Colorado County Biographies


Do you have biographies you would like to share?

Jesse M. Burford, M. D.

It has been within the compass of Doctor Burford’s ability and ambition to achieve distinctive prestige as one of the representative physicians and surgeons of his native state and he is a scion of a family whose name has been worthily linked with the annals of Texas history for more than sixty years.   He is engaged in the successful practice of his profession at Independence, Washington County, and as one of the leading physicians and public-spirited citizens of this county he is properly accorded specific recognition in this history of Texas and its people.

At the old family homestead situated eleven miles northwest of Columbus, Colorado County, Texas, amidst the rock hills along the Colorado River, Dr. Jess M. Burford was born on the 15th of September, 1861.   His father, Francis Marion Burford, who became widely and familiarly known as “Dick” Burford, was born in Bolivar County, Tennessee, on the 5th of May, 1826, and in his native state he acquired a limited common school education, --the best available under the conditions and exigencies of time and place.   He began his independent career as a slaveholding farmer in his native state, and upon coming to Texas, in 1850, he brought with him his contingent of slaves, to the number of which he added by later purchases, his retention of slave property having continued until his vassals were freed by the Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Lincoln, in 1865.   At the beginning of the Civil war he was the owner of a productive cotton and corn plantation in Colorado County, and was prominent and influential in connection with the political, civic and religious affairs of his county.   He was one of the uncompromising democrats who advocated without reservation the secession of the Southern States, and while he five times tendered his services as a soldier of the Confederacy he was on each occasion assigned to the charge of the commissary maintained in his section for the maintenance of the Confederate troops in the field.   Finally he made his sixth attempt to enlist, and on this occasion he realized his ambition.   More than this, he was commissioned major, but when he had proceeded with his command as far as the Mississippi River the war came to a close and he was denied the opportunity for battling for the cause in the justice of which he firmly believed.   He made great financial sacrifices in connection with the great conflict that left the South with prostrate industries and other unmerited burdens, and though he found himself in debt to the amount of $12,000 and without a dollar to apply in the liquidation of this formidable indebtedness, he had the vigor, self-reliance and courage that counted no obstacle as insuperable, with the result thaqt he gallantly set himself to the task of recouping his fortunes.   Through the medium of his farm he so applied his energies and business ability that within the remaining ten years of his life he accumulated $30,000, besides freeing himself from debt and providing his children with excellent educational advantages.   Though he was possessed of admirable business acumen and constructive ability, the judgment of “Dick” Burford was frequently mad subservient to this generosity and kinliness, with the result that he became sponsor for the financial obligations of others and through lending his name in such connection was compelled to pay about $40,000 from which he had received no return.   He was one the charter members of the lodge of Ancient Free & Accepted Mason at Osage, Colorado County, and his entire life was guided and governed by his unfaltering Christian faith.   He was a most zealous member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, as was also his wife, and he assisted liberally in the erection of two or more churches, besides having served as steward of the church at Osage.

In Tennessee was solemnized the marriage of Major Burford to Miss Cordelia Ann Shaw, daughter of Thomas T. Shaw, an extensive planter and slaveholder of that state.   Mrs. Burford was summoned to the life eternal in 1889 and her remains rest in the cemetery at Osage, beside those of her husband, whose death occurred in 1877.   Of their children the eldest was William T., who was sheriff of Colorado County at the time of his death; Mrs. Cyrus O. Weller died in the city of Austin; Dr. John E. is a representative physician engaged in practice at Patterson, Waller Count; Robert F. was a prosperous farmer near Osage, Colorado County, at the time of his death; Dr. Jess M., of this review, was the next in order of birth; Mrs. Annie Townsend maintains her home in the city of San Antonio; Mrs. Sallie Bock resides at Weimar, Colorado County; and Mrs. Belle Odom is a resident of the city of Dallas.

Francis Marion Burford was a son of Dr. Jonathan and Euphemia (Chafin) Burford.   His father was born in one of the northern counties of Ireland and upon coming to the United States he first located in Pennsylvania, whence he finally removed to Tennessee, where he passed the remainder of his life.   He there became the owner of a substantial landed estate and a large number of slaves, and he not only served effectively and earnestly as a physician but also became a clergyman of the Methodist Churh, so that he was able to minister alike to the physical and spiritual needs of his fellow men.   His first wife, Euphemia, bore him eleven children and by his second marriage he became the father of four children.   Among the children of the first union were:   Dr. Jess, Dr. Jonathn E., Mrs. Rebecca Grace, Mrs. Elizabeth Tuggle, Mrs. Puss Norment, Francis Marion (“Dick”), Mrs. Euphemia Shaw, Mrs. Sallie Simmons, and John David, the last mentioned having been a noted spy in the service of the Confederacy during the Civil War.

All but three of the children just named came to Texas, and three of the four children of the second marriage likewise became residents of the Lone Star State.   For his second wife Dr. Jonathan Burford wedded Mrs. Harry Yates, and of their children the youngest, Harriet, died in infancy.   The three who attained to maturity and became residents of Texas were Andrew Linn Burford, familiarly known as “Step” Burford, R. Phillip, and Mrs. Mary Matthews.   From the data given in the foregoing paragraphs it will be discerned that the Burford family has given a number of representatives to the medical profession, and in this domain the prestige of the name is being effectually upheld by him to whom this sketch is dedicated.

Dr. Jesse M. Burford was reared to adult age on the old homestead farm which was the place of his birth, and after due preliminary discipline he entered the Texas Agricultural   & Mechanical College, in which he was graduated as a member of the class of 1882.   In consonance with his ambition and well formulated plans he soon began the study of medicine, and in 1887 he was graduated in the medical department of Tulane University, in the city of New Orleans.   After receiving from this fine Southern institution his well earned degree of Doctor of Medicine he returned to his native state and engaged in the practice of his profession at Moravia, Lavaca County, where he remained five years.   He then, in 1892, removed to Independence, Washington County, where he has since continued in active and successful genereal practice, where he succeded to the business of the honored pioneer physician, Dr. H. W. Waters, who was killed by an accident, in January, 1894.   Doctor Burford controls a practice that extends throughout a wide area of country and his efficient and unselfish service in the community has given him inviolable vantage-place in popular confidence and appreciative esteem.   He keeps in line with the advances made in medical and surgical science and by his character and achievement has lent dignity and honor to the profession of his choice.   He is identified with the Texas State Medical Society and the Washington County Medical Society, and he subordinates all other interest to the demands of his exacting profession, through which he has won merited material prosperity.  

Dr. Burford accords unswerving allegiance to the democratic party and is liberal and progressive in his attitude as a citizen.   Though he has not desired or held political office he has been influential in local politics and has been on numerous occasions a delegate to the democratic county conventions in his county.   He is affiliated with the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.

In the year 1891 Doctor Burford wedded Miss Pattie McLeary, a daughter of Dr. W. T. McLeary, who was a sterling pioneer and prominent physician of Colorado County.   Mrs. Burford died without leaving any children who attained to years of maturity, and on the 24th of June, 1903, was solemnized the marriage of the Doctor to Miss Kate Clay, who was born and reared in Washington County, a daughter of Atreus M. and Pauline (Thornhill) Clay, representatives of sterling pioneer families of this section of Texas, where both families were founded in 1840, the paternal grandfather of Mrs. Burford having been Tacitus Clay, who came to Texas from the state of Kentucky.   Atreus M. Clay was a valiant soldier of the Confederacy in the Civil War and he maintained his home in Washington County during his entire life.   He was a citizen of much influence in the community and served for a number of years as postmaster at Independence.   Mr. Clay first wedded Miss Sue Robertson, who died without issue.   By his marriage to Miss Pauline Thornhill were born the following named children:   Mrs. Lela Watson, of Newark, New York; Mrs. Alice Watson, of Temple, Texas; Thomas T., a resident of Independence, Texas; Mrs. Kate Burford, wife of the subject of this review; Nestor A., of Navasota, Grimes County; Mrs. E. O. Routt, of Chapel Hill, Washington County; and Tacitus W., of Independence, this county.   Doctor and Mrs. Burford have one child, Catherine Clay Burford.

Vol. III, A History of Texas and Texans, Pgs. 1555-1558

Note:   Dr. Jonathan Burford was the son of Philip Terrell and Rebecca (Clack) Burford.   He was born in Kershaw Co., SC, on 02 February 1796, not in Ireland as the bio describes.
 Submitted by David Hahn 

 Do you have biographies which you would like to share? If so, contact the county coordinator. 

Return to Colorado County Biographies


Return to Colorado County Home Page