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June 19, 1865, Union soldiers landed in Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended and enforced the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth is the national commemoration of the end of slavery in the U.S.
Thursday, June 19, 1867, Belmont Stakes debuted at Jerome Park Racetrack in Fordham, NY. In a four-horse field, the only filly, Ruthless, won the inaugural event by a head over second-place DeCourcey. The filly covered the 1 5/8 mile race in 3.05.00 for Francis Morris to win $1,850 and an English riding saddle. She was the first of only three fillies to win the Belmont Stakes, the other two are Tanya (1905) and Rags to Riches (2007). The Belmont is the fourth oldest stakes race in North America, following Keeneland’s Phoenix Stakes (1831), the Queen’s Plate in Canada (1860), and Saratoga’s Travers (1864). The Belmont Stakes originally ran clockwise until 1921.
June 19, 1880, the Sheepshead Bay Race Track opened for their first day of racing. Leonard Jerome, the track’s president, and William Kissam Vanderbilt built the racetrack from the New York City area and formed the Coney Island Jockey Club in 1879. Sheepshead Bay was probably the most prominent of the Brooklyn tracks and originated the Futurity and the Suburban. It also was unique in that it had the first turf course. When turf racing ended at Sheepshead Bay, it virtually stopped in America until a Hialeah in the 1930s.
Localtonians wishes a Happy Birthday to Paducah native, Robert Karnes, born in 1917. Robert had roles in in The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), Miracle on 34th Street (1947), Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950), and From Here to Eternity (1953).
June 19, 1919, Louisville held the first International Optimist Convention. Eleven independent Optimist Clubs across the U.S. met at the former Tyler Hotel. That afternoon, the 69 delegates in attendance adopted a constitution, and Optimist International, known as “The Friend of Youth,” was officially born.
June 19, 1950, Sergeant Ezra Sutherland, Jefferson County Police Department, was killed when his patrol car was struck head-on by a vehicle traveling the wrong direction. The driver of the other vehicle was apprehended and charged with manslaughter and failure to stop and render aid.
June 19, 1969, Army 1SG Luther M. Chappel from Bedford in Trimble County, Army SP4 David B. Collins from Bardstown, Army SP4 Joseph R. McIlvoy from Willisburg in Washington County and Army SP4 Ronald E. Simpson in Bardstown, died in the Vietnam War.
June 19, 1986, Murray P. Haydon, a retired autoworker who became the third person to undergo a permanent artificial heart implant, died in Louisville. He lived for one year, four months and two days on the mechanical pump. Haydon, who died nine days before his 60th birthday, was never well enough to leave Humana except for brief outings.
Kentucky Trivia: Up until 1820, Fort Boonesborough became a travel stop for westward-bound settlers and became involved as a transit point for the flourishing tobacco trade. Around 1820 the settlement ceased to be of significant importance and eventually abandoned. The area did not undergo intensive archaeological investigation until the 1980s. The modern-day re-constructed Fort opened in 1974.
June 19, 2005, Governor Ernie Fletcher proclaim June 19 of each year as “Juneteenth National Freedom Day” and will encourage all Kentuckians celebrating this day to honor and reflect on the significant roles that African-Americans have played in the history of the U.S.