Mary Willis Stirman was born in Mercer County, Kentucky, the daughter of Rev. William Stirman, a prominent minister of the Christian Church. She married Dr. Thomas J. Pollard in Nicholasville, Kentucky, on April 14, 1830. The young couple at once took up residence in Versailles, Kentucky, where her husband was engaged in the practice of medicine. After a residence of one year in Versailles, the couple moved to Palmyra, Missouri, where they remained seven years. In 1839 the Pollards moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas where they lived the remainder of their lives and were honored and respected by all who knew them. During the War Between the States, the Pollards remained in Fayetteville and loyal to the Southland. In 1879 they celebrated their golden wedding anniversary and Dr. Pollard received a solid gold watch from friends and Mary's children also gave her one. Dr. Thomas J. Pollard was a resident of Fayetteville for 50 years and one of the oldest pioneers of Northwest Arkansas. He died Monday December 23 at the age of 84 years. He was born in Kentucky and graduated from Transylvania University with the degree of M.D., the very same university from which also the first and only President of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis, obtained his education. Upon the death of Dr. Pollard, the Fayetteville Democrat recorded these words: "No event has brought more universal sorrow to the citizens of Fayetteville than the death of the venerable Dr. Pollard which occurred at 4 p.m. Monday last. Business was entirely suspended on the day of the funeral and people turned out en masse to pay their respects to their departed friend and benefactor and hear the beautiful tribute to his worth and memory by Rev. Dr. Ragland. He was buried in Evergreen Cemetery with Masonic honors amid the tears of a grief-stricken crowd.
Mrs. Mary Pollard was the first President of the Southern Memorial Association. Her loyalty to the cause of the Confederacy well-fitted her for the position of first President of the Southern Memorial Association. The original Southern Memorial Association Constitution of 1872 provided for the election of officers every three months, so it is not known how many terms Mary served, but we do know from SMA records that Elizabeth Pollard, Mary's daughter-in-law, succeeded her as President. Miss Sue Walker described Mary Pollard as a lady of "calm dignity and poise." In the 1900's Miss Sue Walker, in regard to Mrs. Mary Pollard, wrote: "Doubtless many tributes to her worth and Christian virtues were published at the time of her death, which occurred many years ago; these would be most interesting to her successors in the work, but unfortunately are not available." Mary Pollard has also been described by acquaintances as an "honored gentlewoman, charitable to the poor and needy." The Encyclopedia of the New West has the following in reference to this noble lady, “Mrs. Pollard is a good scholar, a woman of decision, never forms opinions without evidence and when her opinions are formed she is not given to change; has good conversational powers, attachments, energy of character, is charitable to the poor; always open to the needy, notably so during the war.”
The Southern Memorial Association is grateful to the First Christian Church of Fayetteville, for allowing us to share this rare old picture of Mary Pollard. The original picture hangs today in the First Christian Church and in italics is what was written on the back of the picture:
Mrs. Mary Willis Pollard, a Christian member of the First Christian Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas, was born at Nicholasville, Kentucky, Sept. 17, 1810. She was a daughter of Rev. and Mrs. William Stirman. Her father was a well known minister of the gospel among the Disciples of Christ. She was married to Dr. Thomas J. Pollard April 14, 1830. Later this young couple moved to Palmyra, Missouri, where they resided till June, 1839 when they located at Fayetteville, Arkansas, which was their home for 50 years. They celebrated their golden wedding in 1880. Six years later she passed peacefully into the saints’ everlasting rest. Her husband followed her to a better land during the holidays of 1889, the burial taking place on Christmas Day.