Pollard, John William
Fritz Pollard’s father, John William Pollard (1846-1932) was born in Virginia and when he was eight, due to a series of incidences in which pro-slavery zealots kidnapped and sold blacks into slavery, John’s mother sent him and his sister to be raised and educated in Kansas. John grew up in a time of great instability in this country.
The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, opened new lands, repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820, and allowed settlers in those territories to determine if they would allow slavery within their boundaries. This contributed greatly to the advent of the Civil War in which John participated. In 1862, he was among the first group of blacks to join the Union Army, serving in the 2nd Colored Kansas Regiment.
After service John returned to Kansas. It was during this time that he was encouraged by Hiram Rhodes Revels (1822-1901) and Blanche Kelso Bruce (1841-1898), who would later become the first black U.S. Senators (both from Mississippi), to further his post-secondary education. He was determined to attend Oberlin College (Oberlin, Ohio) and become a lawyer. However, his quest to obtain a law degree ended when he contracted smallpox. After he recovered, he learned the barber trade from a white man and moved to the town of Mexico, Missouri to ply his trade. It was there that he met his future wife, Catherine Amanda Hughes (1856-1937).
When John arrived in Chicago from Missouri, he opened a barbershop in the Edgewater neighborhood. Before long, he moved his business to the 7000 block of Ravenswood Avenue in Rogers Park near the Rogers Park Station of the Chicago North Western Railway. At that time, he purchased the house at 1928 W. Lunt Avenue for his growing family.