Thomas Burton, doctor , administrator, and poet

Thomas W. Burton
Fri, 1860-05-04

Thomas William Burton was born on this date in 1860. He was an African American doctor, poet, and medical association administrator.

He was born near Tates Creek, Madison County, KY. Thomas was the youngest of 15 children of Edward and Eliza Burton, who were slaves. His father died when he was five and his mother died when he was nine.

In 1881, Burton attended Brea College in Kentucky. In 1889 he moved to Indianapolis, working with Dr. William Chavis, waiting tables, working in a lumberyard, and in private families to pay for school. From 1890 to 1891, he attended the Medical College of Indiana, and a year later, the Eclectic College of Physicians and Surgeons, where he graduated on March 24, 1892.

After becoming a full-fledged M.D., Thomas moved to Springfield, Ohio, April 5, 1892, and started his own practice of medicine and surgery. On August 3, 1893, he married Hattie B. Taylor, of Cynthiana, KY. In 1897, after serving as a doctor in the Army, he wrote a few articles for the "Eclectic Medical Journal," printed monthly at Cincinnati.

Burton also saw the need of a state medical society composed of Negro physicians. He and a colleague, Dr. H. R. Hawkins of Xenia, Ohio, organized the Ohio Mutual Medical Association. In 1910, he published his first book, “What Experience Has Taught Me; An Autobiography of Thomas William Burton.” Dr. Burton died on March 23, 1939 and the following day his picture with the announcement of his death was on the front page of the Springfield Daily News (March 24, 1939).

The African American Desk Reference
Schomburg Center for research in Black Culture
Copyright 1999 The Stonesong Press Inc. and
The New York Public Library, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Pub.
ISBN 0-471-23924-0

Additional information, Geraldine Beckford

To become a Doctor

Person / name: 

Burton, Thomas William