James Todd (J. T.) Walton, black physician and philanthropist, was born to John Todd and Arabella Walton in Wharton County, Texas, in August 1870. James Walton arrived in San Antonio at age sixteen and taught briefly at Grant School, one of San Antonio's "colored" schools. A wealthy benefactor, Nat Lewis of San Antonio, sent Walton to Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. He graduated from Meharry in 1891 and returned to San Antonio to begin his practice. Because of his young age, Walton's practice was limited to children for the early part of his career, but it eventually expanded to include the community as a whole. Besides his successful medical practice, Walton also engaged in various commercial enterprises, the earliest example of which was the Walton Real Estate Company, organized in 1910. Later incarnations included the Walton and Shelburne Company (1913), Walton Realty and Construction Company (1914), and the Walton Realty Company (1927/28). In addition to his professional and commercial activities, Walton was actively involved in the civic life of the community. A member of the Knights of Pythias and a Mason, he was also a member of St. Paul's Methodist Church, eventually becoming a trustee. He was active as a member of the Republican party, participating in party functions at the local, state, and national level. He attended four national Republican conventions as a delegate from Texas. In his second convention, the 1940 Republican Convention at Philadelphia, Walton met with Wendell Willkie, the party's presidential nominee, and discussed the race issue. Wilson contributed to his community in generous financial ways as well. Throughout his life he provided free medical care for the Ella Austin orphanage. He was also the president of the board of directors and chief financial backer for the Camp Founders Girls organization, helping to construct a CFG camp at Boerne, Texas. Walton's estate provided for continued support for these and other organizations, including Boys Town of Omaha, Nebraska; the Boys Club of San Antonio; Meharry College; and St. Paul's Methodist Church. Walton died on October 11, 1950, of double pneumonia brought on by a heart attack. He was survived by his foster daughter. At the time of his death Walton was the oldest practicing physician in San Antonio.
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Randall K. Burkett, Black Biography, 1790–1950: A Cumulative Index (Alexandria, Virginia: Chadwyck-Healey, 1991). San Antonio Express, October 12, 1950. Loren Schweninger, Black Property Owners in the South, 1790–1915 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1990). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
Health and Medicine
Physicians and Surgeons
Activism and Social Reform
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Robert M. Gomez,
“Walton, James Todd,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 20, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
January 1, 1996
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: