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January 10, 1910


But Police Cut Short Their Rest; 17
in Jail.

Tired of loafing around on street corners, seventeen hoboes organized themselves Saturday night and made a raid on a rooming house at 427 Delaware street, taking possession of all the beds after driving the keeper and guests away. The police were notified and the gang taken into custody.

"We got to sleep in a bed once in a while to keep from forgetting how," declared one of the tramps at police headquarters. "But I reckon you've got some bunks here."

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December 1, 1909


"Hoboes' Friend" Transferred From
"Battle Row" to Traffic Squad.

"Battle Row," adjoining police headquarters and generally conceded the "toughest" beat in town, owing to the number of cheap saloons and the rough element, will be patrolled by a new man today. It is the first change in five years.

Patrolman Herman Hartman, "the hoboes' friend," has been transferred to the traffic squad and will be stationed at the intersection of Eleventh and Walnut streets. Hartman is the heaviest officer on the force, tipping the scales at 330 pounds.

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March 14, 1909



William Turner, Arrested at Station,
Makes Voluntary Confession That
Made Police Sit Up -- He's
Tired of Dodging.
William Turner, Confessed Bank Robber
Confessed Camden Point Bank Robber.

William Turner, one of the four men who robbed the Bank of Camden Point on December 27, 1907, and who has been in several bank robberies all over the country, has made a complete confession. Turner was arrested yesterday afternoon at Union depot under orders from the sheriff of Sapulpa, Ok., who wanted him for petty larceny. He confessed to the Camden Point bank robbery of his own accord.

The prisoner had been taken to the holdover late yesterday afternoon and as he was led through the corridor at police headquarters, he recognized W. P. Martin, a patrolman whom he had met in several occasions.

"I guess they are going to take me to Oklahoma," he said to Martin, who accompanied him to the holdover. "They want me down there for petty larceny, but if they knew what I had done here in Missouri, they wouldn't think of taking me back. Just tell the captain that I've got something to tell him."


Turner, who limps slightly, was led up stairs to Captain Walter Whitsett's private office. H is face had a determined look and though he is 28 years old and has associated with criminals ever since he was 14 years old, he does not look like a crook. He greeted the captain and in a matter of fact way informed him that he was a bank robber.

"I'm tired of beating around the country with the officers always on my trail and I'm willing to come through with all," he said. "You remember the bank at Camden Point? Well, I'm one of the four men that cracked the bank there over a year ago."

The robbery of the bank at that time had been a source of vexation to the police and though two of the men were captured, it was thought that the other members of the party came to Kansas City.

"Yes, Seranton Billie and I planned the robbery over in Zack's saloon at 307 Main street," Turner continued. "We went up to Leavenworth and then took a train to Camden Point the night before the robbery. Early the next morning, we went into the bank building and flowed the safe, but not until we had used most of our nitro-glycerine. The people of the town were roused and began to fire into the bank before we could get all the loot. The two men were captured the next day in a cornfield, but Billie and I got away. We first went to St. Joseph and there we separated. I came to Kansas City because I knew it would be pretty safe here. I had about $600 in bills but the police didn't get on to me at all.


Turner's blue eyes grew reminiscent and he tilted back in his chair in a restful attitude. He told about his birth in Baltimore and said that he moved to Missouri with his parents in the latter part of the '80s,. At 15 he was stolen by tramps and learned the "yeg" business when in their company. They taught him to beg in small towns and on many occasions went around on crutches, pretending to be a cripple. He would carry the day's receipts to his pals late at night and they would then plan on some new disguise for the boy. He later became acquainted with the methods of manufacturing nitro-glycerin and the most approved method of cracking a safe. He has been all over the country, he says, and has known most of the "yegs" in the United States.

"But they all die in prison," he said, "and I've made up my mind to take my medicine. If there is any time left to me to be free I want to en joy it. I'm tired of this life. My shoulder hurts me where I was shot in one raid three years ago."

Turner put his confession in writing to W. S. Gabriel, an assistant prosecutor, and was taken to a cell in the matron's room. He asked permission of the captain to allow him a quantity of writing material.

"I want to write the story of my life," he said.

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February 1, 1909


They Retard Economic Development
of Country, Says C. B. Hoffman.

At the First Universalist church at Tenth and Park streets yesterday morning, C. B. Hoffman, president of the Bankers' Trust Company of Kansas city, Kas., spoke of the hobo as retarding the economic develpment of the country and said that he must furnish the solution of the problem of his own existence.

"There are more unemployed men in this country than its population and industry warrant," continued Mr. Hoffman. "This comes from the unequal distribution of work. The unemployed but willing laborers must form unions of a progressive and peaceable sort if they are to better their condition."

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December 4, 1908



Cash for Services Rendered Should
Be Given Then Every Saturday
Night -- A Banquet of
Bread and Water.

"Come to order," Chairman James Eads Howe of the Society of the Unemployed said as he took the ruler's seat on the platform. He was addressing about 100 hoboes, tramps and four women, who had gathered in the hall of the labor headquarters building yesterday afternoon. The constitution of the society was then read, and changes were made in the several articles.

Suggestions were made by the unemployed as to the stand they should take regarding the change in vagrancy laws. Howe, the tramp by choice, said he would abolish the vagrancy laws entirely, but that at present he wanted protection from the hold-up of vagrants. His position was attacked by one of the hoboes, who said the vagrancy law was only a big stick in the hands of the millionaires to beat them down.

The same hobo spoke in favor of the municipalities paying every prisoner in the workhouse in actual cash. A municipal lodging house was discussed. One tramp wanted to know if the one here would be like the Chicago shelter, where all hoboes were arrested and sent to the Bridewell when they applied for lodging.

"Awr, chee, that place is fierce; they fumigate yer clothes and hand you supposed coffee and stale bread," J. LeRoy Sands, a Chicago visitor put in.

Mrs. Charles Ferguson requested that sands be added to the municipal shelter committee, because of his experience. Comrade Sands also suggested that the organization favor that every boy tramp that had left a good home be given transportation back.

The popular expression among the tramp fraternity present was that society owed the hoboes a living, and if society did not provide it, the tramps should force it through the ballot boxes.

The good-natured Howe ran the meeting, even against the wishes of the hoboes, and seemed to enjoy his business. Many of the unemployed muttered objections against the women voting on the matters before the convention, and were only pacified by the invitation to attend a banquet at the Poor Man's mission in honor of Mr. Howe. The menu consisted of cold water and pure bread. Mrs. Ferguson, however, captured the King Tramp and gave him a spread at a vegetarian restaurant.

Occasional flashes of wit and humor were given during the meeting by several of the hoboes, and a tramp glass blower did the following for the price of a "pony":

Hunger and want and grim despair
Faces haggard and worn with care,
Crowding and jostling, full of dread,
Pushing each other in search of bread.

The bread line -- the dead line --
The line of deepest want --
The bread line -- the dead line --
Hungry and ragged and gaunt.

Miserable beings in filth and rags,
Children and women and wrinkled hags,
Young men, old men and beauty fair,
Shoving and standing like beasts in their lair,
Driven together by hunger and care

Chorus --

Thieves and crooks from the cookeries --
Beggars and vags from the slums--
The honest poor man from the tenements,
Workers and boys and bums.
All are mingled together,
Shivering in nameless dread
Trembling and faltering and stumbling,
In search of a piece of bread.

Chorus --

--Comerade Thos. Spade of Cincinnati

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December 1, 1908



A Committee Will Call Upon the
Mayor Today and Lay the Mat-
ter Before Him -- Jobs
for Everybody.

James Eads Howe, ex-millionaire and tramp, is determined to make Kansas City a better place to live in, particularly for the unemployed. A meeting of a committee of five appointed at a congress of the unemployed held at labor headquarters Sunday, met in the same building yesterday afternoon and outlined a plan either to get the idle man a job or send him where he can get one.

Resolutions embodying the idea that the out-of-work is entitled to a job were adopted. The committee, composed of four men and a woman, then considered means of bringing this to pass.

"We do not want to bring a hobo convention to Kansas city," said Mr. Howe. "What we want is to get jobs for the citizens of Kansas city who are in need of them and to send aliens who cannot be accommodated here either to their homes or to some place where they can get a job."

It was a beautiful plan that was outlined, scientific, visionary and almost practicable -- worthy of any college professor. By some means the city is to be persuaded to undertake public improvements enough to give work to all who need it. Kansas Cityans are to get the jobs first and then an effort is to be made to ship all the others to their homes or to places where they can get jobs. Who is to pay the railroad fee has not yet been decided. Then the vagrancy law is to be amended so that an out-of-work cannot be arrested merely because he happens to be unfortunate.

Still there are those wanderers who drift into the city and cannot find work, although perfectly willing to toil. What is to be done with them, or with the surplus of men whom the city may not be able to supply with work on its public improvements? The Hobo King solves this problem in a jiffy.

"While strolling through the city," he said, "I saw an old building which they said was the old city hospital. The thought occurred to me that this was an admirable place to be used for a municipal lodging house such as are found in every other large city in the country. Let us appoint a committee to wait upon the mayor tomorrow to see what can be done."

It was so ordered, and Mrs. Charles Ferguson, wife of the pastor of the All Souls' Unitarian church, Thirty-fifth street and Baltimore avenue, the feminine member of the committee, was one of those appointed to wait on the mayor. Charles Nelson, business manager of the Bartenders' union, was another, and Charles Sumner, a stereotyper, was the third.

Howe comes here as the representative of the Brotherhood Association of the Unemployed, a society with headquarters at St. Louis. The other members of the committee are Mrs. Ferguson, Charles Sumner, H. L. Curry, a laborer from Chicago, and Mr. and Mrs. Creighton, who conduct the Creighton mission at 309 Main street, where 125 unemployed are being lodged nightly, free of charge. The king tramp will stay in town until he thinks that his mission here is accomplished. A meeting of the unemployed will be held this afternoon at 5 o'clock at the Creighton mission, where action will be taken on the recommendations of the committee.

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September 20, 1908


Patrick Bulger Fell to Street Car
Tracks and Was Hurt.

Hobo hill, near Second and Walnut streets, where so many men have gone to sleep and then rolled down onto the street car tracks in front of cars, came near claiming another victim last night. Patrick Bulger, 28 years old, a citizen of Independence, Mo., had gone down to take the interurban train for home. He missed it and fell asleep on the fatal hillside.

Presently a Holmes street car came bowling along and Bulger awoke with a start. He started so far that he rolled to the tracks and against the car just in time to be caught under the coat by rear steps. He was scraped along the spine, lost several square inches of skin and was dragged thirty feet to the tracks of the Kansas City Southern railway. The ambulance took him to the emergency hospital, where his injuries were dressed. A pint bottle of whiskey which Bulger carried in his coat pocket was not even cracked.

Many men have been killed and many injured at this very point. On the afternoon of September 5 Frank Nugent, a citizen of anywhere his hat was allowed to hang, performed the sleeping, waking and rolling feat. He lost his left leg just above the ankle and is now in the general hospital.

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January 8, 1907


Local Enlisting Stations Put Ban on "Hobo" Soldier

Officers in charge of the local army and navy recruiting stations have placed the ban on what is known as the "hungry" enlisters. This removes a solace of the wandering youth who strikes out to see the world in true hobo style.

Since the establishment of recruiting stations in the larger cities of the country it has been no uncommon thing to enlist "hungry" recruits who first exhausted every other means of existence and after a day or two without food appeared at a recruiting station and enlisted in the army. Many times they called for a meal before completing the examination which they are obliged to take.

Sometime the man who enlists will tell why he does it, but this is not often. If the true reason was always given and entered in the records the enlistment book would be a series of tragedies. Aside from the hungry ones who find themselves out of work, money or friends and espouse the army or navy as the only means of securing a good meal and more to follow there are those who enlist as the result of lovers' quarrels, some out of the pure desire for adventure and others to satisfy the "wanderlust." It is safe to say that but few enlist with a high idea of patriotism growing out of a desire to serve their country.

In Kansas City, however, there is a high percentage of enlistments in both army and navy. According to the officers in charge of the respective stations this city furnishes an average of seven men weekly to the navy and six to the army. Both stations turn away many applicants who come in under the "hungry" list.

In smaller cities there is still hope for the hungry man, as officers in charge of the recruiting stations want to make a showing and keep their offices open. For this reason they are not too particular about the class of recruits so long as they total up in the showing made by the station.

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