Lubbock's First Doctor: M.C. Overton

The practice of medicine in this area goes back hundreds of years when Native Americans moved across the South Plains. But Lubbock's first "professionally trained doctor" wouldn't arrive until the turn of 20th century.

"He wears his pink carnation and he did almost as long as he lived," said Dr. Overton's daughter, Nan Overton West. A pink carnation was the trademark of Lubbock's first professionally trained doctor Marvin Cartmell Overton, known to most as Dr. M.C Overton.

"Although he planned to come to Texas he didn't plan to come first to Lubbock. He arrived in 1901 and checked into the Nicolett Hotel which was the main big building in downtown," said West.

Dr. Overton's daughter, Nan Overton West, is nearly 90 years old. She says her father arrived by the horse-drawn mail wagon from his home state of Kentucky where he attended medical school.

"I got to Lubbock with $10.85 cents in my pocket. I got off at the old Nicolett hotel a got a room there," said Dr. Overton in an audio recording provided by the Southwest Collection. Less than 24 hours later the medical pioneer saw his first patient in his hotel room.

The doctor, who was only in his early 20s, soon moved his practice to an office in the back of the Star Drug Store. "He performed the first operation on the kitchen table someone brought into the office. It was be an appendectomy he was going to do. A big crowd gathered because this was an event," said West.

Doctor Overton also made house calls by horse and buggy, sometimes traveling as far as 150 miles. In 1906 he bought a Buick, making him the first person in Lubbock to own an automobile. And in 1912, he donated the land for the city's first hospital the Lubbock Sanitarium.

While Dr. Overton spent the first half of his medical career as a general practitioner, West says, in 1925, his love for children took him to New York to study pediatrics. "He came back and announced he would only see patients under the age of 12," said West.

West says about that time her father started wearing his signature pink carination. "He said he went into a sick room one time to see a child and there was a bouquet of carnations there and one of the family offered him one and put it in his lapel," said West.

From that point on he wore this touch of pink to help brighten his patient's room. "This is another picture of his office where he practiced. He had pictures of all his patients," said West.

But as the town grew, so did the number of his patients. So Dr. Overton, along with two other Lubbock doctors, bought 10 acres of land on 19th Street for a new hospital. "They wondered how in the world they were going to fill up all those rooms and what they were going to do with all that land," said West.

In 1953, an eight story, 250 bed hospital opened its doors. It's the building we now know as Covenant Medical Center. A year later, in 1954, Dr. Overton and his associates gave the new hospital to the Methodist Church. In the summer of that same year, Lubbock's first doctor saw his last patient.

Dr. Overton died in 1995, though his legacy still lives on. Now both a school and a neighborhood bear his name. "It was from Avenue Q to University and 4th Street to 19th, and it became the nicest part of the residential part of Lubbock," said West.

Overton also served on Lubbock's first city council, the school board and was president of two area banks. He gave some of land for the formation of Texas Tech University and forever lives on in a campus mural.

He was a pioneer doctor, who left his mark on our medical community and helped shape the Lubbock we know today. "Still there are people that have personal stories to tell about how 'He saved my life' or 'when I was a little girl and went to his office, I saw him with his pink carnation'," remembers West.

Remembering Merger Between St. Mary and Methodist Hospitals
We take a look back at the merger of St. Mary of Plains Hospital and Methodist Hospital. NewsChannel 11's Katie Bauer has the story on how the two hospitals became Covenant Health System.