On this day in 1917, Secretary of War Newton D. Baker appointed Emmett Jay Scott his special assistant to urge the equal and impartial application of Selective Service regulations, to improve the morale of black servicemen, and to investigate racial incidents and charges of unfair treatment. For Scott, born in Houston in 1873, the appointment became a small part of an outstanding career as a public servant, editor, and author. He was awarded a master of arts degree from Wiley College in 1901 and an LL.D. by Wiley College and Wilberforce University (Ohio) in 1918. He founded the Houston Texas Freeman, the oldest black newspaper published west of the Mississippi, which he edited from 1894 to 1897. He then moved to Tuskegee, Alabama, where he worked with Booker T. Washington until 1915; he became Washington's chief adviser, confidant, and even ghostwriter. Scott also served as secretary of the National Negro Business League from 1902 to 1922, as a member of the American Commission to Liberia in 1909, as secretary to the International Conference on the Negro in 1912, and as secretary-treasurer of Howard University from 1919 to 1934. During World War II he was personnel director for the Sun Shipbuilding Company in Chester, Pennsylvania. His books include Booker T. Washington: Builder of a Civilization (1916), which he coauthored with Lyman Beecher Stowe; Scott's Official History of the American Negro in the World War (1919); and Negro Migration During the War (1920). Scott died on December 11, 1957, at Freedmen's Hospital in Washington, D.C., after a long illness.
On this day in 1853, the first state Sängerfest, or singers' festival, began in New Braunfels. After a successful Fourth of July celebration in 1853, the New Braunfels Germania male singing society invited similar organizations from Austin, San Antonio, and Sisterdale to a two-day festival held in New Braunfels on October 15 and 16, 1853. Each group sang a cappella separately and joined together for works by Felix Mendelssohn and Heinrich Marschner. At the second Sängerfest, held in San Antonio in May 1854, when the societies formed the Texas State Sängerbund (Deutsch-Texanischer Sängerbund or German Texan Singers' League), participation extended to singers from Coletoville, La Grange, Indianola, and Victoria. Succeeding Sängerfeste were held in New Braunfels and Fredericksburg and brought added members or increased musical sophistication. Despite interruptions caused by the Civil War and World War I, the Sängerfeste survived and continue to this day. Wherever held, the festivals became the impetus for expanded musical activity on the purely local level, while they themselves ceased to be the sole property of the Germans as progressively more outsiders participated in the concerts and attended them.
On this day in 1943, Texas native Ira Eaker was promoted from commander of the Eighth Air Force to assume command of both American air forces in England, the Eighth and the Ninth. Eaker, an aviation pioneer, joined the army in 1917 and transferred to the Army Air Corps in 1918. He was one of ten pilots chosen to make the Pan American Goodwill Flight in 1926, and pioneered in flight refueling in the inter-war years. During his World War II service in England between 1942 and 1944, Eaker was instrumental in the development and application of daylight precision bombing in the European Theater. He went on to command the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces in 1944-45. He died in 1987.
On this day in 1900, newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst hosted a charity bazaar at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City to benefit children orphaned by the hurricane that had devastated Galveston on September 8. The hurricane did considerable damage to the Island City Protestant Orphans Home and, though none was injured, the children were temporarily removed to the Buckner Baptist Children's Home in Dallas. In 1901 the Island City Protestant Orphans Home was renamed the Galveston Orphans' Home; the $50,000 Hearst had raised was used for rebuilding, and the new structure opened in 1902. The institution, which had begun accepting children other than orphans during the Great Depression, was formally renamed the Galveston Children's Home in 1976. In 1984 the Galveston Children's Home, along with the Lasker Home for Homeless Children and other children's facilities in Galveston, merged to become the Children's Center, Inc.