As we move closer to the opening of our History of the Hobo section of our vanished Geneaology and history site we are going to feature the ways of the Hobo by AN01 .  He was a hobo and writer about Hobo’s in the early 20th century.

From Wikipedia,

Leon Ray Livingston (1872–1944) was a famous hobo and author, travelling under the name “A-No.1” and often referred to as “The Rambler.”[1] He perfected the hobo symbols system, which let other hobos know where there are generous people, free food, jobs, vicious dogs, and so forth. He was not a poor man; he simply preferred a life of travelling the country by train to sitting at home. In his memoir The Ways of the Hobo, Livingston admitted that he was uneducated, but began his self-education at the age of 35.

He has been lauded by many American historians as the King of the Hoboes and has followings all over the U.S.

Here is his story


Cambridge Springs train depot


The road took 30  of  the best years of my life before I broke its bond as if it by a miracle. wile I traveled with tramps I did missionary work or at work among them but failed to induce even one of the 300,000 chronic hoboes who ceaselessly and iat will range over this continent to forsake his unnatural existence .

This is my sixth book

Chapter One

The Brethren of the road

Set like a Royal jewel embed in the foothills of the Allegheny’s  across northwestern Pennsylvania towards the waters of Lake Erie, this ideal like Cambridge Springs. Not only have its grand scenic environs given to this town of lesser dimensions a landmark reputation as a most charming summer resort but the medicinal properties of its numberless gushing Springs has so added to its main until annually thousands of people in need of health and recreation can make a pilgrimage to this  brand of America filling to capacity the spacious hotels bordering his triple shaded evidence period because of its convenient railroad location I had made by headquarters for many years at delightful Cambridge Springs.

Driven by the weird prompting of the wanderlust hither and thither about the globe, time and again with  almost incredible hazards of the wander path had brought me dangerously close to the verge of mental and physical collapse, I hastened back to Cambridge Springs there to find a brief respite from the hardships of the road. That I had chosen Cambridge Springs as my headquarters quickly became common knowledge to the brethren of the road with result that the otherwise rather than aristocratic health resort soon became veritable Mecca to chronic hobo’s.

From every train chancing to stop at Cambridge Springs sons of unrest dropped singly, in pairs, and at times even in squadrons, and when I told them that  I was in this town  hurried toMrs.  Cunninghams  boarding house where I always lodged when at home they’re either to renew old friendships make my acquaintance or a financial touch which later reason was the most frequent object of their visits and which assistance was refused tonight, until impudent intoxicated scoundrels put a limit to my benevolences.

two fold were the reasons why I preferred Mrs. Cunningham’s to the many other boarding places, for not only was its mistress a motherly soul sort of landlady but my own arch enemy the road had cast his full blight over her life. forever cursed by the tramp who proved himself the willing tool of the road soon after Mrs. Cunningham had buried her husband and embarked in the boarding house business as a means to earn an honorable living for herself and her only child a most promising youth a tramp to whom in a spirit of charity she had furnished shelter during bitterly cold night somehow contrived to portray the road to this sun in such alluring colors that the guileless boy believed the scoundrels falsehoods ran away from his home with the Rascal and quickly degenerated to the miserable level attained by his tutor that of a confirmed Vagabond.

Just as if this pitiful misfortune had not sufficiently marred the bereaved widows joy of life there was to come home to her the same gruesome reward for a mother’s boundless devotion that had to be accepted by so many other unfortunate parents of runaway boys. Less than 2 years after his disappearance in company with a professional hobo, they brought the son home to his mother as a gross mass , packed haphazardly into a good dry goods case the whining wheels had added a new name to the note to the long register away words they had crushed nearly destroyed young Cunningham.

June 20th 2020

Chapter 2

honor and gratitude among tramps

near the point where the double track Delaware and Hudson railroad cross the Catskill mountains, two freight trains were passing in opposite directions, and because a gang of laborers were repairing a bridge, both were running at a greatly reduced rate of speed.

Aboard the train that had come from Albany, the capital of New York, I was hoboing in an empty box car, while kolkar furnace to free birth to a fellow tramp who’s holding the other train. When at the moment of our passing this freelance tourist check me peeping from the door of my boxcar , intent on viewing the marvelous scenery of the country where in the Susquehanna had his head waters, he started the top of his voice lookout for yourself at Oneonta.

An appreciation of The Tramp’s warning, I waved my hand at him, so in reality is cautioning was quite superfluous As for years I had hoboed over the Delaware and Hudson other tramps had forewarned me to avoid this rail world as I would the evil 1, and especially to give to someone to the water’s kind of birth.

Located about midway between the cities of all buddy in Binghamton, someone TA had been selected by the Delaware and Hudson as its principle shop and division point , which meant, that here all arriving crews and engines were changed in every freight train yard did in an extensive freight yard to have its rollingstock searched for defects.

This inspection and also a re oiling of the axle boxes necessitated a delay, and as a logical sequence of the latter every hobo traveled over the line was compelled to break his journey at Oneonta, unless by lucky chance some other train left the yard ahead of the one aboard which the wandering Willie had arrived.

The interim between their coming and their departing afforded to the hobo criminal among the wander lusters a chance to hustle a supply of handouts from the kitchen Queens of Oneonta, while to the criminals among the hobos this enforce sojourn especially when occurring during the hours when all cats are grey gave an opportunity and of which they took full advantage, to prove their gratitude to the railroad which had passed them over its line, by ransacking its depots freight warehouses merchandise Laden cars and murdering its employees and perpetuating other evil things.

The railroads losses due to the activities of boxcar burglars , yeggs and other classes of hobo outlaws who considered railroads in their legitimate pray, assumed such enormous financial proportions, that for the sake of self-protection, the Delaware and Hudson organized a Police Department, the sole business of which in the beginning was the combating of the criminals among the tramps, but to which in the course of time was given charge of every branch of police patrol, thus proving that primarily to roving criminals was DU installing of the present day detective bureaus maintained by every railroad. Pg. 14

continues June 26, 2020










Largest database and biographical sketches of Hobo’s to be released thisfall 2020  watch for it.


Where do I begin this story of the lives of Hobo’s?   Hobo life was coming to an end in the 1950’s  when I made my first trip to Bum’s woods in Kenosha Wisconsin to see if me and Raymond could find  hobo’s in the old Jungle.  But Hobo’s were few in 1950  and their culture was dying with their way of life.  My Father a Hobo in his youth had no idea we liked to search for Hobo’s in Bums woods.

About the same time late in the spring of 1950 a Hobo named John McGowan age 70 was in San Bernardino California and would have his day in the sun and for a short time a short period of his life would be recorded, and he would be a hero.

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.— April 3, 1950

. John McGowan is a hobo. Seventy years old, one-eyed and frankly and honestly a hobo.The other day he was walking along the Santa Fe main lines in California. Usually he’s riding but luck’s luck and this time John was walking. That gold eye spotted a broken rail. Luck was luck indeed for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe. Old John heard the train coming and ran as fast as he could in his 70 years. He stopped the train.

The Santa Fe mopped its brow and gave old John the works. They took him into town. They bought him the best suit. They put him up in the fanciest hotel.They slipped $IOO into his pocket. They wished him good night.

Next day they dropped around to see how old John was doing in his glory. Then they found out they’d forgotten one thing. They had forgotten old John is a hobo.’He’s a hobo with or without a new suit and with or without a hundred dollars, when they looked in the fancy room, he was gone. They’ll find him, if they insist on finding him, back on the mainline of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad.

John didn’t know about me and I didn’t know about him but he was a Hobo and I was fascinated about Hobo’s that same year and in the hobo jungle we found an empty suitcase battered with age amongst the trees in a railroad line that had ceased going anywhere 20 years earlier and now the tracks were red with rust .And as we searched for evidence of hobo’s my Father a former Hobo sat in his chair resting after a hard day of work a body racked by the effects of a Heart condition but unable to give up the cigarettes in his life and I have often wondered if the smoke hid a memory  of his  younger life.

BOOK ONE      

      HOW IT STARTED 1880-1899

A nation turning rapidly from a wilderness and emerging agriculture country to an urban centered nation.  Technology overwhelmed the nation turning significant numbers of farmers into factory workers creating middle class with a distorted view of the laborers.  The railroads came and became the 19th and early 20th century version of the airplane. And the hobo couldn’t understand why they couldn’t ride free. The owners of the railroads were puzzled and couldn’t understand why they thought they could ride free.