Ashland Council Proposes Hobos Work for Soup and Shelter

Oct 8, 2013

As It Was - Episode 2251

No one knows for certain the origin of the word “hobo,” although some believe it originated in the Pacific Northwest as a slang term for migratory workers. Councilmen in Ashland, Ore., wanted nothing to do with the growing numbers of what some people derisively termed “gentlemen of leisure.”  Councilman Ware proposed establishing a giant rock pile surrounded by a stockade on a city lot on Fourth Street.  He hoped the prospect of hard labor pounding rocks would discourage hobos from visiting the city. The proposal tied with three votes in favor and three opposed. Mayor Johnson cited costs and broke the tie by voting no. The council approved a gentler plan whereby hobos would have to work for their soup and shelter.  Instead of rocks, a large pile of logs was hauled in by Street Commissioner Fraley. Hobos looking for a warm meal would first have to cut the wood for the cooking fire. The Ashland Tidings reported in its edition of Oct. 1, 1914, that it had not been cold enough yet to test the plan.  Sources: "Hobo Employment Much Discussed." Ashland Tidings 17 Sept. 1914: 1. Print; "First Step Taken In Hobo Question." Ibid. 1 Oct. 1914: 1. Print; Liberman, Anatoly. "On Hobos, Hautboys, and Other Beaus." Oxford University Press's Academic Insights for the Thinking World. 12 Nov. 2008. Web. 17 Sept. 2013. <>.