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Farmer, William Carlton (1866–1944)

Patricia L. Jakobi Biography Entry

William Carlton Farmer, tuberculosis specialist, was born on December 6, 1866, in Bloomington, Indiana, the son of Joel and Emma Farmer. When he was ten his family moved to Texas. After receiving much of his early education in Lamar County schools, he obtained his medical education at the Hospital College of Medicine in Louisville, Kentucky, where he graduated in 1891. For the next fourteen years he practiced medicine in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and Paris, Texas. In 1905, four years after he began to limit his practice to diseases of the lungs, he moved to San Antonio, where he stayed for the rest of his life. On January 1, 1906, he established the San Antonio Tent Colony, an open-air colony for the treatment of tuberculosis. Farmer pioneered the use of X ray for diagnosis of tuberculosis; during his experiments he received the X-ray burns that are believed to be the cause of the carcinoma from which he died. He continued his education with postgraduate studies at clinical centers in Rochester (Minnesota), Philadelphia, New York City, Baltimore, Asheville (North Carolina), and Hamburg (Germany).

Farmer was a member of the Bexar County Medical Society, the Texas State Medical Association (see TEXAS MEDICAL ASSOCIATION), and the American Medical Association. He served as director of the National Tuberculosis Association from 1931 to 1934 and was a member of the Southern Tuberculosis Association, the International Union Against Tuberculosis, and the American College of Chest Physicians. He married Ellen Cook of San Antonio in 1934. They had one child. Farmer was a thirty-third-degree Scottish Rite Mason and a Methodist. He died in San Antonio on April 5, 1944.

Texas State Journal of Medicine, July 1944. A Twentieth Century History of Southwest Texas (2 vols., Chicago: Lewis, 1907).


  • 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.

Patricia L. Jakobi, “Farmer, William Carlton,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed November 25, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: