Biography of Herbert Bradford Horton, M. D.

Herbert Bradford Horton
Herbert Bradford Horton

Losing his father when he was fifteen years of age, Herbert Bradford Horton, a native of Rhode Island and member of one of the State’s most distinguished families, set about acquiring an education that resulted in his adoption of the medical profession and he came to be known as one of the leaders in medical practice. For many years he lived in East Greenwich, where his ability and public spirit, his helpfulness to the people and his many other qualities were recognized by his selection for many offices, in which he served with high credit to himself and to the great benefit of the community. He served as school physician, school committeeman, town councilman and in other important posts. His character was one marked by kindliness toward all, tolerance of the weaknesses of mankind and by the highest of principles and ideals. He was one of the most useful of citizens and professional men and his death was a bereavement to all throughout a large district in which he was intimately known and respected.

He was born in East Providence Center, Rhode Island, January 25, 1873, a son of Nathan Bradford and Mary E. C. (Martin) Horton. His great-grandfather was Sylvanus Horton, born September 20, 1782, a son of Daniel and Mary (Goff) Horton. He married Hannah Slade and one of their two children was Henry Slade Horton, born November 19, 1809, in Rehoboth, Massachusetts, where the family lived for many years. He was a farmer and was also an auctioneer and held office as selectman in Rehoboth. He married Arabella Simmons, who was born in August, 1809, a daughter of Constant Simmons, of Dighton, Massachusetts. He died June 25, 1858. Of their children, the father of Dr. Herbert Bradford Horton was born May 18, 1835, was reared on his father’s farm and educated in the public schools. When he was eighteen years of age he went to Taunton, where he served as carpenter’s apprentice to Nicholas Crapo, a builder. Following his apprenticeship he engaged as a journeyman carpenter at Taunton and at Rehoboth, where he remained for two years after his marriage, and also at Seekonk, where he lived and worked for five years. In July, 1868, he removed to East Providence Center, Rhode Island, where he built two houses, selling one and living in the other, which is now occupied by his daughter, Mrs. George H. Curtis. He died in that house, June 22, 1888. In politics he was an Andrew Jackson Democrat in national questions, but in local elections he reserved the right to vote independently for the nominee he thought best fitted for the office. He himself served as constable in Seekonk and as a school trustee in East Providence Center. Fraternally he was affiliated with Enterprise Lodge, No. 22, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He married, December 1, 1861, in Norton, Massachusetts, Mary Emeline Carpenter Martin, who was born April 3, 1838, in Taunton, Massachusetts, a daughter of Edwin M. and Sybil F. (Haskins) Martin. She was a member of the Newman Congregational Church in East Providence until her death, April 22, 1888, two months before her husband died. Their children were:

  1. Mary Isabelle, born March 4, 1863, now deceased; married, September 5, 1883, George Henry Curtis, associated with the Rumford Chemical Company, son of George E. and Elizabeth S. (Horton) Curtis, and grandson of Shubael and Matilda (Buffington) Horton.
  2. Edward Henry, born November 27, 1864; was a carpenter and resided in East Providence; he is now deceased; he married, November 27, 1888, Nellie R. Cunningham, and they were the parents of two children: Edna May and Edward Elmer.
  3. Anna Bradford, born December 24, 1868, died September 20, 1869.
  4. Alice Harriet, born May 10, 1870, a teacher.
  5. Herbert Bradford.

Herbert Bradford Horton acquired his early education in the public schools and was graduated from the East Providence High School in 1892. He matriculated at Brown University in that year and was graduated in 1896 with the degree of Bachelor of Arts. While at the University he became a member of the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity. Following the death of his father, in 1888, he became employed by the East Providence Water Company and for half a year was engaged with the Union Railway Company, which later became the Rhode Island Company. In 1897 he went to Ann Arbor and entered the University of Michigan, from which institution he was graduated in 1901 with the degree of Doctor of Medicine. At the University he became a member of the Phi Rho Sigma Fraternity. Upon graduating and receiving his degree he at once went to Dollar Bay, Houghton County, Michigan, where he was engaged as a contract physician at the copper mines. This work gave him valuable experience, a purpose for which he had taken the position. From that work he went to Laurium, Michigan, where he established himself in independent practice and where he remained until May, 1903, when he came to East Providence, practicing there until March, 1904, when he went to Lonsdale, Rhode Island. From January 1, 1906, until February 1, 1907, he was superintendent of schools in East Providence and in May, 1907, he made his final removal to East Greenwich, where his death occurred, February 23, 1930.

In East Greenwich he was selected, by reason of his professional attainments and his civic enterprise and public spirit, to fill the office of health officer and that of school medical inspector. Also, from 1919 to 1924, he was a member there of the Town Council and was town moderator. He was always a Republican. During the World War he served the country well as army medical examiner. Dr. Horton combined his professional and official activities with numerous social, fraternal and club affiliations. He was a member of the Rising Sun Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons; Laurium Lodge, Knights of Pythias; Modern Woodmen of America; Independent Order of Foresters, and the Nautilus Club of East Greenwich. His church attendance was divided between the Baptist and Congregational denominations, for he was a man of such wholesome Christianity that he preferred to support the creed of the whole Christian faith rather than to give allegiance to any one church. In that faith he lived and gave to his fellowman the service that he felt he was intended by the Creator to extend.

Herbert Bradford Horton married, in Providence, Rhode Island, February 3, 1917, Elizabeth A. Swan, daughter of James and Charlotte Jane (Anderson) Swan.

Dr. Horton lived a life of high usefulness and left a heritage of labor well performed. His best monument is the memory he left of good deeds, of kindliness, generosity and loyalty to all mankind. He stood long in the bright light of public observation and at no moment was there ever discerned the slightest tarnish upon the fine metal of his character. At the time of his obsequies his fellow-townsmen paid him the honor of a military conclusion to a life of devotion to his fellows. The Kentish Guards, of which he had been surgeon for a dozen years, furnished an escort, commanded by Colonel Albert H. Hall, and three volleys from their rifles rang over the grave, while the solemn requiem of the soldier rang clear from the bugle that sounded “Taps.”

Source: Carroll, Charles. Rhode Island: Three Centuries of Democracy, vol 3 of 4. New York: Lewis historical Pub. Co., 1932.

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