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Wednesday, July 24, 2013


 Last Monday morning we saw a strange and sad sight. Three tramps came walking down the railroad track. The one in the middle had his legs cut off at the knees; the one on his right had his left leg cut off, near the hip; the one on his left had is right leg off, near the hip. What had the new year in store for them? Lafayette Advertiser 1/5/1889.


Another detachment of tramps, a hundred, or so, struck the town during the week. Recently a number of them installed under the sheds of the brick yard near town, with a colored cook in charge of their cuisine. Lafayette Advertiser 1/6/1894

At their suburban retreat near the brick-yard on Wednesday last a lot of tramps thought to vary the monotony by a little free fight, resulting in one of them being laid out by a brick bat coming in contact with his head. He was attended by Dr. Martin. Lafayette Advertiser 1/6/1894

Dealing With Tramps.

Marshal Vigneaux is making it pretty hot for the tramps. He wants these worthies to distinctly understand that they must make their stay in this town as short as possible. The cold weather has brought to this section the real hungry, lazy, dirty tramps, who will rather starve than work and the marshal is right to order them away from the corporation limits of the town.
Lafayette Gazette 1/12/1895.

Tramp travel was quite heavy during the week, notwithstanding the bad weather. Our livery stables derive very little benefit from this class of tourists.
Lafayette Advertiser 1/12/1889.

Petty Thefts.
We have to record several instances of petty thieving in the neighborhood of the depot lately. On last Tuesday night some one burglarized the barber shop of Mr. C. C. Higginbotham, and took from there all his razors, some towels, soap and other small articles. It is very convenient for tramps who stop off at the railroad to raid buildings in that vicinity, and a strict watch should be kept until the tramp season slacks up. Lafayette Advertiser 1/12/1889.

Dealing with Tramps.Our friend "Ike" has a novel way of heading off tramps, viz: by sending his bear to the door. They barely get in the gate before "Ike" makes the "cub" show up. Needless to say, they don't want anything. Laf. Gazette 1/13/1894. 


The chief of police in Shreveport has issued positive instructions to his subordinates to arrest any and all persons, white or black, who were without any occupation and had no income, or other means for a livelihood. The city of Shreveport is determined to clean up, and clear out all those who live by their wits, gambling, begging, or other rascality, and let some other town furnish a support for them.

Lafayette in common with other towns could spare a few of this class of people.
Lafayette Advertiser 1/14/1899.


Regular Session, Dec. 5th, 1881.

Present: M. P. Young, Mayor, and Councilmen Bailey, Mouton, McBride, Lombard and Falk.
Absent:Alpha and Revillon.
On motion, the reading of the minutes of the preceding meeting was dispensed with.

The following ordinance for the prevention of vagrancy was read and, on motion, unanimously adopted :

Be it ordained by the City Council of Vermilionville,

That all idle persons who, not having visible means to maintain themselves, live without employment ; all persons wandering abroad and lodging in market places, sheds, barns, uninhabited buildings, or in the open air, and not giving a good account of themselves ; all persons wandering abroad and beggings, or who go from door to door, or who place themselves in the streets, passages, or other public places, to beg or receive alms, shall be deemed vagrants.

Be it further ordained, etc., That is shall be the duty of the Constable or any of his deputies, whenever required by any person, to carry such vagrant before the Mayor for the purpose of examination ; and if the Mayor be satisfied by the confession of the offender, or by competent testimony, that he is a vagrant within the description aforesaid, he may fine or imprison such vagrant, the fine not to exceed twenty-five dollars, and he may cause such vagrant to work upon the streets, at the rate of one dollar per day, until the fine imposed shall have been paid ; and if such a vagrant be a proper object of charity he shall send him to such place of refuge as shall be provided by the City Council.

Be it further ordained, etc., That this ordinance take effect from and after its passage. Lafayette Advertiser 1/14/1882.

Tramps. - Mayor Caffery has given orders to the police to utilize the tramps, so you can see them now working the streets, which are in great need of it. Lafayette Advertiser 1/21/1899.

 At this season of the year this town is the headquarters for a large army of tramps. These migratory sons of rest seem to like this place. Whether they are fond of good cooking or wish to show their appreciation of the proverbial hospitality of the house-wives of Lafayette it is hard to say. But there is no doubt that there is some peculiar attraction here for the hobo. From time immemorial he has visited us regularly. He comes on every freight and stays with us until he gets a chance to ride the rod. The railroad facilities of this point and the epicurean tastes of the hobo make Lafayette an eminently suitable resort. This was the place selected by Deignan, the Merrimac hero, some years ago, to organize the Brotherhood of American Tramps. Those who know these things can appreciate the magnitude of the job that Mayor Caffery has undertaken. He is determined to rid this community of the tramps whose numbers have grown to such proportions that they have gotten to be an intolerable nuisance.

Last Wednesday Mayor Caffery ordered Officers Veazey, Himel and Hebert to arrest all the tramps found in town. Before night they had fifteen in town jail. The next morning they appeared before Mayor Caffery. They gave the following names: John Williams, Morgan McGraw, Charles Piggett, Frank Ervel, Alpha Nelson, John Shantain, John Welson, Edgar Alexandria, Paul Reams, Williams Schmitt, John Kelly, Harry Walreath, John Murphy, Ed Harris, Hugh Spencer.

Each was called up and interrogated by the mayor. Strange to say not one of them was a beggar. They were, all industrious, honest, hard-working men looking for work. By some extraordinary coincidence they happened to be together just when the police appeared upon the scene. Not one was in the habit of running with "de gang". They were there simply by accident. That so many gentlemen should be found at the Hotel de Bum all at the same time attired in the regulation habiliments of the hobo, uncombed and unwashed, was more than the mayor would believe and he proceeded to tell them and hereafter they would be compelled to seek other climes better suited to their mode of living. All, excepting four who gave satisfactory reasons for being found in such questionable society, were given ten days or $5 and costs. In default of payment of the fine Marhsal Veazey was instructed to provide them with spades and shovels for use on the streets. Eleven big, healthy, and apparently well-fed fellows, were taken out and made to work. The mayor will continue to treat the hoboes in this manner until they have made up their minds to keep away from this town.

Among the belongings of the men were two pair of new low-quarter shoes for ladies. None would claim ownership of this rather suspicious piece of property. Among the numerous articles found in their possession were a horse doctor's surgical instruments, a shoe-maker's knife, a bodkin, a rat tail file, a hammer, two reasons, brass knuckles, and a half dozen pocket knives. Lafayette Gazette 1/21/1899.

The town has been virtually overrun with tramps for some days past. The officers should see to it that this class of gentry do not tarry long in our midst.
Laf. Adv. 1/26/1895.

Work For Hoboes. - It is a very noticeable fact that since the mayor has provided the hoboes with work on the streets, the burglaries have ceased, and our peripatetic friends are making themselves scarce. Lafayette Gazette 1/28/1899.

Labor for Street Working
[From the Crowley Signal.]

Shreveport, Monroe, Alexandria, and even our neighbor, Lafayette, has followed suit, have adopted a new and cheap plan to work and drain the streets, viz: All tramps and other persons who have no visible means of support, and all disorderly persons, instead of being fined a dollar or two for such offences, upon trial and conviction by the mayor are condemned to work five, ten or fifteen days on the streets as an admonitory penalty to leave the town to earn an honest living. It is claimed to be a sure way of getting rid of loafers and vagabonds, and a little of that kind of law would do good in Crowley. Let our mayor try it awhile anyway as an experiment. - Crowley Signal.

 For the information of the municipal government of Crowley we will state that the plan to work the tramps on the streets has accomplished one good thing. It has rid the town of a very undesirable element. It sufficed to put only a few hoboes at work. The warning was enough. If our Crowley friends will adopt the same plan they will not get much work out of the tramps, but they will no doubt get rid of a lot worthless fellows. Lafayette Gazette 2/4/1899.

The Country is Infested with Tramps.

 Men whose sole occupation in life is to occupy the borderline between the alms-house and the county jail, are found swarming in all the roads that lead to the great cities and larger towns of the country. They work little and steal much; they are dirty, ragged, foul in language and in person; too lazy too work for a meal if the chance to steal one is apparent. Too cowardly to move or act alone, they move in gangs, assaulting or robbing the weak, or the aged, or the unprotected. Drunken, criminal, lawless, they have become the terror and annoyance of all. To remove or to lessen the evil has become the problem which law makers are striving to solve; but so far all efforts in that line have been fruitless.

Whence they came? What causes produce such social monstrosities? What beginnings lead to such terrible endings?

A prominent manufacturer has said that the (unreadable words) laborer in Massachusetts (unreadable words) out by the Irish, (unreadable words) Canadian, the (unreadable words) the Italian by the (unreadable words) Polander. Thus was formed (unreadable words) ascending scale at the beginning of which stood an American at the end an ignorant, lawless type of humanity. Our curiosity tempts us to ask if there is any lower type to present themselves for the honor of being the tail end of such a progression ; but we leave that to the imagination of our readers. Our business is with the causes.

 The lower forms of civilization, having less brains and less needs, work for smaller wages than those whose methods of though or training, or modes of living demand a greater compensation. It follows then that the higher form will refuse work offered at a less rate than that to which he has been accustomed - a rate which seems too low to satisfy the demands of a living. Measured by the experience of past years - what is there for him to do? Put yourself in his place. Conceive yourself as working at ordinary laboring work, meet with the wages thereof the ordinary demands of living, food, shelter, raiment, and then find that a newcomer, foreign to you in everything, birth, language, customs, civilities, offers to do work at a reduced rate, what would you do? Labor on by one by one side of these wretches, at their wages ; come in contact with them ; learning of them only their vices. What would you do? Look out for other avenues of labor. Alas your hands are not skilled. The ways wardness of misfortune of youth have left you stranded, almost a useless wreck, and you must work on in the old way or starve. No family to hold you to duty ; no prospects ahead to allure, only a dull round of un requited labor. What would you do? You will work with inferior men, at inferior wages ; you cannot find work in any other channel, and so abandoning home and all its associations you start along the roads looking for a little labor, possibly finding it at times, and if the alternative presents itself to beg or starve. So then, working little, begging much, never starving, drifting from place to place, alternating between the winter poor house and the summer roadside ; the spirit of the man constantly weakening, homeless, house-less, the tramp stands before you, a notable evolved by the conditions of life and living produced by the competition between American and pauper labor.

Examine the nationalities of these men and you will find that they are mainly of American birth, or men of the English class ; they are from the higher types ; they are never from the lower class of the European labor. We know to well, that some of these men are drunkards of the vilest type, who have neither air nor hope in life but the gratification of a depraved appetite. Such men, however, would exist under any circumstance, they come as much from the ranks of skilled labor as from the ranks of unskilled. The great majority of them you will find, if you take the trouble to examine, are from our own people, offering evidence, clear and indisputable, that when we open our doors to these outcasts to come in will make outcasts of our own. (Unreadable words) take crumbs that falls from (unreadable word) the children's table and feed it to the dogs.

If, in the future, from the (unreadable word) taken notions or ignorance (unreadable word) relations between capital (unreadable word) there should be an arm...(unreadable word) tramp stand? With you I (unreadable word) you with the (unreadable) at his back.

 Lafayette Advertiser 2/11/1899.

Hurt by Hoboes. - Conductor Jim Whitmeyer was injured Monday night at Rayne by a hobo whom he had ordered off the train. Mr. Whitemeyer was struck on the head by a brick or rock, knocking him senseless for a few moments. When he recovered consciousness he returned to the caboose and was immediately brought to Lafayette, when Dr. F. R. Tolson gave him all the necessary medical attention. Examination disclosed that the skulk was not broken, but there was a long scalp wound.
Lafayette Advertiser 2/22/1905.

Suppressing Vagrancy.
  [N. O. States.]

 Yesterday the Mississippi Legislature passed a vagrancy law which is modeled after that of the Georgia statute which has operated so satisfactorily in forcing idle, loafing and shiftless whites and blacks either to earn a living for themselves or go to work on the streets and public roads. Before the passage of the vagrant law nearly every city and town in Georgia was cursed with an ever-increasing throng of negro loafers who refused to accept any kind of employment and eked out an existence by means of petty thievery and otherwise preying upon the community. The strict enforcement of the law has resulted in the complete abolishment of this evil, and the cities and towns have been rid of loafers of both races. Young negroes of the lazy and shiftless class soon realized that they would either have to find some kind of work to do or be placed in the chain gang, of leave the State, hence a great many of them hastened to return to the farms which they had abandoned for the allurements of the cities.

 It is to be hoped that when the Louisiana Legislature meets next May it will also pass a law similar to that enacted by Georgia and Mississippi, because there are large numbers of negroes who idle about the towns refusing to labor in any way when there is a great demand for farm hands. Such a law would compel these worthless loafers either to work for their own support or to work for the State or parish. It would rid New Orleans  of thousands of vagrant negroes who have drifted here by forcing them to return to the plantations and farms from whence they came, or to take themselves elsewhere beyond the boundaries of the State, which would greatly benefit it, while the services of those who declined either to leave the city or to observe the law could be employed in carrying to completion such public works as drainage and sewerage. The Georgia vagrant law, according to the authorities of that State charged with its enforcement, has proved to be a most effective remedy for vagrancy and the sooner Louisiana has a similar law on its statute books the better. Lafayette Advertiser 3/2/1904.


From Vermilionville City Council meeting 5/15/1869.
On motion it was resolved, that the mayor be and is hereby requested to have the vagrant law rigidly enforced within the limits of the Corporation.
 Laf. Adv. 5/29/1869


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