Wednesday, March 28, 2018

One good dog

On the way home from the team roping tonight, my husband and I got to talking about some of the animals we’ve been fortunate to own. He’s so excited about the new colt we bought last year. Snake River Blues, aka Louie,
will be five years old this fall, and he’s quite possibly the nicest horse we’ve ever owned and that’s saying a lot. We’ve had many nice horses during our marriage.
The discussion brought to mind a quote from Doc on the old TV program, Gunsmoke. Every man is entitled to three things in life--one good dog, one good horse and one good woman. Here’s the link if you still watch Gunsmoke like I do.
It’s true. If you’re lucky enough to get one good dog, count yourself lucky indeed. We’ve had lots of dogs on the ranch, but Cindy, a red Australian Shepherd, was the best by far. She seemed to know what needed to be done before we asked her. And she was uncanny in her judgement of people. It’s been five years since she passed, and I still miss her.
We’ve trained barrel racing and team roping horses for years, and all horses are not created equal. You can make a nice horse out of almost any critter, but great horses are born, not made. Olive, aka Suzies Last Flight, was the best barrel horse I ever swung a leg over. She made me look like a better horseman than I was. Big Al was one of the toughest horses we ever trained. He was six years old when we bought him and had only been ridden a few times. By the time he was ten, he was one of the best head horses around.
Now we have Louie, a pretty blue roan paint gelding who is excelling in both barrel racing and team roping. Although he’s still young, he learns so fast and is extremely athletic. We both think he’s the nicest young horse we’ve ever had. He makes riding and training fun.
And now we come to the good woman part of the video. Guess who that is? We celebrated our forty-seventh anniversary this year. It hasn’t always been easy, but I wouldn’t change a thing.
I told my cowboy he’s the luckiest of all. With me on his side, he’s had all three.
Have you had a good dog, good horse or a good man or woman? Or have you been lucky enough, like me, to have all three?

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Cattle rustling Southern style

We’ve all seen cattle drives in the movies and on television. We understand that the cattlemen herding the animals needed a lot of grit and guts to move hard headed animals to and from their destinations.  So, I find it interesting that one of the greatest feats of cowboying occurred here in Virginia. What’s that you say? Virginia? Wait, that’s not out west. When did this happen?

Believe it or not, this little know bit of herd stealing, happened in Petersburg, Virginia  in the year of 1864. Many can relate that things for the south were not going well. Petersburg was ringed by a series of trenches stretching thirty miles from Richmond that didn’t allow a mosquito to fly over without being bombarded by Union fire. The people and the Confederate army were a hungry lot. But, just beyond the trenches, they could hear them. 3,000 head of cattle whose sole purpose was to feed the Union Army.

A general by the name of Wade Hamilton hatched an incredible idea. If the beef was there, he would just go get them. Known for his behind the scene raids, Hamilton and 3,000 of his ‘Legions’ or cavalry riders planned a bold move to skirt past Grant and  the 120 men who guarded the legendary Union commander. Armed with Sheppard herding dogs and some reputable Texas cattle thieves, they began their move on September 14th

                                                          From the Library of Congress

They moved along Boydton Plank Road swinging east to Stony Creek Station and finally over Blackwater Creek were they rebuilt the burned bridge and moved their forces across. At 5 a.m. they attacked. Union forces were in complete surprise and even armed with new Henry repeaters they were unprepared for the attack.

They drove the cattle across the bridge stopping to dismantle it and kept them moving. When reaching Petersburg, 2,487 cattle were counted for. Only ten of Hamilton’s Legions had lost their lives and 47 were wounded. Months afterward, the confederates taunted the Union troops by offering them beefsteaks or simply mooing.

Today, you can visit near where the drive took place at Pamplin Historic Park. Or if you are lucky enough to catch the old 1966 movie Alvaraz Kelly based loosely on this story.

Visit Pamplin Historic Park using this link.

Monday, March 26, 2018

The Knights of the Golden Circle

Who were they?


Doing research, I ran across this interesting piece of information and after reading and seeking what I could find about the KGC, I decided to use these facts to create a fiction story titled Bed of Conspiracy.


The Knights of the Golden Circle (KGC) was a secret society in the mid 19th century in the United States. In 1854 an Indiana doctor named George W.L. Bixley who later ran the organization out of Cincinnati, Ohio formed this new secret society. The purpose was to save the south as everyone knew that a war would arrive, facing off the industrialized north against the agriculture south.


The original objective of the KGC was to annex a ‛Golden Circle’ of territories in Mexico, Central America, Confederate States of America, and the Caribbean as slave states to be lead by Maximillian I of Mexico.


As abolitionism in the United States increased after the Dred Scot Secession of 1857, the members proposed a separate confederation of slave states with the U.S. States south of the Mason-Dixon line to secede and to align with other slave states to be formed from the ‛Golden Circle’. In either case, the goal was to increase the power of the Southern slave-holding upper class to such a degree that it could never be dislodged.


Whew…that’s a big ticket to fulfill. They would need men, munitions and money…tons of money. And that’s where the James boys came in. After the war, they began robbing trains and banks, even ones here in Kentucky, such as the Russellville, Elkton and Glasgow banks. But where did all that money go? Civil War Era gold coins, worth $5000 back then, were later found in Baltimore, Maryland in 1935 buried under a house that was owned by a prominent KGC member before and after the War.


According to some historians, numerous KGC symbols have been found that were carved into rocks and trees in various areas of Kansas and Missouri. This would lead someone to believe that the loot was buried nearby.


Other tales abound: that Bob Ford never killed Jesse James and that instead James pulled one of the biggest hoaxes in American history by getting away with his own murder. Jesse James became James Courtney and settled in Texas. Later, he would disappear for weeks at a time to go dig up the loot the gang had stashed across the west when his family needed the money.

My novel takes place in 1876 when the James Boys were still active as was the underground KGC. During this time, a lot of Southern Sympathizers were converging on Washington DC to over throw the government and assassinate President Grant. This would become the 6th and final attempt on his life.


Ahhh…history! Ya gotta love it!

Until next time…Happy Trails!



Author’s Note

To me, this is a very interesting little-known fact of our nation’s history that I have taken  liberty with to spin a yarn about placing the story during the summer of 1876. The Knights of the Golden Circle were formed in 1854 and became a large subversive southern society that had organizations all over the country, totaling over 45,000 members at one time, including a large cell or castle as they referred to them, of members in Baltimore, Maryland. They stood with the fight for the south’s agriculture way of life against the northern influences and takeovers. Many factors were involved leading to the Civil War, and it depends upon which historical point of view you wish to believe. Even today these arguments are still being heatedly debated. John Wilkes Booth was a very outspoken member of the KGC. After the Civil War, The Knights of the Golden Circle went underground and became an active secret society with deadly force, excelling in sabotage, infiltrating our Government and maintaining a very efficient spy network. There were and are many stories that continue to surface about Jesse and Frank James, who were also members of KGC and the banks and trains they robbed and what happened to the loot that was meant to fund the secret society’s future endeavors. I began this yarn three years ago but was called away by more demanding characters who wanted their stories told. A couple of months ago, I resurrected it as these characters said it was time to tell their narrative. I have taken the liberty of spinning my own fictitious account with some of these facts. I hope you enjoy the story. 


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.