While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


William C. Yancey

MITCHELL, TELLIE BENJAMIN (1878–1955). Tellie Benjamin Mitchell, African-American educator, son of Martin Mitchell and Lydia (Carter) Mitchell, was born in Columbus, Colorado County, Texas, on December 8, 1878. Little is known of Mitchell’s early life. By the mid-1880s Mitchell’s mother had moved to Fort Bend County and by 1900 had married Henry Lewis. Tellie was listed as “stepson” to Henry Lewis in the 1900 census. Mitchell attended elementary school in Kendleton, Fort Bend County, and in 1894 entered the high school department at Wiley College in Marshall. He graduated from high school in 1898 and immediately entered the undergraduate department at Wiley College. He graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in May 1903. He began a career in teaching and taught for a year in Simonton in Fort Bend County.

In 1904 Mitchell opened the Powell Point School, a two-room schoolhouse in Kendleton in Fort Bend County. In 1918 five of the six graduates of the school went on to college to train as teachers. Mitchell taught and served as principal of this school for the next fifty years. In 1923 he persuaded the Rosenwald Foundation, a philanthropic organization dedicated to building schools for rural southern black children, to build a new school building for Powell Point. The new building, consisting of six classrooms, an auditorium, and a library, was completed in 1925. Powell Point continued to house grades one through twelve until 1954, when it became an elementary school.

Mitchell was also active in the Colored Teachers State Association (now the Teachers State Association of Texas). He served as president of the association in 1934–35 and was a member of the association’s executive committee for fourteen years. In 1954 Mitchell retired and was named superintendent emeritus of the Kendleton Independent School District. The gymnasium at the district’s new high school was named for him.

Mitchell died of heart disease on February 12, 1955. He was buried in Kendleton Cemetery in Fort Bend County. He was survived by his fourth wife, Ruth Whitaker Mitchell. He had survived his three previous wives, Annie, Ella and Vervarona Mitchell. (Annie and Vervarona were both teachers, as listed in the 1910 census and 1940 census respectively.) Although he had no children, Mitchell’s half-century of service to his community affected three generations of Kendleton’s school children and left a formidable legacy. Powell Point School received a Texas Historical Marker in 1994.


 Historical Marker Files, Texas Historical Commission, Austin (Powell Point School). Texas Standard, September–October 1954.

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


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

Handbook of Texas Online, William C. Yancey, "MITCHELL, TELLIE BENJAMIN," accessed July 09, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fmiac.

Uploaded on April 25, 2013. Modified on May 21, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...