Friday, March 23, 2018

Who Was Hi Jolly?

Jefferson Davis, as secretary of war in President Pierce's cabinet, approved the plan to experiment with camels for freighting and communication in the arid Southwest. Maj. Henry C. Wayne of the army and Lt. D.D. Porter of the navy visited the Near East with the storeship Supply and brought 33 camels which were landed at Indianola, Tex., Feb. 10, 1856. On a second trip they got 41 more.

The language barrier proved to be a large problem. The Americans couldn’t speak Arabic and the camels wouldn’t learn English. Following the old adage “it takes a camel driver to drive a camel,” the government had the foresight to import camel drivers. 
"What are you looking at?" Courtesy Christopher Michel
Translators and cooks also came with them. The names of these cameleers and company were George Calambros (later called George Allan and Greek George), Hajj (Hadji)Ali (also called Phillip Tedro), Blackie (Hajj Ali’s older brother), Alexander Aslanyan, Mahomet Meriwan, Mahomet Iamar, Sylum Abu Agnam, Ali Oglou Suleiman, Elias, and Mustafa Oglou Hassom. They were a colorful bunch with names like Long Tom, Short Tom and Greek George. These weren’t their given names but had to do as the Americans couldn’t pronounce their Arabic names anyway.
White man riding a camel with an Egyptian driver in the Pike section of the 1904 World's Fair
The cameleers received $50 a month plus food and lodging. They had trouble getting their money on time and three of the cameleers demanded passage to be sent back to Syria and Turkey. The experiment would last only a year or so longer. When the War Between the States broke out, this experiment was abandoned.

The most famous of these camel drivers was Hadji Ali and since that one didn’t roll off the tongues of the Americans his name was corrupted into Hi Jolly. He has been described as “a short, heavyset, happy-go-lucky Arab.” He had signed on at a salary of $15 a month. Tales of gold strikes no doubt lured him, too, and he was eager to come to the U.S. and make his fortune.

Before coming to the United States, Hajj Ali lived in southern Turkey. Rumors of his origins range from being a kidnapped Greek who was raised as a Muslim to a Muslim with a Greek mother and Turkish father. He was born in Greece around 1828, of Greek and Syrian parentage. At the age of twenty-five he converted to Islam and took the name Hadji Ali. He was later naturalized as Phillip Tedro. His brother Blackie was naturalized as Charles Tedro. It is not known if either died as Muslims, but there are stories having them praying and fasting after they settled in the southwest.
1850 Map of Turkey in Asia Miner
An Ottoman Turkish citizen of Greater Syria, Hadji Ali worked as a camel breeder and trainer. He served with the French Army in Algiers before signing on as a camel driver for the US Army in 1856. He became the lead camel driver on Edward Fitzgerald Beale’s wagon road survey group.

Haji Ali, Greek George, and Hajj Ali’s brother were the only ones of the cameleers to remain in the U.S.

Elias moved to Mexico and the others returned to their homelands. In Mexico Elias married a Yaqui girl and became a rancher. He became famous in Mexico when his son, Plutarcho Elias Calles, became President of the Republic from 1924-1928.
Greek George
Greek George would settle and build a ranch where the Hollywood Bowl would later be built. However, rumor abounded for years that he was killed when escaping from prison for being a horse thief. Neither was true however. He became naturalized as George Allen and Greek George faded into history. Blackie would become a barber in Tucson, Arizona and outlive Hajj Ali by over ten years.

After the Army’s experiment with camels ended, Hajj Ali/Hi Jolly remained in the Southwest.  He acquired some of the camels. He went back to work with the U.S. Army as a mule packer at an Army post in Tucson, and for the next 40 years would divide his time between delivery of the United States mail, hauling freight (over roads he had helped to explore and establish), prospecting, and serving the United States cavalry as a scout and mule packer.

He started a freight business hauling goods from Colorado River ports to mining camps in Mohave and Yuma counties. He also carried cargo from Yuma to Tucson. That business failed, and he released his camels into the desert to fend for themselves. He spent the next dozen years or so working for the military and prospecting for gold.
Wedding portrait of Gertrudis Serna and Philip Tedro (Hi Jolly)

In 1880, at the age of 52, Hi Jolly became an American citizen, using the name Philip Tedro. That same year he married Gertrudis Serna (b: Nov 1859 in Hermosillo, Mexico – 6 May 1936 in Tucson, Pima County, Arizona) on 23 Apr 1880 in St. Augustine Cathedral, Tucson, Arizona. She was the daughter of Fernando Serna and Maria Espinoza. He gave his nationality as Greek, probably because his bride was Catholic and he knew the church would not sanction a marriage to a Muslim.

The couple had three children together: Amelia, Minnie, and Fernando Serna Tedro. Gertrude worked as a seamstress and lived with her son and daughters.

Hi Jolly continued with Army work at Huachuca and other places until the surrender of Geronimo in 1886. In 1889 he deserted his family and returned to prospecting with the few camels he still had. In 1898 he was forced to return to Tucson due to declining health and asked to see Gertrudis and his children. He begged his wife to take him back but she refused his request for a reconciliation. He took up residence around Tyson’s Well. The two remained estranged until his death.

In later life Haji Ali lived in Quartzsite, Arizona where he was a failed prospector. Local merchants such as Mike Welz helped him with handouts. Congressman Mark Smith even tried to get him a pension, but since he was never an official soldier in the Calvary, the paperwork wasn’t processed. A few sources claimed Hi Jolly was a resident Imam and that his three daughters were raised as Muslims. However, it has not been verified how many generations Islam continued in his family.

Hi Jolly died on December 16, 1902 on the road between Wickenburg and the Colorado River. He’d gone out looking for a stray camel. Legend has it some cowboys working cattle came upon his body, his arms wrapped around the neck of the camel. Both had perished in a sand storm. The name Philip, means “lover of horses” but Philip Tedro in reality was a camel whisperer.

Hi Jolly’s body was returned to Quartzsite for burial. All the old prospectors in the area attended his funeral, but no preacher or Imam was available to give funeral prayers. Afterwards a small wooden sign marked his grave. 

In 1934 the elaborate pyramid monument built of native quartz and petrified wood and topped with a copper camel weathervane was placed on his grave by order of James L. Edwards of the Arizona State Highway Department. In 1935, Arizona Governor Benjamin Moeur dedicated a monument to Hadji Ali and the Camel Corps in the Quartzsite Cemetery. In 1935, the Arizona Highway Department marked his grave with a large steel plaque mounted on one side reads: “Last Camp of Hi Jolly.” The monument is the most visited location in Quartzsite and is just about this town's only attraction.  

For more information CLICK HERE for the January, 2018 post on Hi Jolly.

Zina Abbott recently published two books as part of the multi-author series, LOCKETS & LACE. 

The first, the prequel to the series, is titled The Bavarian Jeweler.

The other, book 3 in the Lockets & Lace series, is Otto's Offer.




Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Sign on the Dotted Line...And Become the First Woman to...

by Heather Blanton
My character of Daisy in A Lady in Defiance is based on a real person. Mollie Kathleen Gortner was the first woman to file a gold claim in the state of Colorado. As is so common, most of the facts around Mollie have morphed into legend, but I was intrigued when I read her story. She had grit, determination, and, arguably, the favor of God. Remember, there is no such thing as luck.
Mollie came to Cripple Creek, CO in 1891 to visit her son. Gold had just been discovered at the settlement and Perry Gortner had been dispatched to do some surveying. Mollie worried about her son living and working in a boom town and decided to visit. Rumors have always swirled that Mollie spent some time working as a prostitute. That might explain her fear for her son’s safety in a wild-and-wooly mining town. Either way, her visit was fortuitous, to say the least.
She and her son decided to see some sights. They rode into a canyon to have lunch and watch a herd of elk. Mollie dismounted from her horse and took a seat on a rock for a better view. She noticed an interesting rock formation next to her and broke off a piece. Sure enough, there was gold in them thar hills. Snap. Just like that, she was a mine owner...well, not exactly.
Mollie and her son went to file a claim but the clerk balked at handing the paperwork to a woman. Before either man could say another word, an indignant and furious Mollie snatched up the forms and signed her name on the dotted line. Clearly, the clerk had a choice at that moment. Just how much trouble did he want? I can only imagine the look in Mollie's eyes. The clerk didn't have to imagine it. He had the feisty hell cat right in front of him and her glare backed him down. 
He pushed the paperwork through without another word. The Mollie Kathleen mine is in operation to this day.
It never ceases to amaze me what some of those hardy, 19th-century women accomplished. Simply by defying expectations, refusing to be a prisoner to their gender, pushing back when someone shoved, they left their mark on the Wild West. It's true what they say: well-behaved women rarely make history. 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Lawman or Outlaw?

 In the aftermath of the Civil War, countless men found themselves jobless, homeless, and without families. Many headed west in search of new lives. Some hunted for gold, some set down new roots, some became cowboys, and some, those skilled with firearms, chose to become gunfighters. 

The line between being a lawman, an outlaw, or somewhere in between such as a bounty hunter or hired gun, was fine. Some men crossed that line back and forth. Tom Horn found acclaim as a hired gun, and it was also why he was hanged. Wyatt Earp walked on both sides of that line as well. So did many others. Grat, Bob, and Emmett Dalton were all lawmen before they formed the Dalton Gang.

The west was raw, unclaimed, with few laws, fewer courts and little to no government. But others were heading west too, setting down roots and they wanted law and order. That was easier said than done. Most towns or territories couldn’t afford to pay lawmen, so salaries were often a percentage of the fines paid by those arrested and/or bounties collected on wanted men. For those who might have been paid a salary, it was often very low and they also were charged with keeping the streets clean of debris, responsible for taking the national census, and distributing governmental proclamations. 

Unlike Matt Dillion on Gunsmoke, few men made a ‘career’ out of being a lawman, however, as writers, writing fiction, we can utilize Matt’s honor and longevity while creating our own lawmen.

My next book, In the Sheriff’s Protection, will go on sale April 1st

He will protect her

But can the sheriff resist his forbidden desire?

Oak Grove sheriff Tom Baniff might be hunting Clara Wilson’s criminal husband, but that doesn’t mean he won’t help protect Clara and her young son from the outlaw’s deadly threats. When he invites Clara to his hometown, Tom is determined to keep her safe. But with her so close, can he resist the allure of the only woman he’s ever wanted?

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Resurgence of the Historical Western Romance: Why Readers Love Those Cowboys

It seems readers love cowboys! They plow through these stories, some at the pace of several books a week and then search for more.

What is the appeal of the cowboy and why are readers so anxious to devour their stories?

Working cowboy.
Many people are quite taken with the dynamic, fascinating, much-admired, and often misunderstood time period. They choose to immerse themselves in it, studying it in the most intimate way—through a romance novel.

I can relate to this in small ways, as I am sure a lot of us can. Nostalgia is as American as apple pie, and I’m no exception. The American west is my greatest inspiration, near and dear to my heart. I was raised in the west, and I feel lucky, invigorated, and inspired every time I look out the window in my home and see beautiful Arizona mountain ranges outside. I’m not quite ready to give up my computer and car (let alone my lovely home) to live the life of a frontier woman, but I’m one of many who is wowed and inspired by this period in American history. And my readers agree.

Working a bronc in the pen.
Americans take a lot of pride in their Western frontier ancestors, and they always have, even when it was a fairly recent past. The Western was the most popular genre of Hollywood film from the early 20th century all the way through the 1960s. Though their massive popularity dropped off in the latter half of the century, these films and the time period they represent remain major influences for popular directors like Quentin Tarantino.

What is it we find so fascinating, so compelling, about this time period? For one thing, it was a time of great hardship. The men and women of the frontier were building lives from scratch, with little social, economic, or political support. These were people of discipline, strength, and ingenuity, who when faced with a challenge, had no choice but to work hard and find a solution. Any one of us would have a hard time if we were dropped into even the most advanced and thriving metropolis of the late 19th century. On the Western frontier, people had it even harder.
Taking a meal break.

They were tough, rugged people who endured lives more difficult than what most of us can imagine, and even so, we associate these people with honor, integrity, and deeply held values. These people, for whom survival itself was such a challenge, still had the emotional strength to be good to one another, to keep their word, and to cultivate virtues, not for any kind of reward or recognition, but simply because that is what was done.

These days, a lot of people feel we’ve collectively lost our way, and that we as a society, and as individuals, are suffering a crisis of morals. Our values and virtues are not nearly so clear or strong as they once were, and so we look to other times for inspiration and guidance.

That is the crux of our admiration for the people of the western frontier. Men and women of discipline, honor, and independence are so very appealing to readers, whether they live on the early western frontier or a modern city or town.

Today, virtues are not the cultural cornerstone they once were. However, we can count on our ancestors. We can count on the past to show us examples of good people, surviving and thriving, and doing so with kindness and grace.

I hope my stories provide readers with characters that exemplify these qualities. Dixie Moon, book four in the Redemption Mountain Historical Western Series, weaves a story of romance, adventure, tough choices, and honor.

Dixie Moon, book four in my Redemption Mountain series.

Gabe Evans is a man of his word with strong convictions and steadfast loyalty. As the sheriff of Splendor, Montana, the ex-Union Colonel and oldest of four boys from an affluent family, Gabe understands the meaning of responsibility. The last thing he wants is another commitment—especially of the female variety.

Until he meets Lena Campanel...
Lena’s past is one she intends to keep buried. Overcoming a childhood of setbacks and obstacles, she and her friend, Nick, have succeeded in creating a life of financial success and devout loyalty to one another. 

When an unexpected death leaves Gabe the sole heir of a considerable estate, partnering with Nick and Lena is a lucrative decision…forcing Gabe and Lena to work together. As their desire grows, Lena refuses to let down her guard, vowing to keep her past hidden—even from a perfect man like Gabe.

But secrets never stay buried…
When revealed, Gabe realizes Lena’s secrets are deeper than he ever imagined. For a man of his character, deception and lies of omission aren’t negotiable. Will he be able to forgive the deceit? Or is the damage too great to ever repair? 

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