A Brief History of Tourist Union #63 and it's Mission
In the mid 1800's several hobos found themselves in a jungle next to the mainline of the B & O RR. They all had something in common, they had been repeatedly kicked out of towns and off train yards because they had no visible means of employment nor funds on hand at many times of the year. And because of strict enforcement of vagrancy laws by all police agencies nationwide, an organization was needed to aid the migrant working hobo. However if one was the member of a Union then the unemployed person would not be persecuted for vagrancy while in any city attempting to gain even a few hours of employment.
And so these few hobos drew up articles of confederation for a Tourist Union for any hobo nationwide to join and avoid persecution for vagrancy. Finding that the hobos present numbered to 63 this Union was labeled Tourist Union #63.
The founding members, both men and women, registered their union in Cinncinati Ohio holding a small office at 1143 W. Market St. Near the Queensgate neighborhood, and the yards of the B & O, and Nickel Plate RR's.
In August of each year Tourist Union #63 held a National Hobo Convention to renew friendships, collect annual dues, sign up new members, and honor the most deserving of their union to the temporary positions of King, Queen, Crown Prince, Crown Princess, and Grand Head Pipe. Thereby attempting to elevate the stature of all hobos in the general public’s eyes.
Through the mid to later 1800's the Convention of Tourist Union #63 was held in a different city of the USA to appease to every region of the nation that it's members originated, and to enlist new members thereby gaining more political support for the legitimacy of the union. During the 1887 convention, held on the banks of St. Louis on what would someday become the Gateway Arch National Park, the convening members voted on Chicago as their next convention location. And Chicago remained the location of their convention for the next 12 years,[for by that time up to 8 organizations were hold a National Hobo Convention because of the publicity it generated]
It was at one of these Chicago held conventions that the article called the code of the road was drawn up, voted on, and adopted by the Union as an absolute of laws that the entire Hobo Nation could enforce at any time or any place.
In the year 1899 the heads of the town of Britt,Iowa approached the heads of Tourist Union #63 to hold their annual convention in Britt. The President of the Union rode the Milwaukee Road to Britt to inspect the Accommodations for the large gathering of members that would converge on Britt in August. And so beginning in the year 1900 the National Hobo Convention of Tourist Union #63 was moved permanently to Britt Iowa. The town needed to be able to accommodate a large convening body and this was very evident during the 1949 Convention when a total of 1800 hobos converged upon the town.
Tourist Union #63's mission is to preserve the Hobo Culture into the future, to police our own when needed, and to give a more concise image of our hobo brothers thru the dissemination of information.