Becton, Edwin Pinckney (1834–1901)

By: Jeanette H. Flachmeier and Aragorn Storm Miller

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: September 3, 2014

Edwin Pinckney Becton, physician, Confederate surgeon, state legislator, and state health official, son of Eleanor E. (Sharp) Becton and Rev. John May Becton, was born in Gibson County, Tennessee, on June 27, 1834. In 1841 the family immigrated to San Augustine County, Texas, where he father was establishing a pastorate, before settling permanently in Rusk County. Becton attended Austin College at Huntsville and an academy at Rusk County and studied medicine under a Dr. A. R. Hamilton in private offices in New Danville, Texas, and later in Nashville, Tennessee, before entering the medical department of the University of Nashville. He graduated with honors on March 2, 1857. He returned to Rusk County to establish himself as a physician, and on November 17, 1857, he married Mary Eliza Dickson. This couple had one son and two daughters. The 1860 census listed Becton as a physician in New Danville, Texas. In 1862 he volunteered for service in the Confederate Army and enlisted in Company I of the Nineteenth Texas Infantry Regiment. His stay in this unit was brief, however, as he was soon appointed assistant surgeon for the Sixteenth Texas Cavalry Regiment. He later received promotion to surgeon for the Twenty-second Texas Infantry Regiment.

After the war, Becton returned to Texas and established a practice in Tarrant in Hopkins County. Following his wife’s death in 1866, Becton married Olivia L. Bowman Smith in 1867. This couple had one son and two daughters. For the next three decades, Becton pursued his education and his practice and established himself as a leader in state and local affairs. In 1870 he won election as a Democrat for Hopkins, Hunt, and Wood counties to the House of the Twelfth Texas Legislature. He served from February 8, 1870, to May 31, 1871. Becton did not finish out his legislative term but was granted a leave of absence and resigned thereafter. He studied medicine at the University of Louisville during 1873 and 1874 and earned an ad eundem degree. In 1874 he moved to Sulphur Springs in Hopkins County. From 1879 to 1880 and from 1885 to 1886, Becton continued his postgraduate medical studies at the University of Maryland in Baltimore and at Tulane University in New Orleans, respectively.

Becton traveled throughout Texas as an active member of the professional medical community. In addition to his membership in the North Texas Medical Association, he belonged to the Texas State Medical Association (see TEXAS MEDICAL ASSOCIATION). He was elected vice president of the organization at its 1884 conference in Belton and president during its 1885 conference in Houston. Becton’s final turn in public service came in 1895, when he received a gubernatorial appointment as superintendent of the State Institution for the Blind (now Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired) in Austin. In addition to being an active Presbyterian, Becton was a Royal Arch Mason, a member of the International Order of Odd Fellows, a Knight of Pythias, and a member of the Knights and Ladies of Honor Lodge. He died on January 14, 1901, and was buried in Sulphur Springs City Cemetery in Hopkins County.

Edwin Pinckney Becton Papers, 1862–1870, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Biographical Souvenir of the State of Texas (Chicago: Battey, 1889; rpt., Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978). Lewis E. Daniell, Types of Successful Men in Texas (Austin: Von Boeckmann, 1890). Legislative Reference Library of Texas: Dr. Edwin Pinckney Becton (, accessed September 3, 2014. George Plunkett [Mrs. S. C.] Red, The Medicine Man in Texas (Houston, 1930). Transactions of the State Medical Association of Texas, 1901.

  • Health and Medicine
  • Hospital, School, and Association Administrators
  • Physicians and Surgeons
  • General Practitioners
  • Military Physicians and Surgeons and Military Nurses
  • Military
  • Public Health Officials
  • Twelfth Legislature (1870-1871)
  • House
  • Confederate Military
  • Religion
  • Freemasonry
  • Presbyterian
Time Periods:
  • Civil War
  • Antebellum Texas
  • Reconstruction
  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Fort Worth
  • North Texas

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

Jeanette H. Flachmeier and Aragorn Storm Miller, “Becton, Edwin Pinckney,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 16, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 3, 2014

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: