Biographical Sketch of Dr. Travis Ellis Buffington
May 5, 1879 -November 26, 1965
Travis Ellis Buffington was born in Benton, Arkansas to William Ellis and Mary Miller Buffington on May 5, 1879. He had one sister 3 years older than he. His family moved to Shaw township when he was quite young so his early education was in rural schools. When he was ready for high school he went live with Dr. J. W. Walton in Benton. It was there he became interested in the medical profession and began studying with Dr. Walton and Dr. Daniel N. Fisher.
He also enrolled in some courses at the Medical Department at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock. By 1903 (age 24) he passed the Medical Board Examination for License as a Medical Doctor (M. D.). He is listed in the American Medical Directory of 1916. Dr. Buffington’s first office was at Bauxite where he was employed as the company physician for the new Perry Smith Bauxite Mining Company. While living there he helped establish the First Baptist Church, later becoming a deacon.
In 1904 Dr. Buffington married Margery Bennett. The couple moved to Lonsdale (Garland County) and lived there for 20 years. The doctor helped incorporate the town in 1913. His popularity led him to be elected as its first mayor, a position he held for 13 years (1913-1926). The couple had 2 children. Only one child lived, a son. He followed his farher,s footsteps. He, too, became a doctor.
During this time Dr. Buffington practiced medicine by horseback, visiting patients in dreary weather, plodding on rural muddy roads to treat injuries or care for patients with disease. Some visits such as delivering babies was always a happy event — (at $10 a baby unless the parents paid him in garden produce or animals). As roads became better he made his calls by buggy. In 1914 he finally got his first car, a Model A Ford.
Ten years later, in 1924, the family moved into Benton, in Saline County.
The next stage of Dr. Buffington life began when his wife died in November 1924, a few months after their Golden Anniversary. Three years passed. He then married Mrs. Grace Henry with whom he had one son, who also became a doctor. They built a fine one and one-half story house on West South Street in 1928. Dr. Buffington was interested and helped in many civics projects. He served as mayor of Benton from 1951-52.
In Benton, he had established an office with regular hours unlike his early horse-back days. He installed a phone, a fairly new commodity for that area, and was given the
number 6 for his office and 375 for his home telephone numbers. Because he delivered so many babies he became known as the “baby-doctor”, eventually delivering more than 6000 children. Dr. Buffington liked to celebrate his birthday each year with an open house for the “Buffington babies”and personal friends. On his 86th birthday his friends held a fish fry at the country club. Several speakers applauded his many accomplishments. Two hundred and seventy five guests attended, including many “Buffington babies” The oldest baby was 57, the youngest was 3 weeks. By this time he was the oldest practicing physician in the county and was highly regarded and respected by the community.
Through the years, Dr Buffington built a large commercial facility housing several shops. The upper floor had doctors’ offices including his own suite. He invested in real estate and built as many as 240 residences.
Dr. Buffington was a member of the Saline County Medical Society serving as either president or secretary for multiple years, and the Arkansas State Medical Society. He was a Mason and an active member and deacon of the Baptist church. His interests were with any project for the betterment of the community.
Dr. Buffington died in his sleep the night of November 26,1965 at age 86. He had practiced medicine to the very end of life having seen 7 patients on that day. Essentially he had practiced medicine for 62 years, 42 years in Saline County as their trusted physician. Burial was at Pinecrest Memorials Park, Saline County, Arkansas.
“Dr Buffington was a living legend in Saline County – still well known and respected here.” (Personal note sent by Saline County Historical Society with the other published information included in this Sketch.
Betty L. Battenfield April 18, 2020