October 26th in History

Pony Express

On This Day in History

  • George III of Great Britain declares to Parliament that the American colonies are in a state of rebellion, and authorizes a military response (1775)
  • Benjamin Franklin leaves for France to solicit support for the American Revolution (1776)
  • The Erie Canal opens, allowing passage from Albany, New York, to Lake Erie (1825)
  • The Pony Express officially ceases operations after 18 months, two days after the first transcontinental telegraph line connects Omaha with Sacramento (1861)
  • The Gunfight at the O. K. Corral takes place in Tombstone, Arizona (1881)
  • Norway gains independence from Sweden (1905)
  • Battle of Caporetto (World War I): Oberleutnant Erwin Rommel and a force of 100 German mountain infantrymen defeats a force of over 7,000 Italians and captures Mount Matajur (1917)
  • Hoover Dam’s first electric generator goes on line (1936)
  • The North American P-51 Mustang flies for the first time (1940)
  • Battle of Santa Cruz (Guadalcanal Campaign, World War II): The carrier USS Hornet is sunk and USS Enterprise is heavily damaged (1942)
  • The Dornier Do 335 Pfeil (Arrow), famous for its one engine in front/one engine in the rear in-line design, flies for the first time (1943) [Only one surviving Pfeil remains; it is in the Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air and Space Museum.]
  • The Battle of Leyte Gulf, which began October 23, ends with a total American victory (1944)
  • The Maharaja of Kashmir and Jammu, leader of the only Indian state with a Hindu ruler and a mostly Muslim population, agrees to join India (1947)
  • The coronation of محمد رضا شاه پهلوی (Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavī) as Shah of Iran (1967)
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this is the date smallpox was eradicated (1977)
  • Human girl Baby Fae receives a transplanted baboon heart but dies 21 days later (1984)
  • The House of Lords ends the automatic voting rights of hereditary peers (1999)
  • The PATRIOT Act becomes law in the United States (2001)


  • Domenico Scarlatti (1685)
  • Georges Danton, French Revolution leader (1759)
  • Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, Prussian field marshal (1800)
  • Ferdinand Georg Frobenius, mathematician (1849)
  • C.W. Post, cereal magnate (1854)
  • Benjamin Guggenheim, went down with the Titanic (1865)
  • Napoleon Hill, pioneering self-help author (1883)
  • “Judy” Johnson, Negro League baseball hall of famer (1899)
  • Beryl Markham, Kenyan aviator and adventurer (1902)
  • Jack Sharkey, heavyweight champion (1902)
  • Sid Gillman, football player and coach (1911)
  • Mahalia Jackson, singer (1911)
  • Jackie Coogan, Chaplin kid and Addams uncle (1914)
  • François Mitterand, French president (1916)
  • Buzz Wagner, first US fighter ace of World War II (1916)
  • Baby Peggy, silent film child star (1918)
  • Edward Brooke, first African-American US Senator (1919)
  • محمد رضا شاه پهلوی (Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavī), Iranian monarch (1919)
  • Madelyn Dunham, Barack Obama’s grandmother (1922)
  • Bob Hoskins, actor (1942)
  • Pat Conroy, author (1945)
  • Jaclyn Smith, actress (1945)
  • Pat Sajak, game show host (1946)
  • Hillary Clinton, political figure (1947)
  • Bootsie Collins, Parliament-Funkadelic bass player (1951)
  • David Was, singer-songwriter (1952)
  • Keith Strickland, B-52s guitarist (1953)
  • Lauren Tewes, The Love Boat’s cruise director (1953)
  • Rita Wilson, actress, spouse of Tom Hanks (1956)
  • Evo Morales, Bolivian president (1959)
  • Dylan McDermott, actor (1961)
  • Cary Elwes, actor (1962)
  • Ted Demme, director (1963)
  • Natalie Merchant, singer-songwriter (1963)
  • Keith Urban, singer-songwriter (1967)
  • Seth MacFarlane, animator (1973)


  • Alfred the Great, English monarch (899)
  • William Hogarth, painter (1764)
  • “Bloody Bill” Anderson, Confederate guerrilla leader (1864)
  • John Labatt, brewer (1866)
  • Carlo Collodi, created Pinocchio (1890)
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton, women’s rights activist (1902)
  • Charles Comiskey, baseball player, manager, and team owner (1931)
  • “The Unsinkable” Molly Brown, Titanic survivor (1923)
  • Hattie McDaniel, actress (1952)
  • Walter Gieseking, pianist (1956)
  • Νίκος Καζαντζάκης (Nikos Kazantzakis), author of Zorba the Greek and The Last Temptation of Christ (1957)
  • Louise Beavers, actress (1962)
  • Igor Sikorsky, aircraft designer (1889)
  • Hoyt Axton, singer-songwriter (1999)
  • Keith Parkinson, fantasy artist* (2005)
  • Tony Hillerman, mystery writer (2008)
  • Paul the Octopus, octopus used to predict the outcome of football (soccer) matches (2010)

*I worked with Keith at TSR. He was an enormously talented, decent, and kind man.


  • Angam Day (Republic of Nauru)
  • Armed Forces Day (Benin)
  • Day of Mourning (Libya)
  • First day of the Ludi Victoriae Sullanae (Sulla’s Victory Games, through November 1) (Roman Republic)
  • Mule Day (US), honors the importation of the first Spanish Jack mules to the US, a gift from Charles III of Spain, arrived October 26, 1785
  • National Day (Austria)
  • National Mincemeat Day (US)
  • National Pumpkin Day (US)

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October 26 is the 299th day of the year (300th in leap years).

There are 66 days remaining until the end of the year.