Remembering Dr. William Butler: Abilene’s First Black Doctor

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African American Pioneer- Dr- William Butler_00295163

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB) – It sits on the corner of 7th and Mesquite in Abilene. At a glance, it appears to be an ordinary older home.

In the 1930s, it became home for Dr. William Butler and his family.

“He purchased his home with I want to say, $2,000 actually paid cash for his home back in 1932,” says Andrew Penns, an Abilene historian.

This story is about more than owning a home. It’s about the man who lived inside of it.

Penns adds, “His practice was initially at the back of his home.”

Dr. Butler was the first black doctor in Abilene.

“It was hard for blacks to get medical care. Blacks did not have the adequate facilities of places they could go to get doctors’ care,” says Penns.

He changed that.

“We had our segregation and all that but it wasn’t as bad as most places,” says Raymond Monroe, a family friend of the Butler’s.

Penns says, “Dr. Butler was a great asset to this community.”

“The young black kids, they don’t know what it was like back in the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s here,” adds Monroe.

Dr. Butler helped end community-wide segregation, “He served and did his practice primarily to the black community for African American blacks but he also had white, Anglo, and Hispanics that he did serve as well,” says Penns.

Dr. Butler retired in 1945 and it wasn’t until more than five decades later that another black doctor practiced in the key city.

There is now a historical marker in the front yard. It’s there to honor the life and legacy of the man who served his community on the corner of 7th and Mesquite.

Dr. Butler’s home now serves as the office for I-CAN, Interested Citizens of Abilene North. I-CAn works to develop, maintain, restore, and enhance the Carver and Stevenson neighborhoods which are two of the first primarily black neighborhoods in Abilene. 

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