Bummer.--An idle, worthless fellow, who does not work and has no visible means of support. The word "loafer," like "lounger," does not designate the general conduct or permanent character of a man, but only a temporary idleness. A respectable, industrious man may become a "loafer" by making idle, impertinent visits in business places during business hours; but the word "bummer" implies a low, lazy character. It is probably derived from the vulgar German words Bummels and Bummeler, which are about equivalent to "loafer" and "loaf." Its origin has been attributed to Boehmen, the German name of Bohemia, a nation celebrated for the number of its sharpers and adventurers. The Gipsies are called Bohemiens in France because of their roving lives and worthless character. "Bummer" is generally supposed here to be a Californianism.
John S. Hittell, "Variations of the English Language: Californianisms," Daily Alta California, San Francisco, June 17, 1859, page 4
A Tramp Shot.Tramps have been numerous in town this month. After they have succeeded in begging enough money to stay for the time their yearning for bed and whisky, they go around to the houses and call for lunch. They prefer hot biscuits and Jersey butter and porterhouse steak or fried chicken, though on a right hot afternoon they will be satisfied with chicken salad, coffee bread and peaches and cream. One of these knights of the road came into the printing office last week asking for money, said he "wasn't ashamed to work," and would like to get a job at harvesting, or anything, to pay back what we might advance him. It happened that we just needed some extra muscle to turn the crank of our cylinder press. We invited him to take off his coat and go to work at 30 cts. an hour. He looked the machine over and said, "All right! I'll be back in a minute--got to go downstairs and get a drink of water." The water probably made him sick, for he failed to come back. The genuine tramp always acts that way when he by some miscalculation stumbles upon a job of work.
After the Oregon & California train going south Saturday last had passed Roseburg a short distance, conductor Guthrie was considerably troubled with tramps, who had to be put off the train several times. Finally after passing Gold Hill and stopping to wood up the tramps were again discovered and put off, when they showed fight, and someone without due caution fired his pistol off, and one of the tramps was shot in the thigh, breaking his leg. The train moved on without the conductor's knowledge of any harm having come to anyone. Sunday he was surprised by the arrival of an officer at Ashland for his arrest and taken to Jacksonville, where he was bound over in the sum of $1200, to await the action of the grand jury for the crime of assault with a dangerous weapon. Conductor Guthrie says he was on the engine at the time of the row and heard the shooting, but does not know who did the thing, yet he is compelled to suffer on account of the carelessness of someone, be he brakeman or passenger.
Eugene Guard, August 9, 1884, page 5
Ashland Tidings, August 15, 1884, page 3
Tramps have been unusually numerous in town this week On Tuesday evening's train from the south nearly a dozen came in, riding brake beams, and made themselves a nuisance to people at the depot by their bold and persistent demands for alms. Tuesday morning, one of three who had called at the house of C. W. Ayers asking food stole a silk umbrella at the hall door and concealed it under his clothing. Mr. Ayers happened to come home in time to see the theft, and he promptly collared the tramp and marched him downtown, and then he and the city police as promptly concluded to let the fellow go. Well--to be sure, if all the people who steal umbrellas were locked up we would need many new jails.
"Brevities," Ashland Tidings, December 6, 1889, page 3
The town needs a better calaboose for the detention of tramps and vags, who could be made to do much work on the city's streets if proper accommodations were provided. The night watch is kept busy watching the tramps at night when his single cell is full.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, January 23, 1890, page 3
Ashland works her "vags" on the streets with ball-and-chain attachments..
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, April 17, 1890, page 3
A Horrible Death.
A tramp, aged about 23 years, was found dead at Talent a few mornings since, having had both legs cut off by the railroad the night before. An inquest was held the same day, and from a companion of the unfortunate man it was learned that the deceased was in an intoxicated condition and had got on the brakebeam of the freight train going toward Ashland in spite of the witness' remonstrance. He no doubt fell under the cars, and, no assistance being at hand, bled to death. His body was some distance from the track, showing that, despite his maimed condition, he had attempted to seek help.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, April 17, 1890, page 3
Ashland had five "vags" in the chain gang one day last week.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, May 1, 1890, page 3
A tramp who undertook to play the "deaf and dumb" dodge, to secure a meal at the Clarendon Hotel recently, succumbed to a fancied insult to his dignity, and broke out in a round of abuse at the clerk.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, October 24, 1890, page 2
Some sneak thief stole an overcoat, gloves and a quilt from Merritt Bellinger's hack, while he and his family were in attendance at the Christmas tree festivities last Wednesday evening. Suspicion attaches to two tramps who were prowling along the Jacksonville branch railroad and about the suburbs of town on the preceding evening.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, December 26, 1890, page 3
Towns along the line of the Southern Pacific railroad are overrun with tramps, who are an everlasting nuisance with their petty pilferings.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, February 6, 1891, page 3
A tramp who attempted to burglarize a store at Talent, Or. was shot four times by a man who was sleeping in the store.
"General News Notes," Evening Capital Journal, Salem, September 8, 1891, page 4
Mrs. W. V. Lippincott, wife of Medford's new railroad agent, had some lively experience with tramps one night recently at Myrtle Creek station. While two of them were trying to force an entrance downstairs, knowing that Mr. L. was not at home, the lady fired at them from an upper window. The first shot hit one of the rascals and the second took effect on the other fellow. Both of them were able to crawl away, but it is certain that the Lippincott residence will be troubled no more with hoboes.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, December 4, 1891, page 2
Jacksonville has been infested with a number of fakirs lately, who, fortunately for the good of the country, have departed hence. There were tightrope walkers, contortionists, alleged Indian scouts, cowboys, etc., galore for awhile.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, July 7, 1893, page 3
It is rumored that the contortionists who performed in Jacksonville on the 4th of July met with an accident near Sisson, Cal., while stealing a ride on a freight train, part of which became detached and ran away down the incline. One of the hobos was killed outright, but the other escaped with slight injuries.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, July 14, 1893, page 3
John Link, the man killed by the wreck of a freight train at Igerna, Cal. not long since, was an acrobatic performer, making his home principally on Puget Sound. He was a native of Kentucky and only 21 years of age. Evidently he was assisting the train hands to get his passage to the lower country. Link comes from good parents in Kentucky, who have telegraphed to have his body embalmed, with intention of sending for it. He gave a performance in Jacksonville, in the courthouse square, on the 4th of July.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, July 21, 1893, page 3
A Tramp's Death.
Grants Pass, Or., Sept. 2.--Charles Shaw, while riding on the brakebeam of a southbound passenger train yesterday morning, between West Fork and Glendale, went to sleep and fell off, three coaches passing over him. Section men found him three hours after and placed him on a freight train and brought him to Grants Pass. The railroad company's surgeon dressed his wounds, amputating his right leg below the knee. He had severe scalp wounds and was otherwise horribly mutilated and bruised. He died at 6 o'clock, soon after recovering from anesthetics. He was rational and conversed freely before the operation. He was from Cameron Junction, Mo., and claimed to be well connected. The coroner's inquest exonerated the railroad company from blame.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, September 8, 1893, page 3
A New Scheme.The genus tramp, who is the harbinger of hard times, was never so numerous as now. He occupies the brake beams and blind baggage of every train which passes through the valley. Trainmen have their hands full driving them off, but they defy even the sternest of conductors. The railroad company thinks to solve the problem by running a boxcar once in awhile for their especial accommodation, thus ridding the country of them. The entire community hopes the scheme will prove successful.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, September 29, 1893, page 3
Forty tramps got off the overland train at Grants Pass last Saturday.
Tramps from the north have been annoying the railroad men very seriously on the C.&O.R.R. route, says the Yreka Journal, threatening to do great mischief in destroying property, if not given a ride. The state of affairs having been reported at headquarters, orders were given to transport them, and one freight train last week had over 85 on board. Reports from southern California state that vast crowds of tramps are coming in that direction from Texas, New Mexico and southern Colorado.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, October 6, 1893, page 3
Vice President Crocker, of the Southern Pacific, has announced that his company does not propose to make any fight against the hordes of tramps who are beating their way on freight trains. He has arrived at the conclusion that it is useless to unload the ticketless tourists, because they get aboard again in sufficient numbers to overpower the trainmen. For the last week or more nearly every freight train has from fifty to seventy of these tourists aboard. Tuesday's southbound train was pulling an empty boxcar in which were sixty-eight. They do not attempt to conceal their presence, but instead when the train pulls into a station they open the doors, climb out and walk around on the depot platform--just like pay passengers--but when the train pulls out every one is in the car, and thus they ride unmolested and without price.
"All the Local News," Medford Mail, October 6, 1893, page 3
One of the 110 hoboes on Wednesday's freight:--"We are a greater combination than the People's Party or any other party. We can dictate terms to the railroad companies and they can't. I'm captain of this gang and we are 110 strong. This is our special car. No upholstered and roll back seats, but our company, the S.P., is having a car made especially for their distinguished tourists. All aboard. All you fellows that know us come and ride."
"All the Local News," Medford Mail, October 13, 1893, page 3
The Festive Tramps.
Ashland, Or., Oct. 12.--A hundred tramps arrived here on a freight train from the north last night, and on the arrival of the freight from the south this number was increased. About 11 o'clock a body of them moved against Chinatown with the intention of chasing the Chinese out of town. They had broken into the buildings and got 10 of the Chinamen out and in line before an alarm was given. Officers, aided by a few armed citizens, succeeded in quieting the disturbance, but the tramps had already stolen some $50 from the Chinamen and had robbed the wash house. They left for California on a freight train this morning. Another large gang, reported coming from the north, is expected here tomorrow evening. Forty left Roseburg last night and will arrive here tonight.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, October 13, 1893, page 3
They Want Better Cars.
Roseburg, Or., Oct. 16.--Every freight train from the north brings in a large number of tramps. Yesterday the city gave 65 of them a Sunday dinner. This morning when the southbound overland arrived they rushed in and took complete possession of one of the coaches. This was too much for conductor Huff, and he summoned night watchman Wright, and with the trainmen proceeded to put them off. A lively scrimmage followed, but the tourists had to get out, one of them being badly injured by a brakeman's lantern coming in contact with his head, and several others bruised. Later on the freight carried them all out of town.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, October 20, 1893, page 3
Jacksonville has not had an invasion of tramps so far and appears to be about the only town on the coast which has not suffered to some extent from that source.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, October 20, 1893, page 3
Tramps are making sad havoc in gardens along the railroad, and chickens are compelled to roost high or go to fill a long-felt want among the tourists.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, October 20, 1893, page 3
Every freight train from the north brings in a large number of tramps. Sunday the city of Roseburg gave a free dinner to sixty-five of them. Monday morning when the southbound passenger arrived they rushed in and took complete possession of one of the coaches. This was too much for conductor Huff, and he summoned night watchman Wright, and, with the trainmen, proceeded to put them off. A lively scrimmage followed, but the tourists had to get out, one of them being badly injured by a brakeman's lantern coming in contact with his head, and several others bruised. Later on the freight carried them all out of town. J. R. Erford was on the same train and reports a decidedly lively time. Revolvers were being flashed about promiscuously, and the passengers felt more of a disposition to climb through the car windows than the tramps did to going out the door.
"All the Local News," Medford Mail, October 20, 1893, page 3
Four Albany boys decided to turn tramps and started Saturday noon toward the sunny climate of California. At Halsey they were put off the train and returned home by the night freight.
The freight trains on the S.P. have adopted a new plan in relation to tramps. They back down below the station when they are ready to pull out, and then go full speed past the depot, leaving the tourists in many instances stranded.
A band of 100 of the unemployed left San Francisco this week bound south. They stated that some of them wanted to go as far as New Orleans to work on levee work there, and wanted to take advantage of the present favorable rates for brakebeam tourists.
Some people are taking advantage of the present phase of the tramp question to secure free transportation without the formality of buying a ticket over the road. Conductor Houston last week ejected two men from his train who wore genuine diamonds.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, October 27, 1893, page 3
Discipline Among Tramps.Democratic Times, Jacksonville, November 24, 1893, page 3
Some 85 tramps stopped off the overland at Grants Pass one morning last week, and the people thought it was better to feed them than to incur their enmity. So a number of citizens donated bread and other provisions, and the birds of passage pitched their camp in the company's woodpile, near the stockyards. They built a number of fires out of the company's wood, and constructed break-winds after cooking their meal and lay down to toast themselves for the night, as none of them had blankets. They were not a bad-looking set, and were simply a lot of improvident fellows whom the hard times had thrown out of employment. They were organized, had their own marshal and judge, and seemed determined to prevent any depredations on the part of their members. One of the party had some trouble with a brakeman, in which the member was proved to be wrong, so he was tried and sentenced to 30 planks with a board after his hands had been tied behind him.
Tramps continue as abundant as ever. Like the geese, they are on their way south.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, November 24, 1893, page 3
Foraging on the Country.The army of tramps now passing through has adopted Gen. Sherman's tactics in the march to the sea, and are foraging on the country. A few days ago a party of them, who were occupying one of the S.P. Co.'s boxcars, while passing Nichols, a small station in the Cow Creek Canyon, espied a fat porker in a pen near the track. They seized the animal and, despite his squealing and struggles, landed him in the car. When they arrived at Grants Pass the hog was killed, dressed and roasted by a fire built from the railroad company's wood, and the knights of the brakebeam for once enjoyed an epicurean feast.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, December 1, 1893, page 3
Tramps continue plentiful and hundreds of them pass through the valley every month. Some of them thought to demolish Tom Roberts' saloon at Ashland one night last week, because he refused them drink, but he made it very lively for them, wounding two or three of them with his pistol.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, December 8, 1893, page 3
Sunday afternoon's freight had on board near seventy tramps. Fearing lest they would encroach upon the hospitality of Ashland thirty-one of them stopped off in Medford and waited for Monday's freight. A collection was taken about the city to provide something for them to eat and a place to sleep. A quarter of beef, potatoes, bread and other articles were bought for them and after an evening meal, cooked by themselves near Mr. Klippel's lumber yard, they were given sleeping room in the Clarendon barn. They had three meals off of our people and took the afternoon freight for the south. In conversation with one of the freight brakemen we learned that many of these supposedly unfortunate working men out of employment were nothing more or less than bums--a genteel class of bum who live upon the hospitality of the people when they have ample funds in their own pockets to buy their own meals. Says the brakeman, "Take the overalls and blouses off of some of them fellows and you will find a better suit of clothes than the average man dare hope to wear. They are human leeches. If the railroad was to refuse to carry them free, half of that crowd would step up to this window and buy tickets. It is an insult to generosity to feed them."
"All the Local News," Medford Mail, December 15, 1893, page 3
The Example Should Be Emulated.
Ashland people have grown tired of feeding the hordes of tramps that have infested the city for some time past, and their council last week passed ordinances providing for the abatement of the nuisance. One ordinance provides for the punishment of vagrants by fine, not exceeding $25, or imprisonment of not more than 20 days, and the other provides for making them work on the streets. This is a move in the right direction. The surest and quickest way to get rid of the professional work-hunter is to show him a job, for it's the last thing he wants to see.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, December 15, 1893, page 3
A party of tramps stopped off in Medford the other day, and a collection was made by the citizens to feed them. A quarter of beef, potatoes and other articles were furnished, and the wayfarers condescended to do the cooking and eating themselves. They should be discouraged at all hazards.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, December 22, 1893, page 2
Two hundred and eight hobos went south on Sunday's freight.
"All the Local News," Medford Mail, December 22, 1893, page 3
A Trainload of Tramps.
Ashland, Or., Dec. 17.--One hundred and seventy-five hobo tourists came in from the north this evening on a freight train on top of box cars. The town has refused to feed them, and there is some fear they will resort to violence, though appearing to be a peaceable set of men. This is the crowd that left Portland Wednesday evening, but their number has been considerably augmented along the road until yesterday at Grants Pass the crowd reached over 200, 25 dropping off since. All are bound for the warmer climate of California.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, December 22, 1893, page 2
A number of disreputable characters, who were fired out of Grants Pass a short time ago, are hanging around Medford.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, April 5, 1894, page 2
Col. Crocker denies that the S.P. Co. intend putting detectives on their trains to guard against tramps. One wreck caused by angering this gentry would work more injury to the railroad than furnishing free transportation for the tourists for years.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, January 4, 1894, page 3
G. F. Fendall, the efficient night watchman of Ashland, was in Jacksonville the forepart of the week. He informs us that hoboes are still very thick, there being about fifty of them in the granite city the night he left home.
"Personal Mention," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, April 5, 1894, page 3
An Army of Tramps.GRANTS PASS, Or., April 3.--Early this morning about 50 tramps, who were brought in on the northbound freight train, attempted to board the outgoing train and were ordered off. They gathered rocks and defied the trainmen, who withdrew and let them alone, but only about half of them left town. A part of the crowd was a hard lot and showed fight. This is the first lot of tramps who have passed here in a body northbound.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, April 5, 1894, page 3
It is reasonable to presume that the element known and characterized as hobo will make itself scarce in this little city of ours when it becomes known among them that the city council has purchased balls and chains--the same to adorn the ankles of these gentry when caught idling about the streets. Any of these parties corralled by the city marshal are to be put to work cutting weeds or hammering rocks on the streets for a time equal to a cash payment of a fine for vagrancy.
"News of the City," Medford Mail, September 27, 1895, page 5
The genus hobo is flitting northward in large bands, bound for Skagway or any other old place.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, February 21, 1898, page 3
An Ashland lady asked a tramp who applied for assistance why he did not work at some trade, and was indignantly informed that he was a professional man. Further questioning developed that he was an after-dinner speaker, and would like to have an opportunity to practice his profession.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, March 21, 1898, page 3
A hobo broke his leg in Medford early Friday morning, while attempting to board a freight train. He was brought to the county hospital for repairs.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, August 18, 1898, page 3
The northward flight of geese, drummers and "weary willies" has commenced.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, April 24, 1899, page 3
Max. Muller is mourning the loss of his best suit of clothes. The garments were hung out to air on the back porch of his residence, and when Mrs. M. went to bring them in at evening they had disappeared. Some "weary willie" is probably sporting a new suit now.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, May 11, 1899, page 3
A couple of fakirs, with a trained dog named Dandy, gave an out-of-door performance near the Jacksonville marble works Monday evening. The crowd, which was a good-sized one, invested in a number of pictures of the dog and yielded up several simoleons to the hoboes, who were persistent collectors if nothing else. In return therefor they cracked some stale jokes and droned a few hoary-headed songs, to the disgust of their audience, who anxiously awaited the appearance of the dog. Finally Dandy made his appearance and scaled quite a long ladder, from the top of which he jumped into a blanket held by several people below, a clever trick by the way.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, June 29, 1899, page 3
The sentencing of tramps to hard work on the public roads is to them the severest punishment that can be inflicted, and is the most effective way of dealing with the tramp problem.
"Additional Local," Medford Mail, March 6, 1900, page 7
An unknown man, while beating his way on an extra freight over the Siskiyous last Sunday, met a horrible death. The unfortunate man was riding the buffers between two coal cars, and it is supposed, while shifting his body, he lost his balance and fell between the cars, which passed over him, completely severing his head from his body and otherwise badly mutilating him. The jolt of the cars passing over the man attracted the attention of the trainmen, who at first supposed it was a rock, but on investigation discovered the body of the man. The train was stopped and L. E. Cooper, the conductor, returned to the station at Siskiyou and notified the authorities of the accident and telegraphed for Coroner E. B. Pickel, who went to the scene and brought the remains to Medford on the evening train. It was taken to I. A. Webb's undertaking parlors and a coroner's jury, composed of A. M. Woodford, E. D. Elwood, W. L. Orr, A. D. Ray, W. Jackson and Fred Luy, was empaneled. Conductor Cooper and a brakeman named Rice were examined as witnesses, and their testimony was to the effect that a number of tramps were beating their way on the train, and that they had attempted to eject them. The brakeman, Rice, testified that he had been ordered to eject the men, and that he had ordered a number of them to get off, but they did not do so. He remembered having seen the deceased riding the buffers. The train was going slow at the time. The jury after hearing the testimony returned a verdict of accidental death while beating his way on freight train No. 222, and exonerated the railroad and the employees from all blame. The remains were buried in the potter's field in the Odd Fellows cemetery Monday. The man was apparently about fifty-five years of age, of Italian nationality and roughly dressed. A paper bag containing a small amount of coffee was found in one pocket, and forty cents in change in another. The only paper found on his person was a card bearing the name of a saloon in California. A couple of the tramps who were on the same train were in Medford Monday and stated that they saw the brakeman throw the man off the train, and that he struck the bank and fell back under the wheels. Dr. Pickel at once hunted them up and questioned them in regard to the statement, but they were evasive and not inclined to make such a charge before the proper officer.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, March 29, 1901, page 7
There was a regular Filipino "battle" at the Southern Pacific depot on Sunday. As a freight train was pulling out of the station conductor Jack Wrisley observed a hobo hanging onto the side of a car and promptly pulled him off. The fellow struck on his feet and fighting. He struck the conductor several times in the face before the latter could get straightened up. Then he started to run along the train with Wrisley in hot pursuit. Just then Wallace Mahoney came running up with some orders for the conductor, and the tramp thinking he was surrounded made a wild jab at Mahoney, breaking his hat brim, but otherwise not injuring him. Wallie countered with a stiff punch in the region of the solar plexus, which halted the hobo long enough for the pursuing trainman to come up. The two clinched and fell almost under the moving train. The hobo got to his feet first and continued his flight, meeting on the way a brakeman, who landed on him amidships with a piece of "air hose," doubling him up. By this time all the fight was taken out of him, and the last seen of him he was making record time south, not even stopping to pick up his hat. It was exciting while it lasted.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, January 24, 1902, page 7
Story of Anderson's Death.
Last week these columns briefly told of a young man who met death near Talent by being run over by a freight train. No particulars could be secured at the time of going to press last week, but the further facts, as presented below, have since been gathered:
His name was Harry Anderson or Andrews, of Riverside, Calif., and he met his death while riding on a northbound extra freight train about a mile north of Talent last Thursday morning about one o'clock .His hat was found about 200 yards south of where he was killed, and it is supposed that in trying to catch his hat he lost his balance and fell under the wheels of the train. He was dragged for quite a distance, and portions of his body were scattered along the track. One of his legs and an arm were completely severed from his body, and the others broken in many places. Before his body was freed from the train it was broken and his head cut until it was impossible to recognize his features and get an accurate description of him.
He was about twenty-two years of age, smooth shaven, about five feet, six inches tall, and weighed 145 pounds. He wore a dark sack coat without a vest, had a black-striped shirt, light underwear of good quality and a number seven, slate-colored soft hat and had on a pair of number seven Congress gaiter shoes. In his pockets besides $2.20 in cash there was found a metal check bearing the inscription "III M.C. Co. 732," and is supposed to be a meal check issued by the Mountain Copper Company, of Keswick, Calif. Another metal piece in his pocket bore the name of Roberts Bros. & Co., Boston, Mass. and Willows, Calif., and on the other side was the picture of a horseshoe. He had five or six handkerchiefs in his pocket that were marked T.F.M. Two tramps who had come from Dunsmuir to Ashland with him said he was on his way to Butte, Montana, and that his name was Harry Anderson and was a cook by occupation. Coroner E. B. Pickel telegraphed to the chief of police at Riverside asking him to find the boy's parents, but nobody by that name could be found. But a boy by the name of Harry Andrews from Riverside was supposed to be working near Redding, and in all probability is the same person. He was buried at this place Friday.
The verdict of the coroner's jury was that the deceased was an unknown man about twenty-two years of age and that he came to his death by falling from a moving train. They exonerated the Southern Pacific Company from all blame. The following citizens of Talent composed the jury: D. H. Hanscom, W. R. Lamb, M. L. Pellett, John Briner, S. Carlile and W. W. Estes.
Medford Mail, February 28, 1902, page 6
A hobo dope fiend stole two boxes of hats in a Grants Pass store last week and attempted to sell them at 25 cents each. He was arrested.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, March 14, 1902, page 7
One of our townspeople is responsible for the assertion that there's a new fake being worked by members of the tramp family. It hardly seems creditable that this class of people could devise a new fake, in the face of the many devices they have worked upon the charitably inclined denizens of this benignant region, but such is the case. Our informant relates that only a few days since a tramp made application at his roof-tree door for a meal, and after his volume of hard luck stories had been spun without any seeming effect upon the lady of the house--and no meal was forthcoming--he started out on a new lead and asked if the lady would kindly give him a postage stamp with which he could mail a letter to his relatives in the East and acquaint them with his dire distress in this cruel and heartless community. The lady of course would give up a stamp in an emergency case--such as this was pictured, and graciously received it was deposited by the tramp in a large envelope--and the husband who was taking in the proceedings while standing behind the door discovered that this envelope was full, two-thirds full, of new, bright stamps of the two-cent denomination. There were probably two dollars worth of stamps in the envelope, which were doubtless traded for drink or morphine before the bogus charity subject left the city.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, March 28, 1902, page 7
ARE WORKING AGAIN
If Medford would put up a rock pile and advertise for hoboes this place would not be such a popular place for gentlemen of that stripe. This is the time of the year they begin migrating to the north, and hardly a day passes but some of them are around canvassing citizens.
People misled by charitable inclinations may take it for granted that deserving men are not going about the streets begging for money. A good many worthy men are at times forced to beat their way over the railroad; but they don't go about advertising their needs except to look for work. The hobo or tramp, on the other hand, makes a study of how to work upon the charitableness of people. It is an art, a profession, with them. One will go about with a limp, claiming he was hurt in a mine or some other place. Another will have his harm in a sling and present a card asking for help. There are firms in the East that make a business of manufacturing such things as are needed by hoboes and tramps for carrying on their profession. These print all kinds of cards, make artificial sores so natural that no one but an expert could tell the difference, and study up all kinds of novel ideas best calculated to reach the pockets of people through their hearts.
The hobo business has reached big proportions. There is a great army of them scattered all over the United States, and they employ their ingenuity in studying up methods of getting money without working. Many of them show cunning worthy of a better cause, and a rock pile or a prospect of good, healthful toil are about the only things they dread or will serve to keep them away from a place. As most everyone knows, there is a sort of freemasonry among them, by which they leave signs telling others to avoid certain places and what houses or towns are the easiest worked.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, June 1, 1902, page 2
Tramps, when they fail to connect with a brakebeam, get very weary of the long walks they have to make in getting over the heavy grades of the mountain section of the railroad, and they resort to all manner of desperate schemes to enable them to steal a ride upon the trains. J. C. Slagle, whose farm adjoins the Southern Pacific track six miles north of Medford, states that he saw a hobo, one day last week, deliberately take his life in his hand in order to secure a ride on the train. Just before the northbound afternoon passenger train was due, the tramp laid himself down across the track and never moved a muscle when the train came rushing upon him at the speed of fifty miles an hour. But the vigilance of the engineer prevented the country from being rid of one useless human wreck and the heavy overland was brought up with a jolt by the prompt application of the air brake, just as the front wheels of the locomotive were ready to crush the life out of the leg-weary and desperate tramp. No sooner had the train stopped than the hobo picked himself up and walked unconcernedly down by the cars and when the train started up he caught a rod and swung himself to the brakebeam, congratulating his luck at securing a ride with so little effort. But his hope of at once reaching Portland's beer and free lunches was quickly dispelled, for the conductor stopped the train and one of the brakemen hauled the luckless tramp from his retreat and taking him by the coat collar he escorted him to the rear of the train, where the muscular brake applied by means of his heavy shoe a vigorous massage to several parts of his anatomy, after which he started Weary Waggles down the track to resume his walk and the train again got under headway, with the tramp shouting maledictions on the greed of soulless corporations and the tyranny of a government that no longer protects the weak and downtrodden.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, June 13, 1902, page 7
A vagrant ordinance was passed. This ordinance provides that any person without visible means of support; any person begging; any person who habitually roams about the streets without any lawful business; any person living in a bawdy house or found about such places; any person wandering about the streets or alleys after 10 o'clock at night without any lawful business, shall be deemed vagrants and are subject to arrest by the city police, and upon conviction shall be fined not less than five days, nor more than twenty days at hard work upon the city rock pile or upon the streets.
Ordinance was passed requiring all city prisoners to work out their fines upon the city rock pile or upon the streets.
"City Council Proceedings," Medford Mail, November 7, 1902, page 2
Marshal Howard is patiently waiting for a conviction under the new vagrancy ordinance so that he can try the ball and chain apparatus which the city has had prepared for the decoration of such malefactors. Since the passing of the above ordinance the gentry of the genus hobo have sought rather shy of Medford, as they have no particular desire to work on the streets, and as a consequence Chief Howard so far has had no use for the ball and chain.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, November 28, 1902, page 7
For the first time since the vagrancy ordinance was passed the chain gang was in evidence on the streets of Medford on Monday. Six professional tourists were gathered in Sunday evening by Chief Howard at a campfire they had built below the Southern Pacific water tank, and on Monday morning were sentenced to five days at hard labor on the streets. The supply of balls and chains was not equal to the demand--there are only three sets--so that three of the traveling gentlemen were placed under the immediate supervision of Street Commissioner Brandenburg. Their names are Harry Shane, Edward Thompson, Fred Heaguy, Jas. Davis, Frank Williams, Fred Watson. Jas. Riley was given his fourth sentence for being drunk, being fined $16.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, December 26, 1902, page 7
Tramps, hoboes, "dead broke" travelers and al who may have been accustomed to cheapening their transportation expense accounts by "beating the blind," "swinging the rods" or "riding the decks," to escape payment of railroad fare, will be seriously inconvenienced by the provisions of Senate Bill No. 133, in the event that measure becomes a law. This bill was brought up by Senator Williamson of Crook County, and makes it a misdemeanor to steal rides on railroad trains. Trainmen are empowered under this measure to arrest persons caught in the act of stealing rides, and a penalty of not more than 30 days imprisonment or a fine of not to exceed $50 is prescribed. It seems to us that there is enough legislation in favor of railroads already. It is too bad that they must be protected against the poor hobo and his kind by legislation.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, February 11, 1903, page 2
Like birds of passage, the touts, roués and thugs are traveling south nowadays to escape the rigors of northern winter. It behooves people to place their valuables under lock and key. Shady characters are stopping off at valley towns en route, and everything portable is liable to turn up missing. Medford has not been inflicted to any great extent with petty thieving this season, owing probably to the fact that offenders of this kind have been apprehended with--to them--painful regularity whenever they "turned a trick" in this man's town. However, the warning conveyed in the above paragraph is not one to be disregarded.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, November 4, 1904, page 5
Last Hobo Ordered to Rock Pile.
MEDFORD, Or., May. 26.--(Special.)--Today there is only one hobo left in Medford. Yesterday the police rounded up 23 "gentlemen of the road" and the day before nine. The one remaining hobo has been invited to leave before morning or serve 30 days on the rock pile.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, May 27, 1910, page 4
Chief Shearer reports that the last of the hoboes has quietly crept away to parts unknown. The city is entirely free of Weary Willies for once. When he started to "clean up" he had twenty-three, and it took a week to clean them out.
"Social and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, May 29, 1910, page 5
ONLY 1 HOBO STILL IN CITYThe police are keeping after the hoboes in Medford, and now have them all cleaned out with the exception of one man, who states that he hasn't yet decided which direction he wants to take. If he isn't gone tomorrow or at work the chief will help him make up his mind. The first day 23 were rounded up, the second nine, the third four, and now but one remains.
Roundup Gets Rid of All Loafers--Solitary Individual Has Not Decided Upon
Which Way To Travel, but Will Be Assisted by Chief.
Chief Shearer reports many 'boes traveling north, but says most of them go on through.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 26, 1910, page 1
A solitary hobo plodded through town this morning on his way south. In addition to his blankets, he carried a huge umbrella, which was used to shield him from the sun. He attracted much attention as he passed the Southern Pacific depot.
"Social and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, May 31, 1910, page 5
POLICE RAID HOBOES' CAMP
Evidence Found Showing Where Medford Chickens Have Been Going--
Camp Broken Up and Men Told To Hit the Ties.
The local police force Saturday raided the hoboes' camp on Bear Creek, and after destroying the rough domiciles of the weary Willies ran the men out of town. No less than a dozen knights of the road were given hurry-up orders and hit the ties.
From the great quantity of feathers found in the camp it is believed that the hoboes are responsible for the chickens which have been missing from Medford roosts during the past week, which has been a subject of daily comment.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 19, 1911, page 1
HUNDRED HOBOES KEPT ON MOVE
The police force of Medford is working overtime to keep Medford clean of hoboes and beggars. Thursday morning five were escorted to the north city limits and told to bid Medford a fond goodbye.
Early this morning a freight train pulled into Medford, and officers Hull and Cingcade said that hoboes seemed to spring from every car and rod. There were at least 100 on the cars. They rode brakes, couplings and the decks of the cars.
The policemen ordered them to get back on the freight and not try to stop here.
They were told Medford had a rock pile, and no further argument was needed.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 6, 1911, page 6
HOBOES ARE NOW VERY NUMEROUS
Housewives Are Being Troubled--Clothes and Food Is Being Asked--
Are Unfavorably Inclined Toward Jobs.
Housewives in various parts of the city are being troubled considerably during the past week by hoboes who come to the back doors and beg for clothes. These men are not content to ask for food as in the usual cases but always ask for shoes, hats and other articles of wearing apparel.CAUGHT WITH COAT, BOY ESCAPES
They always want something better than they have on and always have a job ready for them if they can make a presentable appearance.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 14, 1911, page 8
21 VAGS YIELD $1.15 ALTOGETHER
Bunch of Hoboes Rounded Up, Given Breakfast and Marched Out of Town--
Found Sleeping in Boxcars and Alleys and Ordered To Leave.
Although business conditions seem to be improving, the money market is tightening up, there being little of the "filthy" in circulation. At least that is the conclusion reached by Mayor Canon sitting as police judge Thursday morning. Twenty-one vags had been rounded [up], and in the entire bunch he found just $1.15. In other words the general average of coin in circulation on South Front is 5½ cents per capita.
None of the men were drunk when rounded up by the police--they were common vags on which a war of extermination as far as Medford is concerned has been declared. Mayor Canon hesitated to take the coin away from them, as they all wanted a bite to eat. So the men were herded in a body by the cops to an eating house and there given a cup of coffee and a bit of bread, then herded out of the city.
The men were found sleeping in different boxcars and alleys of the city without funds and out of a job. These men must go, stated the city officials a few days ago, and therefore they were rounded up and then "shooed" down the tracks.
Medford Mail Tribune, June 29, 1911, page 8
THE TRAMP; OR, CASTE IN THE JUNGLEThe author of this article has studied at short range those sections of our criminal and delinquent classes which include beggars, impostors, tramps and "yeggmen." As the Secretary of the National Association for the Prevention of Mendicancy he is a leading authority of the country on these representatives of the underworld.--The Editors.
BY JAMES FORBES
By tramp tradition, the pioneer professional vagrants of America were two discharged Union soldiers known in tramp lore as "Erie Crip" and "Philly Pop." Long ago "Crip" left the road and is said to have become a justice of the peace in an Indiana town. But the wanderlust never lost its grip on "Pop." Only a few years ago he was a "local rider " on Pennsylvania branch lines, having sunk to the level of the "mush faker," the pariah of the tramp world.
In the early '70s the tramp had become a well-organized fungus growth on the body of society. Railway construction work was on in dead earnest. The restless laborer, seeking to better his condition, changed from camp to camp, and thus contracted wanderlust. Labor troubles, with their long record of violence, bloodshed, arson and the "blacklist," put thousands of men on the road, and--so to speak--crystallized the tramp as an institution.
Then, as now, the principal cause of this evil was our industrial system, with its merciless speeding up and crowding of production, followed by panic, and the throwing of hundreds of thousands of workers into idleness.
In trampdom there are a great many more second, third and fourth rate men than "good people." This article concerns only the vicious class of tramp known as "good people." The "good people"--the self-constituted aristocracy of trampdom--are professional idlers. They ride freight cars about the country, live by begging and petty larceny, and are not averse to the more serious crimes such as temperament dictates or opportunity affords. Of the three hundred and fifty thousand men and boys on the road in the United States today probably not more than seventy-five thousand would be eligible to this highest rank. The "mush faker" at the other end of the social scale corresponds in the tramp world to the thief of the criminal world who has lost his nerve and is "bull simple" (afraid of the police), "car simple" (afraid of the cars), or "stir simple" (afraid of the prison). He goes about on foot if he cannot catch a train "lying dead" and usually pursues some ostensible vocation, such as the mending of umbrellas or the peddling of spectacles. He is a superannuated tramp, and the prison, the hospital, the almshouse and the city streets make such onslaughts on the vagrant body at large that the number of "mush fakers" who reach the age of retirement is so small that it is doubtful if there are more than fifty thousand of this class in the country.
The majority of all tramps are "gay cats"--occasional vagrants. These fellows lack the real love for the road which marks the true-blue tramp. They are not averse to prolonged begging in such cities as will tolerate them, and feel no shame in operating as "mission stiffs," cadging meals and bed tickets from "sky pilots" (clergymen), even at the cost of pretending to be converted.
The third class of "hobo" is the transient workman, distinctly a product of industrial conditions. Numerically, he ranks third. Seasonal laborers from the lumber camps of the Northwest, the wheat fields of Kansas, the steamers of the Great Lakes, the canals and the ice companies, where men are employed for a portion of the year only and then left homeless and without family ties, largely make up this class.
There is still another class who, while not legitimately tramps, are often treated as such by the railway men. These are known as "local riders." They are found in large numbers in coal-mining regions and manufacturing centers, and make a practice of stealing transportation to and from work.
By the beginning of the '90s, the first generation of tramps had passed away or had been absorbed into almshouses, prisons and hospitals. But they had left well-defined traditions: hatred of society; caste; a distinct vernacular; devices for defrauding, cajoling or browbeating the charitable; and a gradually developing system of recruiting. Indeed, if it were not for this peculiar system of recruiting, the ranks of trampdom would be sorely depleted, since the industrial world is not so prone as formerly to supply the annual loss. And this loss is great. Life on the road calls for a heavy toll. Few men undergo as many hardships of weather, hunger and unattended sickness as the tramp. His intemperate habits contribute heavily to the casualties which his kind suffers. Unavoidable accidents along the lines of railways--and he rarely infests any territory not traversed by trunk lines--stretch the death list appallingly. From 1901 to 1905, inclusive, fifty railways reported 25,236 trespassers killed, of whom from fifty to seventy-five percent were tramps.
The great trunk lines have vainly sought to suppress the tramp. He causes heavy losses annually in the lives of trainmen, in hospital bills for aid and amputation and the like. By a curious irony, the company pays for his burial, even if he is killed while in unlawful possession of its rolling stock. Beyond this, the railways are put to the expense and trouble of maintaining extensive police departments. Even the great Pennsylvania system failed, having made the most extended experiments of all in this direction, in keeping its property free from these social derelicts. Thousands of tramps are arrested on the large lines every year. The evil has become a very deluge, the despair alike of economists, sociologists, magistrates, policemen and jailers.
Of late, even women have definitely abandoned the discipline of employment and lived as outcasts and wanderers, in defiance of society. But so far the number of female vagrants is negligible, and there seems little danger of individual tendencies developing into a popular movement.
From the ranks of men and boys thrown into idleness by some industrial eruption are recruited all tramps of the "gay cat" and "hobo" classes. These are looked down upon by "John Johnson" and "John Yegg," the "good people" and the "hard-boiled people" respectively, who have entered the service as boys, and who carry on wrist and ankle the sign manual of the road. So long as times are bad the "gay cat" and the "hobo" infest the "jungle"--in tramp parlance, "anywhere outside of the cities"---but are again quickly absorbed by reviving industrial conditions. Therefore, they cannot be depended on permanently to maintain the ranks of the "good people."
Following the innate tendency of man to recruit for the field in which he is engaged, but even more so with the purpose of making life easier for himself, the tramp at once secures a drudge to do his bidding and overcome the danger of the decimation of his ranks. It is thus that he has developed the sinister institution known as the "jocker" and the "kid." Quite logically, then, the present generation of vicious tramps or "good people" is recruited almost wholly from boys who have been cajoled or kidnapped within the last ten or fifteen years, trained in beggary and theft and in implicit obedience to the "jocker" or tramp master.
Thousands of boys, some hardly out of knickerbockers, and in many instances mere children, are lured by tramps to the service of the road by wonderful stories of lemonade springs and rock candy mines. Scarcely a railway town in the country does not mourn the loss of some bright, adventurous boy. Within a year the writer received two complaints, one from a well-known lawyer, the other from a real estate man, of boys kidnapped on New York's West Side and forced on to the road by one "Spike Hennessey."
The railway yards are fertile fields for recruiting. Schoolboys frequent such places to watch the fascinating operations there. But the most dangerous place of all is the water tank. Scrawled all over with hieroglyphics, it is a regular bulletin. Here is posted exchange information by tramps resting between trains. The schoolboy, encouraged, joins the circle of men and experienced boys, and hears wonderful tales of adventure and gain to be had by running away from home. If cajolery fails, literal violence is too often employed to get the boy aboard a freight train. Here, in a boxcar, at the mercy of a score of tramps, he has no choice but to throw in his lot with his captors. After a beating or two, he begins to absorb the ethics of his new life. He must beg money, food, clothing and whatnot, that his "jocker" may rest comfortably in camp, or in the saloon, or even in the greater privacy of mixed ale parties in some furnished room, if in town.
Watched with eagle eyes, the youngster tells the stories dictated by his "jocker" and poses as an orphan or waif, "traveling freight" to some point where he has relatives. To make him more successful as a beggar, and at the same time to commit him more definitely to the life of "the road," he is marked on wrist or ankle with lye or cantharides, which causes the formation of sores. These scars are indelible. They are called "lye bugs," and are exhibited--for gain--as the result of industrial accidents. That the boy's vigilance may not relax, the sores are kept raw with carbolic acid at the expense of excruciating pain to the victim. But the process pays his master through the enhanced value of the boy as a money-getter, an art known to the tramp as "throwing the feet." In addition to his work as beggar, the boy is also valet to his "jocker." He shaves him daily, washes his clothes, sews on buttons and the like, and, if he acquit himself creditably, he may cherish ambitions to become a "jocker" himself, with license to "snare" a kid for his own service. However, before he does this he must produce a growth of beard or "fuzz" requiring the daily attentions of a "shiv," since the moral law of trampdom requires that no kid be snared and kept in idleness.
If the boy does not early develop success as mendicant or menial, or if he be not as docile as his "jocker" may require, he is usually "lost" at some convenient point. Many sinister stories obtain of boys being beaten to death or thrown from trains.
Apropos of the charges that tramps murder tramps, President James J. Hill, of the Great Northern, writes: "It would be difficult to gather reliable statistics on this point, because a large percentage of the tramps reported as killed on the railways are really murdered. Men returning from the harvest fields with their wages are killed for their money by their more vicious and criminal fellows, the body is flung from the train while in motion, and the reported death by railway is actually one of homicide."
Many mutilated tramps are continually cast on the streets of our cities, where they exploit as beggars injuries received on the railway. One of the most enterprising of these was Frank McIntyre, known as the "nixey winger" (no arms) kid. One frosty morning McIntyre fell under a train and lost both arms. He now travels as a professional mendicant, with his valet, whom he pays $2 a day.
The tramp of the "good people" class prefers the road at all times. He pays only occasional visits to the larger towns in which "ex-members" have established themselves as saloon-keepers and maintain a rendezvous, or, as he calls it, a "dump." Here the atmosphere is congenial to his kind. Real names are discarded for the "moniker," which every tramp bears, and which is suggested by the section he comes from or some striking peculiarity. Here he meets "Baltimore Blue," "Boston Fish," "Ohio Slim," "Susquehanna Red," or whatnot. But his stay is short. Long experience has told him that his kind quickly deteriorates, grows physically flabby, in the atmosphere of saloon back rooms and indulgence in unlimited "suds" and "white line" (alcohol), so readily obtained by "skull-dragging 'em" on the "main stem" (Broadway or the like), "telling the suckers how it happened," and "realizing" in a day of "short plunges" or brief excursions from the bar room to the street and return. This process yields more "white money" (silver) and "Indians" (pennies) in a day than can be got by a week's hard "battering" (begging) in the "jungle," but it does not compensate for the demoralization of a brief visit in town. In fact, every move of the high-class tramp shows a carefully thought out, if not traditional, system of life.
The public does not realize at all what a closely knit organization high-class trampdom really is. Its methods of obtaining and transmitting information are remarkable. Mobile, trained in the dangers of the road, its members, individually or in a body, make nothing of crossing the continent to attend a conference of their kind, or to visit the notorious "dump" of some "ex." They "jump" into the Southwest for the winter, or into Maine and Canada for the summer, with expedition and small concern. Without trouble they flock to a Galveston or a San Francisco in the wake of a great disaster that will loosen charitable purse-strings. Still more quickly will they travel thousands of miles to avenge a wrong done a partner or to go to the defense of one of their own people.
But the tramp convention is what tests out the efficiency of the organization. Some twelve years ago Joe Le Boeuf's "dump" in the eastern part of Montreal was selected for a gathering--a sort of giant surprise party to "Frenchy," as Joe had been known on "the road." "Mickey" Gorman, one of the best-known tramp improvisers, celebrated the event in verse, but only a few lines of the effusion have come out from the closely guarded inner life of "the road." Here they are as I got them:
"If you'll give me your attention,
Some facts to you I'll mention
About the bums' convention
hat was held at Montreal.
Oh, each gunsel got directions
To go yegg a swag of sections
For the jockers in convention
In the hall at Montreal.
They were hikin' through the tunnels,
Holding onto funnels,
Riding on the gunnels,
On the way to Montreal."
Green Island, Iowa, in the Mississippi River below Keokuk, where two lines of railways cross, is a favorite place for tramp conventions. Here they assemble, as many as four thousand often being present at a time. It is reported that on one occasion seventeen wagonloads of beer were consumed by the assembly of vagrants in one day. Again, at Bath Beach in 1903, in a fight between "British" and "Curly Rex," upwards of three hundred "good people" attended, and when the fight was over held a big barbecue.
No outsider can appreciate the enthusiasm aroused around the campfire in the "jungle" when some tramp with a gift for improvisation puts into rhyme the traditions, the achievements and the life of the road. In some secluded spot, not too far from a big railway yard at a division point, are gathered about the fire men and boys bound East, West, North, or South, indulging in the highest luxury--that of exchanging confidences or swapping news. Here the "jockers," well served by their "kids," who have "plinged" the "main stem" of the nearest town for "punk" (bread), "guts" (meat), "rags," "brogans," or "sky pieces," but principally the "coin," which has resulted in liberal supplies of liquor, indulge to the limit.
A crowd of "hoboes" or "gay cats" under similar conditions would talk about the chances for work in the various sections traversed by the road. But the real tramp has no use for that sort of thing. He lives habitually by begging. His code of ethics is peculiarly his own. In a vernacular which would puzzle the most experienced detective, "jockers" and "kids" discuss only the matter of supplying their wants, with no thought of drudgery or work. This, that, or the other town is "hostile," and must be shunned. Or a particularly "fresh" railway "bull" (detective) is stationed at such and such a point; the boys must "ditch" at the water tank and walk around the yard, "makin' her" again as she pulls out on the other side. This they must do till "Topeka Joe," "Winnipeg Harry," or some other gunfighter of the road comes along with his "cannon" and "croaks the bull." Over yonder is a farmer's barn which was saved from fire by tramps, and its shelter may be enjoyed by any of the "good people." On freight number so and so "captain" and "shack" (conductor and brakeman) will do business for a flask of booze, or a few plugs of tobacco will stand for the "free riders."
As the night advances and liquor mounts to the brains ol all, fierce dissensions arise, often ending in the free use of the "shiv" or "smoke wagon." It often happens that tragedies occur through the disregard of the rights of a "jocker" over his "kid." It is a cardinal precept of the road that in return for the absolute loyalty of the "kid" the "jocker" protects him on every occasion.
"Jungle" etiquette ordains that the "kid" shall not raise his voice about the fire unless permitted, and when he does so it is only in order to furnish entertainment by song or recitation. At a nod from his "jocker," Harrigan, the "Billy Kid" sings the following song, which tells the entire story of the recruiting of boys:
"Oh, when I was a little boy
I started for the West,
But I hadn't got no further than Cheyenne
When I met a husky 'burly' (able-bodied tramp)
Who was rather poorly dressed,
And he flagged me with a big lump and a can.
When I saw that cup of coffee,
How it made me think of home!
'Won:t you let me have some,'
Said I, 'Good Mister Bum?
Remember, you were once a kid yourself.'
He looked at me quite fiercely
O'er his grizzled, gray mustache;
On his weather-beaten face appeared a frown.
He said, 'You little bummer,
What for should you pling me?
Why don't you batter privates (beg from
private houses) up in town?
He asked me what my age might be;
I told him just sixteen,
That Boston was the town that I came from.
In his eyes appeared a stare,
'I think you I will snare,
For you surely have the makings of a bum.'
He asked me could I steal,
And when I told him ' No,'
I could tell he was delighted by his looks,
For he said the kids he'd with him
Up to the present time
Were all in stir (prison) for thinking they
were hooks" (thieves).
Thus the narrator may go on indefinitely so long as it appeals to his audience.
When the boy has attested his loyalty in recitation or song, it becomes the part of the "jocker" to justify himself as the guardian. Usually the case of "Pottsville Al" and his "kid" is selected for example, although that of the "Spider Kid" and his "jocker," or of "Chi Slater" and the "Star Kid," is equally famous.
In 1895 "Pottsville Al" decoyed from home a boy living in one of the smart suburbs of Cincinnati. He was dubbed the "Cincy Kid," and his intelligence and good looks made him an excellent money-getter. The boy's parents scoured the country with detectives, and he was presently located and arrested in Oregon. The sleuths then proceeded to take him home. With all his eloquence, and with a view to impress the "kids," the "jungle" orator tells how "Pottsville Al," with grim determination, stuck to the "kid's" trail and reached the home station at the same time with the boy and his captors. He sings of trains made and lost by "Pottsville Al," of "shades" and "bulls" bought, cajoled, outwitted or murderously assaulted; how incredible feats of train-jumping were done; how devices worthy of Ulysses the wily were used in "holding down" "dicers" (fast freights), "rattlers" (passenger trains) and "John O'Briens" (the common or garden variety of freight train). He lifts his voice and dilates upon the suffering of the man riding blind baggage, the rods or the roofs or even shoveling coal.
The tale or rhyme thus recited really shows the intuition, the infallible skill, of the tramp in gleaning from his fellows or from railway men and the police the various trains taken by the detective and the "kid." And then with one great climax the campfire Homer describes the one swift "giving the office" (making the sign) on the Cincinnati platform, and all the work of parents and officers was undone. That night the "Cincy Kid" slipped back into the underworld and emerged no more. This is a true story. Some three years ago, in one of the squalid furnished-room houses which cluster on High Street, Brooklyn, in an evil section near the Navy Yard, there died the wreck of the "Cincy Kid." To the end he was loyal to the outcasts who had ruined his life, and they paid him the tribute of a "swell funeral."
The case of "Chi Slater" and the "Star Kid " is told to show the interest which tramps have in the money-getting capacity of their "kids." Through his excellence in this line, the "Star Kid" gained his "moniker." He was a nervous, high-strung boy, difficult to control, and the judicious disciplining by Slater is favorably commented upon in trampdom as a means of "holding" a good "kid" who is prone to kick over the traces. In case of dereliction of duty, Slater used to impose a fresh "bug"--sometimes two or three--causing frightful screams from the unhappy "star," but thereby "cinching" his obedience and keeping fresh his capacity as a beggar.
The story of the "Spider Kid," told at the campfire, is a warning against one "jocker" trying to lure an attractive "kid" from his master. It seems that in a tramp camp near Pueblo, Colorado, the "Spider Kid" "croaked" (killed) his own "jocker"--a thing almost unprecedented in the tramp world--because he defeated the boy's plan to join another tramp. The "kangaroo" court sat in the case, and the boy paid for his crime by "greasing the track." The offending "jocker" was beaten, kicked and cut up by the assembled masters and "kids," and barely escaped with his life.
But, as a rule, the campfire group is a merry one. The shadow of tragedy, though always present, is not too obtrusive. An improvisator like "Mickey Gorman" can keep a "push" of tramps in good humor for hours. One of this bard's best-known works is "The Names I Saw Upon the Water Tank." In singing it the artist must be careful to include the "monikers" of all present, lest offended vanity lead to hostility. The song runs:
"Oh, we left the Coast a month ago
Eastbound for Chicago.
The head shack ditched us in a burg
The other side of Fargo.
Says he, 'And if you are a tramp
And not a bum or chroniker (low-class
Just mooch down to the water tank
And there put up your moniker.'
I went down to the water tank,
It was all marked up with chalk.
There was 'stiffs' from every state
From 'Frisco to New York.
Your attention for a while,
One and all I'll thank,
And I'll mention some of the monikers
Upon that water tank.
There was 'Conchee Dan' and 'Billy Moran,'
'Big Fish' and 'The Nailer,'
'Cincee Tom' and 'Big Sim Long,'
'Chi Red' and 'Ned the Sailor.'
There was 'Houston Tommy,' 'Big Jack Devanney,'
'Montreal Flip' and 'Boston Tip,'
'Little Pitts Blue' and 'Illinois Shoe,'
'Skinny Yorky' and 'Porky.'
There was 'Poison Face Jim' and 'Toledo Slim,'
'New Orleans Dutch' and 'Pa. Crutch,'
'Cariboo' and 'Kalamazoo,'
And a kid they called 'Hokey Pokey.'
There was 'Sammy Slop' and 'Philly Hop,'
'Measly Mike' the jobber,
'Printer Ted' and 'Painter Red,'
'Eagle Eye Dick' the robber.
There was 'Boston Sticks' and 'Pa Tricks,'
'Broken-back' and 'Pooch,'
'The Auctioneer' and 'Billy Cevere,'
Who was never known to mooch.
There was 'Wisconsin Slim' and 'Sunny Jim,'
'Benny Frost' and the 'Big Warhorse,'
'Hoosier Slim' and 'Burly Bill,'
'Throw-me-out Dutch' and 'Boston Crutch.'
There was 'New Orleans Shorty' and 'Big Lofty,'
And 'Frisco Fatty No. 2,'
'Costigan' and 'Harrigan,'
And the 'Billy Kid' of the 'Q.'
There was 'Belfast Paddy' and 'Michigan Fatty,'
'York Whitey' and 'Shervoo,'
'Boston Fish' and the 'Wheeling Kid'
And also 'Big Jack Stew.'
There was 'Jimmy Keen' and 'Seldom Seen,'
'Happy Jack' and 'Syracuse Mack,'
And I guess there are a few
That flopped down this little old town
While waitin' to chu-chu."
Here is one a little more sinister:
"I am a knight of the old puffin-rod (revolver),
That's what I am, begob,
And I'll never rest aisy
Till 1 knock some Rube crazy
With the slugs from me old puffin-rod."'
"Good people" deprecate the admission of women to their ranks. Yet the "hay bag" (female tramp) is by no means an uncommon type. The best known of her kind is "Peg Leg Annie," or "Cow-Catcher Annie," who lost a leg while riding on the pilot of a locomotive. Female tramps usually wear men's clothes in order to avoid detection by the police. They have no standing on the road, and at best are only tolerated by "good people" and regarded as fit only for the companionship of the "gay cat," the 'hobo," or the "mush fak."
A marked feature of trampdom is the caste or color line, which is drawn against the "shine" or Negro. While at times admitted to the camp, and in a few cases referred to as "good people," the "shine" is still an inferior. He must carry his own drinking cup and prepare his own food. No white tramp of standing would let a Negro put his lips to the otherwise promiscuous bottle or eat out of the common dish.
Under no circumstances is the Negro tramp permitted the luxury of a white "kid" to wait upon and beg for him. All trampdom knows of the case of "Silver Peg," the best-known "shine" on the Coast, who was so proud of his wooden leg, bound with silver bands, which gave him his "moniker." All went well with the "Peg" until he developed a liking for white "kids," and ran "five or six at the same time." Owing to lack of tramp organization on the Coast, where the laws of the fraternity have never been so well enforced as in the East, "Silver Peg's" conduct passed unrebuked for a long time. But Nemesis came to him shortly after the San Francisco earthquake. A party of "good people," visiting that city, thought it high time to put an end to the Negro's presumption. He was brought before the "kangaroo " court in the Sacramento yards and was so severely disciplined with coupling-pins that he died from the effects.
Though the white tramp be jealous of his color and prerogative, he is not narrow-minded in according rank among the heroes of "the road " to "Denver Shine," who "stood the gaff " to the very end and was "tapped " (hanged) for a crime of which he was innocent rather than "squeal" on a white comrade.
Red and yellow men are not found on "the road," excepting the half-breed Creek, "Indian Frank," who works as a "dummy," and is well known and respected among "good people."
Outlook magazine, August 1911, pages 869-875
The police force raided the jungles on Bear Creek Wednesday night, and several residents thereof were ordered to hit the ties today.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, August 10, 1911, page 2
MEDFORD POLICE ROUSED
Raid to Be Made on Jungle in Hope of Driving Out Thieves.
MEDFORD, Or., Aug. 10.--(Special.)--To clean out the "jungle," as the brush along Bear Creek is called, Medford police are planning an organized raid. Continual thefts in Medford have forced the issue with the officers, the latest being the robbery of a department store of $400 worth of clothing.
The same store was robbed of $1000 worth of goods not long ago. The robbers entered the place by prying open the windows with pieces of iron.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, August 11, 1911, page 2
Medford Jails 13 Idlers.
MEDFORD, Or., Aug. 11.--(Special.)--Thirteen idlers were arrested by the Medford police last night. The wholesale arrests were the result of an order issued by the Acting Chief to enforce the employment clause of the vagrancy law. The law provides that any person without apparent means of support, who refuses to work, is a vagrant. The 13 men refused jobs and were jailed.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, August 12, 1911, page 5
SIXTEEN HOBOES ARE TOLD TO GET OUT
Sixteen hoboes were rounded up by the police Friday night and given a tie pass out of town Saturday morning.
Eight of the men were picked up in the Pacific and Eastern railroad yards. They were making comfortable for the night in a passenger coach when found.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 9, 1912, page 2
Not All Tramps.
The prevalent idea that the trespassers who are killed while on railroad property are hoboes, for the most part of no particular use to society, is contradicted by the results of investigations of deaths of 1000 trespassers on the New York Central lines. The great majority of the persons killed were regularly employed workmen, this report corroborated by another covering the like casualties on the Chicago Great Western during 1911. Of 131 trespassers who lost their lives, 32 had no known occupation, 15 had no regular employment and 13 aged and infirm persons were recorded as of "unknown occupation." The others were farmers, shopmen, mechanics, carpenters, sailors, teachers, merchants, hotel men and laborers, with a few minors. The report of trespassers injured shows substantially the same proportion of industrious men. In these two lines there are few who had any business on the tracks. The presumption is that the railroad is being used as if it were a public highway, affording shortcuts and good walking.
The official statements appear to warrant the conclusion that, throughout the country, the killed and injured trespassers are for the most part men and women whose lives were worth preserving in their communities. The saving of such lives is not a problem for new legislation. The laws against trespassing are sufficiently comprehensive. What is needed is their enforcement by railroad officials and the police departments of cities and towns.--Portland Telegram.
Jacksonville Post, December 28, 1912, page 2
Medford "Hoboes" Put to Work.
MEDFORD, Or., June 5.--(Special.)--Medford ranchers called in the local police force today to aid them in securing laborers. Headed by Chief of Police Hittson, a dozen ranchers made a circuit of the saloons and rounded up about 20 hoboes who promised to lend a hand. Many were sick, others were poor at farming, still others were bound for other climes until the chief announced that any of them who hadn't a dollar in their pockets that night would be gathered up and put to work on the rock pile. This had the desired effect. Medford ranchers are busy pruning and thinning their orchards.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, June 6, 1913, page 6
CRIPPLED TRAMP IS SHOTMEDFORD, Or., Oct 19.--(Special.)--Jeff Coldson, 19 years old, a crippled beggar, son of Mrs. Luetta Carter, of Indianapolis. Ind., was shot during a quarrel with tramps in the Talent railroad yards last night and is in the Ashland Hospital in a dying condition. Sheriff Singler and Deputy Sheriff Wilton rounded up more than 20 suspects today and have also arrested F. H. Burns, Coldson's companion. Burns would not let the boy tell his story, and when the nurse in the operating-room objected he tried to throw her out of the room. Cartridges the same caliber as the bullet taken from Coldson's body were found in the dying boy's coat.
Wounding of Youth Leads to 20 Arrests Near Medford.
According to G. E. Ziders, yardmaster at Talent, there was a quarrel among tramps in the yards Saturday night. Several shots were fired. Coldson, exhibiting a withered right arm, had been in Medford soliciting alms. He also endeavored to get work. He had the appearance of a boy of education. His family in Indianapolis has been informed of the tragedy.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, October 20, 1913, page 2
Twenty-five tramps passed through Medford Sunday night, bound south, and were not given any opportunity to linger.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, January 12, 1914, page 4
Seven wanderers were quartered in the city jail last night. When told that they could in all probability secure work in a short time on the Pacific Highway, they candidly announced they were not looking for work, but were en route to San Francisco to join "Kelly's Army," which plans to march on Washington, D.C. this spring.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, February 18, 1914, page 2
During the last two days, a class of wanderers known as "bindle stiffs," because they carry their blankets on their backs, and generally walk the ties, have been quite plentiful throughout the valley, and unlike the usual run of unemployed, will take a job when it is offered to them without much quibbling over the wage question.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, March 12, 1914, page 5
ARMY OF IDLERS HEADED NORTH
FOR JACKSON COUNTY
REDDING, Cal., March 21.--Preferring food to rail transportation, the unemployed who commandeered a Southern Pacific train here Friday, but found it useless to them because the company would not move it, resumed their northward "hike" today under the terms of an agreement with Shasta County to serve meals at twenty-mile intervals until the army crosses the line into Siskiyou County. They were given three days to do this. The party was 120 men strong.
The Southern Pacific had concentrated enough railroad police to have dislodged the tourists from the stalled freight train last night, but this would not have helped the local authorities, who would still have had the army on their hands, so they made their offer of a meal a day if the men would proceed on foot, and the proposition was accepted.
The first eating station will be Pitt, the second Delta and the third Castella. Pork, beans and coffee will be the principal items on the menu.
A message from Dunnigan, forty miles north of Davis, said 170 more "hikers" reached there last night, marching this way twenty miles daily.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 21, 1914, page 6
HUMAN DERELICT MEDFORD VISITOR
Humanity at its lowest ebb, in the shape of a mass of rags, dirt and whiskers, afflicted Medford Friday afternoon--a man so nauseatingly filthy that saloons would not serve him and the police would not lay hands upon him. He was ordered out of town for fear of contamination of the air. Years ago, when he was young and helpless, he probably became acquainted with the cleansing power of soap, but not since. He was so helpless and hopeless a derelict that the desire for stimulants could only be satisfied with high-power alcohol. Reformers write of the "spews of the slums," a phrase that half describes the unwelcome visitor. He was the original stand-patter.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 28, 1914, page 8
HOBOES FLEE FROM WORK ON HIGHWAY
Work to the north of 'em, work to the south of 'em, at $2.25 a day, eight hours, fails to disturb the idle equilibrium of a number of shiftless citizens hereabouts, ten of whom spent Tuesday night in the city jail.
"Every hobo in the county wants to congregate in Medford," said Chief Hittson this morning. "They all wanted to stay in Ashland last winter when they were giving them free soup there. Now there is work on the Pacific Highway, close to that city, and what do they do but come up here. A gang that has been hanging around Central Point for a month discovered the other day that there was work hard by, and they use up all their energy making record time to get away from it. Then they gather on the corner and howl about no work. Every man who claims there is no work is ordered out of town and told where he can get it if he wants it."
Tuesday morning Sergeant Pat Mego and the train crew of the southbound Shasta Limited clashed when twenty-eight hoboes were ditched on the platform. The policeman made the wanderers pile back on the train, and delivered a short speech to the brakeman who tried to protest. The gang boarded the train at Grants Pass.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 8, 1914, page 2
For the first time in a month not a wanderer applied at the police station Monday night for lodging. This is accounted for by the weather, which permits of sleeping outside with comparative comfort.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, April 14, 1914, page 2
Since there is plenty of work in the valley, there has been a decided falling off in the ranks of the unemployed stopping in this city, according to the police. Wanderers have not come in bunches, as they did a month ago, and there has been none sheltered in the city jail. The old guard of the unemployed, who have been unemployed as far back as the memory of the oldest inhabitant runs, still hold the fort, and pass the time complaining about high taxes.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, April 22, 1914, page 2
A squad of hoboes have established a summer camp on the east side of Bear Creek along the P. and E. right of way, and members thereof daily come uptown and buy supplies. They fish and lie around in the sun and enjoy life generally in their way. The camp will probably be broken up by the authorities, before its membership gets too large.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, April 25, 1914, page 2
The gang of idlers who have been camped the near the stockyards for the last three weeks banked their fires and moved Saturday. Some went to work, and some are camped on Bear Creek, where the fishing is better, and plenty of shade trees. Bear Creek banks are also sheltering a couple of squads of wandering gypsies, who spent the winter in California and possess a motley array of babies, dogs and horses.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, April 27, 1914, page 2
ASHLAND CARES FOR THOUSANDS OF HOBOES
(From the Tidings)
Since January 1, the local police have handled 2984 wayfarers, and since the first of November last almost 6000 have passed through Ashland. During the past month 954 have been housed at the police station and passed on. This shows from 20 to 54 have been handled each day during the month.
When these figures are taken into consideration it is considered remarkable that not a robbery of any kind has been reported to the police; no crime of any kind out of the ordinary has disturbed the local quiet.
Chief Porter's men are certainly to be congratulated upon the manner in which they deal with this class of men.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 1, 1914, page 5
Residents of the southern part of the city complain of hobo camps in that section, claiming that the wanderers do their washing and cooking at all hours of the day and night. One camp located on the railroad track is within three blocks of Main Street, and steps will be taken by the police to abolish it.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, May 4, 1914, page 2
A dope fiend who has been making life miserable for a number of restaurant keepers, where he would order a meal and then walk out with remitting, was ordered out of town by the police Sunday. He was in a pitiable condition.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, May 11, 1914, page 2
Steps towards the routing out of the hobo camps along Bear Creek will be taken by Chief of Police Hittson at once. According to residents of that section it is impossible to keep a hen house full within a mile of the creek. Some have loaded up the old shotgun with rock salt as a cure.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, May 18, 1914, page 2
A number of hoboes who have been camping under the water tank were run out of the city this morning by the police. The Toft barn and Day planing mill fires are both attributed to tramps, and they will be kept out of the business district as much as possible in the future.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, May 20, 1914, page 2
Hoboes camped along Bear Creek between Ashland and this city are raising havoc with hen houses and gardens. The gents make night raids for food. It is likely the county authorities will take some action towards abating the nuisance.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, May 21, 1914, page 2
A gang of hoboes camped on Bear Creek near the city limits were routed from their haunts Monday afternoon by the police and others [and were] ordered out of town.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, June 2, 1914, page 2
The police estimate that 100 transients were in the city Saturday and Sunday, about half being I.W.W.'s headed for Butte, where labor troubles are brewing. Saturday night a northbound train blocked the Main Street crossing, and a crowd gathered. When the train started, the people were given an exhibition of fancy boarding of a freight train, swinging underneath with careless abandon, and a misstep would have meant the hospital or the morgue.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, June 29, 1914, page 2
A number of wanderers who have been in the city the 24-hour limit were marched out of town last night by the police. Tramp travel is particularly heavy right now, owing to the annual northbound travel to the harvest fields of eastern Washington and Oregon.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, June 30, 1914, page 2
Three Mexicans, one of whom had no shoes, and had his feet encased in gunny sacks, passed through Medford Tuesday night, bound south. As they showed no inclination to stop, the police did not bother them. They packed all they possessed in this world on their backs.
"Local and Personal," Medford Sun, July 1, 1914, page 2
In sprinting to catch a northbound freight train Thursday night a wandering gent crashed head-on into a boxcar standing near the Rogue River Fruit Association office, and was knocked cold. The shock was so severe that he manifested no desire to catch the train, and a dash of cold water in the face revived him.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, July 10, 1914, page 2
There has been a general scattering of idlers along Bear Creek the last few days, owing to the danger of being called on for fire fighting services. The "jungles" on the P.&E. has been vacated.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, August 18, 1914, page 2
There has been a decided falling out the last ten days in the number of transients infesting the city. The "jungle " camp on Bear Creek has been abandoned, for most of the wanderers in these parts have gone to work on the Crater Lake road, while the rest of them hit the road for California for the winter. The eight men sentenced to work for the city for overindulgence in liquor have all fled.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, September 8, 1914, page 2
Two dozen wanderers headed south for the winter, the advance guard of the migratory army, pestered the police all day Monday trying to get out of town. Three or four asked for shelter in the city jail last night, and received it. Train crews on the S.P. report that they are kept busy keeping tramps off the trains.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, September 22, 1914, page 2
Eight boy tramps, the oldest 19 years of age, passed through Medford Thursday night, and were given shelter in the city jail. They have been employed in the hop yards of the Willamette Valley, and were beating their way back to their homes in California.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, October 2, 1914, page 2
Nine wanderers, found asleep under a right-of-way warehouse, were routed out Monday night and put aboard a southbound freight train. They were smoking under the building, and it was feared they might start a fire. This city is not bothered much by hoboes, Ashland receiving the full benefit of the migrations through giving them free hot soup last winter in a spirit of philanthropy.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, November 10, 1914, page 2
The spring migration of wanderers from the south to the north is now under way, ten being quartered in the city jail Wednesday night. Some of the number engaged in begging on the streets. One who thus sought aid was offered work in an orchard at $1 a day and board, but rejected the offer.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, February 15, 1915, page 2
John Miller, a floater, was sentenced to 15 days in the county jail this morning on a vagrancy charge. When arrested Miller was trying to sell carpenter tools to a second-hand store and in searching him the police found a bunch of passkeys concealed in his pants leg. He will be held for further investigation of his career.
"Local and Personal," Medford Sun, April 1, 1915, page 6
Chicken thieves have been bothering the residents in the northern end of this city, and the police are keeping a weather eye peeled for the guilty persons. Mr. Franks and Slinger are among the many who have suffered losses, Mr. Frank losing 30 and Mr. Slinger 15.
"Local and Personal," Medford Sun, April 11, 1915, page 8
Hungry tramps are being blamed for numerous raids on chicken coops throughout the country districts that have occurred in the last week. The tramps are suspected, as only sufficient meat for a meal has been taken.
"Local and Personal," Medford Sun, April 22, 1915, page 6
Sheriff Singler arrested a hobo named Fred Chipp near Medford Thursday for alleged burglaries in nearby towns. A companion named Rold, who made his getaway, was arrested later in the day by Officer Mego of the police force. Both men are lodged in the county bastille at this place to await investigation by the grand jury at its next session. The men were camped on the bank of Bear Creek and had goods supposed to have been stolen at Central Point and Eugene in their possession when nabbed.
"Local News," Jacksonville Post, June 5, 1915, page 3
The annual exodus of wanderers from the north to California is in full swing, but in contrast to former years very few of the gentry stop in this city. Thursday night there were a couple of applications for sleeping quarters in the city jail, but most of the men disembark at Ashland.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, October 15, 1915, page 2
There has been so much trouble with hoboes in southern Oregon and norther California territory that the Southern Pacific has detailed special officers on its through passenger trains. They are in uniform and wear a badge lettered "State Railroad Police." They patrol at random up and down the line, quite often making this division point a terminal.
"Ashland and Vicinity," Medford Mail Tribune, October 30, 1914, page 7
YOUTH KILLED AT MEDFORD
Fred McArdle Beating Way from Portland Falls Under Wheels.
MEDFORD, Or., Feb. 28.--(Special.)--Fred McArdle, about 22 years old, son of Mrs. Clara McArdle, 1100 McAllister Street, San Francisco, was killed instantly here early Sunday morning when he fell from the rods of the Shasta Limited, on which he was attempting to make his way to California, and was crushed beneath the wheels.
McArdle was a member of a party of four which left Portland several days ago to beat their way to San Francisco. Although a telegram has been sent the boy's mother, no reply has been received and it is believed she has changed her place of residence or is out of the city.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, February 29, 1916, page 4
A gang of hoboes are reported to be using the chaparral on Grape Street with the Pantorium as a hotel outdoors.
Chaparral somewhere in the Medford area, 1913
"Local and Personal," Medford Sun, June 9, 1916, page 2
The Southern Pacific water tank, with its cold shade, has caused tired wanderers to linger there, and the police Tuesday afternoon dispersed the gang.
"Local and Personal," Medford Sun, June 14, 1916, page 2
The police Thursday morning called upon a number of gentlemen who were enjoying the cool of the Espee water tank and informed them that there was quite a demand for hay hands. As none showed any inclination to grab hold of a pitchfork, they were ordered to march, without waiting for the cool of the day or a train.
"Local and Personal," Medford Sun, June 16, 1916, page 2
Strict orders are now in force to prevent tramps from riding on the trains in the mountainous regions of the West, or on passenger trains anywhere except in the regular legal manner. No chance will be taken to carry irresponsible persons into the guarded zones in that way. Therefore a marked decline in hobo travel may be noted in the immediate future.
"Local and Personal," Ashland Tidings, April 9, 1917, page 5
Hobos Arrive at Albany.
Albany, Or., February 4.--For the first time since the United States entered the war, hobos are getting plentiful in the Willamette Valley now. City police have returned to the pre-war custom of rounding them up when freight trains arrive and lodging them in the city jail for the night to prevent possible depredations.
The number of hobos passing through is not unusually large, viewed from the standards of the days before the war, but the traffic has reached what was formerly a normal standard.
Jacksonville Post, February 8, 1919, page 1
MEDFORD HOBOES TO BE SENT TO CITY WOOD PILE
Drastic Action Taken by City Council to Reduce Vagrant Population--
Dozen Buck Saws Purchased--Pay 50 Cents per Cord.
There is consternation among the hoboes and other units of the floating population of Medford following the city council's decision last night to have every homeless and moneyless man arrested as a vagrant and sentenced to saw wood at a municipal wood pile to be established in the city.
The council ordered Chief of Police Timothy to purchase a number of buck saws and bucks to be used in making this campaign to enforce the floaters to accept work locally or get out of town. Until arrangements can be made for the establishment of a municipal wood pile, the chief was ordered to put all such loiterers at work on the public library wood pile.
The chief decided to wait a day before putting the work order into effect, and this morning and forenoon went among the homeless and jobless men on Haymarket Square and in the jungles along Bear Creek, warning them that starting with Thursday morning he would arrest every man without a home or job for vagrancy, and if found guilty in police court he would be put to work sawing wood.
The city will pay such sentenced vagrants only fifty cents a cord for sawing, and no money will be paid until after each man saws his cord.
It is figured by the mayor and councilmen that when the news once gets about of the city woodpile the floating population all over the state and Northwest will quickly learn of it and henceforth give Medford a wide berth, and that these jobless now in the city will depart for a more congenial location as soon as possible.
Chief Timothy's warning of this morning brought quick results. An employment agent of Chas. Delin, the local contractor, on Tuesday went among the jobless men loafing on Haymarket Place and loitering in the jungles, offering them work with good pay and free transportation on a large contract Mr. Delin has over on the coast. He could not get a man to accept the offer.
By noon today he reported to the chief that already a big auto load of these same men had eagerly accepted such jobs today, and more were approaching him for work hourly. They dreaded the wood pile, and realizing that they could no longer live easily in the Bear Creek jungle and beg from house to house for food.
The matter of driving the constantly increasing hobo class from Medford and vicinity was brought to the council's attention by Mayor Gates last night, and Councilmen Keene, Antle, Gaddis, Miles and Dressler heartily approved of his vagrancy-municipal woodpile suggestion.
"There is a deplorable condition in Medford," said the mayor, "with the many wanderers who float in here, live in the thick brush along Bear Creek, either beg or get their food by their wits as best they can, and refuse to take jobs offered them.
"There is an urgent need for labor of all kinds on the ranches and in the orchards, yet these men will not take jobs offered them at fairly good pay and board. They either don't work at all or won't work for anything except extremely high wages which no one can afford to pay. The presence of this undesirable class of men in the city is responsible for much of the petty thieving and burglary that is going on. The quicker we can drive them out the better for the community.
"Why, the Red Cross had urgent calls for 50 men at jobs the other day, and could not get one of these men to go to work. Ed Brown had calls for jobs for 19 men about the same time. Not one of these floating loafers would take a job."
Medford Mail Tribune, October 19, 1921, page 8
HOBOES CONTINUE TO COME AND GO IN JUSTICE COURT
Six hoboes were brought before Justice Gowdy this morning, where a fine of $2.50 was assessed against a part of them who pled guilty to trespassing on the railroad property. All were released after the assessed fines were paid and took to the highway to make their way south.
The railroad officers are bringing in only a small number of those with whom they come onto contact, for one day during the first part of the present week, the officers had 43 of the "weary Willies" in charge at one time. This is slightly above the average of what is generally found in the railroad yards at one time, but it is not uncommon for the officers to pick up as many as 25 from one train when it arrives.
Ashland Weekly Tidings, October 11, 1922, page 2
FROM MEDFORD CITY JAIL
MEDFORD, Nov. 14--A young man with a new light-colored overcoat tied in a bundle, and wearing a good brown overcoat, apparently homeless, was taken into custody near the public market at 2 o'clock Thursday morning by Patrolman Sunderman, who took him to the police station in accordance with the local police policy of at night putting all homeless or penniless men in the city prison, rather than have them at large about the city.
The night was cold and hence the locked city prison cells were all filled with wanderers for "night lodging," so Patrolman Sunderman after taking the package from the young man left him in the corridor, while he went out again to make his rounds.
When the officer returned the corridor was empty, the man who later proved to be an overcoat thief having pulled back the catch lock of the outside door and disappeared.
Then the officer went into the police headquarters office and unrolled the package he had previously taken from the prisoner, disclosing a new white or cream-colored overcoat, which had undoubtedly been stolen from someone.
Ashland Daily Tidings, November 14, 1924, page 1
AUTO CAUSE OF HOBO INCREASE
OMAHA, Neb., Nov. 9.--(AP)--Riding the rods of railroad trains has been tabooed by the American hobo, who prefers to ride more safely and luxuriously in the cushioned seat of someone's automobile.
Consequently women hoboes are becoming more numerous, and the male members of the American nomads have a problem on their hands, in addition to that of unemployment, Tom Curry of Cincinnati, national secretary of the International Brotherhood Welfare Association, told the annual convention of hoboes here today.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 9, 1926, page 1
"I ain't got no friends and no kin, and I'm on the road doin' my best to earn a livin' by sellin' pencils," was a portion of a hard-luck story told by an itinerant beggar who arrived in Medford today and "set up shop" on Front Street, after having obtained permission from the police department. "Every muscle in my old body hurts," he continued, "and if I'm not able to sell any pencils here, I guess I'll just have to move on somewhere else. I ain't got any particular destination. Anywhere will do, I guess."
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, September 3, 1928, page 2
The city prison continues accommodate on the average of six transients nightly with sleeping quarters and at the same time gives the police department assurance they are in a safe place and away from the temptation of breaking into dwellings or business establishments. Many of those given free lodgings are young men in search of work in Medford, with some returning from coast points after having left jobs at the local sawmills or box factory to get their old jobs back.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, February 27, 1929, page 2
Weary Willie Gives Up Riding the Rods and Begs Auto Lifts
"Weary Willie," the wanderlust citizen who formerly traveled in discomfort on the rods of a freight train, now stands by the roadside and begs a ride from passing motorists, according to Phil Eiker, a director of the Oregon State Motor Association.
Mr. Eiker pointed out that the once-picturesque tramp is now a "hitchhiker" or "thumber," and states are rapidly realizing the importance of curbing his activities. "Minnesota was the first state to pass a law making it unlawful for a person to stand by the highway and solicit a ride," he said, "while similar laws have been enacted in Maine and New Jersey. The experience of these states is having a beneficial effect throughout the country, and it is a matter of time until every commonwealth prohibits the practice. Although motorists, especially those traveling long distances alone, are inclined to give a lift to strangers hiking by the roadside, it is a dangerous practice and one that should be discontinued by every car owner. Often serious injuries, robbery and even murders have resulted from what was originally a kindly act. The railroads are now patrolling their lines with more care and thereby giving less opportunity to tramps to ride the rods."
Ashland Daily Tidings, September 17, 1929, page 4
"Bindle Stiff" Finds Aid in Group of Job Seekers
By Eva Nealon
His pack appeared worn and dirty, but heavy as he moved slowly down the street this morning with worn soles dragging on the pavement. The face which showed beneath his cap, set low on his forehead, was expressionless except for lines of fatigue beneath his eyes. He approached a group of job seekers, gathered near the fountain by the Chamber of Commerce building.
He stopped, mumbling to one, then another. No one heeded his plea. He started on down the street, readjusting his pack with a slight shrug of the shoulders.
Then from the back of the small crowd a voice called "Hey!" The weary one turned as a man with weather-worn face and grimy clothes approached him and thrust a hand into a ragged pocket. He drew out a small coin and handed it to the "weary," who took it , mumbled, and started on down the street. The donor edged back into the group of unemployed.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 26, 1930, page 5
Moocher's Story Points Warning
For Youths to Avoid Transgressions
By Ernest Rostel
"Mister, could you spare a fellow a dime or two?" asked the youth. "I've tramped from up north today and my pockets are empty."
He had stopped a Medford resident at the rustic drinking fountain near the Chamber of Commerce, and the young beggar's eyes betrayed hunger and weariness to the listener.
"Come, we'll feed you, and you'll remember that you did not go hungry in Medford."
Seated in the warmth of a restaurant, the youth had a story to tell--of blasted hopes, of kin who had forgotten him, and of a place where he had spent two long years, an outcast of society. A week or two ago, the youth, who gave his name as William Delaney, had a number and a cell in the Washington state reformatory at Monroe, serving time for attempting to crowd too much enjoyment into one evening.
With a friend, he had rented a car from a taxi agency, became intoxicated and finally succeeded in smashing the cab and sending his friend to the hospital. He had kept the machine out too long and, in all, sufficient events had occurred to send him to Monroe.
"I had a good job, friends, and all that makes life enjoyable," he related, "but things came easy and I wanted more than my share of excitement. I took a drink, another followed, and then some more. I wanted to see if I could drive the machine when I was drunk. It landed me in the penitentiary, and I lost everything.
"I became sick of the tiny cell where they placed me, tired of the guards always around me, and made no friends in the several hundred blighted souls who called the place home--some for life. I became sorry for myself. Each evening we were locked in at 7, and each morning at 6 we arose. For weeks I could not sleep. I pounded the pillow, kicked the cell walls and wished that I were the lowliest beggar rather than stay in the place.
"I did not write to my dear old dad," he continued. "I did not want him to know where I was. He wanted me to go to college instead of quitting school when I did, and wanted me to stay with him in New York to enter his business instead of striking out west.
"Day after day I marked the calendar that another day had brought me closer to freedom. My spirit was not in the prison walls--it was home with the folks and that's where I'm heading now, hoping to get there before the Christmas snows. Some of the prisoners tried to get me to break rules because they had already broken them, and so spoil my chances for a parole. Others were planning how they would do their next 'job' better when they got out so they would not be caught," he continued.
Through it all, Delaney--just 22 years old--kept his head, and came before the parole board a month or so ago. His sentence was not yet done, but the two years he had spent were not marred by infractions of rules and he was paroled. He took the parole papers from his pocket and explained that each month he was to send one back to the prison, giving a complete report of his activities.
"Believe me," he said, "I aim to send them back. "I wouldn't want to go back to that cell and prison routine, if I had to die. I know how to appreciate liberty and hope that other young fellows will think twice before doing some deed that will take them away from their fellow men. When they let me out, they gave me a new suit of clothes and, most of all, freedom. I'm starting in all over and shall always tread the straight and narrow."
Delaney's story was over. He reached for the cap given him at the prison, gave thanks for the meal and went out in the cool air of the November evening. Today he is somewhere on the Pacific Highway, hiking south, and then a little later east to kinfolks, whom he plans to tell that he had been absent on a boat voyage that took him to the far corners of the earth. They'll never know he was a prisoner out west, if his secret is not betrayed.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 2, 1930, page 5
Local Jail Is Haven to Bedless Men
The rush of hungry, homeless men to the police station in quest of a place to sleep continues night after night. As many as twenty indigents, and always at least eight, are allowed to sleep in the city jail, police say. In the jail the unfortunates at least find warmth, blankets and a place out of the rain.
Police believe that it is wiser to permit the down-and-outers to slumber in the jail, rather than have them wandering about the streets of the city all night.
Most of the men are not criminals in any sense of the word, just hungry, dirty, unfortunate men in search of a place to earn a living. As it is, they get little out of life, and suffer the utmost in misery, in so-called prosperous America.
It is said that Medford sees little of the vast number of unemployed throughout the nation, as most of the unfortunates travel by the other railway line through Klamath Falls, and into California.
Last night an aged married couple entered the police station in search of something to eat and a place to sleep. They had walked the streets for hours, and had found no aid. Finally, as a last resort, they went to the police station. They were traveling from California to the home of a relative at Burns, where they expected to be allowed to pass the winter. Hitchhiking along the Pacific Highway had proven a slow mode of travel for the unfortunates.
Medford Daily News, December 14, 1930, page 5
Jobless Men Live Outdoors Near City's Environs
By VANCE R. HOLCOMB
Hungry, jobless, homeless, sleeping under the drab December skies, shaving under the grey morning light, washing in water flaked with ice--that is the fate of hundreds of unfortunate men this winter. An even twenty men were observed yesterday grouped around inadequate fires near the Owen-Oregon Lumber Company mill, and close to the railway tracks.
Apparently, in spite of their misfortunes, the men desired to remain neat and clean, because several of them were washing. One was shaving a heavy beard. His barber shop was the wide expanse of territory; his mirror an old tin can.
Only one of the unfortunate wanderers possessed an overcoat--the rest were insufficient garbed.
MEN OF ALL AGESThe men were of all ages, ranking from time-worn unfortunates of sixty to youngsters that should be attending high school and turning out for sports. Instead, they are putting up a losing fight against life.
The men were engaged in trying to cook very meager food over a fire. There was no protection from the icy December winds.
The twenty did not represent all the unfortunates that passed the night in that locality. Many of them had drifted on south when morning gave a slight respite from the winter chill. Many more of depression's victims slept on hard bunks at the city jail. However, to them the jail is heaven after the cold ground.
MANY SUFFERMedfordites, having warm, comfortable homes and many blessings during the Christmas season, can feel doubly fortunate in that they are not suffering as manifold thousands are in the United States this winter.
Medford Daily News, December 20, 1930, page 3
Last revised June 17, 2017