We're Strong for Toledo Song Lyrics, History, and Influence [Toledo Slogans]

by john amato

I first learned about the song We're Strong for Toledo while researching the history of the You Will do Better in Toledo sign and slogan. It was still early in my journey creating Toledo City Pride apparel. At that time, I only had one Toledo shirt - Better in Toledo.  I knew almost immediately that this new slogan needed to be on a shirt.

Back in the early days of starting the trend of Toledo, Ohio t-shirts, most of my designs were historical. The research for these shirts was done in the local archives floor of the downtown branch of the Toledo Library

While our We're Strong for Toledo shirt has been discontinued (and even went through a design update), the spirit of the song lives strong in the city of Toledo and is part of the our history that makes us proud to call ourselves Toledoans. 

The song lyrics to 'We're Strong for Toledo' by Joe Murphy


We’re Strong for Toledo
The girls are the fairest
The boys are the squarest
Of any old town that I know

We’re strong for Toledo
In any old weather
We’ll all stick togher
in T-O-L-E-D-O

“We’re Strong for Toledo” was written by Joe Murphy in 1906. 

Joe Murphy and his Ice House Quartette

we're strong for toledo album cover

Joe Murphy composed the song “We’re Strong for Toledo” in 1906. Three years later he formed his Ice House Quartette to perform the song.

The quartette sang “everything from grand opera numbers to barber shop harmonies all over the United States. Joe and his bunch toured Europe in 1927, sang on the radio in Paris where the program was announced in seven languages.”

The Ice House Quartette ranged in members from 4 to 40 and “performed in the garb of the iceman”. In 1950 the song was published for the first time on a record.

joe murphy and his ice house quartette

When we originally released our We're Strong for Toledo shirt, we heled a musical event at Bozarts in Toledo to honor Joe, his song, and his Ice House Quartette. Four bands performed the song live.

T-O-L-E-DO: Where the girls are the fairest and the boys are the squarest

In 1906 Joe Murphy penned a song for his hometown of Toledo, Ohio with the lyrics “The girls are the fairest, the boys are the squarest”. It may surprise many from Toledo that this isn’t the only song with those lyrics. A little research shows that the University of Florida, the University of Chicago, and the Unversity of Nebraska all have fight songs with the same lyrics. 

From this an interesting debate arises: where did the song originate?

Gary Kirkland with Gainesville.com wrote the most comprehensive article on the song’s origins. Florida’s song, titled “We Are the Boys of Old Florida” is credited to Robert Swanson and John Icenhour and dates back to 1919. Nebraska’s tune, dating back to 1924 and Harry Pech, is called “Dear Old Nebraska U (No Place Like Nebraska)”. The University of Chicago has a familiarly titled fight song, “We’re Strong for Chicago”. Records from the Toledo Blade credit Joe Murphy with composing “We’re Strong for Toledo” in 1906.

The history of “We’re Strong for Toledo” becomes even more interesting as the influence of the song is seen throughout the country in places like Chicago, Florida, and Nebraska. It’s this history that we are celebrating with our Toledo t-shirts and the launch of our new “We’re Strong for Toledo” t-shirt.

Here are the lyrics to “We Are the Boys of Old Florida”:

We are the boys from old Florida
Where the girls are the fairest,
The boys are the squarest
Of any old state down our way

We are all strong for old Florida
Down where the old Gators play
In all kinds of weather
We’ll all stick together
for F-L-O-R-I-D-A

Here are the lyrics to Nebraska’s fight song, “Dear Old Nebraska U (No Place Like Nebraska)”:

There is no place like Nebraska,
Dear old Nebraska U.
Where the girls are the fairest,
The boys are the squarest
of any old school that I knew.
There is no place like Nebraska,
where they’re all true blue.
We’ll all stick together
in all kinds of weather
for dear old Nebraska U.



  • Comment Author: Kathy

    My parents always sang the second verse as:

    “We’re strong for Toledo, the place where the Maumee flows
    In any old weather…”

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