Skip to content

Today in Kentucky History

Kentucky Trivia

On October 26, 1861, around 300 Union soldiers faced off in the Battle of Saratoga against 160 Confederate soldiers in Lyon County.  They battled over the Confederate Army’s attempts to secure Kentucky locations along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.  Ultimately, the Confederate soldiers lost.  By the mid-1862, the Union Army had control over most of Kentucky and remained in control of the state until the war ended in April 1865.

October 26, 1881, the 11th annual meeting of the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) began in Louisville, the 1st time a Southern state hosted a national suffrage event.  AWSA President Lucy Stone and Mary Barr Clay (who became AWSA president in 1883) organized the meeting with Mary Jane Warfield Clay in Lexington.  The convention gathered the curious about the suffrage movement.  It also gave birth to Kentucky’s 1st suffrage organization, and the 1st in the South, the Kentucky Woman Suffrage Association (KWSA).

October 26, 1912, Kentucky and Louisville played the 1st Governor’s Cup, known then as the “Championship of the State.”  Kentucky crushed Louisville 41-0 in Lexington’s Stoll Field.  The two teams would meet five more times over the next eleven years, with Kentucky winning all six times.

October 26, 1921, Lexington officials declared Court Days a public nuisance and abolished the gathering.  The fun started in the antebellum days and grew to be an annual event, presumably too big and too fun.

Localtonians wish a Happy Birthday to Joseph Franklin “Jumping Joe” Fulks, born in Marshall County in 1921.  Birmingham, his hometown in the state’s far-western Purchase region, no longer exists after the TVA dammed the Tennessee River to create Kentucky Lake in the 1940s.  He played college ball at Murray State University (then Murray State Teachers College) for two years before joining the Marines in May 1942.  Murray State hangs his number 26 in its basketball arena.  Some say Jumpin Joe, a two-time NBA All-Star, was the NBA’s 1st All-Star.  He’s the only player murdered to be a member of the three major sports’ Hall of Fame.  

October 26, 1929, Kentucky and Centre met on the gridiron for the last time.  Kentucky won 33-0 in Danville.  The two teams played 13 times; Centre won eight to Kentucky’s five.  Each game was a shutout except for the 1922 matchup in Lexington.

A major fire occurred on October 26, 1952.  Churchill Downs recently overhauled and improved Douglass Park in 1950 to build the “number one training center” for thoroughbreds.  The fire destroyed one of the largest horse barns in the world and sixty-eight thoroughbreds.  After selling the remaining horses and stables, Churchill Downs ended all equine activity at Douglas Park in 1958.  By that spring, Churchill leveled the last 10 barns and sowed the remaining 78 acres with grass.  

Sunday night, October 26, 1952, the Hilltoppers appeared on Ed Sullivan’s CBS television show, Toast of the Town.  Ed said Western Kentucky University’s name wrong.

On October 26, 1968, Governor L. Nunn spoke at UK’s dedication ceremonies for the Kirwan-Blanding residential complex.  The 11-unit dormitory complex with twin 23-story towers would house 2,700 students.  Sarah Blanding was a former dean of women, and Dr. Kirwan was a history professor and an interim president.

October 26, 1970, Muhammad Ali (30-0) fought Jerry Quarry (37-4-4) in Freedom Hall in Louisville.  Ali returned from a 3.5 year absence.  Quarry was a tough heavyweight perfectly capable of winning the heavyweight title held by Joe Frazier.  He was not intimidated by Ali.  When he suffered a deep cut over his left eye that his corner was unable to close, referee Tony Perez called it after the 3rd round.  Quarry, bitterly disappointed, got off his chair and moved toward Ali.  Still, Ali’s cornerman, Bundini Brown, stopped him.

Kentucky Trivia:  The locals were excited about Ali’s return; however, excitement turned to anger at Freedom Hall.  They had paid $7.50 to watch Ali fight Jerry Quarry on closed-circuit television.  The technology didn’t begin working until the end of round two.  The fight ended in round three.  As the fans exited, some began to throw bottles and other items, demanding their money back.  One employee went to the hospital with a head wound.  Eventually, calmness prevailed when they redirected their anger at promotor William King.

On October 26, 1972, President R. Nixon visited Ashland to campaign as an incumbent for the presidential election 12 days before people voted.  Nixon spoke at 9:02 p.m. in the Paul G. Blazer High School gymnasium for approximately 20 minutes.  He spoke without referring to notes and made references to Kentuckians: Lucy Winchester, his Social Secretary, John Sherman Cooper, Henry Clay, Alben Barkley, Thruston Morton, Marlow Cook, Tim Lee Garter, Happy Chandler, and several references to Louie Nunn, his Kentucky campaign manager.  Kentucky sided with Nixon (63.37%) over McGovern (34.77%). 

October 26, 1976, UK held its 1st practice at Rupp Arena where Coach Joe B. Hall stepped on the floor and declared, “This is one impressive place.”

October 26, 1996, Bill Curry’s Wildcats beat the Georgia Bulldogs at home 24-17.  Coach Curry defeated Georgia twice, once in his first year in 1990, and this time in his last year.  

On October 26, 1996, Canada hosted the Breeders’ Cup (BC) for the 1st time.  Woodbine got the nod for the 13th edition, and Jenine Sahadi became the 1st female trainer to win a BC race when Lit de Justice came from last to 1st to win the Sprint under Corey Nakatani.  It was back-to-back victories for Nakatani, who next rode the filly Jewel Princess to win the Distaff.  In the Classic, Cigar tried to become the 1st horse to win the race in consecutive years.


On October 26, 2001, the U.S. Olympic Committee announced their final four cities, and Cincinnati was missing from the list.  The omission denied Lexington and Louisville a chance to host specific games.  Cincinnati spent five years and $4 million to prepare and submit the bid.  

On October 26, 2002, Chicago and picturesque Arlington Park hosted the BC for the 1st time, the 19th edition.  The four-year-old filly Azeri began the day by dominating the Distaff with a five-length victory.  The day closed with the biggest shock of the BC.  The lightly regarded four-year-old Volponi went into the gate at nearly 44-1 but came home a winner by the largest margin in Classic history, a widening 6 ½ lengths under jockey Jose Santos.  Volponi’s trainer, Phil Johnson, at 77, became the oldest trainer to win a BC race.  Distaff winner Azeri later received Horse of the Year honors and a betting scandal erupted.


On October 26, 2004, gas prices in Kentucky hit $2.00 a gallon.  The price had spiked over $2.00 before, but experts claimed this spike was permanent.

A new era began on Friday, October 26, 2007, as the 24th BC expanded to a two-day event.  For the 1st time, Monmouth Park hosted the event on the shores of New Jersey.  BC leaders added three new races for the new format:  the Juvenile Turf, Dirt Mile, and the Filly & Mare Sprint.  As a result, there would be three races on this day and eight on Saturday Jersey.

F&M Sprint
Juvenile Turf
Dirt Mile

On October 26, 2009, an actor dressed like Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Colonel Sanders sneaked into United Nations headquarters and shook hands with the UN General Assembly president before finally being ejected.  KFC pulled the stunt pulled to promote their new grilled chicken line.

October 26, 2018, Franklin Circuit Judge T. Wingate ruled that slot-like “instant racing” machines at Ellis Park and Kentucky Downs did not break the state’s gambling laws.  Since 2010, both sides debated the game of chance based on a database of previously run races.  Churchill officials welcomed the decision due to their $65 million investment into the machines.

October 26, 2019, Louisville began an animal abuse registry similar to a sex offender registry.  The list approved by the Louisville Metro Council kept animals from people with a history of abuse, a move that made local rules more robust than Kentucky laws.

October 26, 2019, Humana laid off 800 workers in several states in an effort to meet Wall Street earning expectations. 

On October 26, 2020, Amy Coney Barrett became the 5th woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court days before the elections.  President D. Trump’s 3rd justice filled the seat of the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, creating a conservative court for years to come.  

On October 26, 2021, a panel of U.S. Health advisors endorsed kid-sized doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 experimental vaccine.  This decision moved the U.S. closer to giving vaccination shots to children 5 – 11.  This age group would receive 1/3 the dose that individuals 12 and older received.  The FDA would make the final decision days later.  

On October 26, 2022, the fallout from the lockdowns continued as more local restaurants closed their doors, when many workers refused to return to the workforce.  As elections neared, candidates discussed how hard it was to go against the big money donors and their cronies.  Meanwhile, America’s proxy war for fossil fuel profits intensified on Russia’s border.