Valentine Overton King, physician, state official, and historian, the son of Valentine and Nancy King, was born in Opelousas, Louisiana, on January 20, 1833. He graduated at the State Medical College in New Orleans in 1856, moved to St. Landry, where he married Helen Selina Lewis, and set up a medical practice at St. Mary's. Although a Unionist and an opponent of secession, he served the Confederacy as a medical officer and hospital administrator. After the Civil War he settled in New Orleans, where he practiced medicine, served on the immigration board in 1866, and was port physician. His health grew worse after his work in the yellow fever epidemic of 1867, and he was advised to abandon medicine. He studied law and became superintendent of the board of education in New Orleans. In 1872–73 he served in the Louisiana legislature.
In 1874 the Kings moved to San Antonio, Texas, where King established a law practice. In 1876 he became the commissioner of the newly established Department of Insurance, Statistics, and History. He later contributed his collection of Texana to the Texas State Library. His article "The Cherokee Nation of Indians" appeared in the second volume of the Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association (1898–99). King also wrote articles in the fields of biology, philology, and the social sciences and was a member of learned societies in Canada, Scotland, and Germany, as well as of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He spent his last years studying comparative religions and translating the Bible from the original text. For four years the Kings lived in France and Italy, where their granddaughter, Bonnie MacLeary, daughter of James Harvey McLeary, was studying art. They then joined the McLeary family in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where King died on May 5, 1917.
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Biographical Souvenir of the State of Texas (Chicago: Battey, 1889; rpt., Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978). William S. Speer and John H. Brown, eds., Encyclopedia of the New West (Marshall, Texas: United States Biographical Publishing, 1881; rpt., Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978).
Health and Medicine
Physicians and Surgeons
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Elizabeth J. E. Hardin,
“King, Valentine Overton,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 30, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
February 1, 1995
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