Overton, Marvin Cartmell (1878–1955)

By: Robert L. McCartor

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: October 27, 2018

Marvin Cartmell Overton, physician, son of the Rev. George Buck and Susan Louisa Overton, was born in Morganfield, Kentucky, on June 13, 1878. He spent most of his youth in the environs of Louisville, Kentucky, where he worked for the Bell Telephone Company and in the newspaper industry before attending medical school at the University of Louisville. He earned his M.D. degree in 1901 at the age of twenty-three. A classmate of his from Haskell County, Texas, told him of the scarcity of physicians in West Texas. Overton ventured to West Texas with the intention of practicing in Paris Cox's settlement at Emma but decided instead to reside in Lubbock, then a community of 175 people. On April 16, 1901, he became the first physician to make the town his permanent home. His practice encompassed several hundred square miles of the South Plains. He was quickly accepted by the people of the area, and his excellent medical care and kind nature established him as one of the most admired individuals in the region. He was depicted as the archetypal pioneer physician in the Peter Hurd mural dedicated to the founders of West Texas now housed on the Texas Tech University campus. Overton donated land for the construction of the first hospital in Lubbock and helped run Lubbock Memorial Hospital, which became Methodist Hospital, Lubbock's largest. He took postgraduate training in pediatrics in 1925 and specialized in that field. He authored a successful book on child care, Your Baby and Child (1936), delivered over 2,900 babies, and helped establish the Lubbock-Crosby County Medical Society. He is also cited in Ripley's Believe It Or Not as one of the first individuals to use a mobile phone. He carried a phone in his automobile in 1907 and drew upon his knowledge gained while working for Bell Telephone Company to connect the phone to the lines in the South Plains to keep tabs on his appointments. He was a licentiate of the American Board of Pediatrics and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Overton helped in the development of Lubbock's first organized residential area, the Overton addition, backed the founding of Texas Technological College in Lubbock (he was the only citizen of Lubbock to donate land outright for the school's campus), and helped found businesses necessary to the area. He was active in the Methodist Church and the Masons and established scholarships or contributed funds at Texas Tech University, McMurry College, and Southern Methodist University. Overton married Georgia Robertson of Shelbyville, Kentucky, and they had three sons who survived infancy. Georgia died in 1916, and Overton married Nannie M. Jennings of Levelland in 1918. They had two girls. Overton died on September 1, 1955, at his home in Lubbock and was buried in the City of Lubbock Cemetery.

Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, September 2, 1955. Museum Journal (publication of the West Texas Museum Association), 1957. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. West Texas Today, November 1937.

  • Education
  • Patrons, Collectors, and Philanthropists
  • 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.

Robert L. McCartor, “Overton, Marvin Cartmell,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 05, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/overton-marvin-cartmell.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 27, 2018

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: