Rural Missouri - May 2020 - 32
that year. On seven occasions, Sam put the names of the
Kentucky Derby horses in envelopes and asked Jim which
horse would win. Then he put the envelope in his vault,
opening it only after the race was over. Jim never failed to
pick the winner.
Sam refused to exploit the dog, turning down a small
fortune offered if Jim would appear in movies. He even
passed on an invitation to visit the president in
Jim showed his skills before a joint session of
the state legislature. During this demonstration,
he was asked - in Morse code - who sponsored horse racing in St. Louis. Without hesitation, Jim walked off the rostrum, down the
aisle and put his foot on the correct man.
It should be noted that Sam did not know
any foreign languages, nor did he understand
In an effort to explain how a dog could have such
apparent superhuman intelligence, Sam took Jim to be
examined at the University of Missouri veterinary school.
Thousands turned out to see Jim respond to questions put
to him in Greek, Spanish, French, German and Italian.
Those examining Jim - including psychiatrists from
Washington University in St. Louis - judged him to be an
otherwise normal dog. Mizzou's Dr. A.J. Durant declared,
"I am convinced that Jim possessed some occult power
that may never come again to a dog in many, many generations."
While on a ﬁshing trip to Warsaw with Sam on March
18, 1937, Jim suffered a seizure. He was rushed to Sedalia
where he died of an apparent heart attack, his master by
Sam wanted Jim buried in the family plot at Marshall's
Ridge Park Cemetery, but that was not allowed. Instead,
he was buried just outside the cemetery. In time,
the cemetery expanded to surround Jim's grave.
His ﬁnal resting place is now the most visited
plot in the cemetery. Those who come to pay
their respects often leave little mementoes
No one ever ﬁgured out how Jim
acquired his skills. Theories abounded.
One was that he was the reincarnated
King Solomon. "Hundreds of persons
have tried to explain Jim," Sam told a Kansas
City Star reporter, "and I have agreed with all of them.
Some say it is mental telepathy. Perhaps it was."
Mary Burge had her own idea. "The only theory I have is
God made everything and everybody, and somehow he just
gave him that knowledge. I don't know, unless it was a gift
from God. He was deﬁnitely a one-in-a-million dog."
For more about the Friends of Jim the Wonder Dog, the
museum and the garden, call 660-886-8300, visit www.
jimthewonderdog.org or ﬁnd him on Facebook. The garden
and museum are located at 101 N. Lafayette St. in Marshall.
You can visit his ﬁnal resting place at 804 E. Yerby St.
When Jim the Wonder Dog died on March 18, 1937, his owners weren't allowed to bury him in the family plot at Marshall's Ridge Park Cemetery.
However, the cemetery later expanded to include his grave, which is now the most-visited site in the cemetery. Often those coming to pay their
respects to Jim leave behind offerings such as ﬂowers, coins and toys.
RURAL MISSOURI | MAY 2020
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