to look after the sick and injured on the home front. Throughout his career as a doctor he kept up with advances in the medical profession and occasionally went to the East to attend lectures and do research. Two of his sons (Welborn, Jr., and Robert) followed him in the medical profession. In 1864 Barton became a Royal Arch Mason in Mount Horeb Chapter No. 57. After the war he moved to Salado so that his children might take advantage of the educational facilities available there. His home in Salado bears a Texas Centennial marker. Barton served as a trustee of Salado College for many years. He was a Sunday school teacher in the First Baptist Church of Salado. He died of a stroke at Salado on May 13, 1883, and was buried there.

Darrell Debo, Burnet County History (2 vols., Burnet, Texas: Eakin, 1979). 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.

Hazel Adams Richardson, “Barton, Welborn,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 22, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 1, 1995

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: