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 January 18, 2005
I’m from Missouri—Show Me (summary)
Gerald Cohen is a professor at the University of Missouri-Rolla. He started the research on "Big Apple," and he also started the research on "I'm from Missouri, show me."

The standard story is that the state motto was coined/popularized by Congressman Willard Vandiver at a meeting in Philadelphia in 1899. That's wrong.

First, the Philadelphia meeting was in 1900, not 1899. I checked. Second, "show me" was already popular by that time.

"Show me" is dated from 1894 in an Omaha, Nebraska newspaper. In 1898, people from Missouri wore "show me" buttons to the Trans-Mississippi exhibition in Omaha, Nebraska. Also, in the summer of 1898, a "Show Me" song (the first of several) was copyrighted. See the 1913 article below, stating that it was the rivalry between Kansas City and Omaha that started the "Show Me" expression.

The State of Missouri is aware of my work, but its web page is still incorrect and outdated. I'll "show you" here.

Missouri Secretary of State website
Why Is Missouri Called the "Show-Me" State?
There are a number of stories and legends behind Missouri's sobriquet "Show-Me" state. The slogan is not official, but is common throughout the state and is used on Missouri license plates.

The most widely known legend attributes the phrase to Missouri's U.S. Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver, who served in the United States House of Representatives from 1897 to 1903. While a member of the U.S. House Committee on Naval Affairs, Vandiver attended an 1899 naval banquet in Philadelphia. In a speech there, he declared, "I come from a state that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me." Regardless of whether Vandiver coined the phrase, it is certain that his speech helped to popularize the saying.

Other versions of the "Show-Me" legend place the slogan's origin in the mining town of Leadville, Colorado. There, the phrase was first employed as a term of ridicule and reproach. A miner's strike had been in progress for some time in the mid-1890s, and a number of miners from the lead districts of southwest Missouri had been imported to take the places of the strikers. The Joplin miners were unfamiliar with Colorado mining methods and required frequent instructions. Pit bosses began saying, "That man is from Missouri. You'll have to show him."

However the slogan originated, it has since passed into a different meaning entirely, and is now used to indicate the stalwart, conservative, noncredulous character of Missourians.

Rossiter, Phyllis. "I'm from Missouri--you'll have to show me." Rural Missouri, Volume 42, Number 3, March 1989, page 16.
Official Manual of the State of Missouri, 1979-1980, page 1486.

28 October 1894, Sunday World-Herald (Omaha, NE), "Tips for the Real Sporty," pg. 10, col. 1:
Johnson (John S. Johnson, a bicycle rider --ed.) says that he can cover a mile in 1:30 flat, but being from Missouri he will have to show me.

13 November 1894, Morning World-Herald (Omaha, NE), pg. 3, col. 1:
They're From Missouri.
Fowler, Dick & Walker, against whom P. H. Fotheringham has brought a $10,000 damage suit, are from Missouri and want to be shown. They have filed in the district court a motion for a more specified statement on the part of Fotheringham.

23 December 1894, Sunday World-Herald (Omaha, NE), pg. 18, col. 6:
A few days after that "a tall, long, lank, underfed, wall-eyed, slab-sided, hatchet-faced girl" from the state where you have to "show me" came up to the window with an "I say, mister, what's the fare down home again?"

5 February 1895, Morning World-Herald (Omaha, NE), "Events in Council Bluffs," pg. 3, col. 1:
Keller, however, insisted that he was from Missouri and he wanted to be shown, and the ordinance was laid over, while a dense cloud of grief enshrouded the vicinity of the gentleman from the Fifth ward.

11 June 1895, Morning World-Herald (Omaha, NE), "South Omaha World Herald," pg. 4, col. 6:
Mayor Johnston says he can take care of the city overlap and clear everything up in good shape in a short time, but the people of this city are "from Missouri" and he must show them before they will put much stock in the tale.

13 August 1895, Morning World-Herald (Omaha, NE), pg. 2:
He Drags Down the First Prize
at the Six-Day Bicycle
The wheelmen settled down nearly in the evening to the old grind, with Hall (C. R. Hall of Mound City, Missouri -- ed.) still in the lead, setting a regular old "show me" pace, but Clark got cold in the rear and came to the front, with Holton after him.

27 September 1895, Lincoln (NE) Weekly Call, pg. 1, col. 7:
Will Arrive in Lincoln Tomorrow From Missouri.
It is expected that tomorrow Lincoln will be honored by a number of distinguished visitors. Authorities of the commercial club anticipate a call from the state officials of Missouri on their return from the Sioux City fair.

1 December 1895, Sunday World-Herald (Omaha, NE), pg. 19:
Your uncle will not believe that Omaha will be in the Western league until along in the shank of next season, when a team with the word "Omaha" emblazoned upon the shirts of players in actual service can be shown to him. And he is not from Missouri, either.

21 February 1896, Sunday World-Herald (Omaha, NE), pg. 3:
This ballot was also made formal and Mr. (W. H. --ed.) Bradley was called for. He was bashful, but the convention howled until he mounted the platform declaring, "I'm from Missouri and have to be shown."

9 May 1896, Des Moines (Iowa) Daily News, pg. 4, col. 2:
They Came from Missouri and
We Had to Show Them.

14 August 1896, Great Bend (KS) Tribune, pg. 7, col. 5:
The reporter entirely forgetting his position or whom he was addressing yelled out, "I'm from Missouri you'll have to sight me."

7 September 1896, Topeka (KS) State Journal, "Kansas Humor" from Fairview Courier, pg. 2, col. 2:
He said women didn't know much anyway about machinery and as I was from Missouri he reckoned he'd have to show me.

7 November 1896, Omaha (NE) World-Herald, pg. 7, col. 6:
"They say Mr. McKinley is the advance agent of prosperity but I am from Missouri and they have got to show me."
(Spoken by D. Clem Deaver -- ed.)

Google Books
April 1897, Kansas University Quarterly, vol. 6, no. 2, "Dialect Word-List - No. 4" by W. H. Carruth and Paul Wilkinson, pg. 91:
show me: substitute for, "I don't understand." We have an expression in Missouri, "I'm from Missouri: you'll have to show me." hence show me. -- Mo.

2 May 1897, Philadelphia (PA) Times, pg. 13, col. 7:


From a Correspondent of THE TIMES.

"I'm from Missouri, and they'll have to show me."
(The same text is in the following reprint a week later. The below is more accessible to most through ProQuest digitized newspapers -- ed.)

9 May 1897, Washington (DC) Post, pg. 27:
So the Man from Missouri Leaped Headlong from a Train.
From the Philadelphia Times.

"I'm from Missouri, and they'll have to show me."

That is what John Duffer, of Pike County, Missouri, remarked as he was being patched up in the office of Dr. Creighton at Manitou. His face and hands were badly scrateched where they had come in contact with the sharp gravel, there was a bruise over one eye where his head has struck against a fragment of Pike's Peak, one elbow felt "like a tarnation wildcat had clawed it," and there was a general feeling of soreness "pretty much everywhere," as he explained it to the doctor, but he was alive and thankful.

John had jumped from the platform of a Colorado Midland passenger train at the entrance to the first tunnel above Manitou, while laboring under a mistake as to the destination of the train, which appeared to be plunging into the mountain side.

"You don't catch me lettin' 'em run me into the ground with any of their gol darned trains, when I've got a through ticket to Cripple Creek in my pocket," he remarked as the doctor took another stitch in his scalp and adjusted an artistic court plaster shingle on the swelling dome over his right eye. "I'm pretty badly peeled up, but you bet I'm still on top, and that's where I'm going to stay." And John Duffer took a good-sized bite out of a mammoth piece of navy plug which he dug up out of his pocket and relapsed into momentary silence, though his jaws worked faster than ever.

"You see, Doc," said the Missourian, as he deluged the gas log in the doctor's fireplace with the overflow from his lips, "I was a-going over to Cripple Creek to see what those gold mines look like, where they shovel up the stuff into a wagon and let her go at that, and find chunks of gold in the rocks. I had my grip and a bucket of grub in the car, and just after the train left the depot I went out on the platform to look at the mountains. Down on one side was a holler, and up on tother side was a hill that I couldn't see to the top of, and on all sides was mountains, and I couldn't see how the train was ever going to dodge them all. The little shelf the train was running on kept wiggling through them hills like a snake in a plow field, and then I looked ahead and saw where a hill had been split plumb down to the ground to let the railroad through, and that was all right, because I could see daylight on the other side. And then when the train went through that split in the hill it switched around kinder to one side, and I could see the track ahead of the engine, and then I saw a big white mountain all covered with snow sticking clear up into the clouds, and nobody knows how much farther, and the next thing I knowed the engine give a screech like she was most scared to death, and I looked quick and the whole business was going plunk into a hole in the ground. And then I jumped. Came near getting killed, but I fooled them that trip. You don't catch me running up against any game that I don't know nothing about, and I ain't going into anything that I don't know the way out of. Then I came down town to get patched up, and I'm going to Cripple Creek some other way, even if I have to walk."

"And what became of the train?" asked the doctor, who had been feeling of Duffer's ribs to se if they were all in place. "Didn't they stop for you?"

"Stop nothing. The last I saw of the darned thing it was still going into the hole and I didn't care whether it ever stopped or not. I wasn't on it. Say, do you reckon I could get my bucket back if they get them out?"

It took considerable time and the testimony of several witnesses to convince Mr. Duffer that the entire train and its contents were not hopelessly buried in the interior of Pike's Peak, and quite a little crowd accompanied him to the station, where Agent Dunaway telegraphed to Cascade to return one lunch pail and grip labeled John Duffer, Pike County, Mo.

And as he left the station to fill up on "free soda biling right out of the crowd" Mr. Duffer explained, once more:

"When the train went into that hole I thought we'd never see daylight again, and my only chance was to jump, and so I jumped. I'm from Missouri, and you'll have to show me!"

3 May 1898, Evening World-Herald (Omaha, NE), pg. 7, col. 7 ad:
Who wants to be "shown" has only to put a trial want ad in the
And the results that come will show him why the World-Herald carries double the number of Want Ads of an other paper in Omaha.

Chronicling America
6 August 1898, Omaha (NE) Daily Bee, pg. 12, col. 6 ad:
K. C. at the bat
One thing about K. C. fellows, though -- they're near sighted. A man who wants to do business with 'em has got to
Show 'em.
If you try to run a bluff on a Kansas City man he don't say a word but closes off his eye and sez
I'm from Mizzouri,
Got to show me.
Nebraska Clothing Co.

12 August 1898, The World-Herald (Omaha, NE), pg. 4, col. 4:
(Kansas City Star.)
So far as heard from, every man and woman who went from Kansas City to Omaha to see the Trans-Mississippi exposition on Saturday was greatly surprised and pleased by the magnitude and the beauty of the show which Omaha has created for the entertainment and instruction of the people of this country, and along with the feeling of enthusiasm which was aroused there was a feeling of regret that the exposition is not receiving the patronage which it merits.
It is safe to say that no person from Kansas City who went to Omaha to shout for this town regrets the trip. The unique description on the Kansas City badges, "You will have to show me," met with adequate response, and the visitors were shown a great many more interesting sights than they expected to see.

14 August 1898, The Morning Post (Raleigh, NC), pg. 2, col. 1:
Unique Feature of Trans-Mississippi Exposition.
Omaha, Neg., Aug. 13.
Saturday was Kansas City day and (Col. 2 -- ed.) a goodly number of Missourians came in wearing significant badges which read: "You will have to show me."

Chronicling America
19 August 1900, St. Louis (MO) Republic, "Stories of Well-Known Missourians," pt. 2, pg. 6, col. 7:
Hannibal claims to produce the man that first gave utterance to the immortal expression: "I'm from Missouri, you've got to show me!" According to the story, the expression was first used by an old man in a Chicago street car. He claimed that he was from Hannibal, but did not give his name. Some one on the car had made an astounding statement, which staggered the old gentleman. He quickly retorted: "I am from Missouri and you'll have to show me." A reporter for a Chicago paper was aboard the car, and the next day there appeared a paragraph telling of the incident. Soon it reached Missouri and the phrase is now known in every State of the Union.

24 August 1913, Dallas Morning News, part four, pg. 13:
Origin of "Show Me."
A little while ago a well-intentioned critic of St. Louis informed the business men that their city had outgrown its stick-in-the-mud slogan, "You'll have to show me," and that the first step in the direction of progress must be the selection of a less slow slogan. A few of those who read the speech in the daily papers protested that "show me" was never in any sense the property of St. Louis. They were not sure whence it had come, nor why. They could remember only vaguely the first time they heard it, but they were positive it belonged to the State of Missouri, and not to any one city, assuredly not the metropolis on the Mississippi.

A gentleman with a fondness for delving in the dust-laden records of the historical society has now appeared with the information that the challenge, "You'll have to show me," is a corruption of the name of a famous Indian chief of the Sioux tribe, whose grave is in the western part of the State -- old Yumus Shome having led the tribe who crossed the lowlands below the mouth of the Illinois, carrying their canoes on their heads from the Mississippi to the Missouri, and thus giving the name in the historic old French town, Portage des Sioux. Yumus Shome, it is averred, is buried at Westport, in Jackson County, and his name--carelessly pronounced "You mus' show me," has passed into the vernacular of the State.

It is a pretty story, and one that we ought to permit ourselves the pleasure of believing. But, alas, it is a practical age and sooner or later some stickler for the fact is sure to come forward with the proof that there never was any such chief as Yumus Shome. The man who wrote to one of the daily papers concerning him must have had some authority for his statement. Indeed, he had what looked like excellent authority. He found it in a scrapbook, and it was in very good hexameter. He was sure that poet must have known what he was writing about, or he would not have succeeded in getting his verses published. The material story of the chief appeared in a magazine called Kings and Queens of the Range, and devoted to the interests of the great Texas and Kansas ranchers. It was published while the exposition at Omaha was in the flower of its first year's success, and was the effect, not the cause, of "you must show me."

It came about in this way: When Omaha first talked of holding a trans-Mississippi Exposition the newspapers in Kansas City indulged in a fusillade of sarcastic gibes. The idea of Omaha, the dead one, bestirring itself enough to get up a world's fair was too preposterous to be accepted as serious. And so, when the fair became a fact and included among its days a Kansas City day, a huge delegation went up from the Kaw town, each wearing a button with the legend, "I'm from Missouri and you've got to show me." The expression caught the public fancy and in a little while Missouri was known the world over as the "Show Me State." So it was Kansas City, not St. Louis, that started the stick-in-the-mud slogan. -- St. Louis Globe Democrat.

3 August 1938, Santa Cruz (CA) News, pg. 3, cols. 1-2:
Back in the silver eighties when the cry was 16 to one and there were more than a few Republicans, people hadn't yet learned to use the statement, "I'm from Missouri."

It remained for an eighteen-year-old lad who was working for "$15 a month and keep" to originate the statement which has stayed with the American public ever since that time.

Chas. R. Hall. famous landscape painter and former world's champion bicycle rider, claims to have originated the adage.

Hall, who now lives in Ben Lomond, was working on a farm near Marysville, in Missouri back in 1888. That was in the days when the "safety bike: was just beginning to take the place of the old "uneven wheeler" with the large wheel in front and the small wheel in the rear.

Bicycling was popular then but young Hall, working for 15 a month soon learned that he couldn't afford to bicycle, so he learned to ride on a friend's machine.

Bicycle racing was reaching its big ride and was well on its way to the fore in popularity.

So, on an uneventful day in 1888 Hall went into town, the little community of Craig, to see a two-day celebration there.

As a part of the program, several races had been scheduled and several representatives of bicycle manufacturers were in town to take part in the different events.

In those days the tracks were dirt, making them slow, as compared with the wooden bowls. Just before the first race the young farmer was in the dressing room, talking to the riders. Knowing that he could make the half-mile track in less than three minutes he asked what their time was and learned the record on that track was 3:3.

Hall laughed and said, "Any old farmer coud plow you boys under if that's the best you can do."

And so the challenge was hurled and the riders egged Hall into the next day's one mile open.

Ha;; borrowed a bicycle from a hardware dealer in town and entered the next day's race, winning over the professional representatives of the eastern manufacturers.

He won the first race riding a heavy road bike and dressed in his farm overalls. "I came in two lengths ahead of the best of them," said Hall, "with my overalls flapping in the breeze."

One month later, in Mound City, Missouri, riding a Quincy bicycle, he won every race on the program.

After the celebration, he was offered a position riding for the Sterling Bicycle company by John T. Burke, company representative.

Burke offered Hall $45 a week, all expenses and all he could win in the races, and Ha;; accepted before Burke had a chance to change his mind.

Omaha newspapers, after Hall had signed to ride for Burke, dubbed the young man, "Burke's dark horse from Missouri."

At the next meet, in Omaha, where Hall raced, he went in against Herman Gadke, crack rider of the day. Omaha at that time was on the national circuit, and the track there was wood.

Just before the race, when the judges, starters and racers were up on their ties for the beginning of the race, a reporter shouted, "Hall, Gadke won't do a thing to you."

To which the young rider returned, "I'm from Missouri, you've got to show me."

Hall won the race, beating Gadke by a length, and the next morning the papers came out with the story, "He was from Missouri, but the boys couldn't show him."

The phrase caught and went out all over the United States into the racing newspapers from which the public picked it carrying the expression nearly half a century to popular use today, according to Hall.

1 January 1939, Santa Cruz (CA) Sentinel, "Happy Birthday To You" (Laura Rawson, Birthday Editor), pg. 8, col. 4:
CHARLES R. HALL, a resident of Ben Lomond for the past three years, missed being born a year earlier by an hour. He came into the world at 1 a.m. New Year's morning, 1871. His birthplace was a country house at Atchison county, Missouri. His first memorable feat was performed when he became world's bicycle speed champion at the age of 16, and reputedly coined the phrase, "I'm from Missouri," along with gaining fame on wheels. Since his bicycling days Hall has spent his years painting and preparing exhibits for world, state and county fairs. From the time he arrived in Ben Lomond he has concentrated his efforts mainly on redwood burl, making table sets, and lamp stands. The famous "I'm from Missouri" was popped out by Hall to reporters in Omaha, Neb., where he had gone for a major bike event. Up against his toughest competition, Hall was told by newspapermen just what the Omaha speedsters would do in the way of polishing him off. "I'm from Missouri," he retorted. "You'll have to show me."
Posted by Barry Popik
Nicknames of Other PlacesI'm From Missouri. Show Me; Puke State • Tuesday, January 18, 2005 • Permalink

It is a pretty story, and one that we ought to permit ourselves the pleasure of believing. But, alas, it is a practical age and sooner or later some stickler for the fact is sure to come forward with the proof that there never was any such chief as Yumus Shome.

Posted by Garry Harminson  on  07/10  at  03:44 AM

I read your blog and i got lot of information this blog. so i really thankful to u share this blog.....

Posted by kansas city flowers  on  03/16  at  01:55 AM

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