A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from June 18, 2012
Hard Case State (Oregon nickname)

Oregon has been called the “Hard Case State” because life for its earliest settlers was very hard. Inhabitants of Oregon were called “Hard Cases” by at least April 1845.

“Hard Case State” was rarely used in the 20th century and the nickname is of historical interest today.


Netstate.com—Oregon
The Hard-case State
or “The Land of Hard Cases” was a nickname that was given to Oregon because of the hardships encountered by early settlers in the area.

Quotescoop.com
“The Hard-case State” or “The Land of Hard Cases”
There are several theories as to the origin of these Oregon nicknames:
1) The first theory focus on the challenges and hardships that met early settlers - you needed to be tough to settle down and make a living in the new land.
2) The second theory points to the dubious and poor character of some of the settlers. Oregon being located so far west, was as far away from previous misdeeds as possible.

Google Books
April 1845, Cincinnati Miscellany (Cincinnati, OH), pg. 240, col. 1:
Ohio, Buckeyes.
Indiana, Hoosiers.
Illinois, Suckers.
Missouri, Pewks.
Mississippi, Tadpoles
Arkansas, Gophers.
Michigan, Wolverines.
Florida, Fly up the Creeks.
Wisconsin, Badgers.
Iowa, Hawkeyes.
N. W. Territory, Prairie Dogs.
Oregon, Hard Cases.

22 May 1845, Cleveland Daily Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), pg. 4, col. 2:
From Cist’s Cincinnati Advertiser.
Fancy Names.

(...)
Oregon, Hard Cases.

Chronicling America
23 August 1845, Ripley (MS) Advertiser, pg. 1, cols. 4-5:
NATIONAL NICKNAMES.—It will be seen by the following from an exchange paper that the people of every state have nicknames, and some very curious and ludicrous ones:

The inhabitants of Maine, are called Foxes; New Hampshire, Granite Boys; Massachusetts, Bay Staters; Vermont, Green Mountain Boys; Rhode Island, Gun Flints; Connecticut, Wooden Nutmegs; New York, Knickerbockers; New Jersey, Clamcatchers; Pennsylvania, Leatherheads; Delaware, Muskrats; Maryland, Craw-Thumpers; Virginia, Beagles; North Carolina, Weasels; Georgia, Buzzards; Louisiana, Creowls; Alabama, Lizzards; Kentucky, Corn crackers; Tennessee, Cottonmanics; Ohio, Buckeyes; Indiana, Hoosiers; Illinois, Suckers; Missouri, Pewks; Mississippi, Tadpoles; Arkansas, Gophers; Michigan, Wolverines; Florida, Fly-up-the-Creeks; Wisconsin, Badgers; Iowa, Hawkeyes; N. W. Territory, Prairie Dogs; Oregon, Hard Cases.

Chronicling America
4 July 1860, The Spirit of Democracy (Woodsfield, OH), “National Nicknames,” pg. 1, col. 7:
The inhabitants of Maine are called Foxes; New Hampshire, Granite Boys; Massachusetts, Bay Staters; Vermont, Green Mountain Boys; Rhode Island, Gun Flints; Connecticut, Wooden Nutmegs; New York, Knickerbockers; New Jersey, Clam Catchers; Pennsylvania, Leather Heads; Delaware, Muskrats; Maryland, Claw Thumpers; Virginia, Beagles; North Carolina, Tar Boilers; South Carolina, Weasels; Georgia, Buzzards; Louisiana, Creowls; Alabama, Lizards; Kentucky, Corn Crackers; Ohio, Buckeyes; Michigan, Wolverines; Indiana, Hoosiers; illinois, Suckers; Missouri, Pukes: Mississippi, Tad-Poles; Florida, Fly up the Creeks; Wisconsin, Badgers; Iowa, Hawkeyes; Oregon, Hard Cases.

25 July 1864, Indianapolis (IN) Daily Journal, “National Nick-Names,” pg. 4, col. 2:
Oregon...Hard Cases

Google Books
June 1865, The Wisconsin Journal of Education, pg. 328:
The following are the “nicknames” of the native inhabitants of the different States:
... Oregon, Hard Cases; ...

1 December 1865, The Rescue (Sacramento, CA), “National Nicknames,” pg. 3, col. 3:
... Oregon, Hard Cases; ...

Google Books
Annual Statistician—1876
Compiled by John P. Mains
San Francisco, CA: L. P. McCarty, Publisher
1876
Pg. 90:
NICKNAMES OF STATES AND THEIR INHABITANTS.
(...)
OREGON—Webfeet, Hard Cases.

Chronicling America
3 May 1881, The Daily Bee (Omaha, NE), “State Nicknames,” pg. 3, cols. 4-5:
... Oregon, Web Foot or Hard Case; ...

Google Books
U. S.
An Index to the United States of America

Compiled by Malcolm Townsend
Boston, MA: D. Lothrop Company
1890
Pg. 75:
NICKNAMES APPLIED TO THE PEOPLE OF THE STATES.
(...)
Oregon...Hard Cases...Slang, applied to the rough and hardy life as led by the early settlers.

Google Books
September 1893, The Teachers World, “For Interesting the Geography Class” by Gertrude E. Thompson, W. Medford, Mass., pg. 17, col. 2:
Oregon— White Fort State; “Hard Case State”; Beaver State; Pacific State.

Google Books
Universal Dictionary of the English Language
Edited by Robert Hunter and Charles Morris
New York, NY: Peter Fenelon Collier, Publisher
1898
Pg. 5344:
Oregon. Hard Cases (a slang term derived from the rough life of the early settlers).

24 March 1901, Daily Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA), “Nicknames of People,” pg. 3, col. 3:
Oregon, Web-foot; Hard cases.

Posted by Barry Popik
Oregon (Beaver State Dictionary) • Monday, June 18, 2012 • Permalink