October 26, 1861, three hundred Union soldiers faced off in the Battle of Saratoga against 160 Confederate soldiers in Lyon County. The battle was presumably related to the Confederate Army’s attempts to secure Kentucky locations along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Ultimately the Confederate soldiers lost. By mid-1862, the Union Army had control over the majority 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. This was the first time Louisville and a Southern state hosted a national suffrage event. It was organized by AWSA President Lucy Stone and Mary Barr Clay (who became AWSA president in 1883) at the home of Mary Jane Warfield Clay in Lexington. The convention gathered many who were curious about the suffrage movement, and it also gave birth to Kentucky’s first suffrage organization, and the first in the South, the Kentucky Woman Suffrage Association (KWSA).
October 26, 1912, the first Governor’s Cup is played. Kentucky beats Louisville 41-0 in Lexington’s Stoll Field. The two teams would meet five more times over the next eleven years, Kentucky winning all six times.
October 26, 1921, Court Days in Lexington was declared a public nuisance and legally abolished. The fun started in the antebellum days and grew over the years to an entertaining annual event, presumably too big and too fun.
Localtonians wishes a Happy Birthday to Joseph Franklin “Jumping Joe” Fulks, born in Marshall County in 1921. Jumpin Joe was born in Birmingham, a small town in the state’s far-western Purchase region that was inundated in the 1940s after the Tennessee Valley Authority dammed the Tennessee River to create Kentucky Lake. He played college ball at Murray State University (then known as Murray State Teachers College) for two years before leaving school to join the Marines in May 1942. His number 26 hangs in the rafters at Murray State’s CFSB Center. Jumpin Joe is a two-time NBA All-Star, some say the first All-Star of the NBA. He’s the only Hall of Fame player, in Springfield, Canton, or Cooperstown, to have been murdered.
October 26, 1929, Kentucky and Centre met on the gridiron for the last time. Kentucky wins 33-0 in Danville. The two teams played 13 times, Centre winning eight times to Kentucky’s five. Each game was a shutout except for the 1922 matchup in Lexington.
October 26, 1970, Muhammad Ali (30-0) fights Jerry Quarry (37-4-4). Ali returns from a three and a half year absence to fight in Atlanta. Quarry was a tough heavyweight who was perfectly capable of winning the heavyweight title held by Joe Frazier. He was not intimidated by Ali, but when he suffered a deep cut over his left eye that his corner was unable to close, referee Tony Perez called it after the third round. Quarry, bitterly disappointed, got off his chair and moved toward Ali, but Ali’s cornerman, Bundini Brown, stopped him.
October 26, 1970, the fans 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 was over in the third round. As the fans exited, some began to throw bottles and other items, demanding their money back. One employee was taken to the hospital with a head wound. Eventually, calmness prevailed and the anger redirected at the promotor William King.
October 26, 1972, President Richard Nixon visited Ashland to campaign as an incumbent for the presidential election that was held 12 days later. Nixon spoke at 9:02 p.m. at a rally in the gymnasium of the Paul G. Blazer High School for approximately 20 minutes. He spoke without referring to notes and made references to Kentuckians: Lucy Winchester, Social Secretary at Nixon’s White House, 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, 1996, for the first time, the Breeders’ Cup was held in Canada at historic Woodbine, just outside Toronto. Jenine Sahadi also made history in the 13th edition, by becoming the first female trainer to win a Breeders’ Cup race when Lit de Justice came from last to first to win the Breeders’ Cup 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 first horse to win the race in consecutive years.
October 26, 2001, the U.S. Olympic Committee announced their final four cities and Cincinnati was not on the list. With the omission, Lexington and Louisville’s hopes were crushed as they were included in the proposal to host specific games. Cincinnati spent five years and $4 million to prepare and submit the bid.
October 26, 2002, for the first time, the Breeders’ Cup came to Chicago and picturesque Arlington Park for the 19th edition of international racing. The four-year-old filly Azeri began the day by dominating the Distaff with a five-length victory. Foreign bred horses Domedriver (Mile), Starine (Filly & Mare Turf) and High Chaparral (Turf) all scored wins. The day closed with the biggest shock of the Breeders’ Cup. 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 Breeders’ Cup race. Distaff winner Azeri was later named Horse of the Year.
October 26, 2004, gas prices in Kentucky hit $2.00 a gallon. The price had spiked over $2.00 before but experts claim this spike is more widespread and the cause of this increase will likely persist. They were right for a decade or more.
On October 26, 2007, a new era began as the 24th Breeders’ Cup World Championships expanded to a two-day event. For the first time, Monmouth Park hosted the event on the shores of New Jersey. Breeders’ Cup added three new races for the new format; the Juvenile Turf, the Dirt Mile and the Filly & Mare Sprint. There would be three races on this day and eight races on Saturday.
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. It was part of a KFC stunt to promote the fast food chain’s new grilled chicken line.
October 26, 2018, Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate ruled that slot-like “instant racing” machines at Ellis and Kentucky Downs are legal. Based on a database of previously run races, the game of chance does not break the state’s gambling laws. It is the latest twist of a case that dates back to 2010. The ruling was welcomed by Churchill officials who have invested $65 million off-track betting site with 900 machines and plans for more.
October 26, 2019, Louisville begins an animal abuse registry similar to a sex offender registry. The list approved by the Louisville Metro Council earlier in the year keeps animals from people who have a history of abusing them, in a move that makes local rules more robust than the state rules.