Traverse City Record-Eagle

Record-Eagle 150th Anniversary

March 27, 2009

TC hosts 'hobo' roundup

On July 10, 1933, city, county and state police rounded up 200 men from the "haunts of hobos" around Traverse City with the help of American Legion volunteers.

The line was already a block long when it reached the Eighth Street bridge west of the Boardman River and headed toward the Grand Traverse County Courthouse.

Here are excerpts of a Record-Eagle story that paints a vivid picture of that Monday-night raid.

'Herded ahead of the officers the tramps came marching into town looking like a South American revolution. They were massed behind the county jail and there run between two lines of officers. Every man who could identity himself either by a cherry-picking tally card or other credentials was told to get a job or get out of town by this morning. Those who were without identification were fingerprinted and 10 of the most suspicious looking were thrown into jail to be held 24 hours.

"The plan ... worked so smoothly that not even a scuffle took place in the round-up.

"One crew of officers and Legion men raided the hangout on the corner of Front and Cass streets and marched 40 men to the jail. Another started on the west shore of Boardman Lake at Hobo Point and combed that shore straight down through the Pere Marquette yards. The men were scattered in groups all along the shore, some cooking their suppers and some just loafing around.

"'Come on, Jack. Pick up your stuff and march along,' the officers ordered. A few of the younger ones were visibly nervous but, to the hardened and experienced, it was just another roundup. One man had a frying pan filled with pork chops when his meal was interrupted. When he reached the jail the frying pan was still in his hand and the pork chops were still smoking.

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