On this date in 1920, Sul Ross State Normal College, the future Sul Ross State University, began operations. The school, located at Alpine in Brewster County, was authorized by the Thirty-fifth Legislature in 1917. Sixty-seven students enrolled in the first class. They studied education and liberal arts subjects leading to teacher's certificates and junior college diplomas. The institution was renamed Sul Ross State Teachers College in 1925, the year the first bachelor's degree was awarded. In 1945, when the curriculum had expanded, enrollment had increased, and more facilities had been constructed, the name was changed to Sul Ross State College. In 1969 the college became Sul Ross State University.
On this day in 1886, Conger Neblett was born in Corsicana. In 1926 she married Jack Hagar, a Bostonian who had come to Texas because of his interests in oil and real estate. In 1935 the Hagars moved to Rockport, where Connie Hagar spent the rest of her life as an amateur bird-watcher and gained the respect of professional ornithologists in Europe and the United States. The "Texas bird lady" added over twenty new species to the avifauna list of the state and was the first to report numerous species of migratory birds, including several that were thought to be extinct. She died in 1973 and was buried in a spot overlooking the wildlife sanctuary that bears her name.
On this day in 1937, Charles Bellinger died. Bellinger was born in Caldwell County in 1875 and worked in a Lockhart saloon as a teenager. He established his own saloon in San Antonio by 1906 and developed a reputation as an exceptional gambler. He expanded his activities to include a pool hall, a cafe, a cab company, a real estate and construction company, a theater, a barbershop, a private lending service for blacks, a lottery, and a bootlegging operation during Prohibition. Bellinger entered local politics in 1918 and, with the aid of black ministers, developed support among black voters for John W. Tobin, who served as sheriff and mayor, and later for the Quin family. In return the city government provided the black neighborhood with paved and lighted streets, plumbing, a meeting hall, and a branch library, as well as improved recreation facilities and schools. African-American political participation set San Antonio apart from most Texas and southern cities and stimulated the state legislature to require a white primary in the 1920s. In 1936 Bellinger was convicted of failure to pay income tax, a conviction that resulted in a fine and an eighteen-month sentence at Leavenworth penitentiary. Illness led to his transfer to a government hospital and to a parole granted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt