Dr. Thomas J. Pollard was born October 27, 1805 near Lexington, Kentucky. He died at the age of 84 on December 23, 1889 in Fayetteville, Arkansas and is buried in the city’s Evergreen Cemetery.
He was named for President Thomas Jefferson who was in his second term when Pollard was born. To his friends and colleagues he was known as Jeff. As a young man he studied medicine under various doctors for three years, then attended Transylvania University in Kentucky and received his M.D. in 1828. Soon thereafter he settled in Fayetteville, Arkansas making his home on Meadow Street.
During his first two year in Fayetteville he helped establish the First Christian Church and remained an active member until his death. One of the stained glass windows still in the old church features his name. On April 14, 1830 he married Mary Willis Stirman, daughter of the minister. Through his leadership in the Christian Church, he was instrumental in chartering Arkansas College as the first degree-conferring college in Arkansas. He also served on its college board.
In 1832 the Pollards moved to Palmyra, Missouri, returning to Fayetteville in 1839. They had four children and raised another orphaned child. Mary Pollard was said to have been a remarkable woman and prominent in the life of Fayetteville. After the war she was president of the Southern Memorial Association
During the Civil War Dr. Pollard was a surgeon in the Confederate Army and tended the wounded during the battles of Oak Hill, Elkhorn and Poison Springs, returning to Fayetteville in 1886. During this interim and later he tutored several early Washington County doctors, including, Dr W. B Welsh who later became a prominent physician in Fayetteville and in the state. It is said of Dr. Pollard that he identified himself with everything considered as the best interest of the people, politically, socially and educationally as well as medically. Examples: He was commissioned to oversee the building of the new court house in 1869; he was instrumental in obtaining the Far West Chapter of Masonry for Fayetteville; with his brother, Dr. Wade Pollard, he organized a stage coach line that connected Missouri train lines and boats on the Arkansas River; he was a charter member of the Far West Seminary incorporated in 1844 and was active in a meeting held to discuss the calling of the State Convention and sending delegates to it from Washington County
Dr. Pollard is listed with the first Arkansas registration of physician in 1881.
The Washington County Medical Society was organized by 10 Doctors on July2, 1872 in Dr. Pollard’s office. He was elected the first president and later was vice president of the Arkansas Medical Society. He practiced medicine for more than 60 years.
A section of his obituary reads: “Our schools, our churches, our cultivated society and high standing as a community are to be attributed more to the influence of the life and labors of Dr. Pollard than to that of any other man, either living or dead. He was a most attractive man; in fact, he possessed in high degree a magnetic power. It was the magnetism of love, of sympathy, of Christianity and of high moral character. Life had for him high aims and high issues; it meant something more than to make money, or simply to live, however elevated the plane.”
B.L. Battenfield 15 May 2008