Pollard, Thomas Titus [T. T.] (1868–1957)

By: Patricia Prather

Type: Biography

Published: October 31, 2013

Thomas Titus Pollard, educator, businessperson, political figure, and missionary, was born near Conroe, Texas, on February 22, 1868, to Isaac and Lucy Ann Pollard. He received his early schooling at Willis, Texas, and became a pioneer graduate of Prairie View State Normal School (now Prairie View A&M University) in 1888. On June 7, 1892, Pollard married Frances V. Charlton, a teacher who had attended Tuskegee Institute and a sister of T. J. Charlton. Her father, Charles Charlton, was one of the pioneers in education in Beaumont after slavery ended and cofounded a church school in 1874.

Professor T. T. Pollard began his career in 1889 as the sole teacher and principal in a dilapidated, one-room structure in Beaumont. With the aid of parents and friends, Pollard improved the school, beautified the campus with trees, flowers, and shrubbery, and added extracurricular activities. Thus he founded the first parent-teacher organization in Beaumont. Within a span of twenty years, the school expanded to a large frame building with twelve teachers.

In 1901, when the Spindletop oil field was discovered in Beaumont, some of the prosperity benefited the black community. That same year, Beaumont witnessed the graduation of its first two African-American high school graduates.

Years later, the Pollard School and the Charlton School merged and became Charlton-Pollard High School with T. J. Charlton as principal. In 1924 Pollard was then appointed supervisor of the Beaumont Colored Schools—a first in the state of Texas. He was in charge of all instruction and testing. In addition, he was consulted by the school board on all faculty employment. Pollard once noted that he had influenced 85 percent of all teachers and thousands of Beaumont students. Pollard brought additional accolades to Beaumont when in 1926 he was elected president of the Colored Teachers State Association of Texas.

Charlton-Pollard High School earned a high reputation among Texas African-American schools. With strong leadership, the school became widely known throughout Texas for academic and athletic excellence. The 1927 yearbook The Rice Shock noted a dental clinic and the Charlton-Pollard Orchestra. Graduates became educators, medical doctors, businessmen, and politicians, including state representative Albert Price, all of whom represented a large percentage of the working class in Beaumont.

T. T. Pollard was active in many business and civic affairs. He organized the Peoples Drug Company in the Beaumont community to provide African Americans access to pharmaceuticals as well as a place to enjoy sodas. In 1896 Pollard was selected as a delegate from the Fourteenth Congressional District to the Republican National Convention in St. Louis, Missouri. He was a Mason, member of the Y.M.C.A., AmericanWoodman, Colored Knights of Pythias, and Antioch Baptist Church where he served on the board of trustees.

Pollard and his wife had no children but his memory was honored by an impressive three-story brick building that was one of the finest in the state when it was constructed. However, after schools were integrated, Charlton-Pollard High School was closed, and despite requests of the community to save papers, records, and even sports memorabilia, the landmark building was bulldozed. Thankfully, Pollard did not live to witness this tragedy. Fortunately, the Charlton-Pollard Alumni Association worked to preserve memories of the school by sponsoring school reunions attended by hundreds. Residents proudly refer to the area as the Charlton-Pollard Community. Pollard died at his home in Beaumont on May 12, 1957, and was buried in the Anthony Cemetery in Beaumont.

Beaumont Enterprise, March 21, 2011. "The History of Charlton-Pollard High School," Charlton-Pollard School Alumni Association (http://cpalumni.org/id1.html), accessed October 23, 2013. Andrew Webster Jackson, A Sure Foundation and a Sketch of Negro Life in Texas (Houston, 1940). Patricia Smith Prather and Bob Lee, eds., Texas Trailblazers Series, Series 2, No. 22 (Houston: The Texas Trailblazer Preservation Association, 1997). Clement Richardson, The National Cyclopedia of the Colored Race (Montgomery, Alabama: National Publishing Company, Inc., 1919). Texas Standard, September-October 1957. Who's Who in Colored America, 1933–37.

  • Education
  • Educators
  • School Principals and Superintendents
  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Activists
  • Civic Leaders

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Patricia Prather, “Pollard, Thomas Titus [T. T.],” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 13, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/pollard-thomas-titus-t-t.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 31, 2013

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