The term “hobo” has a variety of possible origins: HOBO – HOMEWARD BOUND. hoboes were not tramps or bums, but migrant workers. Hoboes during the Great Depression were often fathers who had lost their jobs. Sometimes they were women looking for work, or teenagers whose parents could no longer afford to feed them. 2 million men and 8000 women road the rails during the Dirty Thirties. As many as 6,500 hoboes were killed each year.