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Sunday, February 13, 2011 4:45 PM

The A C & Y Railroad is gone  now.  It  once  was a busy line from Delphos to Akron, Canton and Youngstown.

Most of the Krieft Farm is gone too … except for approximately 15 acres just across what used to be the AC & Y tracks. This piece of land in Putnam County is still in the family, now owned by Mike and Pat Grothause. Mike’s mother was a Krieft. The only remnant of the Krieft name is on a street sign in the Heritage Meadow addition of north-eastern Delphos.

At one time, Henry Casper Krieft (or Casper Henry) had a farm reaching from those 15 acres to almost the Lincoln Highway. As time went by this became the Ricker Addition and Heritage Meadow. Much of it was “woods.” Only one or two of those trees remain. They proudly stand between Ricker and Krieft Streets, near where Dee and Mel Westrich built their home.

This Krieft Woods was once a hobo heaven. Back in the 60’s the Fort Jennings Road kids considered the Flat Fork Creek their playground. On one expedition they discovered a hobo camp under the railroad bridge, just west of State Route 190.

You can read more about the hobo life in “Rambling Along on the AC & Y Railroad” with Homer Baumgartner. Homer grew up near the AC & Y in Pandora. During the depression, when there were no jobs to be found around home, Homer and four of his friends decided to go west, looking for work. They started out in their old jalopy, which took them as far as Troy.

When the car broke down they flipped a coin, hopped on a box car and headed for North and South Dakota. They lived the hobo life. He mentions “We spent three nights at the Grant Hotel, in the bushes”, while they visited the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933. You can read more about his experiences in his book, which can be found at the Delphos Public Library and the Delphos Canal Commission Museum. See pages 198 – 200.

I would like to share with you a story given to me by another history buff, Donald Hoehn. He discovered the clipping in the 28 February 1908 issue of the Delphos Herald.

Knights of “Tie and Pike” Have Regular Quarters in Wood Near Delphos.
For some time past the traveling fraternity — those of whom it is said “they toil not, neither do they spin,” have been maintaining a regular hang-out in the Henry Krieft wood, just north-east of Delphos, along the Northern Ohio railroad, and all efforts to effectually rout them out have proven unavailing.

One of the gentry says that this place is known along the lines of all the principal railways  in  this  part  of the country, the information that a  regular  hobo  headquarters  exists  near  Delphos being advertised on every  water  tank  between Pittsburg and Chicago and Toledo and Cincinnati. This is probably the reason why so many tramps come Delphos way.

A visit to the improvised camp in the Krieft wood is an interesting experience. The hoboes had erected a large piece of tin roof on stilts in the center of the wood, and surrounded it with corn fodder and brush, wherein they could lie around a roaring fire and find protection from the cold winter winds. Each of the members of the “easy fraternity” contributes his “hand-out” to the general larder, and at meal times a big feast is had. Big lard cans are provided, in which generous hunks of beef are boiled, with cabbage, tomatoes and potatoes, making a big stew that soon disappears. To gain entrance to the “charmed circle” no countersign is necessary — the only qualifications required are that the wayfarer is a true knight of the road, with an abhorrence of work, a good appetite for grub, and a willingness to hustle his share of the rations.

As a result of the continuous presence of from two to a dozen tramps at the camp, and the maintenance of a fire, the strip of wood has been cleared of dead limbs and all pieces of timber lying on the ground. Doubtless chicken coops of the vicinity are raided occasionally, but if the hennery of the Krieft farm is disturbed it is not known. About 300 chickens are kept at the farm, and the residence thereon is unoccupied this winter. Several attempts have been made to break up the camp, but it’s no use. One set of tramps driven away is soon replaced by another, and the cooking and snoozing goes on. The large piece of tin that served as a roof for the shack, was removed, but still the tramps came, and other shelter was provided with corn fodder and pieces of timber. The hoboes lie on corn fodder, toasting one side and freezing the other, but they don’t seem to mind it, and  all  goes  well.  Scraps among them are not very frequent, and while they are a constant menace to hen roosts and smoke houses, no serious depredations have been reported, as applicable to them. 
While their presence is a nuisance, the tramps must have some place to stay, and lately Mr. Krieft has taken no extraordinary steps to dislodge them. With the coming of the blue-birds in the spring, the camp will likely be depopulated.


Last Updated on Tuesday, November 06, 2012 3:18 PM

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