On this day in 1860...


Minnesota votes for Abraham Lincoln in the 1860 Presidential election, but a slightly less democratic way of deciding the county seat of Freeborn County takes place on the same day.

A horse race, pitting Albert Lea mare Old Tom against a horse of Itasca's choosing, would determine the outcome of the county seat race.

Itasca businessmen purchased a horse from Iowa secretly, hoping Albert Lea residents would bet on Old Tom without knowing that the Iowa horse "Fly," known as one of the fastest horses of its time, was Old Tom's opponent. They would bankrupt the town with this underhanded secrecy and buy votes for Itasca with Albert Lea's money.

Instead, Old Tom pulled out the victory over Fly, thwarting Itasca's plan, making Albert Lea Freeborn County's centerpiece.

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