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Texas baritone makes professional debut in New York
April 20, 1924

On this day in 1924, Julius Lorenzo Cobb Bledsoe made his professional singing debut at Aeolian Hall in New York City. The African-American baritone was born in Waco in 1897. He attended Central Texas Academy in Waco and Bishop College in Marshall. His best-known achievement was his portrayal of Joe in Florenz Ziegfeld's 1927 production of Jerome Kern's Showboat. His interpretation of "Ol' Man River" made the song an American classic. A highlight of his career was his performance in the title role for the European premiere, in Amsterdam, of Louis Gruenberg's opera The Emperor Jones (1934). Bledsoe also wrote an opera, Bondage (1939), based on Uncle Tom's Cabin. He died in 1943, in Hollywood, of a cerebral hemorrhage.

German nobles unite for Texas colonization
April 20, 1842

On this day in 1842, the Adelsverein (the Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas) was provisionally organized by twenty-one German noblemen at Biebrich on the Rhine, near Mainz. The society was formed to establish a new Germany on Texas soil by means of an organized mass emigration. In May 1842 the association sent two of its members, counts Joseph of Boos-Waldeck and Victor August of Leiningen, to Texas to purchase land. In January 1843 Boos-Waldeck bought a square league (4,428 acres) in what is now Fayette County, near Industry, as the base for future colonization. The first immigrants disembarked in Texas in December 1844, near Carlshafen (later Indianola). The society brought more than 7,000 Germans to Texas. It also established Texas as a major goal of subsequent emigration from Germany.

Last Confederate general dies
April 20, 1928

On this day in 1928, Felix Huston Robertson died in Waco. Robertson, the only Texas-born general officer to serve the Confederacy, was born in 1839 at Washington-on-the-Brazos. His father, Jerome Bonaparte Robertson, also fought in the Civil War, and was for a time commander of Hood's Texas Brigade. Felix Robertson was appointed brigadier general in 1864. He was a harsh disciplinarian whose savage punishments and Indian-like features earned him the sobriquet "Comanche Robertson." The most controversial incident of his military tenure occurred in Saltville, Virginia. There, on October 3, 1864, troops under Robertson's command killed well over 100 wounded, mostly black survivors of a Union attack. Though Robertson was never charged with any crime, one of his subordinate officers was hanged for murder. After the war Robertson returned to Texas, where he became an enthusiastic member of the United Confederate Veterans and served as the commander of the Texas Division in 1911. At the time of his death he was the last surviving general of the Confederacy.