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I.M. Terrell High named for education pioneer, longtime principal

Posted Sept. 23, 2016

group photo in front of car

One of Fort Worth’s oldest high schools is named for Isaiah Milligan Terrell, who received a private education taught by two missionaries. He was a graduate of Straight University in New Orleans in 1881.

In 1881, Terrell was hired as a private school teacher in Anderson, Texas. After teaching one year in Grimes County, he was selected by Fort Worth’s superintendent of schools, Alexander Hogg, to head the first free public school for African-Americans, called the East Ninth Street Colored School.

In 1890, Terrell was named principal and superintendent of colored schools. The East Ninth Street School was moved to the corner of East Twelfth and Stedman streets in a property trade with the Fort Worth and Denver Railroad in 1906 and renamed North Side Colored High School No. 11.

In 1909, a bond election provided funds for a new building, which opened in May 1910. I.M. Terrell was named principal and served until 1915. In honor of its former principal, the school was named I. M. Terrell High School in 1921. The school at East Twelfth and Stedman streets became an elementary and junior high school in 1938, when Terrell High School was moved to 1411 E. 18th St.

In this undated photo, I.M. Terrell High School students pose in their school sweaters next to a Model A.

Terrell died on Sept. 28, 1931, in Houston.

The Fort Worth Library has approximately 10,000 items pertaining to the history of Fort Worth and Tarrant County. These items include city and county government documents, newspapers, directories, cemetery association records, maps as well as popular and scholarly books written by local authors or about local subjects. To learn more, call 817-392-7740 or email the Genealogy, History and Archives Section.

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