Biography of Dr. William Mason Holton
Posey County, Indiana Biographies

William Mason Holton, M. D. — Among the physicians and surgeons of Indiana who attained a distinction merited by years of study, observation and practice, was he whose name initiates this article. An active practitioner in his profession for fifty eight years, he equalled, in length of service, the record of American practice. Doctor Holton was born in Westminster, Vt., on July 15, 1827, a son of William and Betsey (Mason) Holton. His ancestors, paternal and maternal, were among the early settlers of America, and numbered among them are men who achieved distinction in the frontier life of those early days, in the commercial era which followed, in the French and Indian wars, and later in the War of the Revolution. The Holton family was founded in America by William Holton, a native of Ipswich, England, who came to the Massachusetts Colony in 1634. He removed to Hartford, Conn., in 1636, where he was one of the first settlers, and died in Northampton, Mass., August 12, 1691. He was a member of the first board of magistrates and a representative to the grand court. Doctor Holton is descended from William Holton as follows: John, the son of ‘William, born in Hartford, died in Northampton, Mass., April 14, 1712. William, son of John, a resident of Northampton, Mass., died in 1756; John, son of William, was born in Northampton, Mass., August 24, 1707, died in Northfield, Mass., October, 1793. Joel, son of John, born in Northfield, Mass., July 10, 1738, died August 12, 1821. He was one of the twelve original settlers of Westminster, Vt., built and owned the first saw mill in the town, and was one of its most influential citizens. His brother, Solomon Holton, was a lieutenant in the Colonial army and served throughout the War of the Revolution. William, the son of Joel, was born in Westminster, Vt., July 26, 1771. He was a farmer and removed to McDonough county, Illinois, in 1835, where he died in 1857. His son, William, born in Westminster, Vt., October 31, 1801, was the father of Doctor Holton. He was a farmer, and with his father settled in McDonough county, Illinois, in 1835. He married, on September 15, 1826, at Cavendish, Vt., Betsey Mason, a member of a pioneer family of that State. William Mason Holton acquired his literary education in the public schools of Vermont and Illinois. He later determined to make the practice of medicine his life work and entered the College of Physicians and Surgeons, of New York City, from which he was graduated with the degree of Doctor of Medicine in 1852. Following his graduation he spent one year in practice in that city. In 1853 he removed to Plymouth, Ill., practicing his profession in that town until 1859, when he came to Posey county, Indiana, and located in Stewartsville. Doctor Holton served for about two years in support of the Union cause in the Civil war. He enlisted in 1861 in Company D, Sixtieth Indiana volunteer infantry, and became lieutenant of his company. He was transferred by Governor Morton, in 1862, to the Twenty-fifth Indiana and served as assistant surgeon of that regiment until 1863, when he was compelled to resign on account of ill health. In 1863 he located at New Harmony, his place of residence until his death, which occurred on December 13, 1910. As a physician and surgeon he was considered one of the most able in his section of the State. Until his death, at the age of eighty-three, he continued to keep up his interest in the advancement of the science of medicine. He possessed a large library, which was well selected and of wide range. He was a student all his life, a great reader, and kept abreast of the times, not only as to his profession, but upon general subjects as well. He was a member of the Posey County Medical Society, the Indiana State Medical Society and the American Medical Association. The meetings of these organizations were his opportunity for relaxation from practice, kept him in touch with fellow practitioners and the advancement in medicine and surgery. He seldom failed to attend these gatherings, even during his latter years. He took an active interest in the political affairs of his county and State, was a Republican from the birth of the party, and influential in the councils of his local organizations. He had neither inclination nor time for public office, although frequently urged to become a candidate. Doctor Holton married, at Elizabethtown, Essex county, New York, on March 14, 1853, Miss Caroline E. Cuyler, the daughter of Col. E. S. Cuyler, a prominent lawyer of Essex, and a member of one of the pioneer families of that section of the State. She was born in Essex, Essex county, on December 24, 1833. and died in New Harmony, March 8, 1873. They were parents of eight children, five of whom are living. They are as follows: Mrs. Fannie C. Kight, of Washburn, Ill.; Mrs. Cornelia Catherine Brigham, of Chicago, Ill.; Mrs. Minnie G. Bailey, the wife of William S. Bailey, lawyer of Tulsa, Okia.; William E. Holton, cashier of the Mt. Vernon National Bank, a review of whose life follows this sketch; and Frank C. Holton, of Plymouth, Ill., an employe of the Post Office Department, rural mail service. Those deceased are: Emma E., who married Leo Kahn, of Evansville, Ind.; Charlotte E., who was the wife of August Duysing, of Evansville; and Mary Alice, who died August 4, 1875. The tributes of respect, and in many cases of affection, called forth by the death of Doctor Holton have seldom been equalled in Posey county in the passing away of a citizen. His life work was finished; it had met to a great extent the fullness of his ambition. But infinitely more precious and of personal consequence to him was the fact that he died rich in the possession of a well earned popularity, and in the affection that slowly develops only from unselfish works.

History of Posey County, Indiana
John C. Leffel, Editor
Standard Publishing Company
Chicago 1913.


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