From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Isom, Bob and Albert

The Isom brothers, Robert L. "Bob" (d.1897) and Albert "Bert", were Kentucky jockeys. They were referred to as light-weight jockeys, and are remembered as riders for Jack Chinn, owner of Lissak [the horse was sold to Sidney Paget in 1898]. The lesser known of the Isom brothers was Albert who was a jockey as early as 1895 when he and Bob rode for the Burns and Waterhouse Stable in San Francisco, CA. Albert also rode for various horse owners at the race courses at Latonia, the New Louisville Jockey Club, Newport, Lexington, and the Oakley Race Course near Cincinnati, OH.

Bob Isom, the better known of the two brothers, rode the two-year-old Kentucky horse Lissak to victory in San Francisco in 1894; it was the first time Lissak had raced in California. The following year, June of 1895, Bob Isom rode the horse to victory in the Detroit $5,000 International Derby [not a real derby] held in Detroit, MI. Bob Isom had been a jockey as early as 1894, he rode in San Francisco in December of that year and there was a bumping incident that later resulted in a fight and Bob Isom stabbed jockey Robert Combs. August of 1895, Bob Isom was in Lexington, KY, when he was thrown while exercising a yearling colt owned by Judge J. R. Jewell. In May of 1896, it was reported that Bob Isom was dying from consumption, but in August of 1896, he rode aboard the horse Billy C and was narrowly defeated by Cal Leonard aboard Antidote. The race took place at Kapiolani Park in Honolulu, Hawaii; Bob Isom had been sent to Hawaii to recuperate from his illness. The following year he rode at both Oakley and Ingleside [California]. Bob Isom died of consumption [tuberculosis] in San Francisco, November of 1897, and his body was shipped to Lexington, KY for burial in African Cemetery No.2 [source: KY Certificate of Death #2385].

For more see "The turf," The Salt Lake Herald, 11/20/1894, p.2; "California racegoers..., The San Francisco Call, 05/22/1895, p.5; "Lissak won a derby," New York Times, 06/26/1895, p.6; "The Detroit Derby," Daily Racing Form, 07/28/1896, p.1; "Albert Isom attempts suicide," Central Record, 08/17/1899, p.4; "Stock and turf news," Bourbon News, 12/02/1898, p.5; see the Daily Racing Form; "Done in 1:04," Hawaiian Gazette, 08/04/1896, p.5; "Fight between jockeys," Galveston Daily News, 12/02/1894, p.4; "Jockey Isom injured," Columbus Evening Dispatch, 08/23/1895, p.9; "Gossip from the turfmen," The Daily Review, 05/03/1896, p.2; "Bob Isom, the jockey, dead," New York Times, 11/18/1897, p.4; "Bob Isom...," Semi-weekly Interior Journal, 11/19/1897, p.3 [top of column 4]; "Death ended career," Courier-Journal, 12/18/1904, p.29.

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“Isom, Bob and Albert,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 13, 2024,

Last modified: 2017-11-24 20:38:18