The American Hobo has a home in Britt, Iowa. This year will mark the 109th National Hobo Convention hosted by this wonderful town of approximately 2,000 people. The convention, always held the first week of August, is where the hobo family and citizens of Britt elected me queen. I am an ambassador for both, working hard with Britt and the hobo family to make known and preserve this part of our American history.
The origin of the term “hobo” is often one for debate. Many believe it was born of two major events in our American history: the construction of the transcontinental railroad and the Civil War. From East to West men helped to lay thousands of miles of railroad track in the mid – 1800’s, and once done, these men would often “catch a ride” on the trains looking for work in another area. By the late 1800’s, many veterans of the Civil War lost their homes, their worldly possessions, and even their families. Their lives were dramatically changed. War taught them how to live off the land and survive the outdoors. Some took to the nomadic life of wandering the countryside.
Whether rail worker or veteran, these men walked or often rode the rails from town to town. They carried a hoe, which would help them find work in fields and on farms along the way. Tied to the end of the hoe was sackcloth filled with all their possessions. They were called “hoe-boys.” Some believe this term was simply shortened to “hobo,” while others think these men did not like being called boys so the term was shortened to “bo” as in “ho-bo.”
No matter where the term originated, many veterans throughout history have taken to the open road. At present, our daughter is serving our country in Iraq. Because of this and the rich history of the hobo, I have dedicated my year as queen to our American Soldiers and Veterans.
I will post more in the near future, especially as King Stretch checks in. Stretch and Burlington Dog are ambassadors along the open road while I work from home to spread the word.